The Sea Scouts Interview 31/12/96

GPO Box 325 Hobart, Tasmania 7000


I met Alex of the Sea Scouts when I was backpacking around in Tasmania over the New Year. I was distributing my comic QuickDraw, and gave him some copies. He reciprocated by putting me on the door for his show that night at the Golburn Arms. I was expecting a cool riff or two, but the Scouts totally blew me away. A vibrant chorus of reverb and feedback, backed by minimal, tribal drumming. It was stark yet fascinating, dark and grand. I jumped on the chance to interview them, initially for a 'zine back home in the States. Too few antipodeans know about the Scouts as well, so let's roll the tape--


John: (fades in)...start this thing. Sea Scouts, right. Um, speaking of names, let's just start off with who plays what...


Alex: Sara plays drums....




Tim: Tim plays guitar...


Alex: Alex plays bass guitar.


John: That's cool, um, right, so: various incarnations of Sea Scouts -


Tim: Do you know about it?


John: No.


Tim: Oh.


John: This is for people who have no clue.


Tim: Oh, right. Um, Sea Scouts are a rock and roll band from Hobart, and......

(long pause)


Sara: I didn't even hear the question, could you say it again?


John: Yeah-


(table tilts, spilling beer over everything....)


Sara: Argh!


John: Pause for, uh, beer wipe-up-


(after brief pause)


John: That's Hobart! Unpredictable and sometimes messy. (Looking for confirmation on this one--) Yeah? Maybe?


Sara: Definitely.


John: So, this isn't the first group of people that were called the Sea Scouts, right?


Tim: Nah, it's not. (Warming to the topic) Sea Scouts is a very secret organization-


John: You guys have patches! What's with the cool patches?


Tim: The patches, man-


John: I saw those all around like, Hobart, man...


Tim: Yeah? That's our, um, emblem...and um...it's one of our emblems...here's an example of one here... (a young fellow brandishing a tape recorder materializes. There's some sort of writing on his forehead...)


John: Ah, right.


Andy: I'm the [former] drummer of the Sea Scouts...


John: Oh really. Howdy.


Andy: Andy.


John: Cool.Last name?


Andy: Hazel. With one "l".


John: And it says on your forehead -


Andy: "Shabby Effort", 'cause I am a shabby effort.


John: My goodness, is that a secret slogan of the Sea Scouts?


Andy: No, it's got nothing whatsoever to do with the Sea Scouts, except maybe when it comes to their tunings. That's got nothing to do with me.


John: Got it.


Andy: What's this (indicates group) for?


John: I'm interviewing them for a 'zine in the States.


Tim: Whereabouts in the States is it?


John: Portland, Oregon?


Andy: Great!


Tim: Is that near Chicago?


Andy: It's near Seattle.


John: It's on the West Coast, kinda -


Andy: Population: two hundred fifty-seven thousand as of the 1988 Census.


Sara: What's the difference between Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine?


John: Um....(floundering)


Sara: Or is Portland not even in Maine?


John: There is a Portland Maine -- there's also a Portland in Victoria.


Sara: As in Australia.


John. Yeah!


Sara: Ah, right. I didn't even know that.


Alex: Is Portland Oregon like, Trailblazers, basketball?


John: Trailblazers! Dude! Yeah! Fuckin' A!


Tim: Isn't that where Propaghandi are from? No, they're from Canada.

I saw some band from Portland, Oregon.


Andy: Bongwater was based in Oregon, I think...


John: Well, basically, if Orgeon was an island-


Tim: Is it like Tasmania?


John: Timber, right? Big timber lobby, the Greens are fightin' em,

and, um, what else...it's typified as a redneck state-


Tim: This where you're from?


John: Yeah.


Tim: Oh. Right.


John: And there's a small but vibrant bohemian scene. It's kinda the same kinda thing.


Tim. Right, okay.


John: So like you're with them in spirit.

Okay....different incarnations of Sea Scouts....


Tim: Ahm....there are covert, secret, sections of the Sea Scouts...


John: Right...


Tim: Who perform various activities at a subversive political level...


Alex: The second Hobart division...


John: Were those the guys doing that grafitti in the tunnels under the city?


Alex: Inbred, we'll have to leave it at that....Inbred. Second Hobart division...he's distributed propaganda...


John: (Realizing the possibility of getting a straight answer on "various incarnations of Sea Scouts" is pretty slim) Okay, when I was listening to you guys I was thinking -- a little Sonic Youth, Joy Division, fuck, it's like how the hell do I classify these guys, do I even wanna try. You know, it's good stuff, but how do I explain it to people thousands of miles away, who have never heard you?


Sara: I don't really like even starting to explain it; but, um-


Tim: Everyone should say what their favorite band is.


John: That would be a good start.


Sara: Yeah? Um, my favorite band...I don't really have a favorite band...I have a favorite singer...


Alex: Say things that you like.


Sara: Yeah? I like opera, I like Italian arias, the things I most, most like, are artichoke hearts, opera, um, good books, anything that sounds like home--like, you know, accordions and people telling you to eat, and stuff like that.


John: Okay...cool...


Alex: I like dinosaurs, and I like, uh, Coke and Rasberry - mixed together, and I like black metal from Northern Europe, Nordic regions, Beck, and I like uh, chocolate a lot. I like Smog as well.


John: The band.


Alex: The band, not the stuff.


Tim: I like AC/DC and The Cure.


John: So, you're (Alex) in a heap of other bands, and I think you (Tim) might be in one more too.


Tim: Sort of...


John: What is it with Hobart and everybody playing in like six different bands? Is it like a rule when you're living here, that you have to be in more than one band?


Tim: Nah, it's because there's only a limited supply of particularly drummers and bass players. So-


Alex: Everyone has a go.


Tim: Most people actually play drums in some band...most guitarists play drums in a band...


John: A few words on the Hobart scene for people who have no clue and have never been there...


Tim: It's the way forward.


John: "It's the way forward."


Tim: Yep.


John: Can you top that?


Alex: I'm a guitar player who plays bass and drums in lots of bands.


Tim: It's got nothing to do with America.


John: So they should all come here.


Tim: Yeah.

Sara: (emphatically) But only to look; not to stay.


Tim: Yeah, not to stay.


John: "Not to stay." Look but don't touch.


Sara: What it means, is that as much-- the beauty of this place is that there aren't many people here. As much as I'd love people to come here...it wouldn't be the same if there were millions and millions of people.


Tim: (suddenly serious) You see, the thing about Hobart, is that Tasmania has a very primitive form of capitalism, much more primitive than the breed of capitalism you see in the States. And, um, the whole culture, the whole society, is more primitive, and I think, it's, um, I think that's why bands sound -- different?


John: More raw, more honest?


Tim: Exactly! More raw, more honest. Less, less involved in like, um, you know, big business transactions.


John: Amen. Cool. Alright. Well, finishing it off, what's the future for the Sea Scouts? Singles?


Tim: We just recorded an album, and um, we're trying to get it put out in the States...

if we can find somebody who'll do it.


John: Hint, hint.


Tim: Heh.


John: And the title of the upcoming album?


Sara: No idea.


Alex: Uh, Live At The Arse End Of The World?


Tim: Ha hah!


John: I don't think we can top that so I might as well end this right here.

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