Rip It Up

The Fireballs

Author: Robert Dunstan

Legendary Melboune psychobilly trio The Fireballs were asked to reform by Motorhead’s Lemmy last year to play an outdoor festival over in the west with his band as well as Motley Crue. That led to many requesting that the combo play more gigs which now sees them on a big national tour. It will also mark the reissuing of their recorded work, Terminal Haircut, Life Takes Too Long and So Bad It’s Good, so we e-mailed guitar player Matt Black a few questions and began by asking how the gig last year had transpired to the current tour.

“There’d been a shitload of pressure from a lot of areas over the years to reform, but we have only done things when we want to do them, not when others want it,” Matt had e-mailed from Japan where The Fireballs had been engaged to perform at a huge punk and rockabilly festival. “So, in a way, having that demand is really flattering and we are respectful of that, but we have to be comfortable with what we do and when we do it.”

Was it just like old times when you got together again?
“Yes and scarily so. We are the blood and guts rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut!” Matt declared. “Our current shows have been brutal and I can safely say the band is kicking it out like never before, I dare anyone to disagree!”

The Living End have often cited you guys as a big influence. How do you feel about that?
“Good on ’em,” Matt stated. “We came from the same scene and we’re a little older than them so by virtue of that we broke down some doors that they were later able to pass through as well.
“But if the implication is that we are somehow responsible for their success is being made by your question, then you’re dead wrong,” he added.
“We can’t take any responsibility for their success and neither should anyone else because The Living End have gone on and done the arse kicking around the world. Personally, I’m as happy as shit for them.”

It’s good news about the re-release of The Fireballs’ material – Terminal Haircut, Life Takes Too Long and So Bad It’s Good. How has that all come about?
“The demand has been rather high for the old material which has now been out of print for quite a while,” Matt responded. “We wanted to get it back out there and maintain total control of it. Obviously the internet makes all of that kind of thing much easier than it was 10 years ago. There has been a real surge in interest in the band and it’s almost as though the world has caught up to us. Psychobilly is rising above its cult status worldwide.”

Are there any plans at this stage to record some new Fireballs’ material?
“Maybe,” Matt cautiously declared. “But we really don’t have a long-term plan at the moment. Like I said before, we are just doing things at a comfortable pace. We will gig infrequently at best.”

We know that stand-up drummer Eddie Fury took a sit-down job with Rockbottom James & The Detonators and has also been involved with the band Sinshifter. What have you been up to?
“I took a well-earned break over the last few years and did a course in domestic bliss as a full-time subject,” Matt responded. “I think I passed.”

I believe you also played in a band with Fireballs’ double bass player Joey at some stage.
“Yeah, Joey and I have had a few combos over the years, most notably The Strikes,” Matt stated.

James Burton or Scotty Moore?
“Zakk Wylde. Nah, okay, Scotty Moore.”

You’re playing Adelaide with local rockabilly combo The Satellites which will make for a totally rockin’ show. Do you know much about them?
“Oh yeah,” Matt concluded. “The Satellites do it like it needs to be done – sultry, twangin’ and greasy.”

The Fireballs play Fowler’s Live on Sat Aug 19 with The Satellites.