As a youngster living in working-class Blacktown, Mick Griffin’s love of music was ignited by some of Australian rock’s future icons, including a frocked-up Bon Scott when they appeared on Countdown. “Soon as I heard AC/DC for the first time I was a goner,” he says.
With substantial experience as a punter, Griffin became a more active supporter of the music scene a few years ago when he started writing reviews, taking photographs at gigs and playing songs by local acts on his programs on Phoenix FM 106.7.
In the midst of this growing involvement in the music community came a request for help from a musician whose lengthy career proved to be no guarantee when it came to his band getting booked. Thus in 2012, while continuing his other endeavours, Griffin started organising shows, with the first being for Trevor Young’s post-Coloured Balls venture, Forever Young.
Although Griffin’s dedication to rock music is evident in the acts he books such as Rabid Zulu and Voodoocain, his commitment to original music overrides any devotion to genre and has seen him put performers like the often acoustic Old World Sparrow, the intensely indie (and unfortunately disbanded) The Blister Transistor and pop/rock chanteuse Aimee Francis on bills.
“Just because you’ve got bands playing in pubs, it doesn’t make it good when you’ve got people who’re doing uninspired versions of other people’s material,” says Griffin.
While holding harsh views about cover bands hasn’t always made the promoter popular with his peers, it’s this enthusiasm for new music, along with a commitment to giving gig goers choices, that’s evident in many of Griffin’s statements about what he does.
“I get people saying to me all the time I don’t like going out to see bands because there’s too many shit bands out there,” he says. “I don’t book shit bands full stop … that sounds arrogant, but the people I book they’re original, they’re creative, they have an obscene amount of quality control. They’re career-minded musicians,” he adds.
Griffin, who’s easy to spot at live music events as the denim-clad bloke wearing a baseball cap, isn’t likely to soften his language when it comes to expressing his views about music.
“We’re all so nice and polite and PC,” he says. “I get sick of being reined in for saying it how I see it and booking bands with attitude, fuck that! You know this is rock ‘n’ roll, this isn’t polite.”
A challenging attitude to overt political correctness aside, Griffin has demonstrated a commitment to gender equity through ‘Queens of Noize’, a concept that’ll have its latest outings on 31 May at The Music Man Megastore and 1 June at the Bendigo Hotel. In the past this event has given a stage to the likes of Dear Stalker, Tequila Mockingbyrd and a mohawked woman in a pink tutu named Krunchy McSlutface and her band, Strawberry Fist Cake.
“We live in a very testosterone-fuelled rock environment and there’s more to female musicians than just being the faux folkie that’s easy on the eye and bland on the ear,” he says.
As well as being scheduled to present a third show on community radio soon (‘Generation Rock’), Griffin’s focus is on finding compatible collaborators and other suitable venues, although in the latter case the lack of these locally might find him having to take himself increasingly elsewhere.
Written by Darlene Taylor