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Interview: HERMAN KOVAC (TED MULRY GANG)

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For fans of iconic singer/songwriter Ted Mulry, September holds some bittersweet memories. It was sixteen years ago, on 1st September 2001 that Ted sadly lost his battle with cancer but 2nd September this year also marks what would have been Ted’s 70th birthday and the remaining members of the Ted Mulry Gang have decided to celebrate the occasion in a style befitting their friend and band-mate with a 70th Birthday Bash at the Revesby Workers Club in Sydney.

Last year band members Herm Kovac, Les Hall and Gary Dixon reunited, with Ted’s brother Steve Mulry joining them on vocals and former AC/DC member Mark Evans on bass. Seeing TMG perform live again was something that many of us thought would never happen but, fifteen years after their singer’s passing, the guys were on the road again and with two tours now under their belts, drummer Herman Kovac is delighted to say that they are back – and firing!

“The band is really super tight,” he tells me proudly as we chat about the upcoming show. “What people will get on that night is over an hour and a half of TMG. I really made sure this band is rehearsed. People pay good money to hear the band sound like the record. You hear the same solos, the same riffs.  Gary still does ‘Falling in Love Again’ and ‘Julia’ as a tribute to Ted and because Mark Evans from AC/DC is in the band, we get to play ‘Long Way to the Top’.” Herm says that there will also be visuals such as photos and video footage of the band providing a backdrop for the songs.

While most of the show is the band’s original material, there are also a few popular covers thrown in as well so there’s plenty there to keep everyone happy. Fans will hear most of the singles that the band is known for and some great album tracks. Many of these can be heard on the Very Best of Ted Mulry Gang 40th Anniversary CD released by Sony last year and this will be available at the show. “And Warners have just re-released the live album that came out on Mushroom Records and I got to remix it, remaster it,” he explains. “I found all these extra bonus tracks and I found a great version of ‘Jump in my Car’ which never came out on the original one so you’ve got a version of that as well. And you’ll be able to get a copy of the solo album that Ted did just before he died called This Time. That will be available on the night as well as the new TMG Live CD. They’re all available online as well if you can’t get to the gig. This Time is available online. You can get it now on Apple. I remixed it and it was released six or eight months ago.”

It had been a long time between gigs when the band reformed last year. What was it like to be playing together again after all those years?

“Our first rehearsal was two hours laughter and an hour rehearsing!” he admits. “And then every other rehearsal became like a social thing. We all get on. We always have. Every now and then we might get on each other’s nerves but basically we’ve been friends and mates, as you know because you’ve known the band since year dot,” he points out. Well… more than forty years anyway, I have to admit and the conversation turns briefly to age  before we move on to brighter topics. “It’s almost like nothing’s really changed except we laugh at someone hobbling around a bit more than he used to. You realise that the mind and the brain wants you to do it but the body sort of doesn’t.  But the band is playing well and, especially after doing those few shows, we’ve finally found that pocket where we don’t have to think about it as much anymore. It’s all come back so it will be great at Revesby.”

And for those who can get there early, prior to the show there will be a Memorial Event; something that has become an annual get-together for fans from around the country to remember Ted and to share memories of TMG. This year, the event will be held in the Waratah Room at the Function Centre in the Revesby Workers Club from 2pm. The afternoon will include a trivia quiz, a lucky door prize of a 2-metre high poster of the band, and a raffle with the chance to win some great prizes including a set of Ted Mulry/TMG vinyl LPS. Those who attend the Memorial Event will also have access to the band’s sound check before the show.

As well as being Ted’s birthday, 2nd September is also the anniversary of the Ted Mulry Gang. Their very first performance took place on 2nd September 1972. It is also the anniversary of the release of ‘Steppin’ Out’ b/w ‘It’s All Over Now’ which was released on 2nd September 1976. And, in addition to all that, it was on 2nd September 1975 that ‘Jump in My Car’ was played for the first time on Sydney radio station 2SM and from there it became a national number 1, so there are plenty of reasons to celebrate as well as honour Ted’s memory.

“What’s special about these shows now,” Herm points out, “is the amount of grown up people who come to the merch table who say they went to kindergarten with you or they were your first girlfriend and things like that. A guy came up to me and said he went to kindergarten with me. I remembered him because we dragged his horse into his parents’ loungeroom and it nearly kicked the house down!” He laughs at the memory. “It’s also a special moment when Gaz does ‘Falling in Love Again’ and ‘Julia’ and when he stops singing it and you hear all those people singing every word. Not only that, in ‘Falling in Love Again’, there’s a string line that follows the lyric falling in love again and everyone’s humming the string line. That’s special.” And I have to agree.

TMG play at the Revesby Workers Club on Saturday 2nd September 2017. Book your tickets here to celebrate Ted’s 70th Birthday Bash and for further information on the band and details of future shows, please go to the Ted Mulry Gang website.

 

by Sharyn Hamey

 

Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2017.  All rights reserved

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