The Making of Atom Heart Mother out now! 2008-23-10


Interview - 2012

This is the full unedited script of what was submitted to Record Collector Magazine

Comedian Steve Hughes grew up playing drums in thrash metal bands in Australia, including Slaughter Lord and Mortal Sin. His break into comedy came on Australia’s Comedy Store. He has since relocated to England and made his name through both The Edinburgh Festival and Live At The Apollo. Steve still plays and records, and his new Big Issues stand-up tour of the UK starts at the end of January. Here he talks to Record Collector about music and comedy.

Joe:   How did you get into comedy?

Steve:   It was after years and years of hard work (playing) and wanting to get out of Australia. I saw The Comedy Store and thought I could have a go. And I wanted to be creative when I was between bands. I came to the UK where the scene (both comedy and music) is more organised and it took off from there.

Joe:   What can fans expect from the tour?

Steve:   I’ve done lots of club gigs and I’ve supported Reginald D Hunter, so now I’m headlining I do longer, I do an hour to 75 minutes. I’ve been doing it for 15 years so I’ve got a lot of material. I’ll start off formulating the show but it changes, it develops as you go and you write on the road too.

Joe:   Have you ever been tempted to mix music and comedy?

Steve:    No, not particularly. I like to do pure stand up, it’s an art form on its own. I just turn up. I’d done 1000s of gigs lugging my drum kit around and setting it up, that’s a job on its own (laughs).

Joe:   What is the heavy metal scene like in Australia?

Steve:   There isn’t one, really. There’s lots of good bands, but the scene is never great, it never pulls it together, there’s no-one there. 22 million people in a country 3 times the size of Europe, there’s no structure, nothing ever develops. A club will open out the back of a bar and close 3 months later.

Joe:   What instruments do you play?

Steve:   Drums, properly, I’m a professional drummer. I’ve just done an album where I play everything; I can play the guitar but I can’t play bass – I just copied the guitar lines.

Joe:   What makes a good heavy metal record?

Steve:   Musicianship can go either way, there’s so many types of metal, you can get away with being sloppy. But it needs to be intense, passionate, and have energy. Look at what Metallica did in the 80s, fantastic stuff, but couldn’t make a decent record now. And they played a Bob Seger song! I mean what the fuck? I don’t care if people change and like redneck country stuff, but dropping one of their own songs for that? I lost interest in them after The Black Album, but Ride The Lightning was just a monster, an immense metal album.

Joe:   What was the first album you bought?

Steve:   Meat Loaf, Bat Out Of Hell, on cassette. I loved it.

Joe:   The last record you bought?

Steve:   Yesterday, I bought the new Kate Bush CD, that’s amazing. And the new PJ Harvey album. Have you heard it, the lyrics are just great.

Joe:   What is the best metal record of all time?

Steve:   (laughs) Fuck that’s a hard question. So many I could mention. Number Of The Beast (Iron Maiden). And Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets (both Metallica) were just genius. Probably an early Sepultura record too.

Joe:   You’ve done some comedy on Health And Safety. Does that really connect with people?

Steve:   You mean if people agree? Oh yes. Australia’s getting like that, and with political correctness too, they want to rename Australia day. But health and safety is being used by insurance companies to manipulate you, not paying out if you’ve not obeyed this law and that law, enforcing laws that aren’t laws.

Joe:   Who would you most like to work with?

Steve:   Comedian wise, I would love to have worked with Richard Pryor. Music? Tom G Warrior of Celtic Frost, I’d love to pound out a few rhythms behind him.

Joe:   Do you have any cassettes of early bands?

Steve:   There is nothing of when I was 17-20. And I toured the world with Mortal Sin and there’s virtually nothing, like half a dozen photos and that’s all. No one documented it. Down under it’s so laughable, I started to write a book and noticed that nothing gets documented. I’ve never seen a book on Midnight Oil or The Angels even. Everything is isolated, it’s one reason I came here.

Joe:   Which drummers do you most admire?

Steve:   Clive Burr, he was brilliant. So much power that was done so smoothly. Stuart Copeland, I know that’s not fashionable but he made the simple sound good and the good sound simple. And Neil Peart, in fact Rush as a band, the best song oriented prog band.


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