Perfect Tripod

This Friday, Perfect Tripod play the first show of the new Melbourne Zoo Twilights season, with an amazing array of local and international acts to follow. “We did a little photo shoot (for the Twilight series)... and we got to hang out with some kangaroos and pat them and stuff, which I’ve never done before. It was quite nice,” says Simon Hall, also known as Yon, a third of the rib-tickling music-comedy group Tripod. “You do sense the wildness, as opposed to when you’re patting a dog or a cat. Even though they’re very friendly, they feel more sort of self-possessed.”

The kangaroo banter reminds Hall of an old televised incident. “One of my favourite YouTube clips is Marty Monster from The Early BirdShow getting attacked by a kangaroo. Absolute gold,” he declares. “You can hear the guy in the suit screaming as the kangaroo pummels him.”

Credit where credit’s due: it’s a hilarious clip. Hall himself knows a thing or two about being funny on TV, having enjoyed an enormously successful career as a member of Tripod, Australia’s foremost award-winning music-comedy group. Lately, Tripod has been teaming with singer-songwriter, pianist and comedian Eddie Perfect, celebrating a rich history of Australian music.


Perfect and the members of Tripod first performed together at a Paul Kelly tribute show in 2006, their stunning rendition of Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air immediately met with great acclaim. A follow-up appearance on ABC’s Sideshow reaffirmed that they were onto something special, the Kelly cover again received well.


“We just kept popping up, doing that version and it took on a life of its own,” Hall remembers. “We did it on Sideshow and the Logies, then (our manager) suggested, ‘Why don’t you turn it into a show?’”


The group – taking on the name Perfect Tripod – then embarked upon a series of critically-acclaimed live shows before releasing an LP, lending their a capella expertise to an assortment of iconic Australian tunes. In approaching the album, Australian Songs, the group trialled countless ideas for cover versions in what became a careful selection process.


“It was long and it was a combination of negotiating and then, after that, it was trying things and seeing if they were any good,” Hall explains. “We had a go at AC/DC a couple of times, because we felt they have a really important place, but for what we were doing – our a capella thing – we just couldn’t really make that happen.”


Perfect Tripod reinterpret songs by Gotye, Kylie Minogue and John Farnham among other artists. Perfect, a versatile performer, sounds at home alongside the tight-knit comedy trio. “At the heart of it is that we’re all into bringing something new to the songs,” Hall explains, musing upon the group’s chemistry. “It feels like there’s a collective desire to make the arrangements really special. That informs what the show is and its aesthetic.”


According to Hall, Tripod have a particular approach in bringing outsiders into the fold. “We sort of put on our good behaviour for the first few weeks, then the guest starts to become familiar with our passive-aggressive politics. Then they tend to just sort of stay out of it,” he laughs.


Hall has enjoyed a busy schedule of late, pre-occupied with Perfect Tripod, as well as a multitude of other projects alongside his regular comedy cohorts. “This year’s been the most enjoyable year in memory, actually – which is nice to be able to say, given how long we’ve been going,” he muses. “We did a show at the Malthouse (The Dragon) and we’ve been writing some music for this animated thing for the Cartoon Network. It’s just about mixing it up I guess.”


In 2012, Hall dared to do something completely different, presenting a one-man show entitled Mandaddy. “It was so good for me. I really enjoyed doing it and it was nice coming back into Tripod having done that. It was interesting from a performance point of view, because I had to adjust what I do onstage. Normally I hang back a bit and I’m very reactive in Tripod,” he explains. “In Mandaddy, I had to be everything. That was a really good thing to be forced to do. Also, in terms of the material, I think it was just a really good venting of all these ideas that maybe weren’t suited to Tripod. I guess the tone is a bit darker than what we normally do in Tripod. It was just nice to get all that out there, so I could clean the decks in my head and come back to Tripod with a positive outlook.”


The future’s certainly bright for Tripod, the trio toying with exciting new directions. Hall suspects a musical might be on the cards. “We don’t have an idea yet, but we kind of keep talking about it. We did this thing at the Malthouse, which was sort of a musical – we wrote a few songs for the show – and that kind of seems like the natural place to go next.”


For now, though, it’s all about Perfect Tripod and this Friday at the Zoo, Hall drops a few hints as to what audiences can expect. “We mess around… we kind of can’t help it, because it’s where we come from. But we certainly try and make the songs sound beautiful, even the silly ones. Hopefully it’s beauty and stupidity.”



PERFECT TRIPOD play at the Zoo Twilights at the Melbourne Zoo on Friday January 24.