Thanks again to Bart! Some months ago we covered the great Pencil Tin and the relationship with Rob Cooper from The Sugargliders, now it’s time for Girl of the World, the first band Bart was involved with. They released three singles and a compilation CD in the early nineties, and all of them I recommend getting! You could tell that something special was brewing in Melbourne during this time, it was just before Summershine started and people in town were getting influenced by the indiepop coming from the UK. Anyways, sit down, read and enjoy!
++ Hi Bart! How are you these days? Have you written any songs this week?
Things are good. I’ve got a couple of songs on the go. The lyrics still need a bit of work, words don’t come as easy as they used to. My life is less of an indiepop cliché these days so I have less source material to draw on.
++ We did a nice interview about Pencil Tin, and I know, we should move now to the more known Cat’s Miaow or even The Shapiros, but I want to go even back, to Girl of the World! But you were telling me you don’t feel it was your band? Why is that?
I was definitely in the band but I didn’t form the band and my song-writing contributions were fairly negligible.
++ So how did Girl of the World start? Where did you know Tim and Cameron from?
I’d never met Tim or Cam before I joined the band. Girl of the World had probably been going for a year with a different bass player before I joined. I think they had only played a couple of parties but they did have a set of songs already written.
I’d just moved to Melbourne to go to college and was walking past a music store and saw an ad for a band that needed a bass player. The ad really stood out to me for 2 reasons. Firstly it had Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning girl on it and secondly the list of influences was really unusual for an Australian band. I don’t think any Australian band before or since has listed the Pastels, Talulah Gosh, Wedding Present, Orange Juice and the Go-Betweens on an ad. I just had to join this band. I’m not even sure if anyone else contacted them.
++ Was Girl of the World was your first proper pop band? Which makes me wonder, did you three have very similar taste?
It was the first band I’d been in that released a single, so in that sense yes. Prior to that, I was in a band that went on to become the Ampersands. They released a few things on Harriet in the US. My replacement was Andrew, who I formed the Cat’s Miaow with.
I think the 3 members of Girl of the World had compatible tastes, rather than identical. I don’t think there was anything that any of us liked that the others hated. I was more into Flying nun and Beat Happening but there was a lot of common ground with the c86 era. Tim was into the Pastels and Pooh Sticks while I preferred the Wedding Present and Orange Juice, Cam had a leaning towards US guitar bands like Husker Du and Buffalo tom. All 3 us liked Teenage Fanclub and the Field Mice
++ You play bass on Girl of the World, whereas in the rest of bands you played guitar mostly. How did you pick up the bass this time? And of course, what do you enjoy playing the most, guitar or bass?
I’d been playing bass since i was 16 and at that point didn’t know how to play guitar. I was about 25 before I started to learn the guitar. I haven’t played bass in probably 10 years. I’ve just lent it to the teenage daughter of a friend from work so she can play in a band. A guitar is better for writing songs, I don’t actually consider myself much of a guitarist tho.
++ Why the name Girl of the World? That can’t be about a particular girl, can it?
It was a re-appraisal of the phrase “Man of the world”
++ First release was in Parasol, when they were just starting. It was the “Travel EP”, how do you remember the recordings of this one? And how come it ended up in far away Urbana, Illinois?
The recording of the Travel ep is probably one of my fondest memories of the band. It was incredibly exciting, recording at Simon Grounds home studio. I’d probably only been in the band about 9 months by then. We had been rehearsing twice a week since I joined and had a hell of a lot of new songs. Andrew had earlier recorded pretty much every song we knew one afternoon at the church hall where we rehearsed on the 4 track and we released the best 10 on cassette. Not long after we recorded the Travel ep Tim went on a round the world holiday and scattered demos along the way. It ended up on Parasol as they got to the phone quicker than Bus stop when they listened to it together. Heaven offered to do it as well but by that time we’d already agreed to do it with Parasol
++ Also the second release was on Parasol: “Le Cirque” 7″. This may be a very silly question, but do you like circuses Bart? I just got this nostalgia and had me thinking that I haven’t been to one since I was maybe 12 years old, but I always loved them, especially the magicians. Do you like any in particular about them?
I always find them a bit seedy, clowns give me the willies. I took my kids to one not long ago and they’ve changed a lot since I was a kid. Hardly any animals, but lots of acrobatics.
++ Ok, let’s get back to serious questions, who is the Emma that has lyrics credit on the “Le Cirque” record?
A friend of Tim’s.
++ I was always surprised by your release on Heaven Records, mostly because you sound very different to The Fat Tulips who I also love. In any case, they made a great choice to release you! How did the you deal with them? Did you ever get to see them or meet them?
I know I never met them and I don’t think Tim did either. Back then it was a very slow snail mail sort of existence. It would take at least 4 weeks to get a reply back from either the UK or US, that’s if the person you were writing to was prompt…. and international phone calls were hideously expensive.
++ Heaven is one of my favourite labels, not only because of the music, but because you could tell the people behind it were very passionate, with all the little inserts, mini-fanzines, and real zines. It was a labour of love. I was wondering what was your take on that, and why do you think that kind of passion is not seen often these days? Not that it was often seen in those days, but you know…
I’ve just read Tim’s little story in the fanzine that came with the single and I think the only true thing in it was the bit about me being a little older than Cam and Tim. I think time and distance can act as a sort of prism to make things appear better than what they were at the time. In general, things weren’t all that great back then.
++ On the “Five Year Old” record, there was a photo of a llama included, was that your idea? It’s kind of dumb to ask I know, but I always feel proud about our Peruvian animal haha
That would’ve been Tim’s idea. I think that single was organised when he was living in the US and Cam and I didn’t have much input into the visual side of it. I’m sure there was a reason for the llama, but for the life of me I can’t remember the story connected with it.
++ With Girl of the World you started working with Simon Grounds as a producer, what did he bring on the table?
Simon brought a lot to the table. A wealth of experience and talent and a vast array of vintage guitar pedals. He projects quite an eccentric persona, sort of like a cartoon mad professor. I think we were all initially in awe of him. I’d been a huge fan of his band shower scene from psycho. They used to do bubblegum covers, but deconstructed, simplified, then exaggerated. Simon was bit like that as well.
++ Ah! and what about the “Wonderboy” compilation, why did it didn’t include all the songs? It should have!
Yeah, it probably should have. I think the Travel ep was probably left off simply because the master was on analogue tape and the others were on DAT.
++ I have to ask, how come none of your releases came out in an Australian label?
Because no Australian label wanted to release us. We thought Summershine might for a while but then they signed The Earthmen, and The Earthmen became our official nemesis and we were insanely and irrationally jealous of them. Which was funny, because I was actually a fan of theirs and went to see them live a lot, particularly when Rob was in the band. And it’s even funnier now as Scott is doing a bit of singing with Bart & Friends.
++ Looking back in time what is your favourite Girl of the World song, and why?
I tend to prefer the earlier songs stylistically and it was also the time of the band that I have the fondest memories of, but I’ve always thought that Circus was the best song Tim ever wrote. Good lyrics, melody, catchy chorus, a bridge that builds up. I’d love it even if I wasn’t in the band.
++ So why did you split? Are you all still in touch?
I left because I felt that Tim was treating Cam and I like a backing band and not acknowledging the contributions we made. Having said that, I can’t really think of a single instance now to support that and I think it was mainly being played out in my head rather than in reality. I’m sure I was a moody, pain in the arse to be around at that time (some would say I still am) but I mainly think now that being around someone as charming and confident as Tim just made me feel more of a loser. Tim was everything I wanted to be but wasn’t.
I’m still in touch with Cam, tho don’t see as much of him as I’d like due to him living in Sydney. I imagine if he was living in Melbourne he’d be in bart & friends.
++ And was it immediately after Girl of The World that you started Cat’s Miaow? Did you do anything in between?
No, the Cat’s miaow started 18 months before I left girl of the world. There was quite a bit of overlap of when I was in both bands. For the most part during that time girl of the world were in hiatus due to Tim living in the US for about a year. There were a few months in early 1994 when I must have been playing in the Cat’s miaow, Pencil tin, Girl of the world and Blairmailer. I think I might have failed a couple of subjects at college around this time as well….
++ Oh! and before I forget, I’ve been meaning to ask you this before, on the On the Great Indie Discography it mentions that you were in a band called Blairmailer. I have never heard about it, do you mind telling me a bit about it?
That was David and Michael Nichols band. There was a CD, Home of the falcon which I don’t play on but I remember sharing bass duties with Andrew in a live version of the band. Blairmailer did a short tour of the US in 1994 and played at the Yoyo A Go Go festival. Afterwards I went onto DC and did the Shapiros with Pam.
++ Okay, let’s start wrapping it here, but one last question, what do you like better of living in Ballarat compared to Melbourne?
It’s so much easier living in Ballarat with a young family. I live in a really quite street behind a church near the centre of town. It’s like living in a little country village with church bells chiming on a Sunday morning. I’m walking distance to cafes, pubs, supermarkets, post office, my son’s school. I could even walk to work if I wasn’t so lazy. I do miss my friends in Melbourne tho.
++ Thanks again Bart, a pleasure as always, anything else you’d like to add?
I probably played more live shows with girl of the world than all my other bands combined. Our first show was supporting The Sugargliders at their record launch for the Butterfly Soup single on Summershine. We actually played with them a lot and we’d do combined band encores with all of us onstage doing songs like “Pristine Christine” or “Sensitive”. Girl of the World’s last show was at The
Sgargliders farewell show which provided some symmetry to it all.
Girl of the World – 3000 FT