Bio from September 1981 updated in 1997 by Peter Green
Phil Bud Judd- Guitar, vocals
Ian Kiljoy Gilroy-Drums,vocals
Dwayne Bones Hillman-Bass,vocals
Ask any of the so called music cognoscenti around town who their favourite
bands are and there's a good chance their reply will include The Swingers
whose debut single "Counting the Beat" effortlessly roared to the top of
the charts faster than any other Australian single in ten years.
The Swingers began in new Zealand around June 1979 out of the remnants of
the punk scene,notably Dwayne "Bones" Hillman's band, The Suburban
Reptiles. Philip Judd was called in to produce a single but the Reptiles
guitarist wasn't making it so Judd ended up playing on the session.
Judd meanwhile was still feeling his way back into rock'n'roll after
suffering psychic wear and tear following his departure from Split Enz when
mid 70's attempt to make it in England floundered. Originally he had
intended to pick up the threats of his career as a painter, but the lure of
the beat was enough to entice him away from the art world and his day job
as an assistant
photographer in an Auckland art gallery. The Suburban Reptiles were falling
apart at the seams and Hillman, Judd and Buster Stiggs (original drummer
now in Models) became The Swingers.
They started to gig regularly in New Zealand (mainly Auckland), building up a
repertoire of songs and gaining acceptance. They ran their own shows,
booked their own tours and released a single "One good reason" on
independent label, Ripper Records,which reached #17 on the national NZ
The first sign of interest came in mid 1980 from Mushroom managing director
Michael Gudinski. hearing that Judd was back in action,Gudinski headed over
the Tasman to catch their act. By this time The Swingers were on of NZ's
He was impressed and asked them to come to Australia on The Sports "Big
Kiss Off" tour as special guests.
More importantly, Mushroom Records signed the band and in a predictably
astute move,provided the services of a sympathetic producer in David
Tickle, the UK
wonderkid who masterminded the SplitEnz renaissance album "True Colours".
Tickle's perfectionist attitude to recording and other delays kept the
single in limbo for several months. After the successful Sports tour
support, The Swingers
spent time stubbornly working around the traps and investigating the
complexities of the Australian circuit eventually meeting their
"Counting the Beat" was recorded in August 1980 but a final mix didn't eventuate
until late November. It was decided to delay the release of the single
until after the Christmas break. It was an all time low for the band in a
one room flat on Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda,living on handouts.
Towards the end of December, expatriate New Zealand drummer,Ian Gilroy
(from The Crocodiles) was enlisted (to replace Buster Stiggs) and the band
stopped playing live to rehearse. The release of "Counting the Beat"
It's success was instant going to #1 nationally within 4 weeks and at the
time of writing has exceeded 100,000 sales.
By the beginning of 1981 anyone who was interested had the opportunity to
investigate the band live, as they went on the road for two hectic months
to promote the single. Swingers live are a revelation. They are one of the
original, refreshing commercial pop bands to grace our shores in years. A
sly off-beat humour permeates their best songs, the principle components of
their attack are Judd's plaintive vocals and adept guitar playing which
hammers away over the tense rhythm section of Gilroy and Hillman, relying
on spaces and distinctive chording. It's an approach which demands a high
degree of skill and cohesiveness.
The Swingers write as a co-operative song writing team; they usually just
et up a cassette and play till something interesting comes up and take it
In May 1981 The Swingers second single "It Ain't What You
Dance, It's the Way
You Dance It" was released but despite terrific overall airplay, it failed
to chart beyond a national top 30 position.
At this point in time however, no one was worried about "Dance" as the
album recording was well underway with producer David Tickle at The Music
Farm Studios in new South Wales. Half way through during a day of
relaxation, disaster struck Ian Gilroy when he fell of a speeding
trail-bike and fractured several bones in his wrist and Swingers had to
take time out for four weeks while he recuperated.
By July "Practical Jokers" was finished and Phil, together with David
Tickle flew to new York to mix the album at Electric Lady Land Studios.
The recording of The Swingers album may appear to have been a reasonably
feasible and simple procedure but in fact it was probably the busiest time
of their lives. When they had four weeks off because of Ian's arm, Swingers
became involved with the music score for the soundtrack for the movie
"Starstruck" and as well as performing on screen, they wrote and recorded
the title track. At the same time they were planning an elaborate
promotional and advertising campaign in conjunction with Mushroom while
their management were putting together a two month tour of Australia and
Just prior to the release of "Practical Jokers" the "One Track Mind" single
was released and at the time of writing was receiving AM and FM airplay in
"Practical Jokers" is a complicated, pretentious and brilliantly mastered
album for the commercial ear. hear and agree.
It's now 1997- 17 years since the release of "Counting the Beat". The song
has been made part of the Summer advertising TV campaign by K-mart stores.
Mushroom Records have re-issued "Counting the Beat" (with "It Ain't What You
Dance..." as the extra track). It's part of Mushroom Records "Classic
Mushroom singles" releases as part of their nth anniversary celebrations.
It is the first time that "Beat" has been released as a cd single.
or you can get it via the Frenzy of the Enz club.
Peter Green (December 1997)
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