Bob Gordon Interview

Bob Gordon
Interviewed by Leo Abbs

How did you get involved in music journalism?

I’ve always been engulfed by music, back from when I was a little kid. With three older sisters I was exposed to lots of records from an early age and I never grew out of it. I played a little back in the day when I left school and worked in a bank for a while.

Then I returned to uni and did an Arts course majoring in Media Studies. While I was in the middle of that I started doing CD and gig reviews for X-Press (1991). I had spent so many years reading rock magazines and seeing bands it just seemed to follow logic that I would end up writing in/for them.

I ended up working at X-Press full-time from 1993-2001, including being the Editor from 1998. In High School I’d end up listening to records late at night instead of studying. That’s not an advisable homework ethic but ironically, that seemed to work in my favour in the long run.

You were editor of Xpress for quite a while, what have you been doing since then?

I left X-Press in early 2001 as it was time for a new direction in life. I decided to become a freelance journalist to expand my writing while still being able to retain a focus on music and the arts. It’s been more diverse than I ever actually expected in many ways. In terms
of writing I’ve become a columnist (Wired) and regular contributor for The West Australian, continued as a contributor for Rolling Stone, written Feature Articles for Q Magazine, the CMJ New Music Report and lots of magazines and newspapers of various types over east and

When you’re a freelancer, the cheque is always `in the mail’. As a result, I’ve had to supplement my writing income by taking on other work that has fortunately complemented what I do. That has included working in a record shop for a while (Urban Records in Leederville), lecturing in Feature Writing for Curtin Uni’s Journalism Course (they wouldn’t even take me as a student 14 years previous) and the Spin Exhibition.

I’ve also jumped the other side of the counter in publicity/PR and have done stints at the Perth International Arts Festival and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, as well as
publicity for events such as the Botanic Blues Roots & Soul Festival, plus this year’s Rock-It and Mandurah Mainbreak festivals.

Recently I have also been handling management and publicity of Jeff Martin (The Tea Party), who has family ties in Perth and is working towards a solo release and production work from here. That is on hold at the moment due to band commitments overseas, but will strike up again.

I was also the Chairperson of the State Govt’s Contemporary Music Taskforce from 2001-02. The longer you hang around the more things you seem to get involved in.

You were involved with the SPIN exhibition at the WA Museum what was that exhibition about and what was your involvement?

Spin came about as part of the funding and the direction of the Contemporary Music Taskforce. I feel it was an important thing to document local music history in a bold way and doing so in the WA Museum (plus touring it) was a great way to present that to not only the usual interested parties, but the mainstream as well. The sub-heading of the exhibition was `WA Music From Underground To On The Air’ and we tried to do that as well as possible looking from 1970 onwards.

I was the co-curator – my experience in local music writing and the contacts I have within allowed me to write a text to tell something of a story via around 100 interviews and the collection of artifacts, audio, video and ephemera. I worked with a Museum curator who helped translate/transpose these things into how a Museum Exhibition should present these things.

I think the designers at the Museum also did a great job with Spin. I’m not actively involved in it now, but I understand it still has some travelling to do. I’d love it if when that was all over it could be updated and found a permanent home somewhere in Perth.

I saw you play in a Beatles Tribute night a few years ago singing for the Three orange whips. Have you ever played in a band besides that?

I played in an original band with a bunch of mates called No Particular Hairstyle in the late ’80s at venues such as the Fitzgerald, the Old Melbourne, Limbo’s etc. I left all that behind when I started writing about other people playing music, but I believe it helped me as a music writer. Hanging around and being friends with so many musicians over the years sometimes led to moments when I’d get onstage or even do whole sets on one-off nights (like the one you saw).

There is no other way I could have gotten the chance to perform alongside people from Eskimo Joe, The Whips, Cinema Prague, Allegiance, Circus Murders, Red Jezebel, Team Jedi, Greenroom, End Of Fashion, Crawlspace and more. Not the way I play (!)

I have a just-for-laughs project that runs on and off called KISStake. It’s a light-hearted KISS tribute (hence the name) that we dig out every six months or so. It’s done for the love of it and for the fun and has been done with people who have all otherwise played in original bands. In other words, this is pure escapism for all involved.

I think we’ve done it 5-6 times (with the same amount of line-ups) in the last two years. I play `Paul Stanley’ – I scream, jump, do windmills and smash a guitar at the end. Hey, it’s an outlet. Kiss have been my weakness since I was a teenager.

Are there any music heroes you interviewed?

As far as my musical heroes go, most of them. From members of Kiss (bloody Kiss!), to Michael Stipe, Beck, Jeff Buckley, Anthony Kiedis, Tim Rogers, Henry Rollins, Robert Smith, Trent Reznor, Billy Bragg, Shirley Manson, Kim Gordon. In 14 years of interviewing people the numbers add up. However, as much as it’s interesting to talk to famous people, I learnt a lot about music, my home and myself by interviewing musicians from WA. I don’t kid myself that a job like mine makes much of a contribution to society, but if any part of it does, it’s in the areas where I can support local music.

> Anybody you would like to interview?

Lots. There’s always new people coming up and older people that I’m just finding out about that would be great. I’ve met members of the Stones and U2 but have not interviewed them. I’ve never interviewed Nick Cave. I was once lined up to do a phone interview with Hunter S. Thompson that was meant to be rescheduled. I think we can now safely say that one’s not gonna happen.

Who has been your favourite Perth bands over the years?

There’s been lots – The Stems, Favourite Game, Mustang!, Cinema Prague,
Ammonia, Valvolux, Spank, The Feends, Turnstyle, Three Orange Whips,
Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, Capital City, The Panics, Snowman, Schvendes,
Kill Devil Hills, El Horizonte, The Bank Holidays.

Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten more than I remember. Most times I’ve forgotten more
than I know.


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