Adelaide was a damn busy place in the ‘80s. Long before Certified Wise smashed into various slithers of hip hop domination, Adelaide gave birth to some truly great rock bands and while Cold Chisel may have been their greatest export, Heaven gave them a fair run for their money. Drummer Joe Turtur speaks with fondness about the time the band had together and the motivations that have prompted them to come back to the stage. No, they don’t have a tax bill or the like pressuring a reformation gig that they desperately hope with generate an income. Turtur himself is a very successful business man in event catering and hospitality as well as continuing as a musician while the other members have various pursuits to keep them busy, housed and fed. Heaven’s reformation is born out of that old, cursed chestnut mortality and the finitude of life. In the last few years Aussie rock has been hit hard with the loss of some truly great musicians and Turtur and Co. realised that life is short and you may as well do the things that make you happy when you can.
“It was purely an idea that came up when Mick Cocks, our guitar player on the second album, well when we had a benefit concert for him at the Enmore Theatre about three years ago,” Turtur explains. Cocks died in 2009 from liver cancer a few months after the benefit concert. “We all loved Mick, we didn’t know what was going to happen to Mick at the time, and we had a huge lineup that night. It was actually one of the first Cold Chisel reformations but it wasn’t able to be called Cold Chisel because Don Walker wasn’t there. It was a great night and Laurie (Marlow) and I talked about getting the band back together. I thought it was just too hard because Allan (Fryer) was overseas, (Bradford) Kelly had died; he had died of AIDS, just from using needles and stuff. It was sad really, we didn’t actually know when Kelly died; a year had passed before we found out.”
With this idea floating around but the logistics appearing too daunting, it would be Cocks’ funeral that was the catalyst for the band to get into action. There is no time like the present and for a band that loved playing together so much and it seemed natural to give it another shot. Heaven may have had a number of line-up changes but there was no great hostility that inspired their break-up. In fact, singer Fryer was touted as the replacement singer in AC/DC after Bon Scott’s death and while half of AC/DC were in favour of Fryer, the more dominant half were in favour of a Brit by the name of Brian Johnson – and the rest is history. “It was a realisation at Mick’s funeral. We were all there and we were all so close that day and we were all so scared that, in a sense, this could happen to any of us,” he says. “Thirty years down the track the fans still seem to want to hear those songs and that has been the main drive. When we started up the social media pages there were just so many people begging us to reform. So we spoke to Allan in America and he was half interested, we didn’t know who to use a guitar player and he came up with the idea of using Mitch Perry, who had played on the ’85 album that none of this rhythm section had played on.”
The band have no burning aspirations to relive their youth or flog a dead horse, these gigs are about seizing life’s opportunities and doing what you love. They want to play, their fans want them to play and that should be enough. “We don’t care about getting a number one album or anything like that,” he says genuinely. We’re not doing it as a money-making venture; we’re doing it as a reformation. “We plan to re-record some demos we recorded many years ago and do some fun stuff. It’s difficult to get management, I’ve been talking Andrew McManus; we know each other from the Divinyls days. He’s a battler, they knock him down and he gets back up again – I love that in someone. That’s my determination too. If I come across hurdles I just jump over them. I’ve given up drinking and taking drugs, those mind-altering things, and focussing on health. There’s all these guys falling off the perch. Some of them have heaps of money but they still get sick and die. That’s why we’re doing this; we wanna have fun and do this while we can.”
BY KRISSI WEISS
HEAVEN will be smashing it out at The Evelyn Hotel on Friday June 22 with Hazmat and Back In The Day on Saturday June 23 with Hazmat and Sunset Riot.