They say that if you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there…
They say that if you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there (yes, ‘they’ talk a lot, don’t they? Apparently it was actually Robin Williams who said it originally). Maybe the same could be said about the weirdest of all decades, the ‘80s. Aussie hard rock band The Poor formed way back in the era of cheesy glam rock, high-waisted trousers and mullets, although singer Anthony ‘Skenie’ Skene has minimal recollection of the time. “I don’t have a memory,” he laughs, when asked what he remembers of that heady time in the band’s, and indeed the world’s, history. “We went pretty hard when we were on the road back when we started in the ‘80s… it was pretty crazy!”
Things must have gone really nuts in the early to mid-‘90s when the band released their debut album, Who Cares, which did extremely well nationwide and spawned a hit single in More Wine Waiter Please. This was all despite the grunge/alternative explosion which was in full swing at the time and was effectively a spear through the heart of the formerly world dominating hard rock movement. The band went on to support massive acts such as Van Halen, AC/DC and The Scorpions, release two further EPs before the excesses of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and family concerns brought things to a natural halt in the first year of the new millennium.
Fast forward to 2008 and a call out of the blue from the management of one of the big hair rock acts that peaked in the ‘80s – WASP, requesting their support on a national tour of Australia – rekindled The Poor’s flame. And, it wasn’t only to do a massive tour of the country with a huge band, but to kick start the band’s career once again. As Skenie explains: “We got back together in 2008 when we got asked by WASP to do their national tour,” he recalls, “and from there, as soon as we started rehearsing, the magic was there! It was like ‘What have we been doing?!’ It was awesome. We’re all such fuckin’ great friends, we love hangin’ out with each other.
“So 2008-2009 we got some back catalogue stuff that we had, and we thought it was pretty much there. So we put out (second album) Round One, and we sort of wanted to put out three albums with a year’s span (in between), but that’s been stretched out a bit now. With the music industry the way it is now, nothing happens on time! But yeah, Round Two is the follow-up, and now we’re slowly pushing our way back into the scene. “The decision (to carry on beyond the WASP tour) was made pretty much straight away,” he continues. “I think it’s more intense these days. When we were younger, our management had to come and get us out of bed to go to rehearsal! Now we love it. Back at the start we were just chasin’ women and getting’ blind, and doin’ all the drugs that we could. Not that we’ve stopped doing that now, but we’ve got an agenda now! We all don’t want to work any more!”
The intervening period of hiatus saw the members of the band pursue many other projects, both musical and non-musical, before they hooked up again, as Skenie explains. “I had some mates up here on the Gold Coast that were jammin’. I just came up here for a holiday, and I saw them, and they didn’t have a singer for this band they were putting together. So I said ‘Boys, I’m in!’ So I was in the band Lump for eight years. Lump finished up, and had their last show in March 2008, and The Poor re-formed in April 2008. So I’ve been pretty much doing music for the whole time.
“Matt (bassist) went to uni,” he continues, “and got a degree in history. He still today doesn’t know why he fuckin’ did it!” Skenie laughs again. “He says he doesn’t know what the fuck he was thinking! Then he started on with some builders, and got his builders license… and Julian (guitarist) has just been plodding along as he does, just doing his own thing. Gav the drummer, he was in Lump as well. He was one of the main reasons I came up here. So we’ve been playing together the whole time. So we just had to get Matt and Julian back onto the ‘Coast, and once we did, it was fuckin’ happenin’!”
The Poor are beginning another national tour in support of the Round 2 album, which pulls into Melbourne this Saturday night at Back In The Day at The Portland Hotel in the city. Skenie and the band are champing at the bit to get back on the road and bring their high-octane rock show to the people once more. “Yeah man, big time,” he enthuses. “We did one show, which was a tattoo convention in Brisbane, last weekend. It was sort of like a warm up for the tour, and it fuckin’ kicked arse!
“It’s loud, in your face,” he describes, regarding their live show. “Put your helmets on! It’s energetic; just as energetic as it was when we were youngsters. We’re still pretty young anyway! In fact it’s probably even more over the top now.”
The tour takes the band up to about half way through December, and Skenie is very excited about the band’s plans after that. “I think we’re leaving Christmas and New Year’s open,” he explains, “in case any gigs come up. Then after that we’re back in the studio. So we’ll be writing for the next one (that’d be the next album) in fact, we’ve already started writing for the next one. So yeah, hopefully the next album will come out about the same time next year.” So does Skenie have any parting words for The Poor’s Melbourne fans? “Umm…I always get stumped with this one!” he says, “just, get your arses down there!” Nice and short and sweet and direct to the point, just the way we like it!
THE POOR help the hard-rock stalwarts of BACK IN THE DAY celebrate the hard-rock club night’s seventh birthday with their only Melbourne show of their tour. They’re joined by Elm Street at Back In The Day at The Portland Hotel (Russell St, City) this Saturday November 13. THE POOR also have their killer new album Round 2 out now.