Perth, Western Australia, the most isolated capital city in the world. Because of, or in spite of this, it has produced some of Australia’s most influential bands. Like the Scientists before them, that very nearly made its way into the national and international consciousness.
The band formed in late 1983 when Dom Mariani, formerly in the band the Go-Stars, was introduced with Richard Lane. Richard had seen Dom in the final few gigs of the Go-Stars and asked Dom for some guitar lessons. The lessons turned into jams, the jams into songs, and the decision was made to start the band. A friend, Gary Chambers was recruited to join the band on drums and bass player John Scuttleworth poached from another local band, the Pink Armadillos and some demo’s recorded. The bands debut gig was supporting the Saints and the Triffids at the Old Civic theatre in Perth. Their sound was influenced by 60’s garage acts ranging from the Electric Prunes, The Standells, The Chocolate Watch Band to the Easybeats. A local Saturday night residency at the Wizbah venue saw throwback covers and a growing list of original songs and a cult following for the band. The bass player decided to leave so a final gig for the band was arranged which drew a large crowd. The success of this gig and freshly written songs in the can saw the band recruit a new bass player, school friend Julian Matthews. Rehearsal and more shows followed. The band recorded their most requested songs and gained a contract with Sydney based label, Citadel Records – the first Perth band to do so.
The debut single “She’s a Monster/Make you Mine” was released in January 1985. The single reached the top of the independent charts and also sold 500 copies in England. The single was to be the 2nd highest selling independent single for Australia in 1985, second only to the Hoodoo Gurus – Like Wow Wipeout. A buzz developed about the band which saw them drive across the country (some 4,100 kilometers) to undertake an east coast promotional tour, beginning with a show in Sydney supporting the Painters and Dockers. Whilst in Sydney the band recorded another single – Tears me in Two and what would become the “Love Will Grow” EP at Trafalgar Studios with Rob Younger, formerly of Radio Birdman producing. The EP reached #1 in the national charts and the band played triumphant shows on their return to Perth.
The band, with a new drummer on board, spent most of 1986 touring to promote their EP, including national tours supporting the Flaming Groovies and the Hoodoo Gurus, and also seeking a label deal. Mushroom Records signed the band and the band booked into Platinum Studios with producer Alan Thorne at the end of 1986. The recording process didn’t go smoothly and stretched from the planned one month to three, with a new producer bought in to complete the record. The album’s release in 1987 saw the band embark on another national tour, and also appearing on national television – including playing the final episode of Countdown and the lead single “At First Sight” making the Young Einstein soundtrack. The band seemed to have the world at their feet, an album which went on to become the third top selling Australian album of 1987 and a European tour beckoning. However tensions within the band, a perceived shift in direction away from their initial garage roots, the ego clashes that came with success and record advances, and an unwillingness by some members to tour saw them break up, playing their last show 31 August 1987.
After the split, Dom continued to record, writing songs for The Someloves, a duo with Daryl Mather, previously of the Lime Spiders, the DM3 – a three piece power pop/garage band and most recently with the Majestic Kelp. Richard Lane went on to record with Gary Chambers in The Chevelles and later with The Rosebuds.
Renewed interest in the band saw a compilation of the early recordings – Mushroom Soup released and the band reform to play a national tour in March 2003. The band also toured Europe with many big festival appearances and a further Australian tour. A Stems and Dom Mariani compilation was released for the overseas market in 2005. The band embarked on a major Australian tour alongside Radio Birdman and Hoodoo Gurus in 2007 and finally saw the follow up to At First Sight, Violets Are Blue in the form of their second album, Heads Up, released through Shock Records on October 6th.
- Dom Mariani, vocals, guitar
- Richard Lane, vocals, guitar
- Gary Chambers, drums (first line-up)
- John Scuttleworth, bass (first line-up)
- Julian Matthews, bass (second line-up)
- Dave Shaw, drums (third line-up)
- She’s a Monster/Make You Mine 7” – Citadel 011 – 1985
- Tears Me In Two/Can’t Resist 7” – Citadel 01 – 1985
- Love Will Grow – Rosebuds Volume 1 12” EP – Citadel 905 – 1986
- At First Sight/Grooviest Girl In Town 7” – White Label Records K219 – 1987
- At First Sight – Violets are Blue 12”LP – White Label Records L38735 – 1987
- For Always/Mr Misery 7” – White Label Records K294 – 1987
- Sad Girl/My Beach 7” – White Label Records K408 – 1987
- The Great Rosebud Hoax 12” EP – Citadel CITLP512 – 1987
- Dead-Weed Live + Demos (bootleg) Cassette – 1989
- Let Your Head Rest/Don’t Let Me/Tears Me In Two 7” – Zero Hour 001 – 1990 (came with Stems the Illustrated Biography Book
- Buds CD AUS Citadel CITCD512 1993
- Killer Weed CD – Running Circle RUN0011 1996
- Weed Out – The Stems Live at the Old Melbourne 18 April 1986 CD –House of Wax Records, HOWR8 – 1997
- Mushroom Soup (The Citadel Years) CD AUS Citadel citcd555 2003
- At First Sight + Bonus 2CD – Mushroom Records 336272 2003
- Terminal Cool – A retrospective CD – Get Hip Records GH-1130 2005
- Heads Up – CD – Mushroom/Shock ST-707