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The Mavis’s

The Mavis’s were always a hard band to pin down. They had an incredible knack for killer pop hooks, but they weren’t afraid to bring out the chunky guitars from time to time. Mavis’s gigs always felt fun and energetic but there was a bit of a punk edge too. There was a tendency to experiment with electronics running parallel with an appreciation for ‘70s glam-rock grit. The band broke up in 2001 but 1998 hit, Cry, remains an Australian classic, and their three albums show an ever-evolving band that wasn’t afraid to take chances. Fans will have a chance to hear these classics performed live once again this December when three fifths of the band reunite for a special show at the John Curtin Hotel.

Vocalist/guitarist Matt Doll (Matt Thomas) explains: “It started just because [Matt’s sister and Mavis’s co-vocalist] Beki and Nik both live in America nowadays and they’re both coming back to see their families for Christmas – being my family and Nik’s family in Ballarat – and we thought we’d just do an acoustic trio thing. So we booked that in and then thought, ‘Maybe we should get a bass player,’ and then, ‘Maybe we should get a drummer too,’ and it turned into a proper reunion thing.”
 
Original drummer Andrea Vendy isn’t available for the reunion because she’s busy with family stuff, and bass player Josh Alexander isn’t musically active at the moment, so it’ll be three original members with some friends helping out.
 
One of the challenges in relearning the material for the reunion is figuring out the different guitar tunings. “There are a lot of different tunings,” Thomas says. “They have bizarre guitar tunings so I have to go in and sort those out again, but they’re quite beautiful.”
 
It all seemed to come together pretty quickly, right? “It came together very quickly. And then sifting through the songs, we have a private chat thing on Facebook so we can go through the setlist. We’ve all agreed on the songs from the three albums, and it’s very exciting.” Thomas says he doesn’t spend much time revisiting his Mavis’s material; he’s kept himself plenty busy over the years with his own projects like his new wave-influenced solo work, songwriting, and bands like The B-Dolls and The Blow Waves. “I haven’t really listened for a long time. For a while you have memories that you don’t want to revisit, and then after a certain amount of time I’m really enjoying the songs and they haven’t dated at all. They don’t sound like they’re from any particular genre or decade. Some of the songs sound like they could have been released now.” Especially material like Naughty Boy and Supa Star; they have a loud punky-guitar-over-electronic-elements vibe that’s very much in tune with what’s happening now. “We always had that punk thing. We always loved early ‘80s punk, being ‘80s kids, but we also loved things like The Carpenters and Bee Gees: really smooth songs. So it was that mixture of the two in our music.”
 
Early influences for Thomas in particular include The Go-Go’s, The Slits, The Raincoats: “I was really influenced by girl bands and the way they played guitar,” he says. “The energy, I kinda’ related to it more than male bands. I just felt like I connected to it. I was teased at school for that. I loved The Bangles. That first Bangles album was a big influence on us as well: Beki and I would pick a harmony each, and that’s how we learned harmonies.” Thomas is a year and a half older than Beki, and he says he sort of pushed her into developing musically: “When we were young, like seven years old, we’d record ourselves, get another tape recorder and layer it and stuff like that. We had the same kind of telepathic connection musically, especially harmonies,” he reflects.
 
The reunion show will also feature a set by Caroline No!, the new band featuring Caroline Kennedy-McCracken from Deadstar, another classic Aussie band of the era. “Hopefully she might jump up on stage and sing with us,” Thomas says. So the obvious question remains: is this the first of things to come, or will we be hearing more from The Mavis’s after this show? “We’re kind of thinking we’d like to do more,” Thomas reveals. “Maybe even record something next year and do a tour. Maybe. We’d like to, the three of us, and Andrea might be into doing it too.” In the meantime you can keep up with the band via their official Facebook page, which started as just a fun little thing but has quickly evolved into a nice little community of fans. “It started as just a ‘memory’ sort of thing but it’s really kicked it up,” Thomas says.
 
Hopefully the same can be said of the reunion show; a chance to relive some memories and hear some great songs coming to life again, and perhaps the start of a new era, too.
 
BY PETER HODGSON 

THE MAVIS’S reunite for a show at The John Curtin Hotel on Saturday December 27. Presale tickets are available through the venue.