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DAAS remain iconclastic - By Anthony O'Grady - Brashs Music90 magazine - vol 2, no.5, (07/90)

DAAS - Which stands for Doug Anthony All Stars, three fun guys who just want to improve your mind - by insulting your t-shirt.

In a world of deceit and uncertainty, The Doug Anthony All Stars are what they seem. Tim Ferguson bounces from slumber and remains relentlessly cheerful every minute of the day. Richard Fidler, the quiet shy musical one, really IS quite shy. And you're hereby warned never to cross Paul McDermott (the mean one). His bite is reputed to cause rabies.

The above was volunteered by someone who accompanied the trio on a nation-wide promotional and concert tour, coinciding with the release of the All Stars' first album, "Icon". "They're not the usual sort of rock star interview," she warns.

As it turns out, "Icon" is not the usual sort of comedy record. There are no verbal skits, no monologues, no character voices, no fart jokes or four letter words. There are 15 songs, each of which has a beginning, middle and end, fullsome harmonies and strong lead vocals. There is humour, mostly sardonically black and a smorgasbord of musical styles that can have you playing Guess The Riff, all day and all of the night - Ye Gods, wasn't that Purple People Eater? That was Rawhide! No wait a minute, that was..."We ripped off different ideas left right and centre," agrees McDermott. "We wanted to see how easy it would be to put something like that together and, really, it wasn't that hard. If people have been shocked by the album, it's because it IS musically good - or at least, together."

"Icon" has no lyric sheet to help listeners discover the wit and wisdom within the likes of My Baby's Gone to Jail, Dead Elvis, KRSNA or I Want To Spill The Blood Of A Hippy. "Of course there's no lyric sheet," says Paul (with a hint of a snarl). "If people want to hear what you're saying, they'll listen. And if they can't hear the words they'll make up their own. A friend once tried to tell me that the Eagles classic was called Life In A Bat Plane. His words are miles better than the original. It's just pitiful when songwriters reduced themselves to words like "love" and "I'm so sad you left me baby." These people have had educations! They know there are more words out there. Writing can be a sportsman-like activity. Language is such a beautiful, glorious thing!" And that it is. It can also be a brutal weapon, as made explicit in the Allstars' 1989 publication Book.

"It's meant to be a parody of Bukowski and several other literary styles," says Paul. "We were having a go at the underbelly of modern writing - super-realism and fantastic-realism. Thew work of Burroughs and the Beat generation poets is considered such an awesome thing now, but it's really just as much pop trash as anything else."

Who else has inspired the writings of DAAS?

"Oh, hundreds of names. We go back to the existentialists. I like the work of the Marquis De Sade - I've been reading 120 Days of Sodomy for the past few years, it's such a nice book to reflect upon. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jean Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau... Kafka was an early influence. In turn, the writings of DAAS influence other, younger, minds. "We've met girls who read Nietzche because we mentioned him in Book," says Paul. "Others have delved into the works of Jean-Paul Sartre. Our real ambition is to set up a political party based on artistic credibility and ideals. Tim will be the puppet spokesman, Richard will be ther band leader."

World domination? Perhaps. The All Stars are Big In England, have been for years. Success in Australia came via The Big Gig on ABC-TV when the trio, virtually unknowns in their own country, seized upon the stratagem of whipping audiences into a frenzied chant of "ALL STARS!! ALL STARS!!" It is the way of TV (indeed all media) that if people treat you like a star, well then, you ARE a star. And it's worked a treat for DAAS.

America though, has yet to catch on to these zany sophists. "We did several gigs in New York where we'd insult members of the audience, because that's what we do," says Paul. "We'd say: Oh, made that t-shirt ourselves, did we? Really looks bad. And guys would come up to us afterwards and say: What's wrong with my t-shirt? We'd say nothing's wrong with it, it's just part of the show. And they'd say: Well my girlfriend bought me this t-shirt. It used to get really heavy. Then again," reflects Paul, "when all else fails, our motto is: Just hit someone in the audience! When all the thought and intellect goes out of it,the best thing to do is just hit someone! And he laughs. And so might you. But here's a tip. Never, ever sit in the first five rows of a Doug Anthony All Stars show.

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