The International Swingers

The term 'supergroup' gets bandied around quite a lot in rock circles, but usually by the press and record companies and management trying to promote the bands in question. The band members themselves rarely see their project as such, preferring to think of themselves as just a bunch of musicians, who happen to be well known, coming together to form a band and play some tunes. Such is the case here.

The International Swingers is a brand new project put together by four guys who between them have pretty much played with the who's who of the late '70s/early '80s punk, new wave and new romantic movements. Guitarist Glen Matlock was a founding member of seminal English punks The Sex Pistols, and has also played with Iggy Pop, Ronnie Wood and The Faces, The Damned and many more. Clem Burke was drummer and co-founding member of Blondie and has done albums and tours with The Ramones, The Eurythmics, Joan Jett and Bob Dylan. And James Stevenson has played bass with Billy Idol's early punk band Generation X as well as The Cult, The Alarm and more.


Singer Gary Twinn's main claim to fame was his tenure in '70s Australian punky glam rock act Supernaut, who scored a massive hit in 1976, the controversial (at the time, it seems rather tame by today's standards) I Like it Both Ways. He agrees that the supergroup term is a little naff and the new band is just a bunch of friends who love to get together and play some loud rock'n'roll.


"It's kind of silly, really," he states. "To be honest, and put it into simple terms, we're mates who love hangin' out and we just want to play some music together. We actually hang out at my house quite often and do that, so we thought 'why don't we do that in front of some other people?'


"We've all known each other for a long time," he continues, regarding the thinking and inspiration behind putting this project together, "and earlier this year, someone approached me about doing a Supernaut reunion, but I didn't really fancy it, it wasn't really what I was into. But at the same time, James the guitarist in our new band was at my house, and he was like 'well why don't we start a new band and go over there together?' So we called Clem and Glen, as first choices, and they were both like 'Yeah! Let's do it, let's go!' And that was it!"


With the busy schedules of each of the individual members, formally putting the band together and organising the tour proved to be a little difficult initially: "Yeah absolutely, definitely," he emphasises, "Clem has been on the road much of the year with Blondie, and Glen has his own solo album, and he's been doing that. And James plays in Glen's band, but also plays with The Alarm, and Gene Loves Jezabel and also anyone else who'll have him, he'll play with!" he chuckles, "and I have a band with my old mate Derwood [Andrews] who was the original guitar play with Generation X, so it was just a matter of finding that little gap (in their respective schedules).


"Actually, we wanted Derwood to be in the band with us," he recalls, "we actually thought about having a five-piece come out to Australia, but he couldn't leave. Otherwise we would have had more punks than you could handle!"


The tour kicks off at Geelong's Barwon Club on Friday December 2, and takes in every mainland state along the way. The set list for the show has been released to the press and it reads like a comprehensive hit list from the late '70s and early '80s. From the Sex Pistols' Pretty Vacant andGod Save the Queen to Billy Idol's Dancing with Myself to Blondie's Call Me and Union City Blues and, of course, I Like it Both Ways, it's an hour and a half of absolute crowd pleasers for punks, new romantics and rockers of all ages. It must be an absolute luxury to have such an incredible list of tunes at their fingertips.


"Well I'm glad that you said that," he says, "most of this was put together by James and me. Clem was busy with Blondie, Glen was out on the road with The Faces. So James and I were hanging out, I've got a little studio at my house that my wife made for me. We were just sitting in there and throwing songs around and we thought maybe, since there's four of us we'd put in three songs each and then we expanded it, because Glen wrote and played with Iggy Pop, when they did the Soldier album, so we were like 'ok, we can do an Iggy tune', we threw a few Clash songs in there -so basically it's a big party band with a lot of good cover songs!"


As for the live set itself, it promises a raw, explosive punk sound not dissimilar to what these guys were producing in 1977. "Yeah, it's going to be a pretty basic, balls-to-the-wall sound," he says. "We're no spring chickens but we're still rock'n'rollers, that's the way it is. We bash those guitars and smash those drums like no fucker!"

The International Swingers play The Barwon Club in Geelong on Friday,December 2 , and The Corner Hotel on Saturday December 3 .