Regurgitator and Damian Cowell take on the Curtin Christmas party

The Curtin’s ever-popular annual Xmas shindig is here once again.

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What started as a one-off has now become an institution, and this year will feature a double-header of Australian musical royalty: alt-rock-come-synth-pop legends Regurgitator, and the newest incarnation of Australia’s most prolific musical satirist, Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine.

HEADROXX, Regurgitator’s ninth studio album is a fevered, gnarly little party monster that makes you want to get stuck into the red cordial just a little too hard – possibly on account of the brain-sucking infestation of song larvae that vocalist/guitarist Quan Yeomans insists are responsible for the album. “I’d been having trouble sleeping for a few days. Some kind of pressure in my head seemed to be building. It felt like it was filled with bread that was slowly expanding as it soaked up the surrounding fluids,” he explains. 

“After a week of this I went in for an MRI, and the images, though at first unbelievable, seemed to confirm that my skull was host to a rather nasty infestation of song larvae.” When questioned about how the infestation resulted in an album, Yeoman’s only response was that “the hive-mind are highly motivated and extremely focused. Never question the hive-mind.” 

It feels like with this release, the band has managed to shed the expectations of even their most open-minded fan-base and are now free to redefine what Regurgitator is. Damian Cowell, the former anonymous frontman for Australia’s balaclava-clad, electro-punk pioneers TISM, has been dealing with his own infestation of sorts –a swarm of Australian and international guests gracing almost every track of his ever-grinding Disco Machine’s sophomore release, Get Yer Dag On!

“Oh yeah, Shaun Micallef, Celia Pacquola, Kate Miller-Heidke, Henry Rollins, Adalita, Judith Lucy, Henry Wagons, and the list goes on”, he says. “I’d love to work with them all again, except for that Quan Yeomans guy. He’s just too intense. He insists on method acting every role he plays, so we had to spend six weeks up the Kokoda Trail drinking our own urine with a Sarah Blasko album on repeat.” 

Obviously, the ordeal took a lot out of Cowell, who still bears the scars of that expedition. “I can’t even look at a craft beer, and every time I hear Sarah Blasko I think of blood sucking leeches.”

Having spent most of the ‘90s shrouded in anonymity (rumours were that the members of TISM were all doctors and merchant bankers), the former Humphrey B. Flaubert has spent the last half-decade shedding the protective layers of his former persona – and his anonymity along with it. He insists, however, that the move might not be as tactical as it may appear.

“When Kylie Minogue met the members of TISM backstage at the Big Day Out (in 1996),” Cowell muses, “she was stunned at our physical beauty. ‘What am I doing with that simian Murder Ballads guy?’ she said. We were handsome, ripplingly fit, fired by intellectual fervour and a revolutionary zeal to make humour the new punk rock. Who wouldn’t want to root us? Yet we hid it all behind a mask. Nowadays, if I still performed in a mask, anyone who met me backstage would go ‘Oh. I understand.’”

Both Yeomans and Cowell will be celebrating a 20th anniversary this Christmas, with Regurgitator and TISM having shared the stage nationally way back in 1998. However, they never again shared a stage in all of the years following and rumours regarding the rift between the two have been circulated ever since. “To be honest,” Yeomans reminisces painfully, “the whole tour seemed like a critical mistake in our career and I still harbour a lot of regrets about saying yes to it.”

The two will grace the Curtin together on Saturday December 22, alongside Melbourne synth enthusiasts U-Bahn. As for what we can expect, Mr. Cowell summed it up beautifully; “I’m in the CBD right now and I just helped a poor girl who slipped on a patch of vomit. She got the festive trifecta pain, humiliation, and slipping on vomit. That’s what you can expect.”

You can catch both Regurgitator and Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine joining forces this Saturday December 22 at The Curtin for their annual Xmas party. Tickets are $40 via Music Glue.