INTERVIEW – Bernie Lynch, Eurogliders
By Shane Pinnegar
Eurogliders shone brightly through the 1980s after bursting out of the Perth pub scene to tour both nationally and around the world, scoring international hit singles Heaven (Must Be There) and We Will Together. Guitarist and songwriter Bernie Lynch and singer Grace Knight regrouped the band in 1995 for a fifth album, and now they’re back with another record – Don’t Eat The Daisies – and two intimate acoustic hometown shows – Friday, 4 December at The Charles Hotel, and Saturday, 5 December at Freo’s Fly By Night. SHANE PINNEGAR got the lowdown from main man Lynch.
Shane: Hey, Bernie. Thanks for your time today, man. How are you doing?
Bernie: Very good. I live in Fremantle so, you know, I have a great life really. Everyday down at the beach, it’s just fabulous.
Shane: Fantastic. You live here, of course, but bringing the Eurogliders back to your old stomping grounds, where the band started out – do you get reflective?
Bernie: You know, I never get nervous and nor does Grace. The two of us never get nervous when we go on stage, but I got to tell you, I do have a slight bit of a nervous thing going on by playing back in Perth.
It’s because we don’t come here very often. We came here late last year, [and] we come about once a year. It’s because I know that there are so many out there in the audience who followed us from day one, back in the early ‘80s, and they know all the songs. They know them very well and I feel a need to put on a good show.
Shane: So there’s a little more pressure playing the home town?
Bernie: Definitely, there’s no question about it. Of course, then there’s my family – I have a huge family and they all come along. I feel like I have to perform in front of them as well, which is a strange thing. We love coming back to Perth. When we started in Perth, Perth was like a real covers [band] town.
The predominant top bands who were getting hundreds of people a night were just playing covers. There were very few bands playing their own music. We struggled a little bit in the first place, but we were lucky very quickly and we started to get a very good audience, playing the Shenton Park – which is now a retirement village.
Shane: Yes, that’s gone, unfortunately, one of my old stomping grounds as well.
Bernie: I loved playing that place, it was an extremely good room to play in and all the others. The Raffles, The Subiaco, we used to play at all the time.
They were great times because unlike bands today, you really did have to go out and play a lot, before you started to get know. We loved playing back in those days, it was great.
Shane: When you started working on new material in the middle of last decade, and then again for this year’s album Don’t Eat the Daises, was there any trepidation about whether the band still had a fan base after so long.
Bernie: No, and it’s borne out every time we play, to be honest Shane. Personally, Grace and I figure that we just need to keep moving on, moving forward, that’s why we put out new material. I’ve got to say, there’s this old adage that when a band plays, all people want to hear are the hits. It’s not true. Yes, they do want to hear the hits, but our audiences have proved that they are more than happy to listen to new songs. After the show they buy lots and lots of the albums that have the new songs on them and say that they like them. There is no trepidation, we just fire away. We’ve got another album coming out early next year which will be entirely new material.
It keeps us on our toes too. We love playing the songs like Heaven and We Will Together, that’s fantastic, because people love them to death. We really get off on playing new material as well, and so do the band members.
Shane: Reading your press kit, it’s very obvious that it’s important to you guys to have new material to play and not just be purely a heritage act.
Bernie: Look, exactly. I would say about a third of our set is new material. We’re lucky in the sense that we do have a lot of songs that people know, so we do feel the need to play those songs. Yeah, one third of [our set] is new and it will continue to be about that ratio for the rest of the life of Eurogliders, to be honest.
Shane: It’s great to be able to do something new and have a fan base from, what are we talking, 30 years ago almost? And still dig it, you know?
Bernie: Look, I think the other thing is that our audiences is, I guess, aged between about 25 to 55 and they’re all people who seem to really, really like music. They’re listening to lots and lots of different styles of music. They’re not just stuck in the ‘80s. They’re listening to Tame Impala and lots of other bands. They have grown up as we have grown up as musicians and we’re just taking them along with us on a journey.
Shane: Very cool man. How hard was it to get nationally and then internationally noticed from Perth in the early-mid ‘80s? Perth was a lot more isolated back then, of course.
Bernie: Yes, looking at the end of the day, like so many bands we just had to leave Perth. Back then you signed to a major record label. All the major record labels were in Sydney, apart from Mushroom in Melbourne. We really had to move over there – obviously there were so many more gigs. It was closer to things like [ABC TV music program] Countdown. It was closer to the record company. It was pretty important back then to establish a good relationship with them. Because back in those days, they used to do things, record companies – not like now! We felt we had to leave principally because we wanted to put out our first album and we just couldn’t feasibly see being able to do it by living in Perth, so we moved to Sydney.
Shane: Ever since seeing you guys on Countdown, way back when, I have always wondered: where did the name Eurogliders come from?
Bernie: [Laughs] You know, in hindsight Shane, we discovered that a glider is a form of kangaroo. I’ve got to say it was in hindsight. Euro and Gliders were out of a hat, with a whole lot of names in them. Two words came out and we stuck them together – it’s a simple as that. There was no rhyme or reason, there was no… I suppose in hindsight it perhaps sounded a little new wave, the euro kind of thing. But [now] we very much live on the fact that gliders are a form of rock kangaroo.
Shane: So there’s no deeper meaning at all, whatsoever!?
Bernie: Absolutely no. It could have been called Flash Harry, who knows. Except that we spent our entire lives with people confusing us with the Eurythmics.
Shane: Of course, I didn’t even think that might have been a thing. Yeah.
Bernie: Of course, Grace suffers the other problem of interviewers and other people talking to her and calling her Grace Jones!
Shane: Oh dear, they couldn’t be more wrong there! Eurogliders obviously, as with many bands in the ‘80s, were a very fashion conscious band. How important was it to be cutting edge with clothes and fashion at that time, and did you ever feel trapped by that, so that it over shadowed the music?
Bernie: Look, I think when you go back and look at some of photos of Eurogliders in the ‘80s you just wonder where the hell we were coming from. That was the same with the hair styles and hair colours as well. Part of this is Grace: when the rest of us would go on tour and we would be checking our amps and our guitars, Grace had a road case with a sewing machine in it! She would be back stage in the Green Room, prior to a show, sewing up clothes. She sewed pretty much all the clothes for the band and she really liked doing that kind of thing. That’s a major reason why we were wanting to look pretty special because Grace was encouraging us to do so. She still does now, she makes all her clothes for stage and she makes all mine as well.
Shane: Fantastic. You didn’t ever feel that the fashion was over shadowing the music?
Bernie: No, not at all. You’re asking the song writer for Christ’s sake. [Laughs] What am I going to say? No, not really, it was very much a part of our look, if you like. In all the videos and things like that it was very important that we had a particular look. No, I don’t think it every really took away from the music itself.
Shane: I hear that for a pop band you guys got up to your fair share of rock star mischief on the road. How crazy did those days get?
Bernie: Oh, we were tame, Shane, compared to some! There was no throwing TVs out of the window. Look, Sex, drugs and rock and roll were all part of the game back in the ‘80s… [but] I think most members of the band – although Grace would say, ‘no, I never did that’ – most members of the band, we all were involved in every aspect of rock and roll back then, particularly living in Sydney.
There used to be this bar called Benny’s, up in the Cross. After every show in New South Wales, almost every band playing around New South Wales would end up at Benny’s all night until about 4 in the morning. It was an amazing institution. There were several clubs like that so we all got up to lots of hanky panky along the way, but we all survived.
Shane: In the mid-2000s when you decided to get back together, were you still under record company contract?
Bernie: No. We hadn’t had any contact really with Sony for quite a few years. The albums that we’ve put out since then have been all our own. We just put them out ourselves, just like pretty much everyone else does these days. The next one will be as well. Love it or hate it, ITunes has changed things a lot too, where you can basically put out songs quickly and you don’t need the record company to do that kind of thing.
Shane: It’s a very different music industry now from the ‘80s, obviously.
Bernie: It is, and I’m not sure it’s for the better.
Shane: I think is some ways it is. In terms of bands owning their music, but in other ways not…
Bernie: I’m very concerned as a songwriter and a performer about Spotify.
Shane: Streaming services: hate them. I refuse to stream anything.
Bernie: Most musicians that I meet are also very concerned about the concept of Spotify. You simply don’t make much money these days from actually selling records or CDs, except for at your shows.
Bernie: We sell masses of CDs at our shows. Generally most bands are making their money from performing, which is fantastic, that’s great.
Shane: That’s the good side of not having a record company there, because you can have your 100 CDs that you sell after your gig.
Bernie: Totally. The record company, once again, love them or hate them… in hindsight, I seriously regret becoming involved with such a major record company as Sony. I think it was an absolute mistake, and in hindsight, we were being approached by every one of the labels. In hindsight I would have preferred to have gone with a slightly smaller one like Mushroom.
Shane: You just get treated like a commodity, that’s the problem.
Bernie: You do. Although they do it with a lovely smiling face. Very occasionally take you out to dinner, isn’t that lovely? It has changed, but I like the way it has changed from the point of view of having more control. We used to spend, like, $200,000 on a record. These days we spend [about] 10, because we can do most of it at home. I record all of Grace’s vocals at home in my lounge and all of mine and half the other stuff as well.
Shane: You guys were married, of course, for a time.
Bernie: We were, we were actually together for about 5 years and then got married and I think we lasted 11 months.
Shane: Did that make it difficult to continue your creative relationship together?
Bernie: Look, it did for a very short while. There were a number of gigs after we broke up where we were in the middle of a tour at the time, the two of us were on stage with tears rolling down our eyes.
The things is, we loved what we do, so we quite sensibly realised, ‘okay, this is falling apart, but we’re not going to let the rest of our lives fall apart,’ and that was the professional side of it.
We were very lucky really. We are very lucky now – we are the best of friends and we have a great time on stage together and tell lots of stories about each other, but mostly they’re about me regrettably.
Shane: That’s all good fun as well.
Bernie: There’s two versions of Eurogliders. There’s one I can colloquially describe as adult Eurogliders and then there’s baby Eurogliders. Adult Eurogliders is a full rock and roll band, nice and loud. Baby Eurogliders is like an unplugged version of Eurogliders. It’s me, Grace, two guitarists and percussion player or drummer. That’s the one that’s coming to Perth. It’s a fantastic way of listening to all the Eurogliders songs. People really love the concept because there is lots of chatter and stories. It’s the same songs but people get to hear them in a slightly different way.
Shane: A bit more stripped down and a bit more interactive in terms of telling what’s going on?
Bernie: Totally. I play guitar and banjo on several songs, it’s a completely different experience, but its good fun.
Shane: Sounds awesome. Can you give us five words to describe a modern Eurogliders gig
Bernie: Grace, Knight, Bernie, Lynch, Good. [laughs]
Shane: That will work. That’s fine. Listen mate, thanks for your time today, and good luck with the tour & album.
Bernie: Grace also has got a new solo album coming out. I’ve written all the songs for that one.
Shane: Is that more of her jazz stuff or more pop stuff?
Bernie: It’s a much more folky oriented one. She’s taken a bit of tangent. She’s very lucky her audiences don’t just want to hear the jazz, she does 3 or 4 Eurogliders songs – they’ll [listen to] anything she sings. She’s very lucky.
EUROGLIDERS return to Western Australia for two shows this weekend:
Friday, 4 December at The Charles Hotel, North Perth
Saturday, 5 December at The Fly By Night Club, Fremantle
An edited version of this interview was first ublished in X-Press Magazine’s 2 December, 2015 issue
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