Featuring Dugald McKenzie, Mick Turner & Jim White!
The Venom P. Stinger retrospective is on as one of the roughest groups of the ‘80s is back in print on vinyl. File under: punk rock/noise rock/free-of-constraints rock. If you think of Venom P. Stinger simply as the proving ground for two-thirds of the Dirty Three first, then you're seriously missing it. It was the mid-'80s and everything was going fine. The music underground was its own world, not related to the orbit of commercial music that rained bullshit down onto the overground. Nobody down below had any great plans, they were just playing in bands. Melbourne had launched the career of the legendary Birthday Party, but that lot were long gone and there were loads of other interesting and great things going on.
Like Sick Things for instance. Dugald McKenzie and Mick Turner were part of that extremely raw and intense band, whose Committed to Suicide had changed so many lives. Mick had played as well in The Moodists and was in Fungus Brains and some others. Also on the scene was Jim White, who was playing in several bands, including People With Chairs Up Their Noses and the Feral Dinosaurs. It was a small group of people playing in bands like these back in mid-'80s Melbourne and probably only a matter of time before you played in the same band together.
And so, they did. Venom P. Stinger attacked in a modified, somewhat streamlined hardcore punk style, with Mick's burnt-and-twisted guitar tone setting them apart. Also unique was White's drumming, which appeared to be born of a snare roll that grows and grows until it has eclipsed the entire kit, played with casual aplomb while never sparing the rod to any aimed-for surface. Meanwhile, bassist Alan Secher-Jensen nailed these loosely divergent styles together with nice heavy root notes. Instead of the violent pile-up that occurred in every Sick Things recording, there was instead something more organized, though coming from unique and indeed, singular corners of approach: post-hardcore with a very individual style.
Unchanged from Sick Things days, however, was frontman Dugald McKenzie, whose vocalizing was a ferocious, largely apolitical transference of personal experience, all about conveying the awful qualities of life with throaty sensuousness and dirty glee. A band with this kind of errant power fronted by a reprobate like Dugald, made for madly entertaining shows. And records as well including 1986's Meet My Friend Venom!