Tuesday, October 16, 2007

VENOM P. STINGER: THE SORROW AND THE PITY

VENOM P. STINGER were an overpowering late 80s/early 90s Australian group who morphed out of one scorched-earth, rawer-than-raw hardcore noise band called THE SICK THINGS, and later again morphed into another thing completely: the lovely, edgy instrumental trio THE DIRTY THREE. In between were several LPs, a 45 and one 4-song CD-EP that it is essential that you hear. Nowhere have I heard a band so desperately trapped in their own skin. Their militaristic, brutally loud and often atonal punk rock was an ugly cousin to a lot of the American bands of the day, the ones that came out on labels like Amphetamine Reptile, Treehouse, Noiseville, Circuit and Adult Contemporary. Their singer, Dugald McKenzie, had the rawest mouth-rasp vocals imaginable, and not only was it difficult to imagine him singing without his neck veins popping halfway to China, it was difficult to hear his deep-accented wails and think him anything but Australian. Drummer Jim White usually sounded like he was stuck somewhere between drumming for the Daughters of the American Revolution parade and for later-period John Coltrane. Even when the songs didn’t fall together all that well – and their albums do have some filler – they never wavered from a mood that was dark, angry and ballistic. Even on the (rare) slow ones.

Needless to say, I was a pretty big fan while they were around, and I bought all the records where I could. I got to see them live twice, but without McKenzie, who was held back at customs & which then necessitated the quick recruitment of Venom P. Stinger’s “biggest fan” into vocal duties. (Or so says informed commenter KI in the comments to this post). Other than their one and only 45, “Walking About/25 Milligrams”, their best record is this 1991 EP that came out on CD only called “Waiting Room”. Play it, download it, and raise a pint of bitter for the now-deceased Dugald McKenzie, one of the great throat-rippers of all time.

Play or Download
VENOM P. STINGER – “Inside The Waiting Room”
Play or Download VENOM P. STINGER – “I Try, I Really Try”
Play or Download VENOM P. STINGER – “Turning Green”
Play or Download VENOM P. STINGER – “In Love”

10 comments:

Jim said...

Still available at Forced Exposure for 4 bucks...

I can't imagine their 1st lp is easy to come by, but that last cd on Siltbreeze is everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's a great CD. I think their live @ Davis LP is my favorite for a lot of reasons (one of which is that it was my first exposure to VPS). Also love the "theme" song on that hardcore comp (don't have some recs, so it may also be on another release). One of the more underrated drummers ever, in my opinion.

Wasn't there also a Fungus Brains connection?

-trickknee

David said...

Guitarist Mick Turner was a Fungus Brain as well as a Sick Thing.

Dave

Anonymous said...

Dugald McKenzie also appears on the self titled Fungus Brains LP.

His accent was part Scottish, too.

Great band!

-Leon

THRIPS said...

hey annonymous.. do you have that KDVS Lp? I've been looking for it forever!

Anonymous said...

Hey dont know if you realise but the links to the mp3's are dead... Is it possible to repost them?

Anonymous said...

I was friends with the band way back then and believe me folks they were fuckin unbelievable live! The music tho anarchic and relentless was very tightly constructed and played, the loose cannon naturally being Dugald,the flawed genius who on one memorable night sprayed the audience with blood that he drew from his vein live on stage, and another where he vomited over the front rows!
A legend who is missed!!

elmer68 said...

Here is a rip of the great first album:
http://systemsabotagechaos.blogspot.com/2009/02/venom-p-stinger-meet-my-friend-venom-lp.html

Vikki Riley said...

I've just discovered this site and also just learnt that Dugald is no longer with us!!! Very upset but I guess he is in peace and quiet but listening to his favourite band, Black Flag.
We shared the same stage and bill many many times, with my band the SLUB, its was noise and what people calling "screaming" on my part, "yelling" on Dugald's side of the gender divide. We also (both SLUB and VENOM P) did our own art work, hand drawn lettering and desigmns - Jim's sister Anna also designed images for VENOM LPs and posters.
Got lotsa fond memories of going around to Dugald's house in Gore st of a Saturday arvo and doing lotsa talking. A true Celt he was.

Vikki Riley

Louis said...

Saw Venom P many times in Melbourne - I think the first time I met Dugald he was on the door spruiking the 'Free beer for nudes' thing at the Builders Arms, prior to playing. A lovely guy - charming and also totally reckless and shambolic and scary and hilarious - just about everything you'd want in a singer. It's supposed to be a fairly dangerous artform, right? Best thing about living in St Kilda then was the band/pub scene. Remember Slub too (Soenke?). Fungus Brains had reformed around the same time too and were fucking great. The Melb scene was spoiled for talent.