I N T E R V I E W
Geoff Doube : The Shrugs
by Arpie Shirehorse
The Shrugs, as many readers will know, were stalwarts of the Hamilton live scene until almost two years ago when Geoff Doube, the band's only constant throughout its various guises, shifted across the ditch to Melbourne. HUP recently caught up with Geoff via modern communication methods, had a bit of a yarn, then wrote this stuff...
HUP: How did The Shrugs begin its life?
I was mucking around with a cassette four-track and casiotone, and jamming with friends, when my girlfriend told me that I'd better start a 'proper' band (or what, she never told me). We rehearsed in the Cambridge town hall because our drummer Richie could get the key from the Datsuns. We played a battle of the bands and a couple of parties and then Richie left the band. I remember him saying, 'well, that's the end of The Shrugs then', and me stubbornly thinking, 'actually, no it isn't'.
HUP: What was your greatest achievement?
Getting to play our own songs to people who sometimes enjoyed them, and travelling around meeting and playing with lots of talented musicians.
HUP: What are your best/worst memories about being in The Shrugs?
I can't think of anything terribly bad... if it had stopped being fun I would have quit. One great memory I have is finding out we were being played on the radio in towns other than Hamilton. That was a real buzz for a small-town boy like me.
HUP: What was the best show you ever played?
We played a lot of shows so picking one would be hard. I have fond memories of playing the Cambridge Road Guy Fawkes parties. Any gig out of town where we would get a bunch of people dancing and cheering (despite not knowing who we were) was great.
HUP: What is your favourite Hamilton music memory?
I can't tell you that in a family publication.
HUP: Do you feel being based in Hamilton helped or hindered The Shrugs?
It hindered us mostly in terms of our ability to get gigs and radio play outside Hamilton. There was a brief moment during the popularity of The Datsuns where it wasn't a hindrance (apart from the fact that then everyone expected us to be The Datsuns). But most of the time there was a perception that Hamilton was pretty backwards and that bands from there would be crap. Every time I did an interview with an out of town radio station or magazine the first question would be something to do with Hamilton. In the end I was like, you know, it's just where I live, it's not a big deal! Besides, Paul and Gordon (drums/bass) don't even live in Hamilton... But Hamilton had a really good supportive scene, so in that sense it was a help when we were starting out.
HUP: How do we 'fix' the Hamilton music scene?!
Oh dear. The thing that fucked 'the scene' was the loss of Contact FM - I mean the original loss of it as a result of ideological elements in the student body. It's true that radio as a medium has lost relevance now, but Contact was more than merely a broadcaster - it had lots of functions in organising gigs & parties, providing recording providing recording facilities, training young people, and just as a hub around which a whole lot of activities could revolve. So, to 'fix the scene' I think what is required is another hub, although what that would be in the internet age I can't really imagine. Certainly it needs to strike the balance that Contact struck between being well-run and organised and being chaotic, dangerous, and fun. Unfortunately, well-meaning grown-ups are a hindrance to a genuine scene, no matter how much money they throw at it. The elements of a healthy scene are: underage drinking; disaffected smart young people; cannabis; someone a bit older who knows how to work a PA and has a van.