For Our Sins. Deputy Dipshit and The Scam
It's not everyday that you are standing at the steps of where over 1,000 students per term have honed their creative skills since 1974. Today, the abandoned Queensland College of Art, has been smashed, tagged beautifully and now belongs to the owl living in the graphic art building.
With Photographer and ex-QCA student, Vicki Craddock leading the way, we head on in with Ben Rag of Deputy Dipshit and Con Confus of The Scam to enjoy the historical playground.
Everyone's had a go at being in Dipshit, I don’t know, it just happens - even if you’re not a member you’ve unofficially been a member somewhere down the line. - Ben Rag
Rag, is unaware, but he is one of the most iconic personalities and musicians in the Brisbane music scene. He can be blamed for influencing many a Brisbane punk and partly responsible for creating the community we all love to revel in, including his own communal band of 10 years, "Dipshit is one of those flakey things, I don’t know, every time someone leaves, someone else doesn’t want it to die, so someone comes back in - but yeah I think I’ve had 5 drummers, at least 4 or 5 different guitarists, I play bass the majority of the time and then Phil convinced me to let him play bass."
Who's Phil? "He’s a good friend of mine that has always wanted to play in Dipshit so I don't play bass much anymore, Phil's on it full time." Laughing he admits, "Everyone's had a go at being in Dipshit, I don’t know, it just happens - even if you’re not a member, you’ve unofficially been a member somewhere down the line."
All you have to do to be accepted is to join in, "Anyone who steals the mic and I don’t have to sing for a little bit, it’s sweet, some shows I’ve had 3 different bass players - it happens."
Con himself being influenced in more ways than one, "I remember seeing Toe Rag (Rag's previous band) when I was 15, I had my first bong ever at Ben’s house."
RAG: "Was it a bong or a bucket?"
CON: "I had a bong, I was too intimidated by the bucket… I didn’t know what a bucket was and Ben had this massive disgusting fish tank."
RAG: "Yeah, with stickers all over it and a picture of John Howard. I have bred a lot of mosquito lava over the last 15 years... If you leave the water too long, mosquitos breed. In the morning there might not be midges or there is some little sea monkeys. Thing is, you don't look, and then, you smoke, look down, and you’re like Ah man... That's happened a few times."
CON: So, to answer your question, I've know Ben for about 11 years.
Punk Rock Songs
The Scam dance with the darker side of punk, almost to horror proportions, Con explains how that works, "I write most of the stuff and I’m pretty angry most of the time, well I’m not really, but if I didn't write the angry stuff all the time, I would be so I think that's why The Scam is like that." Looking at the bigger picture he continues, "I think we are living in a crucial time at the moment, where there's a lot of crazy shit going on. Not a lot of people are talking about it and it’s getting worse." Further highlighting his concerns, "There’s never been a time where we’ve had more rights and they're slowly being taken away from us, and that’s all I want to talk about with The Scam - all the shit that’s going wrong."
I had a bong, I was too intimidated by the bucket… I didn’t know what a bucket was and Ben had this massive disgusting fish tank. - Con Confus
With Deputy Dipshit, it's a little less political and more of a practical choice, Rag outlines, "I write all the songs and lyrics and shit but I let everyone tweak it, I just write the guts of it. Everyone else plays with it and does the stuff that I can't do - like write music." Undeniably honest till the end, Rag points out the reasoning behind his beloved Dipshit, "I need to get laid somehow."
From a street punk evolution to the newly coined Thrash Pop, Rag explains where he's at musically, "We call ourselves Thrash Pop now - I just want to write soppy pop songs and play thrash.”
As well as devoting his time to The Scam, Con has also been playing guitar in Dipshit for the last 2 years, "Me and Phil really like to play Thrash and you really like Pop, and we mixed it together."
RAG: "It’s just Thrash Pop, I couldn’t be bothered calling it Street Punk, apparently Street Punk is coming back though - haha. I just took the label away and now its come back..."
Can you give us some new song titles?
RAG: "They're just words. Like Dicks, What?, Cliche."
Laughing at the imaginative way forward, we talk about how the band's organised chaos strives, as Con picks up, "We don't practice, I don’t know names of the songs anyway, we just show up, Ben shows me a couple of chords and we play."
RAG: "They're are alot of dick jokes, a lot of shit on ex-girlfriends. No vocal melodic stuff."
CON: "He’s being modest, he’s got a beautiful voice."
RAG: "I’ve got a song at the moment with the Donkey Kong Bass riff, it goes like this - [plays it out] - then it goes into stupid shit so it's all stuff you can have fun with."
Both Deputy Dipshit and The Scam have just finished recording new material and are about to unleash the beasts. Dipshit is about to drop a 5 track EP labelled For My Sins I Live in Brisbane, "None of the songs are about Brisbane except the secret track," Rag explains.
Not always in the know, Rag's fellow members work on the fly as Con clarifies, "This Brisbane song... Cos we do everything live, Ben decided not to tell us about how the song went until we went to record it." The scenario making things a little tricky, Con continues, "We’re all supposed to be singing along but he decided not to tell us the words until that moment."
RAG [Laughing]: "They were supposed to follow my guide track and make the sounds that I made."
CON: "When you hear it, you’ll fucking understand."
RAG: "It's fucking terrible."
CON: "It's all ‘sing here’, do this ‘here’.
And surrendering to the Lords of fuck it, Con confesses, "And we kept the first take."
RAG: "We were trying to do a Monkees/Sex Pistols Friggin in the Riggin - that's how we were kinda going - it didn't work out anything like that.... We were supposed to release the CD last night but that didn't happen either."
CON: "Were we?"
RAG: "Obserd did it for us - they released shirts."
The Scam have just finished recording their second full length album titled New World Slaughter that will be out towards the end of the year, "It's just being mastered at the moment, there's 13 new tracks," Con reveals. "We also have a new drummer, James, he was too young to be in the band when we first started, his parents made him quit." Age also hindering tours, "He couldn't go on tour with us either, cos he was under 18."
So many bands these days refuse to give their full names to their work, leaving us journalists struggling to complete a well rounded review, "Just call him James Wank." suggests Con. Erm.. dare I ask? "He lived with us for a while and we caught him jerking off a bunch of times."
You Used to What?
Everyone has their own take on Brisbane as a city, cultural centre, music mecca but it's good to get the perspective of someone who has seen it develop over the last 15 years. Rag fills us in, "I’ve seen it hit a real big peak in 2000, then you watch it die out and there's suddenly noone really around at all. The scene now, and how big the shows get, depends on how clucky everyone gets and who gets involved, and who fucks over who."
"When Deputy first started playing the East Brisbane bowls club, we used to get over 200 people coming to the shows. It was good then - but saying that, there is a lot more variety of music in Brisbane now - which is a great thing."
If you used to be into metal- you were never into metal - Ben Rag via Steve Hughes
"The Street Punk thing started getting really big because of The Casualties in the 90s, Brisbane was a bit later on the uptake than everywhere else. In about 2000, everyone had mohawks and coloured hair, there were heaps of people involved but these days... I mean, I still fuck with my hair and wear a studded jacket but I see people from back then saying - oh yeah, I was a punk - I hate that shit."
What’s that Steve Hughes Joke? “Oh yeah, If you used to be into metal- you were never into metal.”
RAG: "The scene we had going a while back, it was the same people in heaps of different bands, like The Ordinaries, Black Market, The Disables, Bewilderbomb.
CON: Do you remember Milo’s old band? Old Diarrhea and Ninja Sushi Express... There was Violent Cactus, Dregz, there was a lot of street punk in Brisbane."
RAG: "That’s how they scene starts, you get some solid people who will always be there but people do tend to come and go. What's really good about whats happening now is all these new bands that are kicking off in Brisbane."
Photos by Vicki Craddock Photography
L - Ben Rag R - Con Confus