By Kath GANGgajang Interview
Article By Kath on Nov 2, 2002


GANGgajang Interview

"The first thing to establish is I'm not Chris Bailey from the Saints!" Kath Orgovany talks to the OTHER Chris Bailey.

The name GANGgajang comes from the idea of the band being a collective of creative individuals, a..."GANG" and the sound of a guitar being strummed -"gajang."

The band is a "Super group" of sorts with an amazing pedigree of musicians with Chris Bailey and 'Buzz' Bidstrup from The Angels, Mark 'Cal' Callaghan from The Riptides and Geoffrey Stapleton from The Aliens.

The band formed in 1984 back when the live scene was very different to today and released three albums from 1985-1994 with a string of singles including 'Gimme Some Lovin', 'Sounds of Then' (This is Australia), 'American Money' and 'Ordinary World'.

'Sounds of Then' has since become a bit of an alternative Australian anthem with the Nine Network picking it up for it's 1996 promotion turning it into much more than just a single, pretty amazing considering the song originally wasn't even going to make the album.

GANGgajang has managed to keep it together for eighteen years, an amazing feat. Chris explains how they have lasted so long:

"I think it's because the whole concept of the band originally was that it wouldn't be a band where everybody had to put their whole lives and every resource into this outfit. Everyone's kind of interested in doing other things….we've kept it pretty open so there's periods there where we've said ok, we're not doing anything for six months and everybody can go off and do whatever they want…"

Doing 'whatever they want' consists of Chris and Buzz playing in Jimmy Little's band (Buzz also manages Jimmy), Robert having a solo album out, Geoffrey being an artist and preparing for his next exhibition and Mark involved in Music Publishing.

Incredibly the band has kept the original line-up because they have great fun together, enjoy playing and writing and actually get along. Chris and Buzz of course have an even longer history dating back to The Angels.

GANGgajang took an extended break from 1987 to 1994 where members pursued different projects but found it relatively easy to get back together after such a long break. A small Northern N.S.W tour kicked life back into the band resulting in full houses and led to them releasing album number three.

Unexpected success in Brazil also surprised the band. Their music was featured in a Quiksilver surf movie called 'Mad Wax', which made it all the way to Brazil. The band found they had a market there and went on tour to be confronted by fans who spoke no English yet knew all the words to their songs! Subsequent tours of Brazil followed. Chris thinks it may have been the reggae influences that crept into the band's music and their strong live shows that contributed to the Brazilian fan fare.

Having formed way back in the 80's before Pokies and Playstation, amongst other things, took over, I asked Chris what he sees as the main differences between now and then. "Well obviously there's a lot less venues to play in, a lot more distractions for kids. TV's just overflowing with filmclips and music shows now where as back then there was kind of one show, that was Countdown….there was also this social thing where everyone would just go out to a pub and see a band, there was so many good bands around and so many big pubs…."

Chris also mentions the fact that these days big bands only do small tours and just go around playing all the Summer Festivals, something that didn't exist in the 80's.

The band are embarking on a National tour to promote their fourth album 'Oceans and Desserts', their first release since 1994. The album's recording was an unusual process. Chris explains: "It was recorded on three home computers. At Mark's, Buzz' and Robbie James'. We started about three years ago actually and basically the discs went from one computer to another…it did the rounds like that until we had everything recorded."

The mixing also went back and forth and was even done via email, something Chris thinks wasn't all that satisfactory!

The end result is in fact a very slick sounding CD. The track 'Anodyne Dream' is a standout in the fact Mark's lyrics are made up of song titles!

Also the song 'Trust' was co-written by Chris and is inspired by everyone suing eachother and the fact that GANGgajang are of the old school and prefer to go on a hand shake.

Fans of the band can expect old songs as well as new songs on this latest tour and Chris says the shows have been going down really well. "The response to the new stuff is great, so hopefully we're doing something right!"