Total Energy were in such a rush to the presses after their long wait, that they inadvertently included the Birdman studio version of Maelstrom, instead of the live New Race version which was meant to be one of two bonus tracks beyond those on the original release. The other bonus track (truly live) was the Stooges Loose. Of course, they never should have been serviced with the incorrect tape in the first place.
"I was living in Detroit at the end of 1980 when the New Race concept came up. This was in the early post Birdman, post Visitors days, I was looking around for something to do. It was actually Angie's idea. Angie had been talking with Rob Younger, and she thought it would be great for us to get a cool touring band together to hit the road in Australia around the same time that Living Eyes was to come out...the idea being to get some guys in it who we considered to be part of our "roots" so to speak... We wanted to give the Detroit musicians some live exposure in Australia, to honour their legacy. It would be an important step along our own path of development. It would also give us the chance to go wild and behave irresponsibly and kick some serious ass.
So, Rob and I asked Warwick Gilbert to sign on as the bass player... despite the horrific animosity of the Radio Birdman break-up. I suppose it was the opportunity to play with the Detroit "legends" that convinced him to put aside his ... angst?... for a few weeks and focus on this new assignment.
I had known Ron Asheton for a few years, and had done some playing with his band. We were and still are close personal friends. He was keen on us getting together in Australia. Scotty Asheton was our original choice for drums, but when he couldn't make it at the last minute, Ron recruited Dennis Thompson. "Machine Gun" was a perfect choice for what we wanted to do. Ron and Dennis, who had once been band mates in the New Order, crossed the Pacific in a DC10, arriving in a strangely compressed state. Rehearsals began. We decided to focus on material from the members' previous bands, to spend the time crystallising as a unit rather than trying to write a whole bunch of new songs. We did stuff from Birdman, MC5, Stooges, Destroy All Monsters, The Visitors, etc. The only new song we wrote was Columbia, whose first flight was a news event the week of rehearsals. I think Thompson came up with most of it. I contributed the middle 8 bars only. It seems a bit silly now to have sung about the space shuttle, but I guess it was applicable at the time as we felt that we, also, were about to launch a powerful new machine. Some people thought we were singing "pandemonium" instead of "Hail Columbia". That's a better lyric.
So we got in the van. The first show was a predictably rough event in Wollongong, a tough steel city down south...then drove overnight 1000 km north to the Gold Coast, to the Playroom which is still sitting there on one of the prettiest beaches in the world. On and on, from endless hours in the van to sound check to motel to the gig to the motel then into the van to repeat the cycle. We played clubs, mostly full of people. I remember the crowds being from 200 at the Ainslie Hotel in Canberra to 2000 at Selinas with all sizes in between. The crowds went off. The gigs were pretty good. The chaos factor was up there. The band gained power as it went along. Cities, suburbs, satellite towns, countryside of incredible beauty, long stretches of nothing but mileage, flyblown stops for mysterious food, a beer and a piss in between. It's a ritualistic experience which I repeat to this day with very little variation. The only difference is that now you can get espresso in Gundagai.
Contrary to some of the press at the time, we had a great deal of fun, good times, and camaraderie. There was also adversity and, inevitably, exhaustion. Because of the Oz pronunciation of the word "race", we took to calling the band "Fried Rice" instead of New Race. Humour beats bitterness every time.
New Race was the hammering out of yet another link in the chain. It served the purpose, albeit unconsciously, of connecting past to future within the context of our limited artistic traditions and humble aspirations. It was better than sitting around watching TV.
It was a rock band. Music was played. You can hear some of it on this disc. I hope you enjoy it."
top of page new race history last page visited