By JJ ADAMS
WHEN this writer first saw the Massive guys play, around the time of their formation in late 1986, her first reaction was not only how tight and talented they were for such a young band, but how brave they were as individuals. To show up at inner-city Sydney venues like Max’s, Petersham Inn, looking like they look and sounding like they sound took a lot of gut and it still does.
And taking the mickey out of cock rock jokes by calling your band Massive Appendage (surely the best rock name in-joke since the Sex Pistols/Celibate Rifles monikers) shows a lot of humour – even if, according to Jed, a lot of people don’t get the joke.
“Almost immediately we began using the name.. got letters from people who thought we were gay. We had a lot of problems with that myth, especially when we were figuring out the artwork for The Severed Erection (the group’s long-awaited debut album which has finally hit the stores after two years of recording. saving and planning).
“Originally we were gong to have mutilated guys on the cover – a reference to the name the the song – but when we started getting those letters we decided to change the artwork. Besides. women look better.”‘
Before we start discussing the cover (let alone the lyrics!) of Severed Erection let’s go back to the 1970s and the days when Jed and singer/guitarist Big Bird played in ‘a tennis racquet band. We used to pretend we were the who and smash them up. Drummer Oxx learned to play “by destroying my mother’s Tupperware”. Bassist Snuff is absent.
The Massives list their influences as being “anything from heavy metal and rock to glam, pop and jazz – almost anything but Stock, Aitken and Waterman”. Names named include Black Sabbath plus King Crimson (said to be a “major influence” on Massive Appendage’s sound), AC/DC, Beatles, ABBA, The Sweet, KISS, Alvin Stardust, Stevie Wright (after The Easybeats), the whole of 1974’s Greatest Hits and even the Seekers!
More recent influences include Metal Church and Leatherwolf, with Oxx loudly professing his fandom for Anthrax and KISS. Their sell-penned biography describes the group’s sound as being closest to “Black Sabbath meets Slayer, with very ‘European’ guitar sound, especially, as former Scorpions guitarist Uli Roth is a very big influence”. In fact, even the most stringent anti-HM onlookers are mightily impressed by the technical expertise of a group that on its own admission “only played occasionally during the past few years”.
Since their formation, Massive Appendage have won a small but dedicated following around Australia and abroad, where bootlegged videos of the group in action have even been circulated. Copies of their demo tapes have gained them fan mail from midwestern USA, Japan and Europe.
The Severed Erection is, to put it mildly, a unique work of art. It contains enough riffs and catchy melodies to cut it musically, but its lyrics and cover art guarantee it a place in Australian musical history.
If you’re familiar with the satire of such as Frank Zappa or Spinal Tap, you’ll get what this write is talking about. The album is a paean to sex, with some serious social commentary throw in between (unprintable in this magazine) the lines. The cover is enough to have it shipped only in brown bags and few record stores would be bold enough to display it.
“Not many people understand what we’re gelling al with the cover concept,” says Jed of the luridly-colours sleeve (painted by a Melbourne friend) which features naked and semi-naked nubile girls in various stages of ecstasy or agony. Described on the back cover as “pro-feminist and a statement against drug abuse, alcoholism. homosexuality, evangelism, child molestation, communism and the threat of nuclear war”, it aims to shock as well as seduce.
“All this Satanic stuff gets around. but we get criticised,” complains Jed. “We write songs about bad stuff we see going on around us. For instance “Ejaculator” (about child abuse) If one of us stole a loaf of bread we, probably get put in jail for it. But child molesters so often get away with what they do. Lots of Satanic bands preach loads of garbage – if you’re into heavy drugs you’re adding to the problem.”