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SURE BEATS GOING FOR PIZZAS
Nick Barker is getting into a taxi in Sydney, carrying a
guitar. "So you're a musician are you, mate," says the driver.
"Yeah," smiles Nick. "Are you famous, what's your name?"
"Nick, Nick Barker." "Never heard of you. Been in any bands?"
"I had a band called the Reptiles, Nick Barker and the Reptiles."
"No way," exclaims the driver, "I loved that band!"
Nick laughs when he acknowledges that his name is still
often followed by "and the Reptiles". "You forget what a
marketing phenomenon the Reptiles were," he says. "People
still know me from that 12 months of marketing that Mushroom
did in 1990. I can get in a cab anywhere in the country
and if the driver is under 50, he'll know Nick Barker and
the Reptiles. But he will have never heard of me apart from
that. They'll say, 'What have you been doing? Where have
Of course, Nick has released seven superb solo albums, the
most recent being 2009's Black Water Blues. But he's comfortable
with his Reptilian past. In fact, he's put the band back
together - Nick Barker and the Reptiles are playing on Friday
at the Wheelers Hill Hotel. If truth be told, Nick is probably
enjoying the re-formation more than the original version.
"I was really stressed back then," he confesses. "I felt
I had to maintain a certain profile." Nick had come out
of "the inner-city angst kings", Hugo Race's The Wreckery.
But Mushroom wanted to turn the Reptiles into the next Guns
N' Roses. Howzat! added to the hype when we saw the band
do a support slot at Melbourne Park. "It showed," we gushed
in The Sun, "that the big stage is the Reptiles natural
habitat." Only problem was, Nick explains, "all we wanted
to be was a bar band, like the Georgia Satellites or Jason
& The Scorchers. And we were a real good bar band."
The Reptiles did about 500 shows in three years, releasing
two albums, 1989's Goin' To Pieces and 1991's After The
Show. Despite their profile, they had just one Top 40 hit,
their cover of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel's Make Me Smile
(Come Up And See Me). "We were playing the game," Nick admits.
"Back then, commercial radio was really big on classic rock,
so doing a cover gave them something to play, and they could
also say they were supporting a young local band - it ticked
the boxes." Nick had a love/hate relationship with Make
Me Smile, but recently made his peace with the song, playing
it on RocKwiz. "I realised it was not the song's fault,"
he laughs, adding that he's looking forward to playing it
again with the Reptiles.
Nick is happy that the Reptiles resurrection is happening
at the Wheelers Hill Hotel. It's near where he grew up,
and the band "used to kill it out in the suburbs". All the
Reptiles are still playing music, so "we're definitely all
better players than what we used to be". Some festival gigs,
including Apollo Bay, are planned, plus maybe a live album.
And Nick is also thinking about writing a book "about all
the dumb things we did". That said, Nick is proud of what
the Reptiles gave him - a career. "I've been able to support
myself through music," he says. "Some years have been pretty
lean, but I've never had a job. I'm grateful for that."
MEMORIES AND MILESTONES
We all know that Kylie is celebrating her 25th anniversary,
but 2012 brings some other big anniversaries: The Sunbury
festival started 40 years ago this month. It's also 40 years
since Split Enz and Dragon formed in NZ. And 1972 saw the
first US number one by an Australian-born artist - Helen
Reddy's I Am Woman. Angie Hart is 40 on March 8, and Darren
Hayes will be 40 on May 8. It's 30 years since three iconic
Aussie songs - Goanna's Solid Rock, Moving Pictures' What
About Me?, and Icehouse's Great Southern Land. And it's
30 years since Hunters and Collectors' self-titled debut,
Chisel's Circus Animals and Midnight Oil's landmark 10 to
1. 1982 also saw Men At Work top the US charts, and the
release of Le Hoodoo Gurus' debut single, Leilani. It's
25 years since the final Countdown, INXS' Kick, Icehouse's
Man of Colours and The Black Sorrows' Dear Children. And
Nikki Webster turns 25 on April 30. It's 20 years since
Frente's debut album and the first Big Day Out. And it's
a decade since Midnight Oil's final studio album, The Vines
appeared on the cover of the US Rolling Stone, Delta released
Born To Try, and Motor Ace shot to number one with Shoot
Three Aussie singles in the Top 10.
Set It Off TIMOMATIC (number four)
Don't Worry Be Happy GUY SEBASTIAN (seven)
Good Night REECE MASTIN (10)
Somebody That I Used To Know GOTYE (16)
I Love It HILLTOP HOODS & SIA (21)
Galaxy JESSICA MAUBOY & STAN WALKER (27)
Boys Like You 360 & GOSSLING (35)
360 leaps from 22 to 11.
Reece Mastin REECE MASTIN (number three)
Making Mirrors GOTYE (10)
Falling & Flying 360 (11)
Moonfire BOY & BEAR (17)
Vows KIMBRA (19)
All For You COLD CHISEL (20)
Red Dog SOUNDTRACK (37)
Stone Cold Lover THE HELLO MORNING
Do Ya JIM KEAYS
No Star EVEN
Turtledove JAIME ROBBIE REYNE
Another Me NICK BARKER AND THE REPTILES
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