The Triffids | 29/02/08

Image: The Triffids

I got an email the other day asking me if I would write "some kind words and validation to help them sell records". The 'them' was The Triffids, the Australian band that found critical acclaim and not much else, in the 80’s. 'Kind words and validation' proffered by the critics back then didn't help them sell records and I don't know if ones by me, will now.

The reason why I have been asked, is not because I have written glowingly about The Triffids in the past, but because I worked with them, using them as a backing band on an album that I made in 1986, called The Man. This record sold less than any record that the Triffids ever made, but when I then went on to sell a few million records around the globe, in another guise and musical universe, this seemed to give my opinions on things some sort of standing.

Now, I was never a big fan of The Triffids, never had more than a couple of their records; only saw them play live the once and that was because I was doing a number with them. But, and this is a major BUT, in David McComb they had every thing you could ever want from a dead rock star. And we need dead rock stars more than we need living ones. Some dead rock stars are crap at it, the bloke out of INXS and Freddie Mercury are shit at it, but David McComb is perfection. He is almost as good as Nick Drake, but we are getting a bit bored with Nick Drake now, so we want somebody new.

But new dead rock stars don't come along too often, so we have to find old ones that have died some years ago. Ones were the patina of time enhances the way we see them, where myth and legend have taken root, grown and entwined around there CV. The reason why David McComb, is such a perfect dead rock star, is that he failed in his life time, but left a pristine body of work behind that was all about loss and longing, about failed relationships and love gone wrong. These are the themes we never tire of. From the Old Testament to Big Brother, it is what keeps us hooked. But it wasn’t just his songs and his deep baritone voice, it was the way he looked, his gaunt good looks and lanky frame.

There was something about his aura that made it seem that he had lived in other centuries as well as our own. Of course the band provided the perfect back drop to his tales of woe and deceit, ‘Evil’ Graham Lee in particular giving it that wide open sweep of a sound with his peddle steel guitar. As I noted above, you may be a bit bored with Nick Drake's three albums and once the Ian Curtis biopic is out you will be wanting to deny that you were ever into Joy Division, so go and get your self a copy of In The Pines or Born Sand Devotional and be the first on your patch and generation to get into the greatest dead rock star to ever come out of the out back.

Bill Drummond June 2006