Anchors aweigh

AHOY: The Good Ship set sail for Nimbin.
AHOY: The Good Ship set sail for Nimbin.

Eight-piece sea-shanty exponents The Good Ship sing sexy dirges about pirates, prostitutes and the supernatural. Songwriter Daz Gray told The Scene that the Northern Rivers may be their spiritual home.


"YEAH we play Lismore and Nimbin quite a bit. The Northern Rivers crew really get us - they don't think we're a pack of weirdoes for singing about dicks and vaginas."

That introduction might not quite fill in the dots. The Good Ship are not a hardcore metal outfit, nor are they, strictly speaking, a comedy act.

Born out of the fervid imaginations of founding members Daz Gray and John Meyer, they've expanded to fill a vacuum of under-explored moral propriety with songs like Don't Kiss Me With Your Lips, Use your Penis - written from a female perspective. And it's not an all-male, shouty sex club. There are, in fact, three women in the band, and over half their audience are female.

The songs are wry takes on sexual issues that both genders have in common. Such as I Can Make Her Laugh (the subtext being But I Can't Make Her Come).

The band's members play a grab-bag of instruments whose collective music sounds something like The Pogues. Mandola, mandolin, banjo, guitar, double bass, trumpet and accordion are perfect counterparts to lyrics that would make your grandmother giggle and start dancing the polka.

Daz explains how the Brisbane-based band came about.

"John and I are the two captains, we've been mates for a long time," he said. "I'd written a couple of songs that were, you might say, risqué, and I showed them to John. He said, 'I've got about four or five of them' and we decided to start a duo and then all our mates who could play an instrument basically joined the band."

Almost straightaway, the band started to tour and generate excitement for their raunchy live shows. Their first album Avast Wretched Sea captured the imagination of punters across the country - and the accompanying videos racked up over 100,000 YouTube views.

There was a ready-made audience in the hugely popular and convergent burlesque and gypsy scenes.

"Yeah, I guess we're a part of that movement... Our genre is a bit more open and we can play with all sorts of bands - like The Beards (all of whose members sport enormous beards and sing exclusively about - beards). We're looking at doing a tour with Evil Eddy (from successful hip-hop act Butterfingers)."

The Good Ship call this style "Polco Folca", shorthand for porno/country/folk/cabaret.

"We do like to push conventions a bit. But we actually just sing really honestly about things. That's how we talk to our friends, it's how most people talk - it's just we find that it isn't represented in popular culture."

Reactions to the band's body of work have been amazingly positive.

"I thought we'd get hate mail and (morals campaigner) Hetty Johnston on our case, but weirdly not - if anything, probably the opposite. We've got a bigger fan base than I ever thought we would. Every time we play another gig I have to pinch myself."

See for yourself, when The Good Ship play the Nimbin Hotel on August 12, at 7pm. They've just released their second album, O Exquisite Corpse and it'll be hot to trot on the night.

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