GANGgajang reliving Sounds of Then (This is Australia)


IT seems inconceivable, but one of Australia’s most iconic pop songs nearly didn’t make it on to GANGgajang’s self-titled debut album.

Sounds of Then (This is Australia) has become a de facto national anthem.

It helped turn the band, which was formed in 1984, into one of the country’s most popular acts.

But songwriter Mark Callaghan had a much different vision, as GANGgajang drummer Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup recalled.

“It nearly didn’t make it on to the album,” Bidstrup said.

“It was a poem Mark had written – we had to twist his arm a bit to get it on the record.

“It was meant for a series of writings he’d made about being an English migrant.

“His family got a house in Bundaberg that was next to the cane fields, and they would sit out on their patio and laugh and think they were in Australia.”

Bidstrup and GANGgajang are heading to Perth’s Astor Theatre in August, giving people a rare opportunity to see the band in concert mode.

“We haven’t done a concert gig in Perth for probably 30 years – we’ve done pubs and stuff,” he said.

“We used to come over in the old days and do the 96fm concerts at the old Entertainment Centre – $9.60 to get in.”

The concert will feature the band’s original line-up of Callaghan, Bidstrup and his wife Kayellen Bee.

Original bassist Chris Bailey died in 2013 after a battle with throat cancer.

“We’re going to play the first album cover to cover,” Bidstrup said.

“It is really a once in a lifetime opportunity; we don’t tour very much.

“It’s a chance for people who remember us from the ’80s to bring their kids along.”

What: GANGgajang
Where: Astor Theatre
When: Sunday, August 6

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