Spencer P. Jones has been a Beast of Bourbon, a Johnny, an Olympic Sideburn and one of Paul Kelly's Coloured Girls. For his latest incarnation, the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based rock'n'roll lifer has teamed with three WA musicians to form Spencer P. Jones and the Nothing Butts and released a self-titled garage rock album.
On drums is James Baker, who played with Jones in the first - and classic - line-up of the Beasts of Bourbon from 1983-90. The pair have stayed in touch and when Baker's current band, the Painkillers, were in Melbourne last year, they took the chance to work together for the first time in 20-odd years.
Baker even contributed a song to the new album, one that echoes his contribution to the Beasts' debut album of 1984, The Axeman's Jazz.
"Thirty years ago, he brought along Drop Out and this time he brings along Freak Out," Jones chuckles. "He said those lyrics were to do with when he quit drinking, he was having hallucinations.
"Look, man, James Baker is a national treasure."
The same could be said for Jones. The two stalwarts of Australian post-punk and garage rock are joined in the Nothing Butts by guitarist Gareth Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin of award-winning outfit the Drones. The pair had just moved to Nagambie, Victoria when Jones and Baker convened in the modest burg to record last year.
"The Drones are a great band and they covered one of my songs about 10 years ago, Slammin' on the Brakes," Jones says. "We're on the same page musically."
Spontaneity fuelled the album, which has plenty of space for Liddiard's redline guitar texturing on menacing epics such as When He Finds Out and Beware the Crossing.
"I love Gareth's playing, the guitars are awesome," Jones says. "His rationale was that it has pain and action and that's all you need on a great record."
The Nothing Butts will kick off a four-date national jaunt at the Bakery next month - a one-off according to the singer/guitarist. The Drones are recording a new album, while Jones will tour Europe next year with his current band, the Escape Club, and is working on an album with another Perth expat and former Beast, Kim Salmon.
The 56-year-old also says the shows will be as edgy and off-the-cuff as the recording process. "Warm-up shows - there's no such thing," he cackles. "It's got to be intense or it's not worth doing."
Jones says he is really looking forward to visiting WA under happier circumstances.
"I was there six years ago and the whole trip was soured by the fact my pal Ian Rilen (Rose Tattoo, X) had just died and, you know, I tried to drink that out of my mind," he says.
"I have no memory if those gigs were any good. I'm looking forward to it this time."Spencer P. Jones and the Nothing Butts' album is out tomorrow. The band play the Bakery on December 7, supported by Kill Devil Hills and Loose Lips. Tickets from nowbaking.com.au.
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