For more than quarter of a century Dreamkillers have ruled the underground roost of metal bands in Brisbane.
Although supporting bands of the ilk of Sepultura, Body Count and the Rollins Band over the years, the band has seemingly been content to ply their trade quietly in their home town and country, releasing five E.p's and four albums in a pulsating career that has seen many highs but also reached too many lows.
Controversy has plagued the band from almost the outset and continued through an ill-fated contract deal with Roadrunner Records Australia but throughout it all original member Les Jobson has maintained his integrity and passion and rode each wave through a turbulent career that would have swallowed a lesser man.
After the recent release of Now Look What Happened, Dreamkillers are back with another E.P titled Bad Juju and as Jobson explains all of the ingredients that have proved instrumental in the band's success are still in place.
"We're just letting the steam settle from Now Look What Happened, which we released just after Christmas," he said, "and the single that we recorded for Bad Juju will be out in time for our launch in December. We don't know what distribution it will have just yet but it will be available at the show and online. We're gonna play a few shows to get the kitty back up before we start touring again because we spent it all on recording (laughs)."
Over the years Dreamkillers have seen members come and go, with Jobson being the only original member still performing, and he smiles when pressed if that is down to bad luck or if he is just difficult to get along with.
"Yeah mate, I'm hard to get on with," he laughed. "There are two criteria that I see with a band: you can't have a drug habit that affects your performance and you can't be in another band. Some of the guys I have had have been in five or six other bands and it just becomes ridiculous. You want someone to have ideology - like you jump off a bus and someone goes there's Bill from Dreamkillers, not Bill who plays over there and plays bass for this band or that band... it's not a cohesive unit when it's like that and I think with a band that is important. A good rock band is built from four or five good personalities. With all of my favorite bands, it's not a case of geez the guitarist is good or he's a good singer. It's the whole thing that's going on, you know? Sepultura - it's everyone, isn't it? Foo Fighters - even though Dave Grohl writes a lot of the songs to me he's just one of the boys. Even Slipknot. I know Corey Taylor is a force to be reckoned with but it's still the other boys that hold it together."
Dreamkillers went through an extended hiatus after terminating their contract with Roadrunner Records in the late 1990's, mainly due to the contract ensuring ownership of everything from Jobson's image to his voice remaining the property of the label, and for a long time it seemed like one of the most influential metal/punk bands in Brisbane's history might be railroaded by beaurocratic red tape.
Jobson himself sung for other bands, not game to publically sing his own music from Dreamkillers until 2006 when he decided to run the gauntlet and fly in the face of his oppressors.
"I did other things in the meantime," he recalled, "just not as Dreamkillers. I have an album called The Dark Years and that's all of the stuff I did with other people, my friends that I have gotten along the way. I did record and play - we played a lot of shows as Hazchem - and that's what I did for those six years."
Now Look What Happened marked the first new recordings for Dreamkillers for seven years, and Jobson agrees that while music has changed in his absence, the E.P is a perfect representation of where Dreamkillers and their music are at presently.
"It is mate," he agreed. "We've gone back to standard tuning, four/four rock songs. We grew up on Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult and The Beatles - they are our favorites - so being older now we have just gone for what we like and if your fan base can stay with you then you've done it right. It is a good representation of what we sound like and it's what we like. We've just flung everything we like on the table."
Dreamkillers formed in 1990, releasing their first E.P Poison in the Soup in 1992, and their fan base was as parochial and solid as any local band has ever received. They employed a basic, yet effective tactic, with the band not playing the same town more than once in every six week period, a move that ensured each show would be sold out long before the performance date.
"That was just clever marketing mate," Jobson reflected, "because Australia just isn't big enough. Fuck mate, Rose Tattoo would have been hard pressed pulling off anything other than that in their prime. The pub rock days of Midnight Oil and Skyhooks and Radiators and The Angels, that was a certain time too and I think maybe that was back to the fact that Queensland didn't have that big pub rock scene like N.S.W and Victoria did and we had Joh Bjekie Petersen on our back and by the time it got lifted we were ten years behind the times. Brisbane people were like Christ, you can go out now and not get arrested. You can stand at a cab rank without cops fleecing you and getting you against a wall because that's how bad it was here. It was shocking in Queensland from 1976 - 1986/87. It was hard to live here and hard being young so I think that had a lot to do with it too. By the time we came onto the scene people were learning to appreciate being able to go out and see music and playing once in the same city every six weeks kept the interest. Of course, you have to keep writing music so they will come back again and again but that worked for us."
Another factor that contributed to the bands growing success was the live performance, with Jobson often employing stage props like fire breathing and theatrics that made the show as much visual as it was aural. Often he would prowl the stage wearing only a piece of gaff tape across his genitals, spitting fire and dominating the stage like few others of his era.
"It's Queensland and you get sweaty!" Jobson laughed about his stage attire. "I got sick and tired of carrying clothes around everywhere, leaving shirts hanging off the rear vision mirror on our days off. I thought fuck it, with the clothes over there they'll stay dry but mate, you wanna try and get that tape off! Man. One day in Lismore I pulled it off and said I'm never fucken doing that again and I threw it in the car park and the next morning we saw this little fella poking it with a stick and Terry yelled out 'he fucked a guinea pig' (laughs). This poor little kid was horrified but that's where the gaff tape outfit comes from. I was just sick of fucken sweating and going home with filthy, sweaty clothes. It's easier to just strip them off!"
Dreamkillers music has been just as important as their image, with songs such as Homophobia, The Monster, and On the Night touching on everything from politics to the media to crime, with some of the lyrical content being too confronting for the average punter. Because of this their music was shunned by mainstream music stations and some community stations, with Jobson remaining steadfast in defense of his content.
"Yes, they are confronting," he said without remorse, "but you pay to go onto the ghost train, don't you? People still line up. I remember reading this thing years ago with Alice Cooper and he said - he was an alcoholic at the time - and he was asked what's the secret to your success and he said hit them with money, sex and religion. Fuck 'em. And that stuck in my head for years. He was so right and if you look at all his stuff like 'Billion Dollar Baby' and 'Schools Out' it's fucken money, sex, and religion. People will line up for it. I like those things (laughs)."
On more than one occasion Dreamkillers live performances, coupled with the brutal honesty of the band's lyrics, combined to create controversy, with perhaps one of the most infamous occurrence in Brisbane music history occurring at one of their gigs at the 4ZZZ Market Day.
"Yeah, we've been in a bit of shit," Jobson laughed. "A lot of it was wrong place, wrong time. The mounties came in on us at the Market Day - about twenty of them came in on horses and just started bashing everyone with batons while we were playing! They were bashing people from horse height and there were people running and screaming. It was like a scene out of Braveheart. They just didn't like the look of us mob. There reckoned afterward that there weren't enough toilets and all the guys were pissing under the tree but isn't that what you do? You put up a bit of hession so no-one can see. The tree likes it (laughs). It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think when people get wound up like that... you've seen the pit and some of those people they're not there...in their head... you look at their eyes and it's scary. It's all very well, but if you're not expecting it and you get your jaw broken that's a nasty incident. It takes six months to heal for a night out. Each to their own but it seems pretty silly to me. We used to slam dance and bump into each other and when you had enough you would go and sit down. It was a voluntary thing. I have seen some of it lately and a lot of it is dancing with fists. If a girl cops one of them..."
Throughout all, Jobson has remained unwavering in his opinions, unafraid or unashamed to stand behind every word and lyric. Along the way, the band has had many detractors and divided opinion on topics that most of their contemporaries have refused to touch for fear of alienating fans and media, but Jobson remains steadfast in his convictions, shrugging when asked if he thinks the band's career has been held back in any way by his defiance.
"Of course it has had an effect on our career," he conceded without apology. "I've said a lot of things I shouldn't have but I named that album in 2011 I'm Not Fucken Sorry for a good reason. I'm not fucken sorry. I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I'll quote Lemmy here too. He said 'whatever you're accusing me of, I did it' (laughs) and I thought that is better than standing there arguing no I didn't do that. Whatever you can come up with, that was fucken me!"
Dreamkillers officially release their new E.P Bad Juju at Brisbane's Crowbar on Saturday, December 9, as well their previous E.P Now Look What Happened on the same night. Mad Bax, OAF and Flesh Torrent are supports.
Tickets available from www.crowbarbris.com