How my old band broke major Australian political news

12 May

If you subscribe to the Wasp Summer newsletter, you would have read about how my old band, the Mime Set, broke up on tour. In November 2014, I was flown back to Australia for an unlikely reunion.

If you want to subscribe to the Wasp Summer newsletter, you’ll get more bizarre and hilarious stories like the one I’m about to tell you, plus playlists, downloads, special offers and tour news every fortnight.
Newsletter link: http://eepurl.com/rO3db

Australian literary journal Going Down Swinging received a grant for their One Night Wonders concert series and their editor Geoff Lemon asked Sean M Whelan and The Mime Set, my old band’s spoken word project, to reform for the final show of the series. You can read an article I wrote on the reformation here.

When I arrived, I played 5 Wasp Summer shows in 6 days, then after just two rehearsals, Sean M. Whelan and The Mime Set were into the poetry shows.

On the Friday, we played to a full house at the Mission to Seamen in Melbourne. Even in rehearsal, I hadn’t remembered how intense the band could be in full flight. It was a glorious show, recorded for posterity.

Saturday, we drove 8 hours to Australia’s capital, Canberra. Sadly, they’ve now taken down the world’s best road sign just outside of Yass. We checked into our 5 star hotel to find ourselves booked into three rooms… two bandmembers to a bed. Seeing my surprise, the receptionist said, “Maybe you love your band but you probably don’t “LOVE” them, right?” We got better rooms.

Sunday morning, I got gastroenteritis and a fever. We had a 4pm show in the hotel bar. I slept until the show and emerged, weak and sweating, at 3pm to find Clive Palmer, one of Australia’s most controversial politicians, taking meetings in the bar and watching our soundcheck. The show was hazy and psychedelic. The music sounded amazing, textured, electric. I was singing ‘Honey O’, an epic ballad, and threw my hand forward. As I opened my eyes, Clive Palmer was walking directly towards me. “Honey, I can’t, honey, honey I can’t feel you…” I sang. Our eyes slid awkwardly apart as he left the bar.

Sean M. Whelan & Clive PalmerThat’s poet Sean Whelan in the foreground and Clive Palmer in the back. After the show, I went back to bed to sweat out my fever in high thread-count sheets. During the post-show drinks, several of the band noticed Clive Palmer speaking with Jacquie Lambie, the Tasmanian Senator who very angrily and publicly split from Palmer’s party. They took a sneaky photo and posted it on social media. Next day, the photo was front page news in Australia. Our band broke the story of their meeting.

2 rehearsals, 2 shows, 16 hours driving, 1 national headline. We laughed all the way back to Melbourne.

Cheers,
Sam

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