More than 40 years since their inception, The Fiction make their triumphant return

More than 40 years since their inception, The Fiction make their triumphant return

Words by Anna Rose

Short, fast, loud. On April 30, 1978 at a benefit for a street press fanzine known as Pulp, The Fiction played their first gig. They were the Melbourne punk scene’s fastest rising act, their tenure as tumultuous as their lineup, reputation, and opportunities.

By November 1978, The Fiction were done, and disappeared as quickly as they had existed.

Though The Fiction made a short impression on the Australian underground, performing shows and cementing themselves in the cult memory, each of its members going on to focus on different things, the itch was never lost among them. Now, more than 40 years since their inception, The Fiction are back.

Though it’s four decades since the original lineup played together, The Fiction, according to guitarist and primary songwriter, Rob Griffiths, are stuck in a bubble of bliss.

The band’s latest album, Ramona captures the very essence of late 1970s punk, a sound which is as gnarly, gritty and as imperfect as anything that would have been released in the genre’s heyday.

For Griffiths, it seems he’s quite happy to be stuck in a time warp of sorts. “The idea I have when I’m writing songs is, I’m trying to imagine being in the ‘70s,” he says. “I tried to imagine when I was writing this album, we were exactly where we once were.

“It’s good for the band – it’s one of those irritating things that we weren’t really a punk band, we had a lot of harmony and other good things happening, so we stripped it all back.

“We started again and stripped it all back to 1979 – a bit like Life on Mars, that TV show – we were trying to step back.”

In many ways, The Fiction have picked up where they left off, retaining the element of a cult and being an underground band. Apart from the obvious, in that The Fiction would probably like to be a band for more than just a few months this time around, Griffiths attests there’s a few things they’d like to do differently this time around.

“Travel is one big thing,” he says. “We came together and did some gigs and never thought anything of it – then last year we toured Japan. It was like nothing I’d
ever imagined.

“I think with our new record now, I guess we’re trying to make it a bit more futuristic, to live in 1980, I guess! Maybe that’s our vision, to actually take it back in time and slowly come into… we’ll never make it to 2019, we’ll always be stuck in the good old days.”

From a compilation of old demos, The Fiction found themselves playing shows again last year. Moving into a member’s garage to fine tune the songs they’d been performing, those fast sessions resulted in Ramona, an album which has piqued the interest of longlasting fans here and abroad, and of course, caused Griffiths to scratch at that old itch.

There’s evidently still a market for that 1970s punk, with The Fiction planning on a return to Japan and already with another album in the works. And, of course, there’s their Melbourne comeback show coming up.

With friends and family who will naturally come along and support The Fiction and live with them in the good old days, Griffiths says the band would absolutely be pleased if young whippersnappers got on the bandwagon and into what they’re trying to achieve.

“We did this one gig last year where there were a lot of younger people there. They were definitely into what we were doing.

“Seeing them, well, most bands like us who play gigs are like old people ghost towns – people out to reminisce and have a good time. That’s great, but it’s also great to see the young people come out and be really into the music that marked our youth, live like we did when we were younger.

“The gigs [can be] harder, but it’s a challenge the band want to try and tackle. You can’t imagine.”

Ramona is out now on streaming services.