After 30 years, The Meanies still aren’t sure how they got here

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After 30 years, The Meanies still aren’t sure how they got here

The Meanies
Words by Anna Rose

“I feel like I’ve got a hangover even though I didn’t drink – that’s the feeling I get when I look to the west.”

That same feeling The Meanies bassist Wally Meanie, aka Roderick Kempton, has may be applied to the last 30 years, given the longevity and rate at which the seminal punk band have been performing and releasing. The idea causes Meanie to laugh heartily.

“To a point I guess, yes, it’s true. Ah, crikey!”

Meanie admits he never envisioned The Meanies would be in a position where they’d be performing for their 30th birthday and celebrating the 25th anniversary of their classic album 10% Weird.

“To be honest I didn’t think I’d live past the age of 33,” he teases, “and to have the band be around almost that long is kind of ludicrous.

“I don’t know that anybody ever does. Do they go into being the band seeing themselves 30 years down the track still doing it? Even The Rolling Stones wanted to retire before they got old and they never did.

“I would never ever have envisioned it would last this long, no way – I’m glad it has, it’s been great fun! But if I’d thought as a 20-year-old I’d still be doing this into my 50s, I’d be going, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Meanie jokes he still hasn’t worked out what he’s doing with his life, and though we laugh, it’s not uncommon to hear other musicians of a similar tenure saying the same thing. It’s sort of a mantra for the mature, and there’s always something that keeps groups like The Meanies going.

“[It’s] the fact that it’s great fun,” says Meanie. “I never had the travel bug when I was younger – I could never understand that straight out of high school my mates would throw on a backpack and travel around Europe or Asia or whatever – I couldn’t think of anything worse.

“Then The Meanies started to travel and now I can’t get it out of my system. I’ve got to go somewhere all the time. And I love it. If it wasn’t playing for The Meanies, I’d probably never leave the house!”

The Meanies have made tonnes of friends over the years and travelled right across the country – a venture they’ll be reliving next month.

“The sort of experiences I’ve had being a Meanie have been ridiculous,” he says. “Why would you want that to stop?”

In all that travelling, in all that time, Meanie would have seen not only the face of the country change, but the face of punk music change. If you thought changing tides would mean The Meanies would have tried to change and adapt, think again – there’s only one secret to longevity as far as Meanie is concerned.

“I don’t think anyone should adapt to any particular sound, unless it’s your own.

“We copped our own sort of backlash when we reformed in 1998. We kept going, recorded a batch of songs we demoed in ’95, and they weren’t all pedal to the metal like 10% Weird was. Everyone we played it to told us it didn’t sound like The Meanies – ‘Fuck off! What are you talking about?’

“Unless you’re developing yourself – advancing, changing, because that’s what happens as you get older – then you should never adapt to anybody else’s way of thinking or follow anyone else’s path anyway. The changing face of punk never bothered us, we just kept doing what we’re doing.”

The Meanies are the proof of the pudding of their own pudding – 30 years of The Meanies, 25 years of 10% Weird, and likely a bunch of other milestones Meanie can’t quite put his finger on, probably because of that perpetual hangover without having been drunk – more laughter. “True!”

“There’s a whole bunch of stuff out there that we didn’t set out to do, we just went with the flow.”

The Meanies will celebrate their 30th birthday at The Corner on Tuesday November 5. Grab your tickets via the venue website