Just Like Starting Over – The Thwarted Pop Career Of Laissez-Fayre
As many of my friends on Facebook know, one of my major goals and dreams in life is to start up the band Laissez-Fayre.
I have been trying to get it together since the late 1990s. The idea for it originally came when I was reading the book Who’s Who Of Australian Rock, and there was an entry for a Brisbane band called Chicks Incorporated. This band was virtually an all-girl band doing a blend of 70’s pop, dance, funk and rock. They were led by drummer and producer Miriam Curtis (d. 2012), and fronted by Safanya. The band was around between 1977 – 1982 and signed with RCA Records, making them one of the few Brisbane bands to be signed with a major label (the others were The Saints on EMI, Silver Studs on Philips, and Railroad Gin on Polydor). Originally, they tried to be an all-girl band but had difficulty with finding competent players. Plus their live stage shows were often overshadowed by a couple of wild and sexy backing dancers.
I thought, “Hmmmm, Brisbane could definitely do with another band like this again, but this time putting a twist on it: make it a concept band to endorse the naturist lifestyle”.
In 1998, I decided to try and get the band together fronted by four female singers who also had done nude modelling. They were my then-girlfriend Julie Hepburn (whom I was doing the band Blackened with), Anna Petrie, Djuana Moore and Toni Monaghan. After seeing Take That in concert in 1995, I also thought that for this band to work out they should also be able to do sets where they play instruments. Julie had been learning a bit of guitar, Djuana played drums, and Anna could play a bit of keyboards. Sadly, it didn’t eventuate due to some problems that I was having at the time with my residency after a dispute with a neighbour. Anna ended up joining another band as a singer, and Djuana concentrated more on doing dancing and I didn’t hear much from Toni after doing a photo shoot with her for Sun & Health magazine about vegetarianism and naturism.
Julie and I decided to focus on Blackened with other musicians Tammy Berry (bass), Lisa Falovic (drums), and Katie Middleton (keyboards and vocals) and we got a couple of gigs and an interview on 4ZZZ’s demo show with Gordon Clarke, before splitting up due to lack of interest in us from the music business.
The following year, Julie and myself broke up after I had hit a low when my car was stolen and I found it difficult to get work. In January 2001, after getting bored of vegetating I decided to relaunch my idea with some new members: Eliza Abbate (ne Pears), Carol O’Brien (aka Kitty Stevenson), Jane, Trish Bathersby, Bonnie Moir and Tema Morris.
We rehearsed for a number of months at Red Zeds Studios and a private house in Springwood, but unfortunately Bonnie’s mental health problems together with Kitty living on the edge and Trish deciding to move to the Gold Coast put it on the back burner.
I turned my attention towards managing The Busymen, who were a lot more active on the local music scene, and decided to try again in 2006 with advertising in the local music press and The Courier Mail. This time, I got Yvette Jones (vocals), Kym Kruse (organ and keyboards), and Lindy Rakatau (drums). With this lineup, we ended up recording some demos on Kym’s desktop computer to put up on Myspace. The tracks were: “Don’t Say Sorry”, “R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y”, “Pain Of Fools”, “Meat To Please You” and “Paper Wedding Dress”. We then added bass player Megan Longley to the lineup, but after creative differences with Kruse came up the band disintegrated once again. Later that year, I re-established contact with Bonnie and also befriended a vocalist and songwriter Caroline Smith and started working on the songs with them.
In 2009, I tried again with recruiting a new lineup and got Nova Eva Ciera (vocals) and Amanda Hurdman (vocals on keyboards) and recorded a jam session which Boston Bob from The Busymen filmed, as well as doing a performance at nudist venue Balkaz in Caboolture for the Free Beaches Australia’s AGM. Nova and Amanda and myself had a great rapport with each other, but in January 2010 Amanda moved down to Melbourne to pursue a career in acting and modelling and ended up being cast in a few feature films and an indie TV show “It’s Not You – It’s Bree”. Nova decided to hang up her musical career for personal reasons and once again I had to put things on hold.
Not to be deterred, I worked on a new lineup in 2011 with Alyssa Maughan (vocals and djembe) and Penny Pardon (vocals). We got to play at a few open mics at Grill’d Bulimba before Penny ended up moving to Sydney for work commitments.
In late 2012, I built a new lineup consisting of Shelley Morris (drums), Kate McMillan (viola), and Cassie Trent (vocals). Shelley and myself played at Northey Street City Farm in Windsor in October that year, the same day that I also befriended Violent Soho when I took part in their video for “Neighbour, Neighbour” which they filmed at a house in Zillmere and I did a scene where I jumped in the pool and did a striptease and chucked my undies at the cameraman. It didn’t make the final cut, but I was invited back for their following video “In The Aisle” where I recreated the World Naked Bike Ride in July 2013.
This new lineup for Laissez-Fayre recorded a demo in the dining room at my place in Bethania, which I was renting with a nudist friend Kevin Gates. We did the songs “Born This Way (Nude)”, “Botoxic”, “Stop Segregation”, “Unisexual”, “I’m Free”, “The X Factor”, and “Nekkid” which was produced by myself and engineered by Shelley. No photos were taken of this session, but I put up some of the tracks on Myspace, YouTube and SoundCloud. “Nekkid” ended up getting over 114,000 hits on my main YouTube channel with no radio airplay, or publishing company or record company distribution. It even overtook The Veronicas song “Cross My Heart” in the popularity stakes for a while, until some dibber dobber falsely reported the video as being ‘pornographic’ and it got deleted. I tried to appeal it with YouTube, but they refused to reinstate it even after it was age-restricted.
Between 2013 – early 2020, I’d pretty much decided to give up the idea of ever succeeding in a major way with this band. I had been getting a lot of negative criticism from some people in the local music scene, and even got threatened with stalking, being bashed up and one guy sending me dick pics to my Facebook Messenger.
However, I do have a resolve of iron and it reminds me of Robert The Bruce going into retreat during a battle when he hid in a cave and saw a spider weaving a web in stormy weather. The rain kept washing the web out and the spider still kept weaving it. This inspired him a lot to decide never to give up no matter how stormy the weather is. As long as you have the life force in you, there’s hope. Don’t give up on your dreams and aspirations just because other people say ‘no’, or mock and revile you for doing so.
Sadly, Australia has got a very nasty cancerous attitude towards people who want to be successful (except in sports) known as the Tall Poppy Syndrome. If you want to achieve something grandiose, unusual, or special then they will mark you down for burning. I’ve been burned several times because of my desire. I’ve been called a ‘rapist’, a ‘paedophile’ and a ‘drug addict’ by online cowards who hardly know me in person because I want to create a future where people are comfortable in their own skin and respecting the animal kingdom and the natural environment.
Frankly, I don’t care how long it’s going to take me as long as I get there. As Bon Jovi once wrote “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”.
You can check out Laissez-Fayre’s links at: