LOUDEST & PROUDEST
ROCK N ROLL
Twin brothers Colin and Denis Gray grew up in suburban Sydney in the 1970s. Having three older sisters into rock n roll, they were exposed to artists like Alice Cooper, The Sweet, Status Quo and Suzi Quatro from an early age – yet also many Australian bands from that era including TMG (the TMG van was always parked nearby), Skyhooks, JPY, Rabbit, Hush, The Angels, Rose Tattoo and AC/DC. Like many other suburban kids, they were fed on a diet of Countdown, yet it was the 1980 Australian Tour by KISS which had a massive impact, and so began a lifelong love affair of guitar-fuelled rock n roll and all its forms, hard rock, heavy rock, heavy metal etc. By the early to mid-80s, heavy metal became the music of choice, predominantly from overseas artists, with Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Motley Crue, WASP, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, Dio and an unmasked KISS dominating record players and decorating bedroom walls. Record collections became larger, yet so too did a yearning to discover antipodean exponents of heavy metal and hard rock. This led to the discovery of Australian hard rocks bands such as Boss, Heaven and the Bengal Tigers, who were every bit as good as their overseas counterparts – yet due to geographic isolation were not given their dues. The yearning to keep discovering great rock n roll found artists such as Johnny Thunders and Radio Birdman – and a deep dive into punk and all its linage, from Detroit to London to New York. As the years rolled on – so too did the inclination to promote the rock n roll we loved. We've been preaching the gospel of rock n roll since the mid 80's – and some of the projects we've created or have been involved in are listed below:
THE HARD ROCK SHOW (1987)
Devoted to the cause of heavy metal, Denis Gray and a fellow rock-disciple named John, launched the 'Hard Rock Show' - which first aired on Sydney's Radio Manly Warringah back in the Autumn of 1987. The aim was to promote heavy metal and hard rock to an area of Sydney which virtually ignored those musical genres. After a couple of episodes, Denis invited his brother Colin to co-host the show - a rock n roll partnership which is still going strong to this day. Producing this small program on Community Radio opened up the door to the Australian Music Industry - and enabled the Gray Brothers the opportunity to do something they loved: playing and promoting the style of rock n roll which ran through their veins.
ROCK PHOTOGRAPHY (1987 – current)
Denis Gray has photographed many local and international acts since 1987. Many of these obscure bands were never captured on film, so some of these images are invaluable. Some of his images have been printed in local street press, fanzines, websites and elsewhere. A couple of Denis' Rose Tattoo shots were included in the book 'Blood, Sweat and Beers' - by Murray Engleheart - published by Harper Collins (2010). A live photograph of Girl Monstar was also published in the 2016 book 'Australia Rocks Remembering the Music of the 1950s to 1990s' by Lucy DeSoto - published by Exile Publishing. Besides his homeland of Australia, Denis has photographed bands in the USA, Japan and also the UK. Shooting bands at the front of a sweaty, riotous crowd was not for the faint-hearted - consequently there are memories attached to all of these photographs - and now, many of these never before seen images are available for viewing and purchase.
CANDY HARLOTS (1988-1989)
In early 1988, after witnessing Sydney's Candy Harlots open a Cheap Trick gig at the Tivoli, the Gray Brothers had found a cool local band that seemed destined for bigger things - and they would ride that wave with them. Trekking to all parts of Sydney and also Melbourne - we preached about 'Sydney's biggest live secret' to all who'd listen. They produced band buttons, manned the merch stand - and covered the streets of inner-Sydney with flyers. The band eventually got signed to a major label.
GIRL MONSTAR (1991 - 1993)
In the early 90's, Denis set-up and ran the fan club for Melbourne outfit Girl Monstar. Having first witnessed the band in mid-1989, Girl Monstar became part of the Gray Brother's gig schedule - until their demise in early 1993. They were one of the most exciting rock n roll outfits which Australia has produced - and a band which launched the careers of both Anne McCue and Sherry Rich. A little over a decade after their demise in 2004, Denis built a popular website dedicated to Girl Monstar called 'Monstar Maniacs' – (see below)
VICIOUS KITTEN FANZINE (1995-1998)
Vicious Kitten: 'the rock zine that bites' was a rock music publication edited by brothers Colin and Denis Gray. It's main focus was guitar-driven rock. There were 9 issues produced, with a total print run of over 10,000 copies. It was distributed to record stores in all major Australian cities and was free - with the emphasis on spreading the word of cool rock ‘n’ roll to the masses. Vicious Kitten conducted and printed interviews with bands and musicians, including Peta Pan, Chris 'Smiley' Pailthorpe, Contrary Mary, Jeff Dahl, Freddy Lynxx, Lobby Loyde, Nikki Sudden, ADZ, The Dictators and Chris Masuak from Radio Birdman, to name but a few. In 1998 the Gray brothers were guest programmers on Sydney's Triple R FM. Reviewer Garrison Wells wrote ' in all the zines I encounter, none seems to embrace the rock n roll underbelly quite as idiosyncratically as these guys do'. Another reviewer quipped 'the coolest thing to come out of Canberra - ever!' The zine eventually morphed into Vicious Kitten Records which was launched in 1999. All 9 issues are long out of print, and while there has been talk about reprinting the zine in an electronic from (epub etc), this has not eventuated. Print copies occasionally turn up on eBay.
VICIOUS KITTEN FUNHOUSE (1995-1998)
Vicious Kitten Fun House was the online home for Vicious Kitten Fanzine. Built by Gunther Glesti, the site picked up a design award in the late 90's and was one of the first underground rock n roll sites from Australia to have an online presence. You can view an archived version of the entire Vicious Kitten Records Funhouse by clicking here
VICIOUS KITTEN RECORDS (1999 - 2003)
Vicious Kitten Records grew out of the popular Vicious Kitten Fanzine, and was an independent record label based in Canberra, Australia. The label developed a reputation for releasing artists directly related to, or inspired by Johnny Thunders. The record label existed from 1999 to 2003 and released recordings by Australian and international artists including Sheek The Shayk (ex-Psychotic Turnbuckles), The Kevin K Band, Freddy Lynxx, Nikki Sudden, Rick Blaze & The Ballbusters, and The Golden Arms (Japan). In 2000, Vicious Kitten Records released a compilation album titled 'Rock n Roll War' which featured artists including The Dictators, Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls), Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman), Jeff Dahl, Peter Wells (Rose Tattoo) and The Hitmen. A second volume of 'Rock n Roll War' was released in 2002 on Vicious Kitten USA , a subsidiary label operating out of Boston, USA. 'Rock ‘n’ Roll War' Volume 2 featured ex Dead Boy Cheetah Chrome, Walter Lure of The Heartbreakers, Dave Kusworth (ex Jacobites), The Streetwalkin Cheetahs, Michael Thimren (ex Johnny Thunders) and The Bullys to name a few. The final release on the label was Kevin K’s ‘Sealed Works’, a joint release with Sydney’s Laughing Outlaw Records. The label was liquidated in 2003 and was bought out by Laughing Outlaw. The label was distributed in Australia by MGM and internationally by Shock! The label gained airplay for its artists in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and had reviews in street press nationally, as well as Rolling Stone Australia. Videos for the Nikki Sudden release ‘Red Brocade’ in 1999 were aired on RAGE on ABC TV. There is a comprehensive interview with Colin from 2002 on the I-94 Bar where he talks about Vicious Kitten Records. You can view that here. You can view an archived version of the entire Vicious Kitten Records web site here
CAT SCRATCH FEVER (1999 - 2003)
The official newsletter of Vicious Kitten Records was a publication that existed from 1999-2002 and produced 6 issues, and was available in both print and electronic copy via the Vicious Kitten Records website. Interviews with Trash Brats, Sheek The Shayk, Jeff Magnum (Dead Boys), Texas Terri, Kevin K, Nikki Sudden, White Trash Debutantes, Hiroshi The Golden Arm, The Knockouts, Leadfinger, Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, Rick Blaze, Johnny Kannis, Dimitri Monroe, Johnny Casino, Asteroid B-612, Cranford Nix, Darrell Bath and Ricky Rat to name but a few. Issue 5 was the final print issue, with the remaining issued being available as e-zines only. The online e-zine included an exclusive interview Denis conducted with former Runaway, Jackie Fox. This interview was also published in the Japanese magazine Doll! All six e-zine issues of Cat Scratch Fever are archived and can now be viewed here: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
GIRL MONSTAR – MONSTAR MANIACS WEB SITE (2004 – 2015)
This exhaustive band-site - dedicated to Melbourne outfit Girl Monstar, recently celebrated ten years online. Girl Monstar were a very special rock n roll band who wrote and played killer songs. They are definitely deserving of a site devoted solely to them - and this labor of love has proved popular with old and new fans alike. Interviews with band members, unseen live photographs, gig ads, and much much more. You can surf on a wave of love and view an archived version of Monstar Maniacs here
THE ROCKBRAT BLOG (2010 - current)
'Thoughts and memories from a lifetime of loud rock n roll'. What started out as writing a couple of album reviews, turned into one of the most popular rock ‘n’ roll blogs online. With subscribers in all parts of the globe, and a hit count of over 200 000 (as of February 2016), the Rockbrat Blog is a forum whereby Cowboy Col and Mr Rockbrat wax lyrical about all things rock ‘n’ roll. The stats on these articles were further evidence that a podcast was the way to go. There are many live reviews, album reviews, interviews, rants and raves , opinionated ramblings, rock n roll memories and much much more - and it's all waiting for you to read. New blogs still being posted regularly. Who will save rock n roll ? The Gray Brothers will. Click here.
ROCKBRAT RADIO (2010 - 2014)
Hosted on the Blogtalk Radio Network, Rockbrat Radio was a spin-off podcast from the Rockbrat Blog – kind of like Rockbrat for your ears! Although there were only 24 episodes recorded - cranking out the rock n roll for all to hear felt like it was 1987 all over again, and proved to be the catalyst for the Australian Rock Show. Interviews were recorded with Anne McCue, Freddy Lynxx, Mark Easton, Gigi Hangach, Rick Comier, and Kevin K. Tribute shows were aired for Satoshi Silvers (The Golden Arms) and Rick Blaze (The Ballbusters). There were also specials on Johnny Thunders, Japanese heavy metal bands of the 1980s, Radio Birdman-inspired bands, and a four part feature on Sydney’s heavy metal scene of the 1980s. Finally, a rock radio show for those who cared to remember - ran by hosts who could distinguish cool from uncool. These episodes are no longer available.
ZOI – JAPANESE SINGER (2012-2013)
Colin Gray put his 'manager hat' on in 2012, when he happened upon Japanese country music starlet Zoi in Canberra. Bookings included the 2012 Canberra Nara Candle Festival, the 2013 National Multicultural Festival and performing live on local ABC Radio. Press included articles in several Canberra newspapers and front cover of The Canberra Weekly magazine. Zoi released her debut CD ‘Puzzle Pieces’ in early 2013 which included a song co-written by Colin.
TMG LIVE - EXPANDED CD (2017)
Colin Gray did the liner notes for the re-released 1979 TMG Live album - Release Date: 05/05/2017 Catalogue No. FEST601055
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Colin with Cheetah Chrome - CBGB's 1996
Site Credits and Australian Rock Show Info:
Podcast Voice Over by Sharyn Doolan - many thanks !
Intro music is courtesy of Snake - Let The Music Begin - 1986. Thanks to Larry Attard.
Denis pictured with Michael Gudinski and Thorpie circa 1991
We've been preaching the gospel of rock n roll since the mid 80's.
Some of the projects we've created or have been involved in are listed below.....