The music media is all hot and bothered about the new wave of punk acts such as Green Day and Offspring coming out of the United States. So why the excitement...power punk pop has been wooing Melbourne crowds for several years headed by the undisputed kings, The Meanies.
Have you noticed how many kids are wearing Meanies t-shirts and attending their under-age gigs - and all that without the backing of a major record company promotional budget? Too often The Meanies are wrongfully dismissed by the more conservative music critics as a "joke act", but then so was Elvis and the early Beatles. Perhaps it depends on how old you are. The Meanies are huge because they give the kids what they want - rocking tunes, insightful lyrics about relevant social issues and, most importantly, fun.
Meanie fandom is not restricted to Australia. The band has toured and played in Japan, Spain, America, Germany, Italy and France. In Australia they have supported international heavyweights such as Nirvana, The Lemonheads, The Beastie Boys and Bad Brains.
Having been nurtured by top independent label Au Go Go Records since "birth", they have just released a new album, 10% Weird. It is sure to be one of the more successful local releases this year.
Much of The Meanies' popularity can be put down to the underrated talents of their singer, artwork designer and lyric writer "Link", a charismatic performer beyond compare.
"I think we've got such a strong under-age fan base because we are prepared to spend some time talking to the kids who come to our shows," Link said. "We don't treat them like dirt or make fun of them like other bands. I know that when I was younger I respectd bands who took time out to do this although I was probably too shy to actually approach them."
Link said The Meanies had recorded the bulk of 10% Weird in Seattle, "grunge capital" of the music world, but said the songs the band recorded for the album in Melbourne were just as good, "if not better". "Seattle is not so great for bands. I honestly think, after all our travels, Melbourne has the best live scene and bands anywhere in the world."
Link said it was frustrating The Meanies had not won the respect in Australia that he thought the band deserved, pointing out a similarity with Sydney three-piece The Hard Ons, who recently broke up, bitter about support for them here.
"It doesn't matter though - I'm into music for its own sake. If The Meanies end, I will go on to something else. The critics might have a go at us, but seeing how much support we have among so many people, especially young people, is really the main thing."
The Meanies will take part in an under-age gig at Luna Park on November 19 along with Magic Dirt, Spiderbait and Silverchair.
- Paul Stewart, Sunday Herald Sun 'Backstage' 1994