Main Image: Custard (L-R Matthew Strong, Paul Medew, Dave McCormack, Glenn Thompson) Image: Lyndal Irons. Listen: Dave McCormack speaks with Justin Rouillon about Custard’s latest album, Brisbane memories and his role as Bandit on the hit TV show Bluey.
Every 20 years or so Brisbane becomes cool again.
In the mid-nineties the River City’s music scene was booming, born from the ashes of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, a change in government and the expansion of youth network Triple J across the country.
That scene was driven by the big four – Powderfinger, Regurgitator, Screamfeeder and Custard, who had now found a national audience thanks to Triple J and TV shows like Recovery. Brisbane was also in the spotlight thanks to the writings of Nick Earls and his bestselling novel Zigzag Street.
Dave McCormack is the frontman of Custard, who based themselves out of a rehearsal room in Bradley Street, Spring Hill, and told 96five that in the early nineties something ‘clicked’ in the arts scene.
“It just seemed like there was something in the water, and all of a sudden there were so many great bands and so many great venues. It was a fertile period; we were all in our mid-twenties and all we’d do is make up band names and design posters!”
Fast forward 25 years and despite now calling Sydney home, Dave is once again at the centre of a resurgent Brisbane. Although none of the band members have lived in the river city for many years the band is still seen as a Brisbane institution. Last year Custard released ‘Respect All Lifeforms’ with critics universally praising the band’s eighth studio album.
Brisbane journalist and author Trent Dalton has wowed the literary world with his first two novels, ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ and ‘All Our Shimmering Skies’.
And a little blue dog from Red Hill has become a Brisbane icon, with the children’s show Bluey becoming a global smash hit. Dave has his finger in that pie as well, lending his voice to the character of Bandit, and inspiring dads the world over.
“Being a dad of two daughters and having Bluey based in Brissy, it’s sort of my life in a weird way. I have so much fun doing it and I think that’s why people love it so much – it’s not acting, it’s my memory bank.”
After calling it quits following 1999’s Loverama album, Custard returned in 2015 with the long player ‘Come Back, All is Forgiven’, and backing that effort up with ‘The Common Touch’, released in 2017. Dave says that band life now is much less hectic than those heady days of the nineties, with the lineup spread across Sydney and regional Victoria.
“We’re all old now, we’re all over 50, so instead of buying the red sports car we buy a nice guitar. Although we’re past our prime physically and mentally, we’re rediscovering it all and having fun doing it!”
Does he miss the old days though?
“To be honest there was something I loved about being on the road for six weeks, driving up and down the eastern seaboard playing night after night. There’s something magical about that chemistry you get from a band playing heaps of gigs.”
Custard play their first Brisbane gigs in 18 months, with shows at The Tivoli this Thursday and Friday. At the time of publication there are a smattering of tickets left for the Thursday show – you can book here. All events at The Tivoli will be operating under the relevant COVID safe plans stipulated by Queensland Health.
‘Respect All Lifeforms’ is out now on ABC Music.