Mark Gable talks pub rock, Kinder Surprise and assault rifles, ahead of Choirboys gig at Warners Bay
Anyone who loves pub rock knows all about the Choir Boys.
Run to Paradise. Boys Will Be Boys. Struggle Town, the list goes on...
The band recently released a new album Pub Rock Live, a collection of live songs recorded over the past seven years - without any auto tune, and with all of the raw, rock n' roll grit of performing live on stage.
Having started playing in bands in the 70s, and releasing the first Choirboys single in 1983, Mark can confidently say he's seen it all, including the rise and fall of pub rock. He also has quite a few opinions on the world today and why in 2018, people are still lining up to see bands from the 80s.
"These days pub rock is retro," he says.
"It's all about people loving the past, and don't we love the glory days of anything?
"It was a fabulous, amazing time back then and people love looking back. But bands like that just don't exist anymore, not the kinds of bands that represent a simple point of view and a simpler time. So we look at bands from the 80s and say 'aren't they great' because we can relate to it, particularly the people who lived through it and can remember it as a time that was simplistic and fun."
"We look back at bands from the 80s and say 'aren't they great' because we can relate to it, particularly the people who lived through it and can remember it as being a time that was simplistic and fun..."
Throughout Newcastle and The Hunter Region, many pubs, including Warners Bay Hotel, have caught on to this state of mind and are now booking 80s pub rock bands like The Choirboys, much to the delight of live music fans. Ironically, this resurgence of 80s and 90s bands playing in pubs is creating a full-circle affect, bringing performers like Mark Gable and The Choirboys back to their roots - 30 years on.
"We broke through in the 80s when the pub scene was developing," Mark says.
"Australia was going to pubs. Sure we had television and we'd stay home and watch Countdown and all the rest of it, but in our time it was like 'Hey mate, let's go down to the pub and meet the future ex-wife, let's go and have some fun'.
"Girls would all go out, guys would all go out, and we'd have a ball because really, what else were we going to do? So we'd go out. Live music developed in pubs more than anywhere else in the world. We went out, we drank a lot of beer and we loved it.
"It's like I remember back then saying to my bass player, come down to the pub, and it was the Dee Why Hotel on a Tuesday night, to see this band, the chick singing there is amazing - it was The Divinyls.
And this was at a pub. On a Tuesday night."
"Live music developed in pubs more than anywhere else in the world. We went out, we drank a lot of beer and we loved it..."
But as much as Mark says he misses the past, he is also very aware that times must change. Sometimes for the better - and sometimes for the worse.
"Pub rock is something from the past, like black and white television or Picasso," he says.
"But it helped shape the industry worldwide because we created some of the best and biggest bands in the world, like ACDC.
"Without pub rock that wouldn't have happened and we wouldn't have that history, but I think that any new artist coming through now has nothing to do with pub rock and everything to do with the internet and the new ethos that surrounds modern music worldwide. There's no bands that play intrinsic music for the common man or woman anymore. In some ways that's a shame, but in other ways it allows artists like Sia, who would not have broken through in the pubs, to be discovered."
According to Mark, the technological age and new attitudes toward music and pubs is not entirely a bad thing, except when it impacts live music venues.
"There's a whole new world out there," he says.
"I am a mad gamer and I love watching stuff on Youtube and getting on Snapchat. I love the new stuff that's going on, but it's not like it was, and it will never be the same. People say 'What can we do about it?How can we get it back to the way it was?' But that's over - it's gone.
"It's different world now. In America it's illegal to sell Kinder Suprise (eggs) because they contain something inside that is not food and children could choke, but it is legal to buy an assault rifle.
"What's that got to do with music? Well the point is, things that are easy to stop and regulate - we will do that. Lock outs and stopping people from going out, with the premise being 10,000 people will go out and have a lot of fun, but one lunatic might come up and go bang (punch) and kill somebody - that's what we focus on.
"Fair enough, so what we do is, we stop that, stop that, stop that, then we all just sit around and realise, well we're not having much fun anymore are we? It's all part of moving forward, I understand that, but it's impacting on the live scene a great deal."
"What we do is, we stop that, stop that, stop that, then we all just sit around and realise, well we're not having much fun anymore are we? It's all part of moving forward, I understand that, but it's impacting on the live scene a great deal..."
Despite all the changes in both the music, and real, world, Mark says he still loves playing pub gigs and is looking forward to the show at Warners Bay Hotel on Saturday, 14 April.
"I'm going to cram in all the old Choirboys favourites," he smiles.
"We're going to play some covers as well. We really should be focusing on just our songs I guess, but nah, we want to play some crowd favourites as well. And Newcastle is just one of those places, you know? It has a great atmosphere and represents the real Australian person - so it's always great to back there."
Catch the Choirboys at Warners Bay Hotel, Saturday 14 April 2018. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased from Ticketbooth or by contacting the hotel.
Nikki Taylor is the Australian Hotels Association, Newcastle Hotels Representative.