[Taken from express mag interview]
Got Some Go! Again
They were Perth's greatest hope then they pissed off - meet the grand masters of illusion, Cartman, who launch their
debut album Go! at Amplifier this Saturday, February 9. JULIAN TOMPKIN witnesses the magic.
It's '98 and Perth is experiencing the biggest wave of pop success it had seen since the power pop explosion a
decade earlier. Who knows what it was, what caused a legion of young degenerates to put their faith in music but
names like Eskimo Joe, Red Jezebel and Cartman were about to begin their ascent, or descent, into the turbulent
nervous system of music.
It's 2002 and Eskimo Joe are signed to a major, recently releasing their brilliant debut album to critical acclaim. Where
are the other two? You could be forgiven for believing that they'd fallen off the face of the earth into the heavily
populated pit that is the rock cemetery. Red Jezebel are apparently gearing up for a full frontal onslaught later on
this year - but Cartman have just beaten them to it with their debut album Go!... four years in the making.
"It's just kind of come about," guitarist Scot Nicholls says of the album's eventual release. "We knew it was gonna
happen and it's good that it's over, kind of."
Frontman Joe Hawkins elaborates: "It kind of gives us a new lease on life, for people who haven't heard of us... yeah, I
dunno," he says. "It kind of seems a little bit strange, 'cause it's been four years. But Eskimo Joe had their debut
album kind of in the middle of last year and they'd been around for quite a while and were recognised, so yeah, it
kind of sounds a bit strange but this is the first time we've actually had enough money to make an album."
It always appeared that Cartman had it all coming to them, a grand future. Their first EP I'm Not A Policeman was a
signal of a vibrant pop brilliance that is rare in this business. The Nobody EP followed shortly after but never matched its predecessor in popularity and national airplay, stalling what seemed an obvious path towards a healthy
career in rock. Record labels were interested but hesitant in picking up the Perth four piece, including the multi-talented Cain Turnley and drummer Ben Mills, leaving the band in a financial and mental limbo where they never
expected to be, a place where it was a real possibility that Go! might never have eventuated. But trust Cartman to go and record one of the greatest little pop records Perth, and Australia, has seen in a very long time just to confuse
"Yeah, I s'pose," Hawkins mulls over the idea that Go! may have never happened, "I mean 'cause there's always...
there's always times where you think 'Ah, for fuck sake', like that's... what more can you do, blah, blah, blah? You know this is probably the ultimate thing that we've all thought of doing and it's been a pipe dream..."
Nicholls continues: "Yeah, 'cause we'd released two EPs and we'd written quite a lot of new material and if we'd put
out another EP it would have been a killer but we'd already done two, we wanted to do an album," he says. "So it
just kind of made sense really... 'Let's just do an album'."
Go! was recorded over a turbulent four week period at Revolver Studios with local production master Ben Glatzer. This
was four weeks that bore witness to the events of September 11, family illness throughout the band and the
aftermath of a tragic vehicle accident that left former The Sleepy Jackson bass player and Cartman contemporary
and mate Matt O'Connor in a critical state, leaving the local music community in shock. Nicholls says the result of
the "crazy time" is well documented on Go!.
"Oh, there's fuckin' heaps that happened," he says with a tremor in his voice. "And we also did a lot of it live, and I
think just the sheer energy of doing it live and the interaction together I think had a big difference on the way a lot
of the songs turned out. We wanted to show the dynamic that is Cartman, to really highlight the diversity that we
have... we are a pop band, there's no doubt about that, but, you know, we have our rockin' side, we have our
"Our sensitive side," Hawkins laughs.
Nicholls continues: "We just wanted to have an album that, well for me personally in 15 years I could pick it up, put it
on and just go 'Man, that's good'," he admits. "And I have no regrets what-so-ever about this album and that's
what we wanted to achieve... and I'm pretty sure we did it."
Mission accomplished, as Nicholls is not wrong. Go! takes you on a Cartman journey though the emotional onslaught
of If I, guitar convulsions of Shock to the artistic signature country twang of Got No Reason. Juxtapose that with a
lineup that includes George, Nobody and a rerecorded version of the classic Drive and it becomes hard to find
words to describe what Cartman have gone and done. For the band that once sang about being tired and weary it
seems the passion is back and it's finally time to put the star back into rock.
"If we have to then hell yeah," Nicholls states with a dash of cheek.
Hawkins adds: "Yeah, woo-hoo (laughs)."
So with a title like Go! and an overall theme of leaving throughout the record it is certain Cartman are set to pack their
bags for somewhere: "We just don't know where," Nicholls laughs.
One could certainly suggest a little town called Success.