Undertone was a hardcore punk noise band from Adelaide, Australia. When the band started, they were originally called Bile Slime but weren’t really doing much. I met a couple of the guys at the Pizza Hut I worked for (true story) where all of us delivered pizzas. We all got talking about music and then it dawned on us that we should get together and jam. So I joined the band as a guitarist (the first time I ever played guitar in a band) and started writing songs for them and things really started to move. The band was taken seriously and the jamming was done regularly. On the weekends, Grover (singer), Matt (bassist) and myself would go into the city, eat food, talk music and go record shopping. We all listened to so many different things that I think it helped inspire the sounds that we brought to band practice which would explain why our songs seemed a bit mish mash. One song would hear similarities to Helmet while the next was in the genre of crustcore like Infest followed by one inspired by the straight edge hardcore sounds of bands like 7 Seconds and Minor Threat, yet somehow it all sounded like Undertone.
We decided that the name Bile Slime wasn’t so great and searched out a new one. Then after listening to the band Inside Out (Zach’s band before Rage Against The Machine), there was a song on the CD titled “Undertone”. That sounded like it fit us perfectly. As Zach screams “You can’t silence the Undertone!” we figured that it suited our sound just fine and BAM! The new band was ready to rock. After only jamming a short time, playing parties, scout halls and any other venue that shut us down after 15 – 20 minutes, we decided a proper gig would be good and Undertone played our first show with the bands All Flight Crew Are Dead and Price Of Silence at the Crown And Anchor Hotel on the 7th of May, 1995. People started talking and the band started playing more frequently and got established rather quickly in the process. We added a second guitarist, Mark, and completed the line-up. We wanted a heavier, crazier sound and I wasn’t a competent guitarist on my own to make that happen. Along with Craig’s tight and super spazz fast drumming, the band was now cookin’ with gas! On the 17th of September, 1995, we went into the studio at the School of Audio Engineering to record 4 tracks which can be heard at the band’s Myspace page.
Then, something happened, one day I just got fed up and walked out of band practice never to return. Something changed with the band’s direction and my interest. I loved this band, I loved the high energy performances, I loved the insanity and chaos but the band was changing. Crust core had become the “in” thing in Adelaide at the time and that wasn’t really my cup of hot chocolate. I mean, sure, 1 or 2 songs per set was fine but a whole set’s worth? It didn’t do it for me. So I parted ways with the band. Neither me or the band were happy with how things were so it was the best thing to do. I have no idea how much longer they lasted but it seemed like all this happened within a year… but I could be wrong.
I had always proposed to master the recording and release it on 7” for the world to hear but to this day, it still hasn’t seen light. I did a cover and had it all ready to go but the funding was the problem. Then my interest. Maybe when vinyl pressing gets cheaper (if it ever does) I can look into it. Or if someone wants to put it out themselves, let me know. It does need to be mastered though and I think it’ll sound sweet once it is. Maybe I’ll do that part just for kicks so I can hear it at its fullest sound.
Anyway, I have this video on YouTube as it gives a pretty good idea of how Undertone were as a live band. I have a bunch of videos of this band as I tried to film all of our shows but this one especially sticks out for me as my favourite. I may add some more videos later but for now, you can check out this video of these 5 songs all in just under 9 minutes. The songs played are:
1. Reason For That
2. Passing Unnoticed
3. Chunks (a cover tune originally by the band, Last Rights)
4. Your Continued Success At Being A Fucking Asshole
5. Sea Of Shit (a song I heard rumours was written about the crowd at the Adelaide Big Day Out who were watching The Offspring but I can’t confirm if this is true or not as I am no longer in contact with any of these guys)
On a side note, I think if I was ever to be involved with a reunion show from any of my past bands, this would be the one. We just had something that seemed to work. Craig ended up drumming for Gacy’s Place, I went and drummed for the Blood Sucking Freaks, played guitar in Blood Of Others and started Muscle Car, and Mark moved to Melbourne and joined a hardcore band (I think… but I don’t remember their name. Fallout maybe?). Regardless, enjoy!