Looking back on the long history of Newcastle's FOUND MY DIRECTION with original members frontman Drew, guitarist Nigel and bassplayer Jonny. Together these three survived and persevered with numerous lineup changes of different drummers and second guitarists to leave behind a classic legacy of Australian hardcore, documented by the release of a demo, a 7 inch, a full length and an EP. Read on as they share the story of Found My Direction.
All photos and video shot by Ryan Willmott, except for Black Box B/W photos by Shane Quill.
FMD at the Black Box late in their existence: Nigel - Guitar, Drew - Vocals, Jon - Bass, Brad - Drums.
Let’s start at the very beginning. Can you remember how FMD first came together and who initiated the whole idea?
DREW – Nigel, Daniel and I were playing in a band and we wanted to do something a little heavier, more in line with the stuff we were listening to. Mark and Daniel went to school together, and we knew Mark through skating and various other pursuits and just because Maitland is Maitland. We had met Jon when we went to see his band Anomie and we started to hang out a bit more and it all sort of fell into place. We were all pretty tight before FMD kicked off.
NIGEL - I think it was Mark. A band Drew and I were in at the time called Urban Jersey would practice at Mark’s house. During breaks Mark and Daniel would jam with Drew and I on cover songs and it sort of stemmed from there. Jon heard about it and wanted in, Urban Jersey was no longer fun so Drew and I jumped ship to focus on FMD.
JON - Drew and Nigel were playing with Mark and would play after Urban Jersey would play. I was playing in a band called Anomie and so met the guys at shows and went skating with them at Daniel’s half pipe which was in a barn on a farm in Maitland. I knew they were looking for a bass player so kind of just dropped hints till they asked me to play.
Musically what bands influenced FMD and was the band’s sound the result you were going for from the get go?
DREW – Man, I just sang so I didn’t have much sway with regards to sound, but for me it was bands like Pitfall, Toe to Toe, Mindsnare, Minor Threat and Bad Religion. It just had to be fast and heavy and I guess it just developed from there.
NIGEL - Pitfall, One Life Crew, Battery, Ignite, Mouthpiece, Strife just the sort of hardcore stuff that was current at the time.
JON - One Life Crew, Chain of Strength, In Cold Blood, Ignite, Strain, One Life Crew, Bold, Youth Of Today, One Life Crew, Mouthpiece, Gorilla Biscuits, Minor Threat, Strife, Integrity and One Life Crew. I guess we were going for a kind of straight up, youth crew style sound but with heavier breakdowns.
What was the first show FMD played?
NIGEL - This is up for debate, but the way I remember it, the first time was playing What Remains by Mouthpiece and Cataract by Strain at a party in Maitland, which was tacked onto the end of an Urban Jersey set. Then we did the same couple of songs a few weeks later at the Black Box. We then were given the chance to open for Ultimatum at the Rock Shop and by then had a few songs written so we had progressed from being a cover band so to speak. To me that was our real first show, where we played an original set.
JON - It was upstairs at a record store in Newcastle, the Rock Shop.
So with the split demo with Arms Reach, how did that come about? Who’s idea was it to do a split demo?
DREW – Our bands had begun at roughly the same time and played a lot of shows together. I’d been friends at school with Luke and was a big fan of Pitfall, through that we’d got to know the AR crew. I think it was those guys who initiated the split. It made sense. We played most of the same shows and a lot of the same people would’ve bought both our demos anyway. Plus it allowed us to split costs, which was a big help in those DIY times. It’s funny thinking back how much of a personal touch there is with demo tapes. The cut and paste layout, putting the label stickers on the cassette or even handwriting it, hand cutting and folding the inserts then standing at your car or merch desk selling it at shows.
NIGEL - I’m pretty sure it was Luke Dolan. It was good for us as Arms Reach was already playing a few shows and were quite popular. I’m pretty sure most of the tapes sold were for their side of the demo.
JON - I think it was Luke’s (Arms Reach) idea…. But we were all definitely keen, because we all loved his previous band Pitfall and Arms Reach were well liked, so it helped us get off to a good start. Also the other singer Ben from Arms Reach was the singer in my first band, Anomie.
So FMD was playing shows before the demo dropped right?
NIGEL - Yeah a couple by that stage. We definitely hadn’t played outside of Newcastle.
Original lineup live at the Bulli PCYC on the 29th of November 1997.
What can you remember about recording the demo? Where did you guys do it?
DREW – We went to the only place there was that had guys who were, at least interested in punk and hardcore and that was Arc Up. It was where we practiced as well. It was like a dark and dingy cave. That was part of its charm but I use that word very loosely. Nigel and I had recorded there previously with positive results so that was a plus. A lot of the early Newcastle stuff came out of Arc Up. I was just pumped to be in there as a new band banging out our first songs.
NIGEL - It was done at Arc Up. Was a good time, but I’m sure we were all tired and grumpy by the end of it. Most likely done on a Sunday afternoon/night when most of us had work or uni the next morning.
JON - We recorded the demo over a weekend at Arc Up studios in Newcastle. Arc Up is a small studio run by guys who played in bands in Newcastle. Geoff Mullard recorded it with Andrew Macdonald. Geoff was in a punk band called The Hoax. I remember seeing them play with Massappeal, which was one of the first shows I ever went to.
Black Box flyer from December 4th 1999 featuring Arms Reach & FMD.
It seemed like the Newcastle Hardcore Scene really started to take off when you guys and Arms Reach were playing shows together?
DREW – I remember there were always shows going on up here way before FMD started. I had always heard about them before I started going to shows. It was real DIY stuff. Anywhere that could be found to have a show, houses, sheds, back yards, skate parks, community halls, old clubs, out the back of shops. A lot of bands, all types of punk and HC or whatever on the same bills. Straight up hardcore, grind and crust, pop punk, surf, screamo, even rock bands. There were a fair few zines around as well. Everyone seemed to help each other out. Locals up here just really seemed to love going to shows and supporting their local bands.
I’m not really sure what went before them and I could be way wrong and upset a few of the real old school crew but bands like No Reason, Pitfall, Anomie, Disengage, Nihilist, Big Men Fly, as far as I could tell, were the ones that really got the ball rolling up here. The shows just seemed to get bigger and bigger and FMD eventually got to enjoy and build on the spoils of that. I do remember it certainly seemed to pick up when the Black Box all ages shows started to become must see shows. The locals and bands and people that travelled made for some of the best shows I ever played. That place became the heart of NCHC and I’d even go as far to say it was held in high regard within Australian HC. Most of the travelling bands would comment how much they enjoyed playing there. The place was fucking insane and even more so when a hometown band would play.
NIGEL - I was still only new to things, however I remember the Hardcore Superbowl in Newcastle that was Pitfall’s last show. One Inch Punch and Price of Silence also played. I remember that drawing the biggest crowd I had seen to date. It was an epic show. FMD had started up around this time and I think the momentum was already building.
JON - Yeah definitely, I’m not sure if it was because of us or because of other reasons, but shows were getting bigger. Newcastle already had some really good bands…. bands that influenced members of both FMD and Arms Reach like: Big Men Fly, Angry Earth Mother, The Hoax, No Reason and Disengage.
The scene was different back in the early to mid nineties. There were a lot more ‘crusties’ which I guess would be called ‘revos’ now. Bands seemed to have more of a message … like veganism or environmental conservation. Shows were a lot smaller and so was the merch table, if there was one. The scene was more punk I guess. Most shows were put on by the bands themselves. Things started to get bigger when the Black Box All Ages shows started up.
In January of 98 you recorded the “Before Their Time” 7 inch at Arc Up Studios. What can you remember of your time in the studio?
DREW -I remember one main thing. We took in One Life Crew’s “Crime Ridden Society" and told Geoff that we wanted our drums to sound like that. He had played in a few punk bands, had a good ear for music and did, what I think, was a great job in a pretty small amount of time.
One of my favourite parts of recording was when you got to take the rough mix out to the car to see if it sounded good on the tape deck. That was the test because that’s where a lot of people would listen to it and if it sounded good on a shitty car stereo, it’d sound good anywhere. FIve guys and a few extras crammed into a car with fingers crossed that it sounded good.
NIGEL - The recording went really smoothly (for once) and we were feeling pretty good about it at the time. The result was way better than expected. I remember telling my girlfriend that it sounded like “Crime Ridden Society”. But, by that I had meant was that it came out sounding unlike anything I had heard that had come before out of Arc Up.
JON - I always enjoyed recording with FMD, we are still all close friends and playing in a band with a bunch of mates is fun. We recorded the 7 inch in a short time as well.
Were any of you guys in the photo on the cover of that 7-inch or was that your friend Fuzz that you dedicated the record to?
DREW – Nah they were all Fuzz’s mates sitting on a skate ramp in front of a mural dedicated to Fuzzy, Mark’s little brother who had passed away. He was always hanging with us and probably heard FMD before anyone else. He was a top little fella, a real character and would give every bit as well as he got when it came to having a laugh with us lads. He loved FMD and talked us up to his mates. The record was also dedicated to Daniel’s sister who had also recently passed.
JON - The guys in the photo are Fuzzy’s mates in front a skate bowl which they spray painted "Fuzz" on. Fuzzy is Mark’s brother who passed away. Fuzzy was a big part of the band. When we were around at Mark’s he would grab an instrument and mimic one of us. He was a funny boy who will always be missed.
Interestingly enough none of the eight songs off the demo made it onto the 7 inch. Why was that?
DREW – Maybe our newer songs were just so awesome we couldn’t deny the world any longer. Seriously though, the demo was pretty much all of the songs we had at that time and we just wanted to get them out so we would have people singing along at shows. I guess we just wanted to move forward.
Of course, you had to do a demo before a 7”, to pay your dues and all. The ability to record at home on a computer wasn’t really an option like it is now so you had to save up for the recording studio and got a very limited amount of time to record, well at least until we “signed” with a major label like Resist. Then it was 5 star all the way baby.
NIGEL - We were writing heaps of songs during that period and I guess felt it didn’t make sense to re-record songs that had already been done. At the time we didn’t even know they would end up being on a 7 inch.
JON - I think at the time we just wanted to put new songs on it. Its more fun recording and playing new songs I reckon.
The 7inch got some pretty rave reviews in MRR (Maximum Rock N Roll) didn’t it?
DREW - I recall it getting a good review from some zines overseas but I’m not too sure which ones. It was always good to hear positive reviews. It was a buzz just to think that pre the Internet being what it is today, with downloads, social networking or whatever, that people overseas had even heard our stuff.
NIGEL - From memory yeah. Overall I think it got mostly good reviews given the fact it was full of One Life Crew and Pitfall riffs. It was also pretty raw. You don’t have to listen closely to hear my fuck ups.
JON - Yeah… we were stoked with that… a band from Newcastle getting a good review in MRR. We didn’t start the band to get good reviews or anything like that, but you know you would read interviews in there of bands you liked and we were just happy to even get a mention.
Did MRR start the misconception that FMD were a straight edge band? Many people presumed you were due to the name and that iconic harbor cruise shot of Drew in a Chain of Strength shirt that was used a lot? Was anyone in the band ever edge?
DREW – That shot was taken at a show we did in a house in some industrial estate in Wollongong, which was transferred at the last minute when a show at the youth centre got canned. Ahh the good old days, 3hrs in a car to play in a bedroom. I remember it went off though. Somebody wrote somewhere that it looked as though I, in my Chain of Strength shirt, was turning my back on those guys with the beers and it sort of grew from there.
Being perceived as straight edge was probably a benefit with regards to support in those days. It was definitely never our intention but people, for some reason, even though we stated we weren’t in quite a few interviews, always just assumed we were. Maybe the name did have that vibe to it. We played with a lot of sXe bands and at all ages shows there was never much drinking or whatever going on anyway.
Straight edge was quite prevalent during that time, and its message was delivered quite strongly by some bands, zines and some edgers made their disdain for non-edgers very well known. I remember going to some shows could be pretty intimidating. I did listen to a lot of sXe bands but there were a lot around to listen to. We were never a sXe band and no one was ever X on the hand straight but a couple of us stopped drinking at one time or another for our own reasons.
NIGEL - I believe the photo was from a show played in a bedroom in Wollongong. The reason I remember so well because the drive home from the show was quite memorable. No one in the band was straight edge, but I’m sure from time to time Drew dabbled with it although he would never come out and say it.
JON - Not sure how that started, but none of us were ever straight edge. Drew didn’t really drink for a while and I guess we played a lot of all ages shows so we wouldn’t drink at those shows. But we made up for it at local shows at the Hunter on Hunter, ha-ha. That photo of Drew was taken at a party in Wollongong. We all loved a lot of straight edge bands and had good mates who were straight edge and we all used to get along. Newcastle didn’t seem to be divided into straight edge shows and drunk shows. Shows were a mixed bag of styles and beliefs.
FMD at the Hunter on Hunter in Newcastle around 2000.
You know a lot of people still rate that 7 inch as the best Australian hardcore 7 inch ever? Bet you never expected to hear that decades later?
DREW – It’s a bit hard for me to comment about whether it was/is that good, but it certainly meant a great deal to me and still does. Comments like yours do pop up from time to time and it’s a massive compliment and great to think we had an impact, which I guess is what you hope for your music, especially punk music. We went through a fair bit before that, both personally as mates and as a band and it’s there on that record in one way or another. It really does feel good that it seemed to hold a place in people’s hearts and continues to do so.
NIGEL - Definitely not. I’m stoked that people even know we existed. I’m sure it’s more so for the fact that it was Resist 001.
JON - No not at all… it still makes me smile hearing it… its been from people who I respect a lot too. We were just trying to get some songs out there and we were honoured to be on a label run by a hero of ours in Scott from Toe to Toe and Graham Nixon who had been around for a while at shows and loved hardcore.
FMD at the Iron Duke Hotel sometime in 1999.
It didn’t take long for everyone to have their own meaning of the FMD abbreviation. Five Maitland Dudes was one and then Julian Tatang wrote a piece in his Satan Sauce zine saying how he thought it meant Fuck Me Dead. Were there any others you can recall?
DREW – You’re not trying hard enough, there were heaps. Fuck My Dog, Felch My Dad, Flog My Dick, Finger My Date, should I go on? It actually did, for an extremely brief moment of time, go by Julian’s definition, but that was before the band was even a real band. The name may have given rise to those edge rumors as well, it’s got that (cheesy) youth crew vibe to it.
NIGEL - It originally started as Fuck Me Dead as we weren’t taking it seriously, but as things got a little more serious Drew came up with Found My Direction. I guess it suited as we wanted to be a youth crew style band and had a song with the same title.
JON - Ha-ha yeah some I can remember were Feltch My Donkey, Feel My Doodle, Found My Doodle and Fan My Dong…… or did I just make that one up?
Did FMD tour on the 7 inch at all out of NSW? I really can’t recall you guys going to anywhere more than Melbourne once or twice maybe?
DREW – We went to Melbourne quite a few times and to Adelaide but not really any other major cities. It wasn’t really done too much. Some bands went to Brisbane or New Zealand or whatever but flying was super expensive, so for us it was into the van, try to get time off work and hope you got enough money from the shows to cover van hire and fuel (though you rarely did) if you wanted to go anywhere.
We hit a few regional towns. Our cars could find Sydney by memory. We certainly made our mark on the F3 that’s for sure. Melbs was always a top time, we met some awesome people and we were always made to feel very welcome during a time when there was a bit of a rivalry between NSW and VIC/SA Hardcore.
NIGEL - The only places FMD ever played outside of Newcastle was Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Wollongong and Port Macquarie. We never really toured to promote a release, it was more a case of uni holidays for me that we timed things for interstate shows.
JON - We went to Melbourne a few times which we were stoked to do. We loved playing in Melbourne. I can’t recall getting any offers to play many other places out of NSW. Hardcore bands were only just starting to tour to other states and there weren’t a lot of venues that would put shows on. The hardcore scene was very different to today.
Original lineup playing "Get Up" off the Before Their Time 7 inch at the Iron Duke 8th August 1998.
So after the 7 inch you lost original members guitarist Daniel and drummer Mark. Can you recall why they split?
DREW – Mark telling us he was leaving came as quite a shock to me and I was really hoping he’d realize how selfish he was being. He was going off to uni in Sydney and he thought it would be for the best and besides, his skills behind the kit were really getting quite sloppy and second rate and it was hampering our rise to the top. (Just kidding. It was a real shame and it sucked big time losing Grazza). Ironically our next drummer came from Sydney. Things with Daniel just didn’t really work anymore, nothing specific but band “politics” are an unnecessary evil that can and have ruined many a band. It wasn’t ideal but it’s all cool between us. Dan got up and sang with us at Nigel’s last show.
NIGEL - Mark was moving to Sydney to continue with his degree but I guess he also wasn’t really feeling it anymore. He came back to play a show when we supported Frenzal and Toe to Toe at the Metro. As for Daniel, he got the boot. I don’t think there is any bad blood over it these days.
JON - Daniel left due to a few issues and Mark left because he wanted to focus on his career and his side project MC T.Nam
New lineup playing "Out Of Hand" off the Before Their Time 7 inch at the Iron Duke 12th December 1998.
So then how did Wayneo and Rod Pack come to join the band?
DREW – We tried a drummer, Renno, that was in Anomie with Jon but it didn’t really gel. Graham (Resist) hooked us up with Wayne, who is a great drummer and we all got on which was a big plus. It went well for ages but eventually the distance and travel got too much when we were trying to write songs and rehearse and soon drummer No. 3 was gone as well. Luckily we were able to entice Brad to split his time between his band Case for Jefferson and us. Brad is an awesome drummer and was already a mate so it felt like he belonged straight away.
Rod, I think, we sort of lined up as we were parting ways with Dan. We were all massive Pitfall fans and even bigger fans of his fret board wizardry. We had gotten to know Rod pretty well from all the local shows, which he always supported without fail. If there was a chord being struck in anger Rod would be there, which is pretty much still true to this day.
NIGEL - I think Graham (Nixon) put us onto Wayne. He lived 3 hours away but was willing to come up and practice. I had seen him play in Veto and was stoked he wanted to join. Good drummers were hard to come by. It worked out well. He was an awesome drummer to play with. As for Rod, we were keen to get him in the band. He was a good friend and had played in Pitfall. We were stoked when he agreed to join.
JON - Wayneo was recommended to us by Graham at Resist and he was drumming in a band called Veto which we all liked. Rod Pack used to play in Pitfall so we knew him and knew he was an axe shredder…. So we asked him to join.
FMD at the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre with Rod Pack on guitar and Wayneo on drums.
Next release was Burn All White Flags, which came out in 2000. You guys did this record at Turtlerock Studios in Sydney and had guest appearances from Scotty Mac (Toe To Toe) and Joel (Not For You). What do you remember from this session?
DREW – It was our first time in a “real” studio so we were heaps excited. I think we stayed at Marks for 3-4 days while we recorded, we may have even played a show or two while we were there.
Toe to Toe were one of my favourite bands and I remember nervously asking Nixon if he thought Scott would do it and was stoked when he said yes. Joel was another person we really hoped would sing on the album. Not for You were a band I loved and we got to know them pretty well through shows and stuff. Their songs from the Ultimatum split are still, to this day, some of my faves. Both guys really came through.
The album sonically was a disappointment and was not what we were hoping for. I like a lot of the songs from that album but I can’t really listen to it. Not a good follow up to something that was so well received.
NIGEL - I remember being stoked that Scotty Mac was singing on it as Toe to Toe was (and still are) one of my favourite bands. It was also cool that the Not For You lads came up to hang out and have Joel sing as well. In the end though I was really unhappy with how it was mixed and the final result. Recording was a lot more hit and miss back then, than now. Unless you had a massive budget, you basically had to settle with what you could afford. I’m really happy with the songs that were written on that album however.
JON - Having Scott and Joel do guest vocals was awesome. We loved both of their bands and we were all excited to have them on an FMD record. It was an honour and a privilege. I remember Scott brought Beans from Toe to Toe in and he was hilarious, just things he said were funny.
I also remember being disappointed in the final sound of the recording. The kick drum was so loud and we asked repeatedly about it but were told that it will be okay. Then when it was mastered they had to try and lower the kick drum and could only do so by compromising the sound of the whole album.
Two songs from the Black Box in Newcastle on the 18th of Sept 1999. Joel from Not For You joins in for "Right In The Eye".
Burn All White Flags was pressed as a 12 inch by 625 Records over in the US. How did FMD end up on a thrash/grind label famous for releases by the likes of Spazz, Charles Bronson and What Happens Next?
DREW – Because of our quality thrash and grind numbers of course. I’m not 100% on this but I think Max from 625 had heard the 7” and was pretty into it. It certainly is out of place when you go through the 625 discography up until and after that point. Graham had told him that we were about to record the follow up and he wanted in, which was another massive compliment and something of a spin out, just that he had even of heard of us. I just wish we gave him what he was expected. Sorry 625, so endeth the great 625/ FMD youth crew experiment.
NIGEL - Max was a big fan of the 7 inch and wanted to release what we did next. It’s a shame that he took a chance on us and we couldn’t produce something as solid as the 7 inch.
JON - Yeah that was a bit of a surprise for us too. I think Graham from Resist Records was dealing with 625 Records and they asked if they could do it. Spazz also have a song that samples a “GO !” from an FMD song on the ‘Before Their Time’ 7 inch.
Launch shows for "Burn All White Flags" at the Iron Duke Hotel.
FMD playing "My Brothers, My Friends" live at the Iron Duke, 9th of July 2000.
This release contained what would become a bit of a FMD anthem in that of “My Brothers, My Friends”. How does it rate in terms of your fave FMD songs and what would they be?
DREW – I don’t know why but I know the exact time and place it was written for some strange reason. I remember that after a while, when we played it, people always added an extra chorus, which wasn’t a bad thing of course. You can never have enough gang back ups and pile ons. A lot of my favorite moments with FMD have come from that song.
I think the 7” songs and the earlier stuff are some of my faves. “Out Of Hand” was one song I always ripped in on when we played. The inspiration or catalyst for a song will always be important and it’s what you want to convey above all, but memories from playing songs live and people’s reaction to them, for me personally, also makes a song good. Though one song, “What Wasn’t Yours” means a fair bit to me and we almost never played it live. The stuff I wrote still holds true with me for the most part, there’s nothing I wrote that I wouldn’t sing and stand by to this day, I think???
NIGEL - I think it’s an awesome song. Jon wrote awesome riffs for it and I think Drew’s lyrics are brilliant as well. I remember why Drew wrote that song so it means a lot to me personally in that sense but as far as songs go about friendship I think it stands up pretty well. As far as favourite songs, I really like ‘Give and Get’, as it’s a little different to the rest of our songs. I also really like ‘Out of Hand’ as the crowd used to respond to it really well. ‘Burn All White Flags’ as well, once again I think Jon wrote awesome riffs and lyrics for that one. They are just a couple off the top of my head.
JON - I always liked playing that song. We were a band that wrote songs to get people dancing or singing along, well that was our aim anyway. So for me any song that had good mosh parts or sing-alongs were my favourite to play. I really liked playing ‘Out of hand’, ‘Hoax’ and ‘Get Up’.
That same year you guys headlined Hardcore 2000 with Mindsnare. How did it feel to reach this level of popularity in a relatively short amount of time?
DREW – Did we really headline? Are you sure? Short amount of time, are you serious? C’mon Willy it was 3 years of hard slog up until then, fuck show some respect. We did have the “best Australian 7” ever”. Your words not mine. Ha-ha.
Seriously though, we got great support for the most part, especially in Newcastle but we didn’t have it all our own way. We got labeled as sell outs by a few people for “signing” with Resist, which was just stupid given that Resist wasn’t even really an actual label until we got asked to be on it, and even then it was just a small operation, but it was a sign of the DIY times. It created a bit of animosity from some sections of the scene towards us from then on, but thankfully we appealed to a wider audience, which nullified a lot of the other crap. I guess we were fairly aware that we had a good following but we never ever took it that it’d always be that way. I think that’s how it should be though, keep earning that support, the battle is all part of it and people will let you know if you’re slipping. Nothing like a kid saying to your face that you’re new CD is a piece of shit to keep you on your toes. (I’m not bitter, I swear).
NIGEL - From memory it was actually at the Palais in Newcastle. It sucked, no one wants to play after Mindsnare. I remember as we were setting up and they were packing up Beltsy saying it was the worst set they had ever played which came as no comfort, they still blew everyone off the stage that night. I never really saw us as popular because we were still doing tonnes of shows with only 20 people showing up. Until we finished that never really changed.
JON - It didn’t seem like that short of a time for us, but I know what you mean. Playing any show with Mindsnare is humbling enough but we would just play at whatever time slot we were told to. I guess things did happen pretty quick for us but we were just happy if people danced to us or knew the words.
So next release was The Path Remains, which was 7 new songs coupled with the Before Their Time tracks. This one was done at St. Andrews in Melbourne wasn’t it? Any memories?
DREW – Graham Nixon punishing us to stick to schedule and stop fucking about and him generally getting stuck into anything and everything the whole trip. Classic Graham and very, very funny. Always a good road trip when Graham was with us. Nixon + tour van = good times and classic comments. I can’t thank him enough for what he did for us.
St. Andrews studio was good and thankfully we got the result we were after. A couple of other HC bands had recorded there and Graham suggested we go down there and have a crack. I really like that record although, judging by the list at the bottom of the interview, I’m in the minority. Couldn’t even move 1000 of those things eh? Even with the 7” on the end. I remember people saying how different it was to our early stuff but I can’t really say when or how our sound changed. It was certainly not a deliberate thing by us as a band. I think that the songs are right up there with my favourite FMD songs.
NIGEL - Yeah at Saint Andrews, it was where most Resist bands were recording at the time. Just going to Melbourne to record was really exciting for us. It was a really good time for me, I had just finished Uni and when the recording was done Drew, Mark and myself were off to Canada for six weeks. Also any extended time with Nixon was good as well, he was a good friend and always had us in stitches. I still laugh at some of the things he used to say. As for the recording, it went really well and we were really happy with the end result. Personally I think it is a solid set of FMD songs, which I stand by.
JON - We always had a good time in Melbourne catching up with mates and playing shows. I think the recording turned out well. We didn’t have the big budgets that some bands have, but for the couple of days we were there its not too bad. We tried to do something a little different with that album and not just the standard, but in hindsight that’s probably what FMD did well.
FMD at the Iron Duke 28/10/2000, playing 08/08 off "The Path Remains".
FMD actually recorded and started playing as a four piece not long after. What happened with Rod Pack and why not try and find another replacement?
DREW – Rod told us he was leaving and it did come as a bit of a shock to me. I think Rod got sick of us teasing him about his massive mobile phone or awesome backing vocals. We had to hire an extra van to cart his phone around on tour. I think he wanted to concentrate on his band Bare Knuckle Fight, which was more of the style he wanted to be playing. Totally amicable and we respected his honesty. I think Nigel was confident with taking on sole guitar duties. It’s a big set back when you lose a member of your crew when you’ve been playing together for a while and we were pretty set in our ways so we didn’t bother really looking.
NIGEL - Rod was over it. He wanted to focus on his other band. I guess we were so over line up changes. We now had Brad on drums and we were pretty stable. It would have been good to have a second guitarist but not long after we broke up.
JON - Rodpack said he was too old to play hardcore anymore, so wanted to leave. I’m not sure why we didn’t look for a replacement guitarist.
I always liked the fact that it wasn’t just Drew who wrote lyrics for the band but Jonny and Nigel also used to contribute. How would the song writing process in FMD operate?
NIGEL – For the most part either Jon or myself would come up with the riffs and in most cases with Jon he would do lyrics as well. A lot of the time for the songs I would write Drew would do the lyrics. Sometimes I would come up with some, usually they would be about a break up with a girl or something, hardly youth crew material.
JON - Usually someone would make up a song and bring it to band practice and we would work on it, change it or add some other riffs or whatever. Then Drew would either: write lyrics to it ;or would fit lyrics he had already written to it; or would work the music structure with us to fit his vocal arrangement. If Nigel or I were keen to write lyrics we would write the music then work on it at practice then write the lyrics to fit then Drew would work on the lyrics with us and work out a way to sing them.
Burn All White Flags era shirt design. Live pic from the Iron Duke.
Can you recall all the merch designs FMD did? I only remember the live shot of Drew in the air from the Iron Duke, purely because I shot the photo. Surely there were others?
DREW – We had a few; the original hoodies were pretty popular. Mostly it was just T’s with our name in various fonts. Pretty run of the mill stuff. A couple of custom designs, the odd basketball jersey. We couldn’t have survived off our merch sales like the bands today that’s for sure. I still have some in my cupboard at home, perfect for the 7ft tall individual. Baggy shirts were the shit back then kids. Get your xxxxxl FMD snuggies.
NIGEL - The first design was done by Dave Olteanu, which was on a white shirt with blue sports writing with a muscly bloke dancing with a chain. After that the only ones I can remember is the one that had "Found my Direction" written numerous times in yellow on a navy blue shirt. There was one done by Dave from Within Blood's flatmate (Simon) that was a tattoo design with a nautical theme. That’s about all I can remember.
JON - That was my favourite shirt. We had others that were simple fonts and I remember one that was like a nautical themed one with a compass that was pretty cool.
Various FMD shirt designs taken from pics shot by Shane Quill at the Black Box.
What about the covers FMD used to play live, there were a few?
DREW- I had this discussion with Nigel the other night when I said if we ever played again we should do all the covers we’ve ever played. He started naming them and I’d forgotten a lot of them. There maybe some missing, but I think they were -
Strain-Cataract, Battery-That Will Never Be Me, Mouthpiece-What Remains, Cause for Alarm-Eyes of War, One Life Crew-Too Much Authority, Bare Knuckle Fight-Abandon Hope, Dag Nasty-Values Here, Descendents-Hope, 7 Seconds-Young Til I Die, No For An Answer-Man Against Man, Raised Fist-Break Free and ‘We Bite’ by The Misfits.
FMD at the Black Box, photo by Shane Quill.
Got any favourite memories of the band?
DREW – 3 words “Newcastle All Ages!!!” The Black Box shows in Newcastle hold some awesome memories. Both watching and playing. It felt as if that joint would explode some nights.. One night the stage collapsed under me. It was only held up by milk crates in some sections. I had a pile of people on top of me that reached the roof I swear. Some of the best line ups of bands from all over the place and kids travelling from far and wide. I remember once the NZ crew came with their kick boxing and said we were stuck in our circle pit time warp. When the two styles met I remember it was an intense thing to watch and I ventured a little too close and I copped a black eye from a stray spinning kick.
I worked close to the black box and sometimes on Friday arvos you would see kids with backpacks, HC shirts and hoods getting off trains and busses and I’d get really pumped for the show. Pre social media you had to rely on word of mouth, zines and flyers put up near the local schools on late night missions etc. to get the word out and you had no idea until you got there how many kids were going to rock up. Just driving in around the back and seeing who was there was one of the great parts of playing those shows.
Meeting all the people we did and the road trips were always a blast and just the band in general, playing hardcore with my best mates. Enough said.
NIGEL - Too many. It was such an awesome time. We achieved way more than we set out to do. Playing with tonnes of awesome bands from here and overseas, making friends with people from all over the country and the world and last but not least being the first band to do a release on Resist.
JON - Just playing shows, hanging out with mates and road trips.
FMD at the Black Box, photo by Shane Quill.
Can you recall why the band split up originally?
DREW – Nigel had decided to head overseas for work and I guess it’d been me him and Jon since day one. He and I had played music together since high school so something just didn’t sit right with me for him to not be there writing songs or whatever. Jon and Brad had what was, at that time, a side project going with Life Love Regret, so I just thought that the time was nigh. There may have even been a diva moment on my behalf and I may have (unsuccessfully) issued an ultimatum, but it wasn’t to be and FMD was done. Thankfully though, our friendship remained solid. We had a good run and, according to some, had peaked a long time ago.
NIGEL - I wanted to go and live in Canada so I was out. Pete from Restraint replaced me and I think after a few shows they split up. Jon and Brad had LLR and personally I think FMD had run its course.
JON - I think once Nigel went to Canada it just didn’t seem right to play without him. We had Pete Bursky on guitar, from Restraint, who were a band we all loved. Pete was an excellent guitarist, but it just felt weird without big Nige on the axe.
Perhaps the final FMD show at the Green Square Hotel with Pete Bursky on guitar.
Was there ever a last show or anything?
DREW - We got Pete Bursky from Restraint on guitar for a few shows but it just wasn’t there for me anymore. We did have a ripper (very loose) show at the Hunter on Hunter (Another iconic Newcastle HC venue) to send Nigel off which thankfully, or not depending on how you look at it, we got on video. I remember my girlfriend found me asleep on the footpath (it was an emotional night) about 5 mins before we played but I got up and we had a ball in front of our friends, other bands and all the people who’d come to see Nige off. There wasn’t an official last show for the band though, for me that was it. No disrespect but it never really felt the same after that.
NIGEL - Not for the band, but I had a final show and it was a memorable night at the Hunter on Hunter hotel. Drew has the video and is too lazy to put it onto a dvd for me.
JON - No not really.
Any regrets? Were there any unrecorded songs that never saw the light of day?
DREW – Regrets? Not really. Maybe just the sound of the 12’’. We did record songs for a split with Next Step from Melbourne, but we weren’t happy with the sound so we canned it and felt pretty shitty doing it to those guys (especially Posi Chris as he had been awesome getting us shows etc. when we went to Melbourne). We were both really excited for the split. The sound was terrible, the tape machine fucked up in the studio and the speed of the songs varies heaps and at times I sound like Kamahl.
NIGEL - Definitely no regrets except for the sound on Burn All White Flags and the artwork on Path Remains. There is a bunch of songs we did for a split with Next Step. We were not happy with them so we aborted that project (sorry Posi-Chris). Those songs are out there somewhere.
JON - I regret not getting some of our merch and posters and things like that.
FMD at the Iron Duke circa 1999.
Do you think FMD would ever play a reunion show?
DREW - Never say never. It’s one of those things that I want to do but it’s been a long time. My fear is that the time for a reunion has long since passed and I question whether anyone would even really want it. Right now we are a memory for those who saw us play and I guess a wish for people who discovered us after we were gone and I’d really hate to fuck with it by coming back and not living up to that. I mean, a poor performance could seriously devalue those 7” that people are trading these days so I’m just thinking of their well being as well. Plus these youngsters today love their music tight and heavy as fuck and we, my friend, were neither.
NIGEL – We did a show in 2003 for a friends 21st at the Cambridge and may do a show or two this year. We will see. We are all still good friends, I mean Drew, Mark, John, Brad and Rod I still consider some of my closest mates. The only thing that gets in the way are outside commitments such as family, careers, other bands etc.
JON - Not sure, its hard now because Mark and I are over in Perth… and also I’m not sure if it would be good, its been a while ha-ha.
FMD at the Black Box in 1999
How do you hope FMD are best remembered?
DREW – To be remembered at all is good, it’s been a while. I guess I hope we made people stop and think every now and then and if our music meant something to someone then that is more than enough.
NIGEL - Hopefully just a bunch of lads who loved playing hardcore.
JON - As a bunch of easy going lads.
Any final words?
DREW – Thanks for remembering and looking back Willy. Your memory is phenomenal. It’s nice to know someone cares. Love the site. Good to see the flame still burns. Shout out to Nigel Melder (legend) for his kind words regarding the 7”. One of many great people, including yourself, we had the privilege to get to know through all of this.
NIGEL - Thanks for the interview Willy, it’s nice to be remembered, hardcore is a lot bigger than what it was and it’s flattering that FMD are acknowledged in some circles of today’s scene. Also thanks to Graham from Resist, he gave us a start, helped us out to no end and I’m stoked that he and Resist have gone on to become what it has, he deserves it.
JON - Thanks for interviewing us Willy and thanks for remembering a bunch of washed up no bodies. Some things were hard to remember…. It’s been a while.
Black box backups
Life After FMD:
Drew – Went on to front Inside A Lie.
Jon - Went on to form Life Love Regret, Dropsaw, The Deadwalk and played in Taking Sides.
Nigel – Formed Inside A Lie with Drew and Brad.
Brad – Played in Case For Jefferson, Draw The Line, Inside A Lie, Life Love Regret, The Deadwalk and now in Hurt Unit.
Rod – Played in Bare Knuckle Fight and Shitfight
Wayne – Currently in the Straw Dogs and Shinobi with Eric Grothe Jnr.
Mark – MC for T.Nam
Arms Reach Split Demo
Approx. 100 copies – Out of Print
Download it here
Before Their Time
500 copies – Out of Print
100 copies – Baby Blue
400 copies – Black
Download it here
Got a copy on Bay Blue? Then head over here and add your name to the list as we attempt to track down the 100 copies..
Burn All White Flags
Resist Records – CD Pressing
1000 copies – Out Of Print
625 Records – LP Pressing
100 copies - Clear
400 copies – Black
Click Here To Order A Copy.
The Path Remains
Click Here To Order A Copy.
Thanks to Drew, Nigel and Jonny for taking the walk down the FMD memory lane.
1. Resist Records
2. Drew FMD
7. John Henry
9. Clint Chapman
10. Michael Heitmeyer
19. Luke Dolan
21. Blayke White
27. Kev Thomo
29. Ken Galvin
33. Simon Walker
49. Pawel Piotrowicz
59. Leigh Valler
61. Reid Baker
63. Stephen Kelly
64. Michael Heitmeyer
73. Sean Lipset (No Deal)
74. Matt Higley
83. Stephen Kelly
85. Ben Simpson
86. Dave Immerz
90. Drew FMD
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