Picture this…..It’s a hot mid-summer nite in some sleazy, run down Melbourne pub. Once upon a time, this place was the epicentre of the Victorian Rock ‘n’ Roll scene, with a crowd so hip that if you didn’t hang out there, you were virtually non-existant. Nowadays, tho’, the clientelle consists of a room full of middle aged cross dressers, failing dismally at hiding their 5 o’clock shadows with liberal doses of foundation cream, and a group of obnoxious suburban drunks, who’ve relocated from the downstairs bar for the sole purpose of trying to pick up some of the afore mentioned patrons. The beer is over-priced and tastless, and at various times during the night you may ask yourself, “Why on earth did I come to this shithole anyway?”. Why indeed…perhaps it has something to do with the fact that up on the tiny stage, the greatest rock band ever to emerge from the gutters of Victoria, the Seminal Rats, are about to play. Becouse you KNOW that as soon as the Rat’s hit the first note of the first song, you will be instantly transported from this seedy environment into a state of electric, phantasmogoric ECSTACY. That’s right, the Rats are one band you can count on every time to DO IT RIGHT!! And here they come…Michael Harley shouting the blues with a voice that could fell a dozen forest…Dave Balsamo wringing every drop of throbbing, gut-busting OOZE from his Bass, with an expression on his face that reads “Lock up your daughters”…Mick Weber standing almost statue-still, while cranking out tasteful, exuberant and downright WICKED lead guitar that leaves you hungering for more…Reuben Pinkster hammering MERCILESSLY away on his poor instrument, flinging deadly guitar licks every which way, that STING when they hit…Todd McNeair’s cymbals SIMMERING lustily like a wholesome pot of stew, his drums kicking harder than a newly born mule…Behold the SEMINAL RATS, and do not take their name in vain, ‘cos takin’ care of business is their game. TIM HEMENSLEY (Babylon to Brunswick) 1992.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Sydney was and still is the high energy capital of Australia. During the 1980s and 1990s however, one band helped dispel that myth. The Seminal Rats were one of the first bands outside of Sydney to embrace the high energy rock ‘n’ roll which bands like Radio Birdman had produced in the late seventies. There had been others like the Chosen Few and legendary Sick Things and the Rats helped set up a high energy rock ‘n’ roll scene in Melbourne which lasts to this very day. The Rats came together in the early ’80s, first as the Flipper inspired band, Skippy. Skippy mutated into the Seminal Rats around 1983. They were heavily influenced by the Detroit rock sounds of the Stooges, MC5, The Sonics Rendezvous Band as well as the first wave of US hard-core eg. Black Flag, Bad Brains. The beauty of the Rats was that they were also influenced by bands not necessarily associated with punk rock. For instance, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix and John Coltraine were all cited as favorites of the Rats. Live, the Seminal Rats were one of the best high energy bands playing, not only in Australia, but in the world. Their records released on Mr Spaceman show just how high energy their shows were. Omnipotent stands as their best recording from the period. Furious guitars, killer drumming, gruff as fuck vocals and killer tunes – they had it all. The band would go on to share stages with such seminal influences as Johnny Thunders, Deniz Tek and Dead Moon. The Rats continued rocking Melbourne till the late ’90s. Sadly founding member guitarist Mick Weber passed away in early 1999, bringing an end to one of the best high energy rock ‘n’ roll bands this planet has ever produced. I saw the Rats many times and they always rocked. They will be sadly missed. JIM from Red Shift (The Mr. Spaceman Label 1985-1990) 1999.