Wiped out by grunge wave in the ’90s, this indie band is back and making a splash

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

A little over 30 years ago, melodic guitar outfit Greenhouse was making a name for itself in Melbourne’s alternative music scene and looked set for bigger things.

But then, in the early 1990s, a “wave of grunge” music led by Nirvana came and wiped the band out, singer Michael Robinson said.

Greenhouse this week, left to right, Lisa Gibbs, Matthew Sigley, Michael Robinson, Johnny Helmer, Alex Jarvis and Craig Mitchell at Forum Melbourne where they will support Happy Mondays in October.Credit: Simon Schluter

Greenhouse had released three singles, supported international acts including Concrete Blonde and was being courted by record labels such as EMI and Chrysalis, Robinson said.

But then “the industry flipped”. No one was interested in the band’s sound.

“When Nirvana’s album Nevermind came out, radio changed, record companies changed, everyone jumped to get on to this new thing,” Robinson said.

“All of a sudden, chequered flannelette shirts, ripped jeans and dirty hair was in. Melody and nice clothes were out, and that was where we lived.”

Greenhouse in 1990, left to right: Dean Linguey, Johnny Helmer, Michael Robinson and Glen Galloway.Credit: Tony Aitken

Greenhouse, which formed in 1988 in Geelong, broke up in 1993 and never released an album.

Fast-forward to 2023 – and everything has changed.

Greenhouse has reunited, are about to release their first album – Centre of the Universe – and have landed some big gigs.

“It’s a bit mad for sure,” Robinson said of the belated comeback that will see Greenhouse support 1980s English band Happy Mondays on their Australian tour in October.

Greenhouse performing at The Barwon Club Hotel in October 2022. Left to right Lisa Gibbs, Alex Jarvis, Michael Robinson, Johnny Helmer. Obscured are Craig Mitchell and Dean Linguey.

In November, the band will embark on a three-week UK jaunt – their first overseas tour – that includes a slot at the Shiiine On music festival in Somerset, England.

Robinson, who became an actor and voice-over artist and played in a Neil Diamond cover band after Greenhouse split, said: “I am equal parts bursting with excitement and recoiling in terror.”

Record cover illustrated by artist Jim Pavlidis for Greenhouse’s single See-Saw from the band’s original period together of 1988 to 1993.

“I think it’s such a great opportunity for us to be able to have another swipe at it, to get out and play in front of audiences that are coming to see us from back in the day, but also there’s a whole bunch of new punters that are getting into the band.”

The death of drummer Glen Galloway from cancer in February 2020 was a catalyst to address “unfinished business”, Greenhouse guitarist Johnny Helmer said.

A few months before he died, Galloway – Helmer’s friend since they were students at Geelong College – rented a former church as a “band camp” for the band to record some tracks at Lyonville near Daylesford.

“I remember Glen resting on a couch and saying to me, ‘Oh f—, I wish we’d done an album’,” Helmer said

Later in 2020, the band was mentioned on the Facebook page Sound as Ever: Australian Indie 1990-1999, which was started by broadcaster and author Jane Gazzo and pop music aficionado Scott Thurling.

Greenhouse publicity photo from 1991. Left to right: Glen Galloway, Johnny Helmer, Dean Linguey and Michael Robinson.Credit: Tony Mott

The Greenhouse song Pray was a selected for Sound As Ever’s compilation album of 1990s indie bands, Stuck on the 90s.

In March 2021, the band played their first comeback gigs, supporting The Earthmen in a sellout show at Lulie Tavern in Abbotsford and Underground Lovers at Brunswick Ballroom.

Then came the offer to support the Happy Mondays and the slot at Shiiine On, playing before English alternative rock band The Boo Radleys, and the new album.

“It’s incredible,” Robinson said. “It’s like we’ve been frozen, and thawed out.”

“We’ve come out and we still have the same energy for the music, and a love of playing live and connecting with an audience.

“It’s kind of just a continuation, like someone’s subtracted 30 years, and the next step is to go to England and we’ve been given that opportunity.”

Sound As Ever’s label is releasing Greenhouse’s new album – 10 never-before-recorded tracks.

“It’s a very contemporary album,” Helmer said. “It’s not steeped in nostalgia or ‘of a time’. It’s a relevant guitar record, for now. It’s not like a time capsule, not at all.”

When the band hits the stage, Robinson will sing – but won’t play guitar.

Three months ago, a flesh-eating infection from a trapdoor spider bite spread up his arm. Robinson could have died. He has had three operations including an implant in his right index finger.

He said he was feeling better now but there was no way he would have missed the new gigs, kicking off with album launches at Eureka Hotel in Geelong on September 9 and the Cactus Room in Thornbury on September 15.

“Nothing’s going to stop me playing these gigs and touring,” he said. “It kind of goes to making the most of these opportunities.”

“We said ‘no’ to a lot of things back in the day,” Robinson said. “We turned down publishing deals and turned down tours and things didn’t work out for us.

“This time around we decided we’re saying ‘yes’ to everything. And everything has been working out.”

Get the day’s breaking news, entertainment ideas and a long read to enjoy. Sign up to receive our Evening Edition newsletter here.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article

click fraud detection