There’s a film clip to Pete Ewing’s song We’re All Gonna Die published on YouTube. The song is lick-perfect alternative country rock – according to rumour, Ryan Adams loves it so much, he plays it in his touring van. The accompanying video is confronting: footage from the early 1980s featuring lycra-clad aerobic performers cavorting around a television studio stage. If the song wasn’t so fucking great, your digestive system would be gasping for attention. Presumably it’s the former aspect that underpins Ewing’s invitation to play and record at the famed Ardent Studios in Memphis.
Because Ewing’s usually a solo performer, nestled in a corner at the Labour in Vain or similar under-stated venue, he’s assembled a band to accompany him to Memphis – the so-called Killer New Band. The description is gaudy, but an apt assessment of Ewing’s supporting cast: Tim McCormack (Downhills Home and Gruntbucket), Gus Agars (The Vandas and the Gentlemen of Fortune), Jeb Cardwell and Joe Cope (Dan Kelly’s Dream Band).
Ewing brought his Killer New Band to the Gasometer Hotel tonight to help raise funds to get across to the States. With Warhol-like short films playing behind them, Ewing and his Killer New Band were in slaying good form. There was a stack of good songs – Lover, Genie, It’s A Crime, Fall Guy, Call Me. Some of these were classic meat and three veg Tennessee-style country rock, all rugged denim rock riffs, driving beats and whisky-and-smokes vocals. Some of them were stripped back and emotionally reflective, without being self-indulgent. Ewing traded banter with family, friends and sundry members of the audience. Everyone knew they were seeing something good tonight, one of those Melbourne musical secrets of unbridled pleasure.
“This could be the start of something really good,” a friend remarked as Ewing and his band pulled up stumps at the end of the set. Yes, it could be and, if there is any justice in the musical world (which, sadly, remains a matter of spirited conjecture) a lot more people will soon know about Pete Ewing and his Killer New Band.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Loved: The laissez faire elegance of the songs.
Hated: Can’t think of anything, really.
Drank: Mountain Goat Stout.