Regurgitator on growing up and their foray into kids’ entertainment

Regurgitator on growing up and their foray into kids’ entertainment

Words by Augustus WElby

Regurgitator are celebrating their 25th anniversary with a national tour that begins this weekend.

The trio, led by songwriters Ben Ely and Quan Yeomans, have been at it for a quarter of a century, but they’re not running out of ideas.

After releasing their ninth studio album, HEADROXX, in August 2018, the Brisbane trio turned their focus to the children’s project, Regurgitator’s Pogogo Show. With the addition of a fourth member, Koko, the project’s first LP, The Really Really Really Really Boring Album, landed in March. They’ll be bringing the Pogogo silliness to the Lost Lands festival in early November.

“The kids performer hat is quite demanding,” says Yeomans. “I have a lot of respect for people who do it, because it does take a lot out of you.”

Yeomans has two young children himself and he’s enjoyed getting their two cents on the Pogogo Show material.

“It’s really great when you’ve got kids and you can actually share your work with them a little bit and get some input, some feedback. It’s really lovely,” he says. 

Despite conducting this market research, Yeomans admits conceiving children’s songs and onstage routines has been challenging. For starters, kids are harder to read than drunk adults.

“I have a long career of entertaining drunk adults,” he says. “You can kind of read them and you can understand the cues and you can ask them to scream and they scream on cue. But kids, they kind of have a blanked out expression where they’re taking things in, so it’s very difficult to tell whether they’re really into it or whether they’re bored or what’s going on behind the scenes.

“I often hear about parents who take their kids home after thinking they had a terrible time and they’re just raving about the time they had at the gig. So it’s really hard to tell.”

Regurgitator formed in 1994 and released their debut EP early the following year. Although officially self-titled, it’s more commonly known as “Hamburger” thanks to its cover image. This inspired the name and artwork for the anniversary tour – Quarter Pounder: 25 Years of Being Consumed.

Joining the ‘Gurg on the epic run around the country – which includes three Melbourne shows – are Japan’s Shonen Knife and fellow ‘90s journeymen The Fauves.

“It should be really fun,” says Yeomans. “It’s more of a nostalgic trip than an innovation type thing, but it’s certainly going to be fun and we’re going to be pushing it a little bit in terms of visuals and costumes.

“We’ve got a costume designer from Brisbane working on some costumes, so there’s three or four different costume changes. That’s going to be pretty bizarre. Her name’s Cindy Vogels and she seems so happy to work with us because we’re just like, ‘do whatever you want, make it as crazy as you want, we don’t care, we’ll wear anything’. It should be pretty over the top, lots of colour.”

After a second EP, New, arrived in late 1995, Regurgitator got stuck into their debut LP, Tu-Plang. Released via Warner Music in 1996, Tu-Plang’s iconic lead single, ‘I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am’, made the ‘Gurg’s irreverent spirit immediately apparent. 

Shock jock Alan Jones wasn’t too stoked about the song and pushed for its prohibition. Raising Jones’ ire is always good publicity and the song landed at number 23 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of 1996.

The band’s next album is generally seen as their magnum opus. Released in late 1997, Unit merged alt-rock and synth-pop with hip hop and Prince-inscribed dance music. Their nine-album catalogue is characterised by a similar rejection of stylistic boundaries, which will be represented in the anniversary tour setlists and visuals.

“We wanted to do something completely unexpected for each genre,” Yeomans says. “The show’s kind of chronological, but also it breaks off into genres as well.”

Regurgitator celebrate 25 years at The Alexander Theatre in Clayton on Friday October 4 and San Remo’s Westernport Hotel on Saturday October 5. They’ll then hit up the Prince Bandroom, The Corner (sold out), The Lost Lands festival and Howler for a run of shows at the start of November. More info and tix via respective venue and festival websites.