Described by US Rolling Stone as “the Sex Pistols on Acid,” iconic Australian Psych-rock/ punk band The Lime Spiders will play two shows, Adelaide at the Crown & Anchor on November 18 and at Three Brothers Arms Hotel at Macclesfield on November 17. The band’s first shows in Adelaide in some years comes hot on the heels of the release of vocalist/ founding member Mick Blood’s book, Lime Light: The Definitive Story Of The Lime Spiders. Mick’s gripping account of the band explores their journey from humble beginnings through to being signed to a major label, Virgin Records. The Lime Spiders’ second single, Slave Girl became the biggest-selling independent Australian single of all time, while their 1987 single, Weirdo Libido, was the first song ever played on ABC’s RAGE and featured in the smash hit film, Young Einstein.
The Lime Spiders were signed to Virgin Music Australia, releasing three studio albums to international acclaim. Their debut album, The Cave Comes Alive, topped the American CMJ College music charts and received three ARIA Award nominations. On the strength of the overseas success of this album, the band undertook a US tour which included 13 shows supporting P.i.L. and in 1988 went on to perform as a feature act at Denmark’s prestigious Roskilde Festival. The band’s third studio album, Beethoven’s Fist, was given a five-star review in the NME with the quote, “Simply the best Australian rock ‘n’ roll album since The Saints I’m Stranded. The Lime Spiders became a major touring act, gaining a legion of dedicated fans with their compelling live performances. And now, it’s Adelaide’s turn at last to celebrate the band whose fire Mick Blood has kept burning over four decades. Mick Blood talks to Hi Fi Way about his book and these two upcoming shows.
Congratulations on your new book, you must be stoked with what you have been able to document in what has been described as an essential must-read book on the Lime Spiders?
Well, I like to think it is. I put a lot of thought to every sentence, it took over six years to write. I’ve never written a book before. I’ve written funny of three-minute pop songs, but this is a whole different ball game writing a book. My God, English language is certainly pretty complex and when you get down to nitty gritty of it all there’s some many different ways to say any one thing. That’s why it’s so time consuming because you can often labour over a certain sentence or how to say relate some great anecdotes. It’s much easier to tell somebody about it than actually try to do it justice in writing, like sort of thing, you know.
Was the process of writing the book quite involved particularly trying to remember all the significant parts of the band history?
Once I started, the first hardest thing was where do I start? How do I start it? It seemed a little bit overwhelming, the thought of it all. The impetus for it was I’d been putting up a lot of anecdotes on Facebook, just little bits and pieces of little stories from over the years. A lot of people kept saying, Mick, you got to write a book, this is too good! I was getting a lot of encouragement from people to do it. That was going back six, seven years. I eventually said to a mate how do I start? Where do I start? He said, just start! He simply said just start writing and gradually it will come together. The only way I could tackle it was to do it in sequence, going back to the first chapter to set the scene a bit about my upbringing and love of music as a kid, growing up and all the influences that brought about my passion for forming a band. From then on, I just did it sequentially, the story of the band from the very start to the time where we are now, which was four decades of material to choose from.
There was no problem with not having enough material to choose from. That was the easy part, the luxury there was I had so much to choose from I just chose the most entertaining anecdotes or the funnier ones, a bit of trivia here and there to tell the whole story about the band because I just got so frustrated with Google searches over the years and things like that, where there’s little snippets here and there that are inaccurate and don’t tell anything.
Were there certain elements of the band history that you really needed to set the record straight on?
That’s a big part of it, setting the record straight. I formed the band back in ‘79, so nobody knows more than me about the history. Having said that writing the book I probably know a lot more now because it involved a bit of research. There’s a few things that I didn’t know about until I did a bit of research and triggered a few memories here and there. That was the thing, it was all a bit of a snowball effect. Once I started writing and putting things in sequence one memory triggered another. That really helped.
I had little system with my phone where I’d often wake up, sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something and thinking of a memory. I would stick it in my phone so I had it there, which helped when it came to that part of the story. It was impossible to remember it all for instance, there’s a chapter about our first European tour, which was centred around the Roskilde Festival. After the Roskilde gig, which was on a Sunday, the following week we played about seven or eight shows in Germany which meant we played eleven nights in a row, it was an inhuman tour. God knows who put that together, but I’d like to meet them! I don’t remember anything about that week in Germany, so it referred to us in the book as referred to as the lost week in Germany. There’s a tour poster I dug out from a German fan who got in touch with me with a poster from that tour. I joined the dots as far as where we play, but got no recollection of any of it!
Were there any other moments that you discovered through your research in preparing for the book that surprised you?
I’ve got a pretty good memory for it all. The real backstory here, which I haven’t made very public, but the really heart-warming backstory here is the fact that I was bashed with it an inch in my life in mid 2014. I spent three days in a coma and suffered a brain injury from it. That took me a few years to really get my optimal cognitive process back and feel like I was sharp again. I think writing the book really helped. It was perfect for triggering or just helping to, there’s a thing neuroplasticity when the brain has an injury, finds different pathways, if given enough stimulus it finds different pathways around the injury. Writing the book I think was therapeutic in that respect.
Did you get nostalgic at any stage writing the book?
Of course, but it’s not about nostalgia. It’s actually just a really good story, even if you’re not a music fan it’s a good old-fashioned story about success against all odds from very humble beginnings, which I remember very clearly. I just wanted to tell the story because not many people are aware of just how successful we were. The average fan out there, unfortunately, especially when you do a Google search, we are labelled as a punk fan, which we never were. I don’t know how that where that came from, but it’s always been a bit of a thorn in my side and sticks in more core that term. We certainly had some punk influences, but we had a lot of other influences in our music. There was a hybrid of stuff from sixties pop and psychedelia right through to more seventies power rock and a bit of punk mixed in. We certainly weren’t one thing, we were never one thing. I think that’s why that blanket definition was another one of the reasons I wrote the book was to tell the whole story rather than just do a Google search and find that we are defined as a a punk band and Slave Girl being our only song almost. It’s just really insulting when you’ve spent so much time, effort and attention to detail a career that’s lasted that long when you do a Google search and you see that sort of rubbish, it was nice to actually finally get this book out so people who are interested can see the whole story.
When you look back at the Lime Spiders what moments or significant gigs stand out for you as being important and make you feel proud of what you have done?
There’s quite a few and they’re all mentioned in the book of course. Things like in Australia, we played the closing of the Sydney Cove Tavern in 1988. That had been a high-profile venue in Sydney for ten years or so. The guy who ran it was a fan of the band and specifically wanted us to do the last show there. That was really honour and supporting Iggy at The Hordern after we met him in America the previous year. It was good that we’d already established a good rapport, that made it a lot easier and it was a great gig. There was some amazing overseas stuff like the Roskilde Festival I mentioned was probably the biggest one we’d ever played. I’ve got no idea how many people we were playing to, but it was a, it was a real euphoric sort of event. I knew we had a big following in Europe, but I had no idea the extent of it until that day when we went on stage.
When our roadies were checking our amps they were getting this huge applause. Then the crowd started up, and this is gospel, this is without a word of a lie, there’s no exaggeration, but the whole crowd just spontaneously got into this chant of “Spiders, Spiders”, like an English soccer chant almost and I just couldn’t believe it on the side of stage. I’m about to go on and I’m thinking is this actually really happening? You know? That was pretty spine tingling stuff. It’s hard to explain in words that sort of feeling. The other big one was the first album The Cave Comes Alive it was number one on the college charts, CMJ charts for over a month. It didn’t mean a lot to me until I found out that it actually is taken from over six hundred and seventy college radio stations who played the cream of independent music from all over the world. We were on top of the charts for a month or so, and Virgin sent us back over there to tour on the strength of it.
There was also a big music seminar in New York, which was followed by a premier gig at the Cat Club in New York. The original Faith No More with Chuck Mosley on vocals, they supported us on their turf. That was a pretty daunting experience because they were awesome and we had to follow them. We had heard that Iggy was there and I’m just trying to somehow focus on this gig and trying to shut it out my mind. Then all of a sudden he appeared and it’s like, oh my God! That anecdote is written about in the book. Iggy was standing opposite me, I was standing near the doorway and he was within arms length just staring straight at me and not saying anything. Our collective jaws dropped to the floor as you could imagine. We were just totally gobsmacked by it all. My mind’s racing over time thinking, Geez, somebody better say something at some stage here. I didn’t want to go with the love you, love you, love you work sort of vibe. I’m sure he would’ve heard that a million times and I thought I better get profile on his private life.
Before I went to America, I bought this rock magazine which had an article about his private life. I knew that he spent a lot of time in the woods fishing with his son Sean, which not many people would know about. That’s how I opened the conversation. I said I heard you like fishing, that was my opening line to Iggy Pop! He said, how do you know that man? I said because I am a fan of you as a person. That was a pretty big highlight.
You must be looking forward to these shows in Adelaide?
Yeah, we haven’t played either city for a long time. With Covid of course we weren’t able to tour like everyone else. It was frustrating as we put our sixth album out in mid-2020 and we weren’t able to tour and promote it. I’m bringing copies of it with me. We’re focusing on that and the book.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Tickets for the show at the Crown & Anchor on Friday November 18 with The Sunday Reeds and The Green Circles HERE
Tickets for the show at the Three Brothers Arms Hotel, Macclesfield on Thursday November 17 with Grasshopper and The Butterfrogs HERE
Lime Light: The Definitive Story Of The Lime Spiders available at the gigs