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Interview: HERM KOVAC (TMG)

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One of the most popular bands of the Australian music scene in the 70s, the Ted Mulry Gang, reformed last year. The three remaining original members of TMG, Herm Kovac, Les Hall and Gary Dixon were joined by Ted’s brother Steve taking over the lead vocals and the addition of Mark Evans on bass; the two roles that were both once Ted’s.

Last month, they performed at a special ‘70th Birthday Bash’ in honour of Ted. While the 1st September marked the sixteenth anniversary of Ted’s passing in 2001, the 2nd September would have been the singer’s 70th birthday. Reason enough to celebrate in a style that Ted would have been extremely happy with. TMG played a very special gig at Revesby Workers Club in Sydney to commemorate the occasion.

As drummer Herm Kovac explains in our recent interview, the night was a big success and he was very happy with the way it all went. “I thought Ted’s Birthday Bash was great! Ted’s mother was there. She’s in her 90s and she was one of the last to leave.  It was a great crowd. Everyone had a ball and the band played really well.”

While the band has been playing gigs mostly in NSW and Queensland over the last fifteen months with one show in Melbourne last year at The Palms at Crown, Melbourne fans have been waiting patiently for more and now finally, TMG will be on their way back for two more shows to keep the fans happy. They play this Friday 13th October at The Sphinx in Geelong and Saturday 14th October at Memo Music Hall in St. Kilda.

“The band has always had a very strong following in Melbourne,” Herm tells me. “We used to get more people at our shows in Melbourne and Queensland than anywhere else. Everyone thought we were a Melbourne band because we were down there so often and always got great crowds for the pubs.” He points out that much of the material on the band’s recently rereleased Mushroom Live Album was recorded in Melbourne. “The album has some extra bonus tracks on it and, except for some that’s recorded at the Hordern Pavilion, all the others were recorded in Melbourne. One was at the Showground. One was recorded at a pub at Preston and another one was recorded in Springvale. And the fact that our record company was in Melbourne had something to do with it as well.”

He recalls the Around Australia in 80 Days Tour when TMG and Sherbet travelled around the country together, visiting many regional towns as well as the capital cities. “I remember the Sherbet tour in Geelong clearly. I remember I shared a room with Daryl Braithwaite. I made soup after the gig.” He also recalls the last time that TMG played in Geelong was “about eighteen or twenty years ago. It was a Sunday afternoon and we played in a pub.”

Herm has some fond memories of the band’s visits to the southern city. “I always remember it being cold in winter but I remember Gary and I going to a beach at St. Kilda in summer and I didn’t think Melbourne could be that hot. It was one of the hottest days that I’ve ever experienced. I used to love Melbourne because it had the most record shops and book shops and every day I’d just wander into book shop after book shop and record shop after record shop. And clothes seemed to be ahead of Sydney. You could always get decent clothes down there.” Then, of course, there’s the food… especially the cakes. “Oh yeah … and lots of great cake shops. It’s got a lot going for it.”

Herm says that fans can expect to hear the hits that TMG are known for plus a few popular covers that will have the crowd on their feet. “It’s an hour and a half of music and we play the songs just like the record. They have to sound like the record. That’s always been our thing that, when people pay money to see us, we’ve got to sound like the record otherwise we’re ripping them off. It’s a big issue to relearn those songs after so many years,” he concedes. “But it sort of comes back to you. If the venues have got screens available, we will have video footage while we’re playing. And Gary will do Falling in Love Again and Julia as a tribute to Ted.”

Having such a lengthy break has actually had its positive side as well, as Herm points out. “You haven’t got that ‘jaded’ feel of doing this for the last twenty-eight years. It’s all new and fresh and it’s closer to the show that we used to do in the peak of our time in the 70s.”

 

by Sharyn Hamey

 

Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2017.  All rights reserved

 

 

 

TMG play at The Sphinx Hotel in Geelong on Friday 13th October. Contact the venue on Ph: (03) 5278 2911 for booking information.

TMG play at Memo Music Hall in St. Kilda on Saturday 14th October. Click here for further info and to book tickets.

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