Time is running out if you want to witness a part of living history live.
Blood Duster, one of the countries finest exponents of hardcore metal and purveyors of musical anarchy are bringing down the curtain on their illustrious career with their upcoming performance at Melbourne’s Brewtality Festival, potentially being their swan song. “We never actually broke up,” assured bass player and founding member Jason Fuller in regards to the band’s recent inactivity. “We just decided we were on an indefinite hiatus. In saying that, I think this will be one of our final shows. Getting together and doing this is like, ‘Fuck, this is really hard work’ (laughs). So much effort goes into making sure it’s as good as it can be, so, yeah, I think while we’re still having fun, let’s kill it. It should be a good show. When you can sense the end is near, you kind of have nothing to worry about. Your priorities are in the right spot and you’re not doing it for any reason other than you want to.”
After amassing a loyal fan base over the years, Fuller admits the logistics of touring will likely dictate that they don’t embark on a farewell tour and instead will keep it relatively low key.
“We have had a fucken shit tonne of offers to do a bunch of shows, but we’re all pretty busy with different bands and that kind of stuff, so it’s a little bit hard to prioritise this as much as it needs to be to be good. We could half ass it and take the money and fuck off, but we don’t want to sully the legacy too much by doing things that we wouldn’t have done in our heydey.”
When Blood Duster came onto the scene in 1991, it was a time of musical turmoil and there was a void in the culture that needed filling. But Fuller shrugs when trying to pinpoint why they were the band to take control.
“I think we just came up at the right time,” he offered. “We were doing something that was a little bit different from everyone else, and we didn’t give a fuck. Back then, there was no music; the heavy scene was not like it is today. Today, bands will start to have a career. That was not an option when we started. I think that was good for us because there weren’t any outside influences. We could be as fucked up as we wanted to be without having to think we could live off it. Fuck, bands didn’t even put out CDs! We’ve seen CDs come and go and that kind of thing, but I think in the end, we just came up in the right place at the right time.
“There were a couple of grindcore bands around then,” he continued. “There was Necrotomy who were good, but all in all, we thought that grindcore was over. Napalm Death had started to move towards death metal and we were just like, ‘Fuck that, what’s going on with grindcore? It’s dead.’ So we just thought, let’s do this, and we kind of put some rock and roll stuff in there and that’s how we started. It’s fucken stupid to think we’re an influence to anyone because we’re just fucken idiots (laughs). That kind of thing is hard to quantify.”
Now more or less carrying the weight of an entire genre on their fledgeling shoulders, Fuller says Blood Duster approached their mission with youthful exuberance and just a touch of attitude.
“We just wanted to do grindcore and put a ’70s rock element in there,” he stressed. “I was really into American Southern rock and Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and we really wanted to put that Sabbath kind of bluesy groove into grindcore which we thought was fucken funny, and it just escalated and got more and more ridiculous until we got to the point where we were doing complete rock albums and complete grindcore albums. It was pretty much just a ticket to do whatever the fuck we wanted, and we did.”
Releasing their debut album, Fisting the Dead in 1993 saw Blood Duster announce to the world that they were beyond reproach and their blasé attitude towards an increasingly stale industry had ramifications that would send shockwaves through the Australian underground scene.
“We didn’t name the album that just to be controversial,” Fuller disclosed. “The music was supposed to be fucked up, and we wanted it to go with that kind of thing. It was also easier to offend people back then than it is now. If you look at any CD catalogue, every fucken thing has… every death-grind band is trying to be offensive, and it’s just not offensive anymore. It doesn’t hold the same value as it did then when it was kind of shocking and controversial and risque. Now you do that sort of stuff just to fit in, which is weird. We did the Menstrual Soup demo that was recorded in 1991, but I think we put 1992 on the tape because we didn’t want it to date too quickly (laughs). But it was recorded and released in 1991, which is a long time ago now. It’s funny because I have bands that come through the studio and say they have been fans for ages. I ask how old they are and they’re twenty-two or something like that, and I say, ‘Fuck, you weren’t even fucken born when we put our first album out.’ Then they’re trying to tell you about grindcore, and it’s like, I know I’m an old man, but fuck dude, I’ve got 25 years on you (laughs).”
With the release of Yeast in 1995, Blood Duster ventured more into rock territory with an album that still utilised the grindcore model but tampered with it slightly.
“It didn’t have that much more rock than Fisting the Dead, but because of Napalm and stuff going to death metal, we wanted to make a more solid grindcore record; just with more of that old school vibe,” Fuller explained. “What you call ‘old school’ now was really old school then because all of those bands started to change, so we just wanted the first album to be grindcore-orientated. And then when we did the second one, we put in more of what we called the ‘psychedelic’ thing. Not psych like you think of it now, but more like early 1970’s heavy metal riffing. Not so much heavy metal, but deeper Purple when you think of them in their wildest moments. I just thought that was funny in grindcore because that sort of stuff hadn’t been mixed before.”
By Str8 Outta Northcote in 1998, Blood Duster had refined their technique and this time opted to go with a mixing of Southern rock infused with hardcore. But rather than see this as an experimental period for the band, Fuller says it was more a case of a band with no restrictions doing whatever appealed to them at the time.
“We were just doing whatever we wanted,” he shrugged. “There was never an end game, it was more a case of we liked heaps of stuff and would be influenced by the stuff around us. We would do whatever we wanted to do with that. Around that time, there was Kyuss and other bands like that who came out, so there was a definite… not stoner rock, but stoner rock elements before it was the cliché that stoner rock became. We mixed that with a lot of the Allman Brothers type of stuff, and a lot of people have said they loved that album. I was driving Bill from Mastodon around and he was going on about it saying that he’d learned all of the songs on it. We played with Cephalic Carnage and all of those kinds of bands, and they would be doing Blood Duster songs in their soundcheck which was pretty fucken funny.”
If there is one album that defines Blood Duster more than any other, it was their sensationally-titled album, Cunt, in 2001. It was an album that was a musical masterpiece, but one for which the title will always overshadow anything that is contained within.
“We didn’t have that much difficulty with the title,” Fuller laughed. “It is just a word at the end of the day, but we did lose our drummer over it! (laughs). When I said I was going to call the next record Cunt, it was kind of like the beginning of the end with him. He thought it was fucken ridiculous (laughs). We didn’t leave on bad terms, but I don’t think he could quite grasp where my brain was at. It sounds funny now, but at the time, I just thought ‘fuck it’. Someone is going to have to call their record ‘cunt’ at some point so it may as well be us. It was just so fucken ridiculous, and especially at that time: because to buy a CD, it had to be in a shop, so it pretty much excluded the album from going in record stores. Now you can call a CD or an album anything you want because it’s not going to a shop: it’s online, and it’s not a big deal. But back then, you had to convince the distributor, ‘Hey, we’re gonna call our record Cunt,’ and they said no shops would take it and we said, ‘Well, you either let us do it, or we’re not going to do it at all’. It was good seeing it in the charts. It was one position higher than Rhonda Burchmore which was kinda cool. It was amusing to have our record above hers. It didn’t do us any harm anyway.”
To coincide with the album release, Blood Duster also released a shirt with the word CUNT proudly emblazoned across the front in large letters. It was another act in a long line of defiance, and one whose success surprised even the band.
“Originally, we made only twenty of those shirts,” Fuller recounted, “because we thought who the fuck in their right mind is gonna walk around with the word CUNT in big letters on their chest? It was a fucken joke, and they sold out in seconds. So we did another 100, and they went too. We did thousands of those shirts in the end. I don’t know where the fuck they all are, but now and then I see someone with a CUNT shirt on, and it’s cool. I’ve had some funny instances with that shirt. I went to drop my wife off at the airport once, and I said goodbye, and as I was walking out of the airport across the terminal, these young guys were wearing the shirt, and I thought, here we go. They are gonna recognise me, and I’m gonna have to be polite and say hello, but there was none of that. They dropped the shoulder into me and looked at me like get the fuck out of my way, and I was like, ‘Wow, there’s my fan base (laughs).'”
Not done with surprises, Blood Duster decided to enlist guest musicians to work on their next self-titled album in 2003, with a line up that flew directly in the face of their grindcore roots.
“We just thought it would be fucken hilarious to have the dude from 28 Days on there,” he laughed. “For years, every time we did an album people would call us sell outs or something else, and we were like, dude, we called an album cunt, we can do whatever the fuck we want. So we had a few guests on the album. We had Darryl Cotton – who has since died – but he was great. He was a hilarious dude to hang out with for the afternoon. We had the old singer from AC/DC come in with all his leather gear and that kind of shit. We were just having fun doing whatever the fuck we wanted, whenever the fuck we wanted (laughs). The more stupid the idea seemed, the more we entertained it, but we were just entertaining ourselves.”
As if in an attempt to top themselves, Blood Duster next moved on to an album which transgressed not two, but three musical styles with an album each dedicated to a diverse range of genres.
“We did the Lyden Na record which was the triple album,” Fuller recalled. “So it was a grindcore record, it was a rock record, and it was a drone/doom album that was a download but then we did the KVLT album which was unlike anything we had done previously. It’s a hard one to explain…”
The KVLT album was an album that you couldn’t play, but also one that was made up of new Blood Duster material that would never be heard in its original recorded form.
“We recorded the album and had a listen to it and went ‘Yep, cool,'” Fuller said. “Everyone kept saying to us… at the time, everyone was talking about downloading and how it was killing music. So it was a case of, ‘Well, if we’re not going to make any money off this record, why do we even make them?’ And we’ve only ever made records to amuse ourselves. We think certain things are funny or cool, so we just do that, and it was like if no one’s gonna buy the record and they’re just going to steal it, then why shouldn’t we just give them the album? If we’re gonna make music just for us why don’t we do that and fuck everyone else? It turned into this concept where let’s make a record and then kill it so no one could ever listen to it, and no one could ever criticise it, and no one could ever say anything about it because it is purely for us.
“But to let people know that, we had to release it. So we released a limited amount of copies on vinyl that were scratched so you couldn’t play them. They had pentagrams scratched into them. The master tapes were all destroyed, and no one’s heard it since. If you have a copy of the vinyl that’s all scratched and you put it on, you can tell there are songs on there. We’ve played a bunch of them live. It made people fucken angry (laughs). It made people way angrier than calling an album Cunt. People still have these theories that one day we’ll release it, but I don’t know how many times we have to tell people it can’t be released. It’s gone. The album is gone. It was pressed scratched. There’s a clip on YouTube where I cut the record onto vinyl; then I scratched the actual acetate that all of the other vinyls are pressed from and we pressed it fucked. It was a fucken huge money wasting exercise because we took out ads in Heavy Mag and things like that saying the new album is coming out – not on CD; only on unplayable vinyl, and not as a download.
“That’s kind of what Blood Duster has always been about. It’s been about these elaborate half-prank, half-truth conceptual things. I fucken hate it when someone just gives me an album, and goes: here’s a bunch of songs. It’s like, ‘Cool, you’ve put some fucken thought into that’. I know that a song is cool and some albums are great, but the best ones have some heart or meaning or something in their structure. It’s pretty rare that a band can just put out a bunch of songs and I’m impressed. I like bands that have some thing that you can’t get somewhere else. Otherwise, it’s just redundant bullshit and why would you bother? You’re like the fiftieth Cannibal Corpse clone, we’ve heard that. I kind of like you a little bit by default, but you’re not gonna do anything that makes me go, ‘That’s fucken great, I’m buying your album.’ You need to have something more.”
Fuller not only performs in Blood Duster but he also owns and operates Goatsound studios in Melbourne, an enterprising business that allows him to stay involved with music when not playing with the band.
“It’s a record label and recording studio,” he explained, “but studio mainly and rehearsal studio. I produce records for other people: mostly doom, grindcore kind of stuff. We just did the new Contaminated record and the new King Parrot and Cosmic Kahuna albums. We record bunches of bands and we also release some stuff. There are rehearsal rooms so bands can utilise them. We have bands like Desecrator, Blunt Shovel, Grudge, Headless, and a lot of the metal bands here nightly. I’m surrounded by those cunts (laughs).”
Brewtality Set times