SOBER, TEMPORARILY: Evil Dick hits a high note.
SOBER, TEMPORARILY: Evil Dick hits a high note.

Click, bang, rock’n’roll

"AT ONE of the gigs in France, after we'd played I went up to the bar and asked for a cognac - and the bartender gave me the whole f*kn bottle, so I was just wandering around the place like Dean Martin."

Hits played 22 shows in 24 days, touring through France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The band had been carving a pie-eyed notoriety Australia-wide for six years, notably at Mazstock in Lismore. Serious nation-wide touring however, had not quite prepared them for European hospitality.

"They treat you so well, they pay you up front, they say 'this is all your beer (a fridge full) and dinner will be served before you play'.

"Sometimes we got put up at fancy hotels, sometimes in people's houses. There was only one night I slept in the van, 'cos I hated everyone."

Dick reckons these luxuries proved a mixed blessing for bon vivants of their stature.

"We're pretty well known for drinking to excess, but in Australia you only do two or three shows in a row and at the end you're buggered, so when you're doing 13 shows in a row, well we all started to get sick.

"It only takes one of you to get a cold and then everyone's got it. You have fights amongst yourselves and I think everyone had a cry at some stage.

"But it was also awesome, 'cos we were playing each night, so you're doing weeknights in little cafes, or on a boat, with small crowds. Then on weekends you'd be in big towns with much bigger crowds and in some places everyone had our album and they're all singing the words of our songs and we were actually quite stunned."

Dick said the best gig in France was at a little pub on election night.

"The French all hated Sarkozy (former French president) and the whole town was hyped in the pub, watching the election like it's a grand final. They do a countdown, 10, 9, 8… and the winner is… and it was the guy they wanted to win so the whole pub erupted. And then it was us; click, click, bang, rock'n'roll."

Evil Dick reckons the Europeans are reciprocating for the gift of Australian rock and roll.

"They don't have many rock'n'roll bands, and if they do, they sort of don't get it. What they love about Australian music is it has a menacing quality to it. That's a historical thing that comes from, y'know, The Birthday Party, X, The Saints, Beasts of Bourbon."

Being an epileptic, Dick suffered exquisitely from the French hospitality.

"I've had to change my medication and it takes six months to kick in and you're not supposed to drink on it and I go 'well I'm a f*kn alcoholic, how am I s'posed to do that?' But I had to go to rehab."

He's off the grog now and it may have paid off. The band has songs for a new album that is probably going to be produced by Radio Birdman frontman Rob Younger.

"We're really quite fond of these songs. Not drinking has lessened our f**-ups, but I certainly don't intend to be straight for the rest of my life."

Hits play the Tatts, Lismore, on March 16, with Raygun Mortlock, French band Ultra Bullitt and Substation at 8pm. Tickets are $10.

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