Pinky Beecroft used to be a member of the infamous Australian band/cabaret act that was Machine Gun Fellatio, but these days his pet project is called The White Russians. Michael Bowser gets the low-down on milk-based drinks, the brilliance of Ween and the merits of writing for TV shows like Farscape (as one’s day job, no less)…
A first question, and one which I’ve always wanted to ask: What are the dark and mysterious origins of the name “Pinky Beecroft”?
I needed a stupid name for a band I was in at the time. So I came up with something appropriately stupid. Unfortunately the name stuck. The band didn’t. But there you go.
Your current band is called The White Russians. How did this particular name come about?
I always liked the phrase “White Russian.” Both as a drink and a historical reference. I think I was reading about Russian history at the time, and it felt cool and exotic and as far away from Machine Gun Felatio as it was possible to be. And at that point in my life, that’s where I wanted to go. Also…I have a penchant for milk-based drinks.
The White Russians is of course a whole ‘nother band to Machine Gun Fellatio. In your own words, describe to punters how you think the sound/philosophy of the two bands differs? Also, as someone who saw MGF a couple of times but is yet to experience the Russians live, what should I expect from your current live shows (apart from less nudity, haha)?!
In my own words? Why do I have to use my own words? Umm…I guess the simple answer is that MGF was not mine. It was very much driven by other people. I left to do something of my own, and for that purpose I started the WR. It’s my own vision, I write the songs, but…it’s also very much a living thing. It changes daily. Some days it’s me, solo. Some days it’s a trio. On this tour, for example, there are gigs I’ll do solo and some gigs where I’m playing German Noise Music with a trio. And in Brisbane it’s a completely different trio playing acoustic stuff from the Pretty Black album. So it changes, every day, depending on how we feel. “We” = a core group of musicians I love and trust.
I know it’s the most cliched and predictable question an interviewer could possibly ask, but seeing since this is for a site based out of Canada and has readers all over the globe, most people reading this have probably never heard of you, so forgive me as I ask this… could you tell us a bit about your musical “influences”?
Neil Young and Leonard Cohen are both musical heroes (and Canadians). I’m not sure whether you can hear any influence in my own work, but I am inspired by their genius. Ween is an inspiration, particularly in terms of playing live. I think they are the best live band on the planet and I think a lot about their approach to live shows. Joy Division is an influence on the current live show, particularly in terms of how I’m arranging/performing the songs. The Rolling Stones and the The Cure are bands I think about often. The Reverend Al Green’s gig this year in Melbourne was also a mind-expander.
As well as being an excellent songwriter within your own bands, Wikipedia (always an infallible source of information, heh) informs me that you co-wrote The Whitlams’ song “No Aphrodisiac”, co-wrote a book, and have done an enormous amount of writing for Australian television and feature films. Do you think of yourself first and foremost as a writer, as opposed to a performer? How do you find time for such a large and varied output, and more importantly, does it keep you out of a “day job”, hahaha?
I like writing. I like performing. I like both things, depending on my mood. I guess writing is my way of making sense of my own mind, and performing provides an opportunity to get away from my thoughts/confusions and release a whole lot of tension. Both activities are vital to keep me sane. The television-writing thing is my day job. It allows me to make money to pay the rent and buy food.
I was intrigued to read that one of the shows you wrote for was Farscape! Are you a bit of a sci-fi geek, perchance?
No. Not at all.
A final question, one which we always ask here at Music Vice: Other than music, are there any current vices you’d like to share with us and the nice folks at home?
Yes, possibly, but I’d prefer to do that in person. Come see me sometime and we’ll speak.
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice
Pinky Beecroft and the White Russians are supporting The Bedroom Philosopher on selected dates of the latter’s current national tour across Australia.
Related internet links: The White Russians