It was the Go-Betweens’ first trip to London with me on drums, thanks to Rough Trade Records, who had paid us an advance to record the band’s second album. It was the early 1980s. Australian writer Clinton Walker had arranged for us to stay when we arrived at a house in Kensal Rise where Chris Bailey, the Saints singer, was living with his sister Margaret.
Chris and Margaret were away and Clinton, who was staying there, left us keys hidden in the garden. We let ourselves in and fellow Go-Between Robert Forster and I fell into the deepest jet-lagged sleep in a double bed.
In the early morning, we woke up with a gruff, demanding, caramel voice: “Who’s in my bed?” Above us stood the man himself. I recognized the voice, the frame, the position, the behavior. Who wouldn’t.
It was Chris Bailey. I’m from Brisbane, as are The Saints, and this band meant everything to me.
They showed us that we could get out of town and find a musical path. They showed what rebellion in music could do. They were a political force in the biggest rock/pop/punk band in the world. They challenged gender labels. Hearing the songs of the Saints singing of despair in Brisbane under the oppressive rule of Bjelke Peterson, a government that stifled dissent and art, was uplifting. Brisbane (city of safety) addressed all of us musicians.
And I slept in his bed.
Forster and I made insinuating sounds as we unraveled the sheets to jump off the mattress onto the floor as Bailey climbed up fully clothed. The next morning we were gone before he woke up.