CINEMA PRAGUE Jump for joy

This Friday, July 19, legendary WA band Cinema Prague (guitarist George Kailis, bassist Rex Horan and drummer Tim Lowe) take to the stage with the original line up for the first time in nearly 20 years, at the Fremantle Town Hall. As part of the Fremantle Festival’s 10 Nights in Port program, the reunion gig is something of a coup for organiser (and long term champion of the WA music community) Bruna Chiovitti, as the band members now span continents, years and careers apart. MYKI JONEZ reports.

What was the impetus for this gig? Was it Bruna?

George: I posted on Facebook an old high school photo of our first ever jam and I think Bruna saw it and pretty much said why the fuck not. I think they were looking for something to make this…


George: Yeah something to make this special.

How did it work for Rex this time around (Bassist Rex Horan has been living and working in London since 1998)? There have been opportunities for this to happen before. What was different this time?

Rex: I was in Perth near Christmas and I got the message from George passing on the question from Bruna. I was a day away from going back to London. I remember reading it and going like whaaaaaat?

George: Honestly I just passed it on as a courtesy. I just thought it was probably not going to happen.

Tim: We were given six months notice. That kinda helped.

George: It felt like an offer from the heart. So I guess we treated it with that respect as well.  This is as close to a perfect scenario as we can imagine. It’s a point of focus for that era, for Perth music, for Fremantle music.

What’s it been like remembering tracks for the gig?

Rex: These guys sent me a song… Agony. I was playing through it… I had no recollection whatsoever. But I’ve got this reptile brain thing. I’m navigating my way through several songs as if by magic with my hands like they’re being directed by a puppeteer. I’ve played two or three thousand songs since then that I can’t remember at all but somehow these songs that were so important and formative to me are deeply embedded.

Tim: There are aspects of my job that could take paint off the walls with their boringness and I don’t remember them at all. But the whole Prague thing was forged in so much excitement.

So what tracks are going to make the gig? It’s not just a matter of playing your latest material… in fact you guys have such a diabolical release history it’s difficult to pinpoint what that might be!

Rex: This is the first time we’ve seen one another. We haven’t actually had this discussion.

Tim: We’ll talk about it onstage.

Will you play Paranoid Lloyd?

George: The answer’s yes!

Rex: We are looking back at five records…there will be a few controversial calls on the bench.

Will you play Boogie?

Rex:  Are all the rest of your questions just “are you gonna play this song”?


Tim: Boogie is one of my favourite songs.

Tim has made the claim that Snakes Alive is the definitive Cinema Prague recording. I tend to agree, but there are tracks on the album re-recorded from the earlier release Nordensost, such as Clean Sheets. What was the reasoning there?

Rex: That’s a really nice record. We answered some sonic questions with those re-recordings. Clean Sheets was thin-sounding on Nordensost. That’s all we could do with that crazy idea of doing it all in mono.

George:  We actually did feel that that Nordensost wasn’t quite the right approach for those songs.

To me, Snakes Alive sounds much more ‘hi-fi’…

George: Snakes Alive was pretty much live. We just totally burnt it. There are fuck-all overdubs. Rob Grant’s production was inspired.

Rex: It was a much more expansive sound. As you get going from mono to anything else.

Tim: Snakes Alive was the most satisfied I was with any of our recordings. We recorded it after we returned from London. We had been travelling the world playing for our lives. We were all toured up and I think Snakes Alive captured that under a glass bell.

George: I think we knew we were going to break up at that stage. It was recorded in maybe five days. We didn’t fuck around.

Snakes Alive was released 10 years ago and recorded 10 before that. But there were rumours of a new album. Was anything recorded?

George: There is unrecorded material. I’d love to record it. I don’t know why we didn’t.

Rex: A song like George’s Blues, it’s such a good song.

George: We’ve never gone in with an actual setlist to record. So maybe something minor wasn’t working at that moment and it would just get put aside for next time.

Tim: We never did record the Big Dish.

George: Oh yeah. We wrote a rock opera. We wrote 35 minutes and didn’t get beyond the intro. It was very 2001. The ape becoming the spaceman.

Rex: I was teaching my kids the words to that just the other day. It has some high comedic moments!

Cinema Prague are rightfully famous for complexity, speed and tightness. Did you guys come out of the womb playing 32nd notes in 9/4?

George: We sounded like a two or three chord garage band.

Rex: I come from a classical background. I was very interested in punk music but I didn’t really understand what it was all about. I heard the Sex Pistols and I just thought they were a rock band and I thought; what’s the big deal? The first time we played together we played a song I hope you never hear called Anti-Social. There was lots of swearing. George played these three bar chords…

George: Over and over and over…

Rex: …and I just thought they didn’t belong in any key and I thought you can’t do that. It doesn’t fit in any diatonic progression. I’d never heard anything like that before. My brain just went… I began to have these ideas. I thought this was a forum in which we could break a few rules and push a few boundaries.

George: I was tagging along in those days.

Rex: But not for very long!

George: We were playing with bands like Thrombus and Cremator. The Pink Fluffy Bunnies. Those guys played fast. The Pink Fluffy Bunnies brought that kind of prog thing into our sphere.

Tim: And we all signed up for “free music lessons” at The Con. That helped us play a bit faster.

The infamous share house at West Street was an integral part of the scene at the time. There are many tales of the shenanigans that took place. Care to elaborate?

Rex: Everything you’ve heard is true.

George: I did a nude dash from West Perth to Leederville with a porn mag in one hand. I made 60 bucks.

Tim: We had a thing of betting people to do stupid stuff. That’s a lot in 1990s dollars.

George: It wasn’t my magazine.

Tim: It was a German publication. It came from the recycling company we worked at.

Oh yeah. So what were you into?

George: I was trying to learn German.

So it’s 20 years on from the last local performance with the three of you together, and it would seem the WA music community is more than ready to celebrate the influence and inspiration of Cinema Prague. Friday is a sold out gig and looks like it’s going to be a huge night. Are you feeling the love?

Rex: Cinema Prague is so integral to who I am as a musician now and it all starts here with these two people. To think that it resonates beyond the three of us sitting at this table… I didn’t know this. But then to hear it’s sold out? We had to start a Facebook page, and all of a sudden there’s a whole bunch of people piling in and saying the most wonderful and affirming things. It’s been really touching and really wonderful.

George: We played pretty much every backyard party that was going, to hear people say we are the soundtrack to their teenage years, I understand the significance of that.

Rex: There was something about that moment in the late 80s through the early 90s in this town. A very isolated city, a culturally literate population, and we just did our own thing.

George: There was a swell, a thing going, we were part of a scene.

Tim: It’s beautiful that we can be part of anyone’s history. It’s a complete compliment.

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