Photo: Courtesy Rick Lum
Glam rock was a big part of the music scene in the early ‘70s; the outrageous outfits, lots of satin, make-up and glitter, awkward platform shoes that were almost impossible to walk in, let alone dance in and music that was fun. And leading the glam rock assault in Australia, was a band called Hush who had hits with songs like ‘Walking’, ‘Bony Maronie’ and ‘Glad All Over’ in the mid-70s. Hush took their new wave of glam rock to towns all over the country, touring extensively, including as support for The Jackson Five in 1973 which was, incidentally, the first time I ever saw them perform live.
Unfortunately, to quote the title of one of the band’s songs, nothing stays the same forever and, in 1977, Hush decided to call it quits. Since then, the band has only reformed a couple of times, one of which was for the Countdown Spectacular Tour in 2006. Well, the glam rockers are about to do it again this Saturday night when singer Keith Lamb, bass player Rick Lum, guitarist Les Gock and drummer Chris Pailthorpe join a star-studded line-up of artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre for Pure Gold Live.
I had the pleasure of talking to Les Gock about the band getting back together for this very special show. “We don’t perform that often to say the least,” he explains. “We just sort of basically try and pick the shows that we think can be fun and that’s about it really. We’re not doing regular performances.”
While it’s certainly a treat for fans to see them perform again, Les tells me that it is just as much a treat for the band to play. “It’s just been hard to bring everyone together when the opportunities come up and so when it does happen, like this one, well it’s fantastic. We’re looking forward to it.’ He says that rehearsals are problematic due to band members living in various locations. “But, even though it’s been years and years since we played together, when we got together for a rehearsal, it was almost automatic. It all slots into place so it feels really comfortable. We had a rehearsal a couple of weeks ago and it just felt great! People who were there said ‘Oh my God! Why don’t you guys perform more often? This is great!’ Well, it’s hard to get the stars all to align but when we do it, it’s fun.”
In 2006, along with many other favourite bands who had not played together for many years, Hush reformed for the first of two national Countdown Spectacular tours and their performance blew the audience away. “We had such a good time,” he recalls. “We were a band that was sort of built for that kind of show. You have to go back to the time when we formed; we were the first ‘glam’ band which, besides the costumes, meant mentally changing from just standing there and playing and becoming self-indulgent to ‘it’s all about the show’, and all that sort of stuff and that was a very big shift in thinking. We were designed to play to big crowds and just connect with the audience. That’s what we do best.”
Les says that one of the reasons the band was so keen to do the Pure Gold show was the opportunity to play with an incredible line-up of artists and before such a large and diverse audience. “It’s fun getting up and having a whole lot of people there. It’s great value for the people and, for us, it’s terrific too because a lot of the pressure’s taken off us doing an hour and a half or two-hour show and we can just go out and put 110% of our energy into a short but very sharp burst and that works great for us. It makes more sense.”
While they will be sharing the stage at The Palais Theatre with 17 other much-loved Australian acts who graced our airwaves with hits in the 70s, 80s and 90s, Les thinks that Hush might well be the earliest of all of them. “We’re kind of the ‘grandfathers’,” he laughs. Hush formed in the early 70s and, as Les points out, “Our band finished in ‘77 and that’s before some of these other people even got started. In some cases, before they were born!”
Thinking back to those days on the road, he assures me that the rock and roll life was nowhere near as glamorous as people might think. “You’d hop in the back of a car and drive three or four hours to the next town and then it all gets set up again. You get used to it. And then for two hours you’re on stage and everything’s designed for it and at the end of the day, it becomes a job and when it becomes a job, like any job, you have all the same issues except they’re slightly heightened by the fact that you’re on stage and everyone’s looking at you.”
In the years since Hush split up, all the band members have kept busy with their own individual pursuits. Les made a successful career for himself in the advertising world. “I kind of lucked into that,” he admits. “I didn’t know that kind of job even existed, where you can write and create music and literally do it every day and get paid for it. I was in the right place at the right time. This was the right job for me. I was doing a lot of the writing for the band and producing the records, so I emerged from that with a lot of knowledge, if you like and somehow, I sort of fitted in quite easily to the thinking of the advertising side. Making music in that particular way is like musical architecture. Someone has a brief and you have to create something to that brief and I found that kind of fascinating. I was doing that for about thirty years after the band finished and then I decided to hang up my advertising boots a couple of years ago after that many years, just to sit back.”
His business didn’t leave much time for performing. “It was just too full on to even think about doing anything,” he explains. “But I really, really missed performing and I really missed just playing for fun so when I finished and sold my business, I then had time to just get together with some old mates and just play for fun.” He joined up with some former school mates, and they formed a band, just playing the music of their youth. “We call ourselves The Interceptors and we only play if we’re playing for a charity so if we do get to play, we’ll get up and play this sort of old school set and we have fun. Everyone seems to have a lot of fun just reminiscing with all that old stuff and whatever money is raised goes to whatever the charity is. Everyone gets something out of it. We play music that we love, opposed to if you have to do it to make money and we just enjoy that.”
He is also in another band called The Dinosaurs, with Mark Gable of The Choirboys, former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans and The Angels’ Buzz Bidstrup on drums. “We don’t get together very often because everyone else is touring and doing all that but when we do, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun. We’re just playing the music of the whole Oz rock era so it’s AC/DC, The Angels, Hush and whatever but we also play stuff like the Easybeats and we play some of Angry’s stuff. It’s the whole Oz Rock era of the 70s. Again, it’s very kind of nostalgic but it’s a lot of fun.”
And then, of course, there’s Hush. “I think one of the benefits of not performing week in, week out is that we can just come out and do our thing and it’s still fresh; it’s still a bit of a surprise.” And, above all, it’s fun. “Life’s too short,” he reflects. “Why not make time to have some fun…”
Get rocked with Hush and a massive line-up of your favourite artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s, all playing their classic hits at Pure Gold Live this Saturday 3rd March at The Palais Theatre in St Kilda, Melbourne. Full details and ticket info available here.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2018. All rights reserved