For a band that have seen and done quite a lot over the years, to hear that The Chameleons are making their way down to Australia for the first time in their career is really shocking!
Whilst kicking back and relaxing before the Brisbane show last night, original founding member Mark Burgess couldn’t contain his excitement about being in Australia as he quipped “it’s always exciting to go to a place for the very first time and get a fresh experience when you’ve been doing this for as long as we have. That fresh virgin experience is quite rare!” before going on to explain how long The Chameleons have wanted to travel to Australia:
“Quite a long time; I thought we were past the point where we would have the opportunity! I’ve always wanted to come here; The Birthday Party who are one of my favourite bands, are actually from Melbourne. I always knew from a young age when I used to listen to Split Enz and such, that there was a very aggressive scene out here and personally I wanted to get here.”
Knowing that Burgess himself had thought there was no chance in ever making it to Australia, this interviewer was curious as to how the opportunity finally arrived; Burgess mentioned that “it came really in the wake of our invitation to play in China, as I think logistically it made it feasible to get us over from China instead of the U.K. We have good ties and good connections to Peter Hook and I think it was his people who were pretty instrumental in getting us out here; we got the call pretty soon after Peter was in Australia. When they realized we were going to be in Beijing, it just everything all that more feasible. It’s getting increasingly more expensive to tour a band and when you’re an underground band with an underground audience like we are, so to get the opportunity is tremendous.”
Burgess gave a small insight into the difficulties of picking a set-list for a live show, stating how “we have so much material to pull from, that you’ll never please everybody; no matter what set-list you put together, there will always be someone who wishes we played this song or that song. Mind you, I do take note of that and encourage people to let us know beforehand, as we’re not that kind of people who say ‘We pick the set-list and you get what we want to play.’ The set-lists have been going down well and thankfully everyone seems to be really happy with what we’ve been playing!”
Burgess also briefly touched on how they love to play music for the fans, expressing that “when you get to a place and you’re told by people that they’ve been waiting twenty years to see you, the last thing you want to do is disappoint them by not playing what they want to hear! I mean when we were in China, there were people who had been listening to us for a long long time and were bringing our first record to be signed.”
After hearing about people in China bringing The Chameleon’s first album to get signed, this interviewer was curious whether there were any particular song(s) that the band were most excited to play for the long awaiting Australian fans; Burgess delivered a very diplomatic but insight response:
“We enjoy playing all of this stuff; you have to, to be able to do it for as long as we have. We put everything into them and we are genuinely still excited by what we do; we feel the message in the music is still relevant and the sound is still relevant! We will play all of it, as we love it and still a buzz to get those reactions to the music.” Touching further on the fact that he still loves to play the old songs after all these years, Burgess commented that “there’s nothing jaded about it and everyone’s really excited to do this! We travel long, long distances of over ten, twelve, fifteen hours and stay in hotels. To people who don’t do it, it seem really glamourous; when you are doing it and have been doing it a long time, it’s a tough schedule and a tough lifestyle! If it got to the point where we felt jaded, I wouldn’t want to do it anymore.”
Burgess then touched briefly on why previous members have left, before going into great detail about a recent experience he had:
“To be fair, a couple of guys have moved on, usually for family reasons. What was really great though, we played in Manchester this past December and one of the original founding members came and played with us again; we expected him to come out and play one song, but he ended up jamming for about half a dozen tunes! He really loved the whole process and really had a good time, which was satisfying within itself. Mind you, it does make me a little sad that they don’t get to experience the kudos that we get for playing this music; the reactions that we provoke within people and the emotional responses have been tremendous and it saddens me that they missed out on it and don’t get to experience that. It was great to play with Reg again and he absolutely loved getting to play again; we see a lot of Reg, as we’ve written a few songs together, but the dedication to touring is not contusive when you have a family.”
With this being the first time to Australia, is there anything that the Chameleons want to make sure to do before flying home? Burgess casually points out how “we’re just soaking up as much as we can in the time that we’ve got; we do have the luxury to have a couple of days here to have it soak in. We were also fortunate in China and could soak it up a little bit, as usually your impressions of a place are a blur because you’re in and out of a place so fast. It’s nice to just have a couple of days breathing space as we’re very just in the moment and are focusing on just being here. As I said in the beginning, it’s rare to have a completely fresh experience of going somewhere you’ve never been before.”
When quizzed about the possibility of new music before too long, Burgess was pretty straight to the point; “I’ve been writing and working on some stuff, but because of touring demands it hasn’t been as much as I want it to be. At this stage, I don’t know whether it will be new Chameleons, a side project or a solo album; that aspect hasn’t been fully established yet, but keep your eyes out over the next year or two!”
And what were the final words that Burgess had to say before seeing the long awaiting fans in Melbourne tonight and Sydney tomorrow night?
“All I want to say is ‘hello, I hope they’ll come down to support us, that we’re really looking forward to playing for them and it was worth the wait. You know….just uhh, hi” before letting out a massive chuckle that shows his appreciation about finally being here.