Blood Duster Are Dead: An Interview with Jason PC

Posted by Prarthana Nandini Venunathan on

Blood Duster

There is no easy way of writing an introduction about Blood Duster other than saying they were undoubtedly one of the most unorthodox, and revolutionary bands of their time, never afraid of a little controversy or shit-stirring. For 20 years, the band put on crushing live performances, released quite a few records including a triple album, some of which had weirdly unsavoury titles, even becoming well-known for releasing an unplayable record on vinyl! All that being said, Blood Duster, to this day, remains one of the most memorable bands in Australia’s rock and metal history, not failing to leave an impression on whoever comes across them. 

Catching up with Jason PC who was on the tail-end of a school pick-up, it was truly hilarious and insightful listening to him talk about everything from the story behind his name, and how being offensive is just what Blood Duster did, looking back on some of the band's career highlights, the word c*nt and why it’s no different from any other word. We also discussed his latest musical projects, his production style among a plethora of other topics.  However, throughout the length of our conversation, there was also so much I learnt from the bassist about his taste in music, how the scene has changed and so much more. 

Jason opened up Goatsound in 2014, a dedicated recording and rehearsal facility for bands. Jason’s studio has seen him work on a number of records by bands such as Mindsnare, Enzyme, King Parrot and many others, making them sound as dirty and noisy as he possibly can. However, as with most independent businesses, this has been a trying time for Goatsound Studios as well. 

“No one’s recording anymore, a lot of the recordings I had booked in, had to be canceled and rescheduled. I’ve done a few mixing and mastering jobs to tide me over. But if there wasn't Jobkeeper I’d be screwed! I don’t have a back up plan. I’ve put all my life into this and I’ve watched it just be completely devalued to the point of something like this happens, I don't have a fallback. But I think a lot of people are in the same boat. If you’re in building or in home renovation, or anything like that, it seems like you’re really busy, because everyone is at home going “I need this fixed!” It's an essential service somehow?”

With over 20 years of experience in the music scene, playing in different bands, touring and working on records as an audio engineer, it’s always fascinating to know what that starting point was for people like Jason and who they were influenced by. 

“Steve Albini was always a favourite recording engineer of mine. He had this whole aesthetic of not wanting to mess with the band.  If you come in and that's how your guitar sound is, you are going to have that exact sound on your record. This is an analogy he uses all the time - 

A recording should be like a photograph of a band, it should sound exactly like the band”. He will not photoshop you to make you sound better and I like the idea. I like to do that but then make it uglier. There are also other engineers who I really like who say, you could also have a painting of a band which is another way to look at it in visual terms. Sometimes the painting of the band is more appealing than the photo. Sometimes the band is just ugly and they need a touch up! I like the photo and then I like to rub the photo on some gravel, sand paper, etc. It’s what I like; when a record is not perfect and when a band sounds like a band. I don't mind when they sound ugly and I don't mind if a band wants to sound terrible. You know, some engineers think they're going to ruin their reputation by working on such records but I don’t care.”

I quite enjoyed listening to Jason’s perspective on various topics and this was certainly one thing I wanted to dive deeper into. Goatsound has recorded, mixed, mastered and engineered numerous albums over the years, building up quite a long list! But there’s a certain sound and style that Jason prefers when he’s working on a record. 

“I really like working on those types of records. The noisier they are the more I enjoy it because there’s a certain thing you have to get in those records, you have to be in tune with it. I’ve heard lots of stories from bands where the producer or engineer will try and mould those bands into doing something which is not what they want. So you have to understand where they are coming from. A lot of engineers come from loving the Beatles, especially in the rock world. In the death metal world, it's quantised click tracks and that's completely not the way I like to do stuff. I mean, I appreciate it but it's not me. I’m not good at doing those. I like it noisy and I like it rough.” 

The kind of sound that he was talking about is the kind which is raw, and just straight up dirty, another style of heavy if you will. It presents a different sort of challenge when working with a band like that, a challenge Jason enjoys. 

“Yes it does! It’s a whole different thing! If I record a death metal band and they want something like Psycroptic, that music is so foreign to me to work on. There’s click tracks and I hate click tracks with a passion. It’s like putting things on a grid, how is that music? It’s not my thing. I mean, I get it, Some people are able to do it and it sounds natural, it sounds great and all those things. I do a lot of doom releases too but it's a different type of metal. A lot of it isn’t polished, it's a whole different mindset. I know where a lot of these bands are coming from.” 

Coming from a background of about six or seven bands, years of playing shows and touring, numerous albums released and now, a number of records produced, Jason PC has been around for a while, with Blood Duster coming to the forefront as early as 1991 (again, I wasn’t even born yet). So, when I start jumping around on timelines like that, I always love asking the people I interview, who have been doing this for most of their lives, what they think of the current music scene and how it compares to when they first started. I always get the best answers!

“The actual music scene I think has got better in the last 15 to 20 years. I feel like bands are doing way more inventive things; sometimes it can feel like it's congested because it’s hard to wade through because there’s so much  - anyone can make a record and everyone is. There’s a lot of junk, like a crap load of junk but then there’s also a lot of really good stuff. Like that Geld record I was telling you about the other day, wouldn’t have been made 20 years ago. Someone would have rejected it and said it was unlistenable, it's perfectly acceptable now, and I feel like we’re getting  tuned to different things so it’s good! So there’s shit and then there’s good stuff!”

A few days prior to our conversation, when we were talking about some bands that we like, he sent me a link to one he worked with quite recently, Melbourne’s hardcore punk outfit Geld, a band whose sound I found very different. Unlike music  I would gravitate towards on a normal day, Geld certainly has a distinct crusty, hardcore sound, one that honestly can’t be labelled. And there’s more where that came from, with a whole list of bands Jason is currently working with. 

“This is the reason I sent it to you because I figured you are, more of a standardised death metal listener, looking at some of the death metal stuff you had sent me; you like Psycroptic and a lot of that style is what I felt. So I thought maybe Geld is far enough out and I kinda just wanted to gauge your opinion. There’s a bunch of similar stuff from Melbourne; some guys from a bunch of other bands. I recorded the last Kromosom album, or the last two recordings they did. Currently, I’m doing one for Melbourne experimental heavy rock band TTTDC, I’ve also mixed and mastered a record for Sydney’s Hekate. There’s also an album from Canberra doom lords Lucifungus I’m working on, as well as a recent release from Witchskull. There’s lots of stuff on the go even in the grip of this shitty time in everyone’s lives!”

As we were discussing this, the Italian doom masters NAGA who I absolutely love came to mind, which I immediately recommended and thought he might appreciate. This also led to an intriguing part of our conversation; why people don’t really recommend music anymore and how things have changed.

“Send it to me after this, if you remember. People don’t recommend music anymore. There’s the internet etc but I also feel like a lot of the people I hang out with are just getting older. They’ve stopped listening to anything new and just keep going back to older records, some that remind them of their youth you know? Young people only listen to new stuff because that’s where they’re at right now, they have no need to reminisce. But it’s hard to say honestly and too early to tell what the hell is going on. I think the industry itself has been dead for the last ten years. It’s been a really stagnant pond. Budgets are getting smaller and a label  will not just hand over a bunch of cash to you to make a record anymore. It's pretty hard. Twenty years ago though, you could walk into a record label and if you were going to sell a couple thousand CD’s they would just give you five to ten thousand bucks without much hesitation. But now, you see bands who are getting downloaded 20,000 times and they don't make a hundred bucks. It's totally shit, but that's just the way it is. The scene is getting better though.” 

Speaking of music, what’s Jason PC Fuller up to these days? Well, quite a lot!

“There’s a few irons in the fire. Well, currently Dave Haley is tracking some drums for me. We’re doing this band called Pisshammer which is kind of grindcore, a little bit kind of d-beaty - sort of going down that path, We’re just making really aggressive grindcore stuff, trying to put some interesting twists on it you know. Depending on how it comes out -  if it comes out shit we’ll do an EP. I’ve got another band called Dickhead; Dickhead or Cockhead, I’m not entirely sure which way we’re going to swing. It’s like really early Napalm, really ugly sounding  dirty and raw.  I’ve got The Birdcage which is my instrumental surf band which is nuclear themed, pictures of burned victims and bombs going off.” 

For those of you who have been around in the scene since the 90’s, the vocalist swears by Christbait, a Melbourne based rock band that came about in 1989 which he gave me a little history lesson on as we talked about his other band The Ruiner.

“So, the Ruiner which was kind of an offshoot of Christbait. They were around before you were born; started in 1989 and still, to this day is the greatest live band that I have ever seen. I’ve seen them so many times. They were just the best band, it was unbelievable, like live their songs were swinging and groovy,  everyone was into it and every show was sold out. But they were a little bit too early -  they tried to play Big Day Out and the festival said ‘You’re too heavy, girls won’t like you!’ That was actually what they said. Even though they did have a female bass player. Stupidly good band, unbelievably heavy. But when they finished, the guitarist and I started another band called Dern Rutlidge which had some triple J play and all that kinda stuff which then morphed into the Ruiner with the singer from Christbait. It’s all that crew.”

But one of the bands Jason is very well known for, is the band which never shied away from controversy, brutally honest songs and opinions and amusing titles! Blood Duster ladies and gentlemen, did not care. It doesn’t get better than good ol’ Blood Duster (R.I.P). 

Blood Duster

A lot of bands say they don’t care but then they do everything that proves that they do care. Everyone’s scared of burning a bridge or whatever but with Blood Duster especially, we were all about burning bridges, we really didn’t care and I think people can see that. We were deliberately trying to be offensive and dumb and we did have it in our minds that what we were doing was dumb. We met heaps of bands that we disappointed, like bands that sort of copied our style doing all the offensive stuff, we would meet them and they would just be almost angry with us because we weren't what they thought we were. We met heaps of people that were actually angry and disappointed that we weren’t completely deranged, fucking dimwits. They were like we were expecting a bit harder than you softcunts. Ok,  what do you want us to say to that?”

It was at this point too, that the stories began and goodness, does Jason PC have quite a few stories to tell.

“This is one that I like to bring up.  I was standing at a merch desk , and there was a Blood Duster / Dwarves split  there. This crust punk dude comes up and  I go ‘that one's pretty good’ and pointed to our record! He says, ‘Yeah I like dwarves but I don’t like blood duster they’re sexist.’ He didn’t know I was in the band and he goes ‘Yeah their lyrics are really bad’ and I’m like  ‘Are they? Because I wrote them all!’ “Oh sorry man!’ Well, I mean it's cool, but how are you coming to this conclusion. There are songs that are horrible but there's a difference between horrible and sexist. There’s definite misogyny in there. But then a song like ‘Fisting The Dead’ is about a woman digging up white male trash and extracting revenge.  So it's like we were quite aware of stuff!

That’s something  I said at the start of our conversation; how I appreciated how straightforward he is and that Blood Duster wasn’t doing things differently or being offensive for the sake of doing it. That was just how they did things and it is still what makes them stand out! 

“Well, see this is the thing. Back then, there was Pungent Stench, Impetigo and a few bands like that at the time that were offensive. Since then, there’s been a million goregrind bands who are doing exactly the same thing and it’s fucking boring! Yes, ok it’s gory. But the context has been set for you, it’s not like you’re doing anything that’s particularly shocking or offensive. If you’re already into that stuff, no one’s getting revulsed or any kind of feeling from it. When we did that, it was actually kind of ‘out there’ - it’s childish dumbness. Once enough time has passed and the context is gone, you are no longer looking at that thing in the context it was created for.  We were probably testing people’s reactions. But mostly it was that whole idea of if we don’t do it someone else is going to do it.”

Delving deeper, he talked about why they went about things the way that they did and how context truly is an important part of the creative process. 

“For example, ‘Str8 Outta Northcote’, was written at the time Northcote was a shit suburb that no one would live in. It was a fucking dump, it was a joke. It was supposed to be like ‘Straight Outta Compton’. Now none of us can afford to live in Northcote even if we wanted to. But the context is now gone. So if someone looks at that, they’re not looking at it in the time that it was created and might think ‘WTF, that doesn’t make any sense!’, unless you knew someone from the suburb at the time. But that's the same as a lot of this stuff when people go back and find something that they’re offended  by now, it's like it can be offensive and a lot of that stuff IS offensive. But you also have to think there’s stuff that still existed that was a parody of various things; people have trouble distinguishing  the lines. Where something was actually well intentioned, now it seems out of step but that’s just the way that shit goes!”

In 2001, Blood Duster did the unthinkable and went where no band had ever gone before; in true Australian fashion, they released an album called ‘C*NT’, to the surprise of many but to the delight of their fans and that’s really all that matters. Blood Duster fans and how much they love the band. 

Blood Duster - Cunt

 

“It was supposed to be us just doing the most offensive thing we can and people were so riled up by the word. So let's just put that in big letters, on a t-shirt and have no context. It’s funny, this one time I was dropping my wife off at the airport, and as I was walking back, I saw about five guys and a couple of them had the shirts on. I was like here we go and as I walked past they just shouldered me. ‘Get out of the fucking way dickhead’ and I thought ‘Oh well, ok, thats the fanbase I guess!’” You know, a lot of people say Blood Duster fans are idiots, and some of them are, but then there were those fans who knew where the joke lies. I had lots of discussions with hardcore feminists who knew us, about the band and what we were doing, they weren’t offended!”

“This one time, we were putting up posters for a gig, and it had the word c*nt on it but we put a piece of black paper over the ‘u’ and ‘n’ so you couldn’t really see it. This woman who worked for the council, was walking behind us, cutting them down! She decided she was going to take us to the police station at knife point because the word was so offensive. I just thought, ‘Well, that's not for you to decide.’ So we were taken to the police station and the officer told her she had better things to do and to leave us alone. There’s lots of things that have happened like that. This one guy was charged with obscenity because he was wearing a c*nt t-shirt on a train in Perth. This guy who was an undercover police officer said to him, ‘Why don’t you turn that shirt inside out mate’ and this guy goes “Well why don’t you go f*ck yourself!” He got charged and had to go to court. But the judge in court said to the police officer, ‘Will you stop wasting everyone's time’, then turned to the Blood Duster fan and said ‘Maybe just wear that at Barbecues!’”

It’s certainly a word which is surrounded by a lot of hype, in fact, it’s a word that I can never say. An objective opinion that I’ve formed over the years as a language teacher, is that it does inevitably come down to how people see it based on their surroundings, cultural upbringing etc. He also had an interesting take on this.  

“It has a lot of contexts and that’s why I wanted it on a cover with nothing else. Probably not the best coming from a band of five white dudes, you’re going to draw something there. I wish some kind of radical feminist band put it on their album cover, because someone had to do it at some point! Might as well have been us. See, you can’t say it. There’s something in the word which stops you from saying it. Is it because it's a woman's part? There’s something in the back of our brains that stops us from saying it. Even Americans won’t say it! But I’m like, hang on, what makes the woman so precious, she can’t handle the word c*nt. I’m pretty sure they can!” 

“There was this time I toured Brutal Truth back in 1994 or 1995. They stayed with us for a month, I was living with a girl, a flatmate, at the time who was a big drinker and a  loud mouth. I went to the fridge and said to her, ‘Oi cunt did you drink all the shit?’ And she’s like ‘F*ck off dickhead I didn’t touch your shit!’ The Brutal Truth guys pulled me aside and said I couldn’t call a woman that and he was dead serious. So I said to Kelly, ‘Hey Kelly, he said I’m not allowed to call you a c*nt. She just turns around to him and says “F*ck off c*nt!”

On the same note, I also had the chance to ask Jason the real, full form of the ‘P.C’ in his name, which I initially thought stood for ‘politically correct’. Again, his story had me in splits. 

“So the  PC stands for Pathetic C*nt, because everyone had a really cool nickname like there was Johnny Death, Dave Destruction; there were all those dudes who had all the cool names from bands and I just called myself Jason Pathetic C*nt because it was a Meanies song basically. The ‘politically correct' thing happened later. It just so happened that politically correct was something I wasn’t particularly fond of. So the name just suited; it sat there, people would ask every now and then but I think everyone just assumed it stood for politically correct and I just didn’t bother correcting anyone!”

However, there is undeniably one memorable moment in Blood Duster’s history that no one could possibly forget considering there’s a video on Youtube commemorating the whole thing. In 2012, the band recorded an entire album called ‘KVLT’, spending thousands of dollars on it, only to scratch a pentagram on the LP master, thus leading to 66 copies of vinyl that were unplayable. Yes, there’s a video of this and I had to ask Jason to throw some light on one of the band’s most ridiculous yet hilarious antics to date. 

Pretty much everything we do, is just spur of the moment dumbness, or to annoy someone else. But this is one of the things I’m most proud of. It is my favourite. Ok, so everyone just started downloading stuff and we were forced into this conversation with ourselves of who we were making music for, because we were obviously not doing it for money. If we weren’t doing it to sell it to people, then were we doing it for ourselves? So I thought yeah, we were doing records just for ourselves. But if we were doing it for ourselves, then what does it matter if anyone hears it, what’s the point of even releasing something? When you release something, everyone has an opinion on it so I was kind of like, well We released it wrecked and then I binned all the files. It’s never going to come out!”

Blood Duster - Kvlt

Some of the tracks are still remembered, to an extent. But the build up the band created towards releasing a record that was non-existent and the philosophy they had behind putting out unplayable vinyl is pretty impressive; outrageous, but impressive!

I have rough demos of us rehearsing the songs and little bit's and pieces but the album in that format, it can never come out. We thought at the time, if we do this, we still need to let people know and say ‘f*ck you, this is our artistic statement’. So, we ran ads in music magazines saying, not available on cassette, on CD or vinyl, and we had a release date too. There was supposed to be 120 copies but the plates broke during the pressing  and they said you’re going to have to recut the master so we can do the rest of the pressing but by then I had already thrown it in the bin! I can’t actually give you the master! It was sold out on pre-order and I had to write to half the people going ‘look, I’m sorry, we can refund your cash’ when they found out. But if you read some of their comments, people were pissed and it became even funnier, because they were angry about something they didn’t have! This is amazing. How can you be angry about something someone hasn’t given you?”

In what was arguably one of the most unique, and fascinating conversations I’ve ever had, it ended with some of Blood Duster and Jason P.C’s highlights from a career spanning two decades, many albums and a strangely hilarious sense of humour. 

“We beat Metallica at a game of ping pong. The guy from the Darkness followed me around asking for cocaine when I was clearly on ecstasy. Fergie from Black Eyed Peas? Our drummer still thinks she was cracking on to him. I spilled a bunch of shots on James Hetfield when he had just come out of rehab, I didn’t realise that though, it wasn’t deliberate. I almost punched Danzig, that’s one of those times that I should’ve just gone for it, and I didn’t. Stealing Morbid Angel’s drink rider and David Vincent telling me off and I told him to ‘get f*cked’."

Blood Duster played their final show and bid farewell in December 2017 along with some of their friends in other bands. Tickets were a mere $6.66 and that was fine for Jason PC and his band, who, at the end of the day, were a tight unit and a group of passionate musicians!

"The last show was done to not make money, in fact we kinda lost money on it. We were trying to keep it about us as friends not make the final thing we did about money. The best thing for me about that show was having a nice end to something. With friends that were all there for the right reasons."

Blood Duster

Check Blood Duster out on Bandcamp here.

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