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Reflection Piece by Nick Smith of 99 Scapegoats + Song of The Week – Pokies

As a 12-year-old kid growing up I listened to most of my older brothers music. Bands like Mellincolin, Offspring, Green Day and Pearl Jam. Little did I know that years later i would discover on Youtube bands like: Black Flag, DOA, Agent Orange, Descendents, Bad Brains, Bad Religion and countless more. I think my affinity to that music was also partly from watching surfing movies, that and the fact that during the late 90s and early 2000s more money was being thrown into punk.

My first-hand experience of going out was during my late teens. Going out meant heading to some dingy nightclub. It was my last year of school and I was starting to get into DJing. I was doing it myself, mainly playing electro house stuff; at the time Ministry of Sound was big. Thinking back to that time I was a quiet guy in some ways; sporty and I’d usually have to drink to get chatty which would get me in sticky situations along the way. Blanking out a lot when I drank too much. Getting bashed at a house party probably wasn’t the best thing for me to do but my friends were drinking so I would too.

I had a few connections through my brother’s friend and played my first nightclub set at The Grand. I’d play with a friend as heads down thumbs up. It was fun and we started playing around town more regularly. A mix tape, decks and speakers was all we needed. I had lessons beat matching and once I had that, it stuck with me forever. The slots happened more often with a regular night at The Grand. I guess it was the right time and place, people would always come out for it. We weren’t paid much—1 or 2 free drinks and a small amount of cash. I was working in the city so I wasn’t worried about that.

Time went on and I wasn’t real into trying to produce. I had played guitar as a kid. Spanish trained but never thought to use that in our stuff. I guess it could have been cool but it wasn’t really happening and the guy I was DJing with moved on. So that was it, I stopped playing regularly. Yeah, I was negative on dance music for a while. Maybe because there were a few things when I was younger I couldn’t work out, maybe because I hung around the wrong people, or the scene was shit. I would DJ here and there at house parties for my own enjoyment.

Fast forward six years and I started writing and playing music in a duo, ‘99 scapegoats’, with a guy I work with. I felt an instant rush to what I loved, punk music. It’s solid you know, doesn’t differ that much. I think that’s why I latch on to it. We do it for ourselves, finding a connection to it—writing songs about true life—our life. I play in three bands now but ’99 scapegoats’ is serious, we record and play gigs. We’re bringing our different styles to the table. Nick’s prog-metal guitar riffs with my guitar and vocal punk style. The songs are separate; one punk, one prog, but we are starting to mould in more new music. The other bands include a cover band which is just for fun, and a side project called ‘Electric Mower’ which incorporates an Abeleton, 808 drums, electric guitars, synth, and bass guitar. It’s opened my mind so such which I’m thankful for, and to be honest I’m happy I moved on from the dance/nightclub scene that I was trapped in.

So amongst all that of that, Wollongong’s live gig scene began to crop up thanks to a few venues like Yours and Owls, Rad Bar, Dicey Riley, Urge Records, Janes, North Gong Sundays, Wollongong Uni Bar. The live gig scene is thriving now, on par with nightclubs.

I’m seeing more and more great bands each week and am so excited for what’s to come! Guess I’m more excited for the kids coming up now and the kind of music they’ll get to experience.

– Nick Smith

99 Scapegoats are this weeks song of the week with their track ‘Pokies’. Click play on the audio bar on the side of the screen (or below on mobiles).

If you’re interested in uploading any of your own writings, just contact me and Dusty Toothbrush will publish it.

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Weirdo Wasteland

Weirdo Wasteland is an Australian-based music blog that examines musical endeavour from the cultural fringe. The site regularly features reviews and interviews from the underground scenes from Australia and New Zealand. Weirdo Wasteland acknowledges the original custodians of the land upon which it operates. Sovereignty has never been ceded. To get in touch, contact: weirdowasteland (at) gmail.com

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