Deep Dive: Unit by Regurgitator
Deep Dive: Unit by Regurgitator, A Classic Australian Album
In October 2022, the NFSA hosted an in-depth conversation with the legendary Australian band Regurgitator, as they delved into the creation of their Classic Australian Album Unit, on the 25th anniversary of its release.
In conversation with the NFSA's Sam Dignand were band members Ben Ely and Quan Yeomans, producer Lachlan (Magoo) Goold and manager Paul Curtis. They discussed influences and styles, the creative process, and how Unit defined a particular time in Australian music history.
The conversation was a celebration of the band’s impact, both locally and globally, and of the album that marked their success at the peak of the alternative music genre.
Watch the full conversation with Ben, Quan, Lachlan and Paul below:
The seminal Australian album Unit catapulted into the charts when it was released in November 1997 with its mixture of 1980s-style synthesised pop music and alternative rock. This second studio album from Regurgitator went on to win five ARIA Awards, including the 1998 ARIA Award for Album of the Year.
Following the success of their first album Tu-Plang, the band defied expectations and did a complete 180 to embrace an electronic and pop-based sound. With tongue in cheek, Unit’s opening track is the wonderfully titled ‘I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff’, followed by fantastic hits such as ‘Polyester Girl’ and ‘! (The Song Formerly Known As)’.
The band was formed in Brisbane in late 1993 by core members Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely, along with drummer Martin Lee, playing their first show in March 1994 for Friends of the Earth. Current drummer Peter Kostic joined in late 1999. They have released numerous EPs and albums that they have recorded in dubiously idiosyncratic scenarios: Tu-Plang (1996) in the jungle outskirts of Bangkok; the pixel-obsessed 80s jolt of Unit (1997) in a condemned Fortitude Valley warehouse; ...art (1999) in a sun-soaked Byron Bay beachside house; Eduardo and Rodriguez Wage War On T-Wrecks (2001) amidst the red-brick backstreet of (Gang of Four) Andy Gill’s London studio; Mish Mash! (2004) in a glass panopticon installed in Melbourne's Federation Square as part of the disruptive Band in a Bubble pastiche of reality shows; Love and Paranoia (2007) in a bullet-riddled studio in Rio de Janeiro under the looming rock arms of Corcovado; Super Happy Fun Times Friends (2011) in a Melbourne shopfront; and Dirty Pop Fantasy (2013) in a Hong Kong skyscraper apartment; and more recent meta-virus album #9 HEADROXX (2018) that was fabricated over the internet.
In the past 28-plus years they have toured all over Australia, New Zealand, Japan, UK, Europe, USA, Asia and the Middle East along with many festival inclusions including the Big Day Out, Clokenflap, Reading, Fuji Rock, Groovin’ the Moo, The Falls and Meredith. Always drawn to the odd they collaborated with dance choreographer Gavin Webber on the live music-dance project Rock Show; worked with the Handspan Puppet Theatre on Raised by Wolves for the Melbourne Fringe; performed a self-written live soundtrack to Japanese film Akira (1988) at the Sydney Opera House; reproduced the debut Velvet Underground album in conjunction with Chinese collaborator Mindy Meng Wang; released in cinemas the one-off UNIT20 performance; and had riotous kid fun with the Pogogo Show… Still touring and flooring it, more than ever they find themselves extending the vitality of their live performances, continuing to infuse them with exuberance, mania and their mashed-up motion of rock, punk, electro, funk, pop, hip hop... wherever-the-tune-goes vibes.
Dr Lachlan Goold is a recording engineer, producer, mixer, popular music educator, researcher and lecturer in contemporary music at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. His research focuses on practice-based music production approaches, theoretical uses of space, cultural geography and the music industry. In his creative practice, he is better known as Australian music producer Magoo, a two-time ARIA award winner. Since 1990, he has worked on a wide range of albums from some of the country’s best-known artists, achieving a multitude of Gold and Platinum awards. Dr Goold worked with Regurgitator as their recording engineer and producer across eight releases: Regurgitator (EP), New (EP), Tu-Plang, Unit, ...art, Mish Mash!, Love and Paranoia and Bong in My Eye (EP).
Paul Curtis functioned under the CONSUME/VALVE moniker for approximately 30 years combining management, touring, record releases, venue and event booking etc. He has managed Brisbane’s Regurgitator since 1994. He has produced tours for international artists including Peaches, Ratatat, Moon Duo, Boredoms, Shonen Knife, Trans Am, JD Samson, Chicks on Speed plus various Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian bands – conducting shows and tours across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He conceived and produced the multi-media recording installation Band in a Bubble in Federation Square, Melbourne with Regurgitator and Channel [V] in 2004. He curated the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art Up Late and Melbourne National Gallery of Victoria Friday Nights at NGV music programs for 13 years. He makes visual art and loves music, reading and more. Just keeps hanging on to the optimism!
MORE DEEP DIVE CONVERSATIONS AND Q&AS
Main image: the current line-up of Regurgitator – Quan Yeomans, Ben Ely and Peter Kostic.