The Meanies' live reputation is rapidly becoming the stuff of legend: fast, furious music that's good Goddamn fun, punters whipped to frenzy and the band getting rather worked up themselves. As The Meanies embark on a tour with Smudge, they've just released their second long-player, 10% Weird. Although it's only their second, The Meanies have still committed over 100 songs to vinyl, tape or CD - so there's plenty of choice for their live set. Some songs, though, will never resurface...
"There are a handful of those," says bassplayer Wally Meanie. "Songs like 'Groovy Meanies' we only pull out if enough people yell for it. 'The Meanie Twist' we never play; we just don't do it any more because we're either sick of them or we just find that it's not us any more, it doesn't sound like a Meanies song any more."
The Meanies have expanded somewhat from their original flat-out fast sound, but although the bulk of 10% Weird was recorded in Seattle almost a year ago, there aren't that many new songs yet.
"Well...we're not ones for rehearsals," Wally says, "I think Link's probably got a rather large backlog of new songs stacked up that are just sitting in the back of his mind or on tapes lying around his room. But we haven't had any cause to learn new ones, because a lot of stuff on the album we haven't really been playing. We've only been playing three or four tracks off it at the most at any given point in time over the past year, because we figured we don't need to at this point in time because if we do, by the time the fuckin' record's out everyone is going to be so sick of those songs - including us, playing them live. It's onlly now that we actually play at least half of the album in the set, so we haven't had any need for any brand new songs to be playing live. But I'm sure the urge will come soon."
10% Weird isn't about to alienate any of the Meanis fans; it still pummels from start to finish. There is, however, a lot more happening than on previous Meanies releases.
"To avoid any rock cliches, I'm not going to tell you that it's the best we've ever done," Wally laughs, "but we're very happy with it. We think it's pretty cool. It's go lots of heavy stuff on it, but it's got lots of fluffy stuff as well. I mean, it's still obviously full steam ahead from track one to fourteen, but there's a little bit of light and shade."
Recording in Seattle on the way to a hectic European tour (29 shows in 35 days), The Meanies didn't find the place that foreign.
"Not really, because Seattle's kind of like Melbourne and Sydney put together," says Wal. "No, it wasn't really all that foreign. It was great being somewhere else - the weirdest part was having to get transformers for our power. We had to get some transformers so our amps and his meter box wouldn't get blown up. Where we recorded was just in the university district in a guy's garage. It wass just a really relaxed, friendly environment. He was using a really old mixing desk that I think Sam & Dave and Booker T and The MGs used. That's how old it was."
And how do the native of Seattle react to all the hype surrounding their city's music scene in the last few years?
"Seattle-schmattle. They don't really care. It had all pretty much blown over by the time we got there anyway. It was a little bit passe to them. I mean, we've all been wearing flannels since age 10, but you'd get looked at funny in the street because you were walking 'round in a flannel. It's like, 'Hey man, that's outdated'."
- Simon McKenzie 1994