In celebration of their 20th anniversary, music legends Tripod will perform their newest and most random show, Tripod: 101 Hits, at Brisbane Powerhouse next month.
The show, which will run from Tuesday 8 to Saturday 12 March during the Brisbane Comedy Festival, will celebrate 20 years of crimes against comedy with a random setlist from ‘the stupidest songbook ever invented’ — and by random, we mean songs will be drawn from a bingo barrel.
We caught up with members Scod (Scott Edgar), Yon (Simon Hall) and Gatesy (Steven Gates) to chat about their new show, their random ideas and their long history together.
So, 20 years together? Wow! Do you all still get along?
Yon: I think we’re still friends. [Points to Gatesy] I think he’s undecided!
Scod: I think we’re closer friends than ever now. I think that’s the advantage of having been doing it for so you get over your reservations. I think there’s a gratitude, I’m just speaking for myself, that we’ve been able stay to together for so long now and work together.
How would you describe your relationship?
Gatesy: You go straight in there, don’t you? There will be tears.
Yon: I can only compare it to my marriage and other friendships that I have, it’s probably about as functional as any of my other relationships.
Scod: Yeah, but in your other relationships you don’t get paid to be in them.
Yon: That’s true, that’s true.
Scod: That really changes the base level of what we’re talking about. We’re essentially escorts for each other.
Gatesy: We’re like estranged brothers who are married.
Scod: It’s like a graph with two lines on it, one is like our ability to process our conflicts and disagreements and getting the relationship to a healthy place, but the other one is indexed in getting older and getting too tired to fight anymore.
Gatesy: Then there is a third line. You learn as you go and your opinions solidify and you’re probably less likely to want to compromise, but you know that comprise is everything.
Scod: Eddie (Perfect) made a really good observation when he was touring with us. He was like, you’ve known each other for so long, it must be so hard not to be annoyed at each other for stuff you said, like, 10 years ago. Most relationships you’ve got a starting point where you know who you are now, but for us there is so much immature bullshit that has gone on, its not fair to hold people to that.
Gatesy: It’s certainly the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. I think I’ve learnt more about myself in this relationship than in any other one, good and bad, proud and not proud.
So what can audiences expect from Tripod: 101 Hits?
Scod: This is what’s great about it. We have no idea! We’ve got a bingo barrel with ping pong balls and every night we’re just going to randomly pick a song. So, out of 101 songs we just don’t know what we’re going to get.
Yon: Would you get the 10 least suited to a live show? Could that happen?
Scod: It will happen!
Yon: You might get one cracker in there.
Scod: Every time we’ve done it so far, it’s been a really good mix of the old classics we’ve done and the old nooks and crannies of our career, for example when we’ve done songs for cartoons or for Assassins Creed last year or the orchestra show, with little bits and pieces that people may not have seen and occasional moments of nail biting ‘is this going to come off the rails in an ugly way’ situations.
Yon: Each show ends up having little themes, which I enjoy.
Gatesy: We’ve always wanted to do a show that’s unreviewable.
101 songs, that’s a lot of songs and lyrics to remember! Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been up on stage and forgot your lyrics?
Gatesy: All the time!
Yon: Gatesy, you jumped forward the other day. We were doing this long six minute song.
Scod: Yeah, from Lady Robots, which was a musical we’d done and we hadn’t sung it since.
Yon: It tells a story in a very straight forward way — this happens, then this happens, then this happens. We got about half way through and then sort of jumped to the end.
Gatesy: I got part F mixed up with part H and they swapped. Scod was going ‘you know this bit’s next’ and I’m going ‘I’m pretty sure its not, I’m pretty sure its this bit’.
Scod: It was like one of those polite fights you have at the dinner table at Christmas.
Yon: The audience were really good about it, very patient.
Gatesy: That’s an advantage of the sort of act we are. Even when we started we didn’t know the songs because we were just making them up and people sort of went along with the ride. They kind of like the stuff-ups.
Scod: We’ll be falling back on our very first ever comedy skills for this show, just covering mistakes.
How do you come up with the songs?
Scod: We trawl the live scene for young promising bands who no one’s heard of and steal their material. That’s how it works.
Gatesy: You know what’s funny about that line, Scod, it’s conceivable. It’s not so ridiculous that it would make me laugh, but it’s actually conceivable.
Yon: Scod doesn’t think that people would think we would do it.
Scod: No, it’s not true. We beat up hobos and steal their note books.
Do they have notebooks?
Gatesy: They’re really good song writers on the whole. There was actually a really good busker out there on Queen Street and it made me think of a show we were going to do with buskers opening for us.
Scod: When were we going to do that?
Gatesy: We actually thought about asking buskers to come around and do their spot on stage, and pass around a hat or something. I still love that idea of giving these street performers who are amazing, a spot on a massive stage.
Why don’t you do that for your Brisbane show?
Scod: Well, we were talking about getting buskers for outside the show, who get given the songbook and have to muddle through and busk it. Because the song book is fair dinkum. It’s got all the chords and everything.
Gatesy: I think when we started our songs were about the external world, like Star Wars and things that interested us, because we didn’t really have fully formed personalities back then. But, as the years have gone by we’re starting to write more and more about our lives, which is good because our audience have grown old with us and know what we’re talking about.
Whose idea was it to start a comedy band in the first place?
Yon: I think you [pointing to Scod] think it was your idea.
Scod: I would never say that [long pause]… out loud. I actually don’t think anyone had the idea of ‘let’s start a comedy band’, we were just keen to do harmonies and covers and have fun opening for cover bands and stuff. The comedy stuff came later. For me, the turning point where the comedy part is concerned was I used to work at this theatre called St Martins and we were programming a comedy festival season and we had a spare slot in one of the venues and I said to them, ‘we’ve got this band, we’re not exactly comedians but we’re stupid’ and they programmed us in. After that we got sucked very quickly into the comedy community.
Gatesy: It’s still nobody’s idea to become a comedian.
Yon: We have an uneasy relationship with the comedy aspect of what we do, because we have never stopped being musical. We’ve had so many conversations about what we’re trying to do in this show or song. Is it supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to have a point? I think we just bounce between all those ideologies all the time and it’s fun. That’s what I like about this show, is you get to see all those different ideologies, some of the songs are just purely a stupid song about the second drawer down and how you can put everything in the second drawer down, and then there might be a political song about suicide bombers. I think watching the show will just be really fun, because you won’t know what to expect next.
Gatesy: And our idea of what a hit is. It was a spread sheet of like 287 songs that we could remember writing and we just took a vote. So basically it’s a democratisation of our favourite material. There are songs in there, for example a song called Visor King which is a very long song that we’ve always loved, loved the music, loved the songs but it’s never worked live, never did. Now, we have to do it if it comes up.
Scod: Maybe we’re ready?
Gatesy: I think the world’s ready.
Scod: I think it will work in the context of this show where it’s this weird gumbo of different songs. We wanted a way to do a greatest hits show without doing the same songs every night. It just feels like a nice twist, with a tapas of all our stuff.
Gatesy: It’s a cocktail party.
From a band that unexpectedly found themselves in the comedy scene, how did you develop your musical comedy career further?
Yon: One of the chief nodes in the journey was when we were at the first year in Edinburgh and there was this group of comedians called the Three Canadians — they weren’t musical but they had a great dynamic between each other. We went to see their show and it was just complete anarchy with all these things going wrong and they were amazing improvisers. We came back the next night and it was the exactly same show and we were like, ‘Oh, you can act?’ We didn’t imagine that you could pull something like that off to that extent.
Scod: Up to that point we had bought into the illusion that comedy was all off the cuff and comedians were just coming up with it on the spot and on the fly.
Gatesy: I was heartbroken, because I had come from this theatre restaurant world where that stuff is embedded in your show and when I saw the Three Canadians, I went, ‘is it all a sham?’
Scod: We’ve gone through a lot of different phases, one thing we’ll agree on is that we’ve got quite a short attention span. We don’t necessarily stay excited about the same thing creatively every year. One year we’ll do a cabaret type show with lots of songs or a vague theme with lots of comedy bits in it, the following year we might do a narrative show with a story and characters and songs that aren’t necessarily comedy songs. What’s good about that is that it pushes our song writing in all different directions and we have to use different muscles, so to speak.
Gatesy: We’ve all got different styles on stage. I’ve never seen a Tripod show but I can imagine sitting there going ‘who the F**k are these guys and how did these three get together?’
Do you guys ever get hecklers?
Yon: A little bit.
Scod: Depends where we are.
Gatesy: Hecklers are people who just want to get involved. I’m like that in the cinemas, I’ll see something and I’ll go ‘hmmm’ [nods head], and that’s the kind of heckler we’ll get sometimes. We rarely get negative ones.
Scod: When you start out you get very gladiatorial with hecklers like it’s a battle, but it’s only ever a battle five percent of the time. You learn pretty quickly people just like conversation and that’s great. It’s great when audiences are a bit mouthy because they’re usually trying to help and it adds to the vibrancy of the show.
When did each of you discover you were funny?
Scod: I don’t think I am funny. I think I bring other things to the table.
Yon: People who’ve known me for a while but haven’t seen me act, just can’t see it. They’re like ‘he’s not funny’.
Gatesy: I’ve always been a bit of a class clown guy, a show off and didn’t pay attention in class. I think people in school would look at me now and go ‘oh yeah, that makes sense’. I think my comedic take is ordinary, whereas these guys [points to Scod and Yon] are far more unique and original.
Scod: It’s different on stage. I don’t think of myself as a funny guy to hang around with.
Yon: But you say funny things all the time! You are funny.
Scod: Oh, thanks, man!
Gatesy: Yeah, you are!
Oh, this is just lovely, you guys.
Yon: This is just way too nice, can you please emphasise the conflict?
So, why should audiences come to see Tripod: 101 Hits?
Yon: It’s going to be a bit nail-bitey. Even though we’ve got years under our belt there is still car crash potential, which is exciting.
Scod: I’m really proud of the songs. People will get a unique night and no one else will ever see the same show, because it’s completely random.
Tripod will be performing their random Tripod: 101 Hits shows at Brisbane Powerhouse from Tuesday 8 to Saturday 12 March. For tickets visit www.brisbanepowerhouse.org