These guys performed the songs that were the sound-track of our youth.
This post needs a little back story but I'll try not to waffle. In 1992, when I was sixteen. I moved from Bendigo, where I had lived with my dad, step mother and step sister to Ballarat to live my mum and her boyfriend. I was seeking freedom, popularity, exciting new experiences and a place to belong. I started at Sebas-Tec in year ten and I found all of those things and a whole lot more.
I managed to make lot of different friends very quickly. After school and on weekends I hang out with my arty friends (we were actually all in the same art class). Friday night would come and the girls would tell their mums that they were sleeping over at a friends house, who would have told her mum that she were sleeping at the other friends house. But really we were all binge drinking the cheapest nastiest alcohol we could find and then going to the Bridge Mall Inn to watch a diverse range of live bands like The Dead Salesmen, The Fat Thing, The Mavis's, Clowns of Decadence, (except poor Jane who was terrified of clowns) Trippin Phil’s Reggae Crusade and Damaged.
These were the band names we wrote on our pencil cases and school bags (well maybe not Trippin Phil, but I did give the singer my shoe laces as gift of appreciation one night, I had nothing else to offer. cringe, I wasn't quite drunk enough to have blocked that one out).
We would pass around tapes of live performances of The Salesmen recorded from triple B radio and listen to them over and over. And while other teens were cutting out articles from Smash-Hits magazine, we were cutting out interviews from Forte.
We adored these guys. They were talented, unique and because they were local and live, they were ours in a way that the big commercial bands of the day could never be. These guys performed the songs that were the sound-track of our youth.
It would be easy for the people in these bands to think, 'we never had big commercial success, so we failed as a band.' But that would be light years away from the truth. With their guts and their talent, their enthusiasm and creativity, these bands inspired and became a part of the fabric of who their fans are today. They have given us memories that will never be taken away. It's an important message for any musician out there, don't try to measure your success or your ability to change lives by the amount of money that you make.
So this has become a long post, but there were some things that I needed to say. Earlier this year I was back in Ballarat and I was able to go and see the Dead Salesman Duo perform. It was a strange experience to have your past and future blur together like that. It's something that I can't even begin to describe. All I can say is that it was special and I was glad to have been able to have had the opportunity and to have been able to share it with my husband and my good friend Suzanna. It was also nice to see Jane there (luckily their were no clowns, at least not in make up). After the show the three of us had a chance to chat to Hap and Ryda and that was special too. They are both very genuine down to earth blokes, although it's hard not to feel shy around your teen idols.
It seems quite poetic to me that Hap is now an English teacher at my old high-school. My adult self knows that he's just a regular guy with a family and job, but the teenage part of me can still see something more, a bit a glow that isn't just stage lighting.
Hap is an amazing guy but like most creatives he struggles with his own self worth. I think it has always been his openness and vulnerability, his willingness to be honest about who he is, combined with his creative talents as a writer and musician that makes him a truly inspiring creative.
Hap Hayward, Cre8tive life lesson: When you create something and share it with others, it has the potential to become a part of their memories and thus stay with them for life.
Cre8tive Q & A
If you could accomplish anything at all in the next twelve months what would your achievements be?
I actually wrote a full length screenplay at the start of the year that I was pretty happy with. A friend roped in a bunch of people and I got to hear a reading of it. It was a great experience so my ultimate achievement would be to get inspired and work on another one. I think the reality is I need to write more to have a chance being read by someone in the ‘biz’...
How do you deal with the fear and doubt that comes with being creative?
There have been times this year that I have said yes to things and I wanted desperately to back out over fear and doubt that I could do it. I’ve been doing that for over twenty years or more. I seem to put myself up for things and almost go into breakdown mode. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone but I guess the payoff is that I feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end of each of these freak outs. Rejection and failure can never be as deep and damaging in reality as opposed to what you imagine beforehand. But I never learn. There must be a better way of dealing with creativity though!
I notice that you are venturing into the world of stand-up comedy, can you tell me a little bit about that?
It is that two sides of the coin thing. I love comedy and I was known as a show off as a kid. I just felt that I was denying myself the chance to explore it. It was too easy to be the moody singer songwriter and just put on that guise like a comfortable old jumper. I called the comedy adventure my ‘bucket list’ wish. I was going to do stand-up once and say I did it. Of course the attention and adrenaline was addictive so I’m still doing it sporadically. To be honest it isn’t much of a stretch to what I was doing before. It is all storytelling. The gap between a sad song and a funny joke is smaller than you think!
Who has been your biggest supporter and why?
My mate Lenny Hyatt has known me since the early days of Primary School. We have always shared many musical and comedic influences. He has seen the worst and best of me and I have seen the best and worst of him. I trust him with what I’m trying to do creatively because he has always been in my corner. We both used to write comedy as kids, music as teenagers, and now we still like to surprise each other. His support is very honest and very real.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your creative footsteps?
I wonder if I had more self-belief that it would have changed or even lessened my creativity in some way. I do think that there is a lot of torment and ‘beating yourself up’ which has gone into my writing and performing. I sometimes think the art is not worth the chaos it has created in my heart and my head. So my advice would be ‘Keep going. Don’t die. Do it for yourself, and take a bloody compliment once in a while.”