Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Enter Space Capsule: Gerling

I first came across Gerling via some YouTube suggestion long since forgotten. I would have been lying in bed trawling random links in the hope of turning up something interesting. I used to do that a lot. I really need to get back to it.

The specific clip that introduced me to the band I think of as the Australian Beastie Boys (although there's clearly a dollop of Devo in there, too) was this 1998 performance from an Aussie tv show called "Recovery", featuring the typical, seated, uninterested audience that fortunately only make camera at the very end.

The song is Death to the Apple Gerls, whose lyrics are eliptical to say the least. It wasn't the song itself, catchy though it is, that made me decide to follow Gerling down their rabbit hole. It was their peculiar look combined with their self-evident stage presence and confidence.

They look very young, younger than they presumably are, since the band had been going for five years already by that point. The white shirts and black slacks make them look as if they came straight to the studio from class and didn't have time to change. And why are they all wearing backpacks? Even the drummer has one on although it must be really uncomfortable for him.

The music is plainly pop-punk, which generally works for me, and I was expecting more of that when I began exploring their back catalog. Of course, when "discovering" bands on YouTube or other platforms, it's almost always about the back catalog. Most of them turn out to have completed their entire life-cycle by the time I get to know about them.

In Gerling's case, having formed in 1993 and peaked in the late '90s-early '00s, they've been on "indefinite hiatus" since September 2007. No matter. Not like I was planning on going to see them play live.

I wish I had, though. They were clearly something on a stage. There's a gulf a mile wide between bands who play and bands who perform and Gerling are performers. Here's a clip from a live show that happened the following year, 1998. They own it.

They're also playing an entirely different style of music. There's no sign of the indie/pop punk I'd assumed was their trademark. Now they're playing some kind of EDM. This is partly why I link them so strongly in my mind with the Beasties, who moved from hardcore punk to rock-rap to extremely sophisticated electronica. That and there were three of them, too.

I went on to work my way through most of Gerling's videos on YouTube and then I bought two of their albums, the fantastically-named "When Young Terrorists Chase the Sun", which they had the great misfortune to release in 2001, leading to the expected consequences, and "Children of Telepathic Experiences", which sounds like it might be a lost Tyrannosaurus Rex title. Both have had a lot of play.

Gerling haven't become one of my favorite bands. I just like them a lot. I picked them for this first drop-in post on music because they represent the extraordinary resource that is YouTube, specifically, and the world wide web in general.

Before we had free and clear access to this amazing archive it's extraordinarily unlikely I would ever have known Gerling existed, far less what they sounded like. At best I might have read a review in the music press.

Had I been a decades or two younger I might conceivably have run across them when they toured the U.K. in 2000.  By then, though, I'd stopped going to gigs and therefore was paying no attention to tour dates for anyone. About the only chance I had of noticing Gerling would have been when they recorded a track called "G-House Project"with Kylie Minogue guesting. Kylie is hardly on my radar, though, and the tune made no impact that I'm aware of.

Finding music this way appeals to me in exactly the same way randomization in games does. It offers both serendipity and the excitement of the chase. Long before we had the web or MMOs I used to trawl the bins of used record stores and the shelves of second-hand bookstores to get this experience.

It's an awful lot more comfortable doing it in bed.


  1. Wow! Has just thrown me for six. I haven't thought of Gerling since the late 90s when I was watching Recovery on TV. Time to relive some memories and Enter Space Capsule was definitely a big favourite of mine.

    Thank you!

  2. Love this write up.....this was all me and this song is my funeral song, I met my best friend purely through wearing a gerling visor at a party and we were the only guys who knew what it was about....the backpacks were the trend/fashion/look for the kids at the time bit of indie/skater fashion....you'd cruise around everywhere with the backpack to hold everything you needed for the day or weekend adventure but mainly to hold your discman and massive wallet of cds , maybe some cans too and the skateboard on the back.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for clearing up the thing with the backpacks. I've always wondered.


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