All posts by Peter Mellor

Cosmic Psychos – A Ross by Any Other Name…

Get set for one of the biggest nights of Australian rock music at The Tanks, when Oz’s thirstiest rock dogs Cosmic Psychos stop into Cairns on June 1 for the first time, touring in support of their newest album – Loudmouth Soup.

One of this country’s greatest rock exports, Cosmic Psychos have been name checked by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, L7, and The Melvins as an early influence and favourite of their respective bands. They are lauded the world over and the world over they have played, earning the reputation of one of the hardest drinking and hardest rocking bands of all time.

NQ Music Press has dusted off an old relic in the form of yours truly to interview Ross Knight, famed bassist, documentary subject, World Champion powerlifter, father, and salt of the earth farmer over a few cans of the obligatory amber beverage.

Hi Ross, how’s your day been mate?
“Awww yeah a bit hungover, but I cant complain I guess and yourself?”

I’m feeling a bit average myself, just having a few cans now to try and right the ship if you know what I mean!
“Yeah well we are just on our way in to soundcheck in Brisbane so I dare say I’ll be doing the same thing shortly, feeling a bit seedy mate”

First question and for some, probably the most important question – can the Richmond Tigers go back to back this year?  “Mate, I still get nervous watching the replay from last years Grand Final even though I know they win! Look mate I’m not sure but they are playing great footy, but any team can come out of nowhere and win the flag so yeah we’ll see but go the Tiges they’re doing great stuff and playing well.. I love them…”

Well lets go all the way back to your childhood growing up on the farm at Spring Plains…
“(laughs) That’s a long time ago!”

Was it lonely growing up on a farm and do you think it played a part in you having such a great imagination with words? “Yes and No I guess mate, I mean it was all I knew back then… I had motorbikes and shooting and stuff, I was shooting my first rifle at about 10 years old training myself with the rabbits getting around with my very loyal dog but yeah sometimes I guess you had to have a bit of an imagination back then.. I had a couple of mates a few k’s down the road so it wasn’t too bad,”

Your feats in the world of powerlifting are pretty common knowledge, but growing up you played cricket and footy – were they ever viable career options for you before music came along?
“Nahhhh, look mate I played footy until I was 42.. I was one of the best clubmen and best trainers going around but when it came to game day I was fucking useless. I was doing well with my cricket until my mid teens and then I broke my shoulder.. It ruined any leg side shots I had.. my hooking and my pulling – which y’know we practice quite a bit as young blokes (laughs)”

I have to admit Ross, I never stopped practicing my pull shot mate!
“Haha go hard mate, practice makes perfect as they say”

So I guess that’s when music became a bigger part of your life.
You guys started out as Rancid Spam, morphed into Spring Plains and ended up as Cosmic Psychos. What do you think changed between the early iterations of the band and what finally made people take a bit more notice of you?
“Well I guess Spring Plains was kind of an arty and noisy band… Music was all about being arty and cool back in those days in Melbourne.. so we ended up saying fuck you blokes with your second hand suits and shit we are just going to do what we do and be very unfashionable.. Sometimes that’s all it takes to start a new scene in some ways.. Punk Rock is just Punk Rock.”

It’s not Shakespeare is it? It’s not supposed to be that difficult.
Did your parents approve of your music career?
“Ha! Nup fuck that they thought I was stupid, they really did. Look I guess now and again these days when their son pops up in the paper they are probably secretly pretty chuffed about it. They are getting to the end of their lives now and I think they probably think – well at least he had a go y’know?”

You famously refused to go on the bands first tour to Europe and Mick Turner of Venom P. Stinger jetted off in your place. In hindsight do you regret not going on that tour now?
“Yeah look, probably in a way Dozer. But I’m a firm believer in that ‘every thing happens for a reason’ kind of thing and I Just didnt have the confidence to go. I thought of every excuse I could have not to go and it was really pretty poor. They had a great time over there but at the end of the day it was just self doubt I guess. It was a big deal for me.. I mean going overseas.. I never thought I’d go overseas for anything and let alone with a band… But like I said everything happens for a reason.”

So looking back what do you think that reason was?
“Well when the guys went over and I stayed home I thought that I’d just form another band called ‘Back in Town’ because I thought the Psychos was over for me…So I wrote a bunch of songs which ended up being most of the ‘Go The Hack’ album. So I mean if I went to Europe I probably wouldn’t have written ‘Rip’n’ Dig’, ‘Lost Cause’ or ‘Pub’ or any of those songs. At that point I was working as a cleaner at a hospital in Melbourne and it’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m wiping the blood and guts of some car accident victim off the floor, while they were over there cruising around drinking free beer… probably didnt make the right move there.”

When you finally did get overseas to Europe and America, what were your first impressions? Was it a complete mindfuck for a young bloke from country Victoria?
“I’ve gotta be honest but I love where I live, If I could be anywhere in the world it would be there.. But it was unbelievable mate. First night I was in Europe I’m drinking in some pub in Antwerp, Belgium that has been serving beer since the 15th century and I’m thinking ‘fuck Australia only got taken over by white blokes a couple of hundred years ago’ and this place has been serving beer for like 500 fucking years.. I couldn’t fathom it.”

What was it like playing at the famed CBGB’s in New York, was that special for you?
“It was unreal! The first time we played at CBGB’s was a Wednesday night and we went on at about a quarter past 2 in the morning and I thought ‘ahh well midweek at quarter past 2, there will be nobody fucking there’ but we came on and it was a great crowd and a great show. It’s uhh… It was a weird place.. pretty rough, nowhere to park, nowhere to take a shit or a piss, grumpy owners, but a wonderful sound system.. It was just great to be there and think ‘Wow I get to play where my heroes played’.. unreal, very special for me.”

Your girlfriend at the time lived in New York and was involved in the S&M scene there.. That must have been an eye opener…
“I saw everything and anything you can think of! I’m not really into any of that stuff so here’s me standing around having a beer while some blokes getting his whatever ripped off or having his something or other tied into knots and I’m just thinking ‘Ok whatever floats your boat I guess’. 10 minutes later we are standing at the bar and I’m saying how ya going there champ?.. It was weird (laughs).

Do you still have your dick pierced? We all saw it in the documentary ‘Blokes You Can Trust’…
“Yeah I’ve still got it! When I first got it done in the 90’s they used a technique called the shotgun.. it was a big hollow needle and they took a big chunk of meat out. It’s illegal now but yeah I’ve got a big hole in it forever.. so watch out if you’re standing next to me at the urinal and I don’t have a ring in – I might piss all over your leg!”

Who were your favourite acts to tour with over the years?
“One of the best bands to tour with was The Melvins, they were just fantastic. Mudhoney are great mates and we had some ripper shows with The Lazy Cowgirls.. they were great night after night. We were lucky just about every band we played with overseas – be it big names or little pissweak bands like ours.. they were all unreal.”

What do you like to do with your downtime on tour?
“Look I should probably get out and about more really… but when I’m at home on the farm I get up very early and have to work extremely hard.. So these days on tour I like to get up whenever and watch TV.. I don’t watch TV at home, I don’t have the time for it… but yeah usually I just grab some beers and drink piss in bed all day.”

Ok time for some quickfire questions…

Favourite beverage?
“I used to drink a lot of Vodka but I can’t anymore. Any beer really, any cold beer is a good beer in my books. I highly support irresponsible drinking so anything that gets you drunk really.”

Is Digger the “Roadie” coming on tour?
“Yep, Digs here.. he’s had a few beers today and is drunk already so should be useless tonight as per usual.”

Your farm is located in the Heathcote wine region of Victoria, which is world renowned for it’s conditions to grow Shiraz grapes, how does Knighty’s vino go down?
“Well you’re right it’s one of the best places in the country and the world for growing Shiraz grapes, but i’m not smart enough to make it mate, I just grow the grapes with my blood, sweat, and tears and pass it off to some people and they make a bloody good drop, it goes down very well!”

What fuzz pedal do you use to create that wall of noise?
“It’s an old Shin-ei, it’s a crazy old thing. I bought my first fuzz pedal in the 70’s from the Kyneton op-shop for $20.. I realised then if you plugged a bass into it you could kind of make it sound like a guitar.. I liked the sound of it back then and I’ve stuck with it ever since. They are a bit thin on the ground now but I’ve managed to keep a couple of them.. but just fantastic.. they turned a very average bass player into a wall of noise as you said.”

Favourite/Most memorable show?
“That’s a tough one because we’ve been lucky to play so many… One that sticks out in my mind in recent memory was right up the top of Norway in the Arctic Circle.. we played on top of a lake.. it was just amazing.. and Iggy Pop came on right after us.. It was just so pictureque.. but it doesnt matter to us if its 3 people in Kalamazoo or a huge festival in Europe, we always enjoy ourselves.”

Loudmouth Soup is your newest record, were you happy with the recording process and results?
“The tour is going very well and the process was great. We had our European sound engineer of 25 years, Silvia come over to produce which was fantastic after wanting to do a record with her for so long. It only took 25 years but we finally got her out to the farm to do one.
It was great doing it there, and having my boys there, everyone was happy.. we just went in and went right these are the songs we’ve got and just smashed through it.”

Are you excited to be making your first trip up to Cairns?
“The only time I’ve ever been to Cairns was because a plane I got back from Europe came via Japan and it ran out of fuel, so we had to stop there to chuck 20 bucks of fuel in so we could make it back to Melbourne! I’ve got a couple of mates up there that I haven’t seen in years, so I’m really excited to hopefully catch up with them.”

Ross, mate, I have a feeling you might love it.
“I’m not a big XXXX drinker but my mates reckon it’s the nectar of the gods now, I never say never.. there’s still time to convince me!”

Knighty tells me to make sure I come and have a beer with him at the show and to be honest the bloke is just so genuine, warm, and inviting I feel like we’ve been mates for years.
Cosmic Psychos is a dumb band name, but it’s just dumb enough to be irreverently genius.. Just like their bass player.
This is a band who is raw and sinewy, balls to the wall, Rock’n’Roll the way it was meant to be played. It might not be Shakespeare my friends, but a Ross by any other name would rock as hard.
Do not miss this show!! I know we always say that but seriously if you like any form of heavy rock I implore you to come and pay witness to one of the greatest groups Australia has ever produced.

Sunshine Coast shed band The Chats who released the quintessential Aussie song ‘Smoko’ that went viral late last year are the official support act. Plus Cairns local punk rock legends Meat Bikini who have a new album in the works will kick off the night with their big meaty slabs of sound, fulfilling a dream to play with the Cosmic Psychos, go forcefully jellyspoons!

Get your tix asap Cairns, this show is going to be HUGE.
Tickets through Ticketlink:

See you at the bar!
Much Love xxx

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