Going Back.


I drove out to Newcastle with a mate on Wednesday night. He lives in Toronto, but he’s back Sydney-side for a few months, and it’s been great catching up.

We decided to get out of Sydney for the night to catch a small hardcore show. A UK group, Basement, was headlining, with a few local Australian acts. Tiny little warehouse gig.

It was the first time I had been to a “local” sort of show in years. Back when I was younger, I’d be down at The Den every Thursday, and the Hype rec centre each weekend. We used to memorise every lyric from the local acts. Bands like Game On, The Valley, Die Trying…It felt vibrant and alive back then.

Wednesday’s show felt like stepping back in time to 2006. There were even a few familiar faces, people who we used to hang out with, back in the day. As I looked around, I couldn’t help feeling excited for the younger kids there. For some of them, it might have been their first gig. I recognised the looks on their faces, slightly intimidated but thrilled to be there. That’s how I used to look.

Over the last few years, some of that old excitement has faded for me. I don’t go to many shows, and I gave up playing music. I’m quieter now, than I once was. More inclined to stay at home and work on art or writing, less interested in cutting loose.

Maybe the biggest difference between now and then is in my mindset. I no longer believe that everything I am doing was never done before. That’s how it used to be when I was a kid. I thought we were doing something unique and remarkable.

I guess feeling and thinking that way was pretty ridiculous. I guess it doesn’t make a lot of sense now. Maybe it’s feeling that way that enables great music and great art to sometimes burst out of nowhere and change the game. I don’t know.

I’m writing this over a coffee in a small back alley cafe. The kind of place I would never have been inside 10 years ago. I’m feeling calm, I’m feeling relaxed.

Looking back, I miss who I used to be. But all the same, I like the guy I turned into. I might not ever feel a fire inside me again, and I might not ever make art that changes the world. But I’m happy.

Henry Rollins On The Ramones.


Henry Rollins:

The Ramones are the lesson on how to do it. They worked tirelessly on the road and in the studio. They were great and they knew it. The challenge was bringing the world up to speed.

If you want to hear a band damn near kill their audience, check out The Ramones’ in-concert epic, It’s Alive. They are almost sadistic in how they tear through the songs, seemingly bashing them senseless to get to the next one, as if each song will never be played again and must be given proper trajectory into the stratosphere. They truly achieve something that is bigger than the four of them.

If you never had the chance to stand in front of this band, I dare say you missed out on something truly spectacular. I will never forget the first time I saw them. When they walked onstage and, within 10 seconds, started playing, I thought I was going to explode. The show was the very definition of how powerful true rock music is. I couldn’t understand how they could keep going. It was as full-on a live experience as I have ever had and almost ruined me for going to other shows.

I never did have the chance to see the Ramones live. Being born in 1989, I guess I lucked out. However, my first experience of the band was listing to It’s Alive. My older brother’s girlfriend gave him a copy of it on CD and I remember listening to it over and over again, just being blown away by how intense the music was. A song would still be ringing out as the band screamed “1-2-3-4″ and launched into the next.

Recently, I found a copy of It’s Alive on vinyl at my local record store, and I just had to pick it up. When I dropped the needle, it took me back. To the days when I was just a kid and everything seemed simple. To some extent, I think that’s what the Ramones will always do.

R.I.P Tommy, Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.



I recently flew interstate for my oldest brother’s wedding. I come from a large family, one of seven boys. We are all from the same marriage, but our parents are no longer together.

At the wedding, I was sitting down drinking my way through several bottles of excellent wine (cheers bro!) when the speeches started. The eldest brother close to my age was the best man, and his speech focused on his memories of our own “band of brothers” growing up.

The stories that he recalled were about the ridiculously dangerous games we used to play, most of which I remembered quite vividly. We weren’t a sporting family, preferring to play games that focused on far more sensitive topics. Such as World War One. World War Two. The French Foreign Legion. And, of course, the Belgians in the Congo.

The rules for the games invariably had the stronger and taller older brothers pitted against the smaller and more easily injured younger brothers. During the Battle of Britain, for example, I can remember being required to ram into a much bigger and faster bike with my tiny-barely-out-of-training-wheels vehicle. I was injured.

During the Belgian invasion of the Congo, I was required to jump out of trees that were twice my size in an attempt to tackle my brothers to the ground. I was injured.

Despite the Purple Hearts I earned on the field, these days were incredible. They were fun, but they were more than that. They were times when we created a bond that has never yet been broken, despite all the times it has been tested.

It seems strange, on the rare occasions when all seven of us gather in a bar and share a drink, to look back on the days gone by when we were all so young and playing outside in the Western Australian sun was the only thing that mattered. We have all grown up, started and ended relationships, been through our individual rough patches and tried our hardest to come out the other side swinging.

After everything that’s happened, I can honestly say that in my brothers I managed to find 6 best friends who will be with me for a long time yet.

So here’s to families. The broken ones and the ones that never crack, and the ones that manage to put themselves back together no matter how hard it seems.

Ups and downs.

Art, Creating, Culture, Dreams, Lifestyle, Writing

I have learned that life is full of ups and downs. That’s something that people tell you all the time, I guess I’m telling you now. But you never really understand it until the realisation hits you on your own.

I always had this idea, when I was a younger and far more arrogant Jon, that things were only going to be “down” until I reached a point where I had “made it”.

Somehow, I think I had convinced myself that life couldn’t possibly be happy and cheery and fulfilling until my band was successful or my art was popular and so on. There was some event on the horizon that would, in my mindset back then, wash away all the bad and leave only the good.

I’m tempted to believe that I was right. That the only reason things just didn’t just go up and stay up is because I never made it to those distant goals and dreams. But that just isn’t true.

I think I missed noticing a great many good things because they weren’t the good things I was waiting for. I think I let myself believe that nothing was going my way because things weren’t going exactly the way I planned. I was blind to some things that made me lucky.

What I’ve come to understand, the hard way, is that life will just be whatever it is. No matter where you are or what you are doing, there will be moments where you ride a high that feels like you’re on top of the world. And you know what, then there are going to be moments when it all comes crashing down and you feel like you could never fall so far and so hard again.

And that’s just the way it is. You can’t change it.

So how does that all relate to art? I want to say this. Your art has to be made for all of the up moments and all of the down moments. It can’t be made because you think it will solve all your problems and make everything better. Your art, whatever it is, can’t be made because you think it will get you a lucky, life changing break.

Life is never really going to change. You could have everything you wanted and still fall down.

The only thing that will change is how you interpret life. Of course, you won’t fully “get” this from my ramblings. You just won’t. Not until you reach the point where you start to understand everything on your own terms, through your own experiences.

I’ll tell you though when that starts to happen, it’s bloody amazing!