“One of the more important bands on the Australian post-punk scene of the 1980s, Melbourne’s the Wreckery played dark, atmospheric music informed by the blues and the same sort of chemical and cultural obsessions as their contemporaries Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.” – - Mark Deming of AllMusic
“Led by the enigmatic, petulant Hugo Race, whose bleak visions stabbed at the heart of the human condition, [the group] defied conventional approaches to plough a deep furrow of dark romantic melodrama.” - Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane
The Wreckery were formed by Hugo Race and Edward Clayton-Jones in 1984 after the break-up of their art-noise-punk band Plays With Marionettes. At the time, Race was guitarist with Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, a connection forged through Melbourne’s early post-punk scene – the Birthday Party’s Mick Harvey also played drums with the Marionettes. PWM also included future Wreckery members multi-instrumentalist Robin Casinader and drummer Frank Trobbiani. The Wreckery took PWM’s swinging bigband motifs drawn from film noir soundtracks and rough guitar experimentalism and combined it with a songwriting sensibility, bringing in saxophonist Charles Todd to bolster the sound.
Mushroom Record’s decision to release the band’s first rough demo I Think This Town Is Nervous as an EP on the White/Hot label put The Wreckery suddenly in the national indie Top Ten. Nick Barker replaced original bassist Ted O’Biegley, bringing a whole new energy to the act, injecting a raw presence that helped expand the audience as The Wreckery began touring the east coast, traveling up and down the Hume highway, learning the ropes and paying some dues, earning a loyal following from Melbourne to Brisbane.
Signing to the indie label Rampant Records, the band recorded their first professionally produced EP Yeh My People with producer Chris Wyatt, yielding the video and single No Shoes For This Road. The Wreckery were now in high demand and began supporting artists such as Nico, John Cooper Clarke, New Order, the Residents, the Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth, the Godfathers, the Saints, the Pogues, the Fall, John Cale, Died Pretty and the Beasts of Bourbon amongst many others.
By 1987, The Wreckery, established on the Australian indie scene, embarked on their most ambitious studio album Here At Pain’s Insistence (produced by Bruce Johnson) which included their hit single Ruling Energy, released separately as a stand alone EP. The dynamic video for the song by Alain Rodier and John Hillcoat created more notoriety with its graphic images of electric chairs and high speed car crashes, adding to the band’s ‘dangerous’ reputation.
“Ruling Energy became a signature track for the Wreckery, partly because of the video and partly because it returned to the way we delivered live – noisy guitars, incessant beats and lots of tension. More touring followed (always with our live mixer, Bill Tulloch), but the general mood inside the Wreckery was getting dark - fights, rip-offs, vanishing band gear created an atmosphere of mistrust. Busy trying to get the band over to Europe, I didn’t notice we’d already fallen apart…” (Hugo Race)
During these recording sessions, the band fragmented over issues of creative control. One half of the band wanted to go more commercial while the other half was hell bent on art rock. This would ultimately lead to the band’s break up… but before that happened, Race met John Needham from Citadel Records who promised an international release for the next album.
Produced by Chris Thompson, Laying Down Law, the band’s swansong, revealed a group at the top of their game capable of pivoting from noise-punk to highly sophisticated arrangements with a lyrical clout entirely their own. But before Laying Down Law was even released in 1988, The (original) Wreckery had already dissolved.
Race and Casinader toured the album in Australia with John Murphy (The Associates/Whirlyworld) and Bryan Colechin (Marching Girls) on bass to honour their Citadel contract but as the 80s drew to a close, a version of the Wreckery (this time with Rowland S. Howard and drummer Chris Hughes) appeared in a nonsensical Australian feature film playing Ruling Energy. Sensing The Wreckery was finished, Race relocated to Europe when Laying Down Law was released by German indie Normal Records in 1989.
The Wreckery reformed briefly in 2008 to promote the release of a best of double album, Past Imperfect (Reverberation Records), and toured in 2010 as special guests of Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook.
During that tour the band discussed reforming to make a new album but the members’ ongoing musical commitments delayed the idea until 2022 when Race and Clayton-Jones after many an extended midnight phone call decided to return to the studio.
“As corny and melodramatic as I know this sounds, it was fucking magical being back together. The four days we spent in that dimly lit studio were, quite honestly, the highlight of my year. As it turns out, this new Wreckery album saved my sanity in ways I still don’t quite understand. We laughed, we drank tea, complained, and reminisced and within all our complaining and reminiscing – Fake Is Forever grew wings!” (Hugo Race)
The brand new album, “Fake is Forever” reignites The Wreckery’s signature sound with an unyielding fervour. Charles Todd’s haunting baritone sax, Hugo Race’s scathing lyrics and mesmerizing vocals, Clayton-Jones’s distorted angular guitars, Robin Casinader’s eclectic multi-instrumental prowess, and the rhythm powerhouse of Nick Barker and former Plays With Marionettes drummer, Frank Trobbiani, collide to form an iconic lineup.
Each track resonates with The Wreckery’s unmistakable style, oozing from the deep, dark end of the musical pool. Experience the sarcastic and provocative verses of “Smack Me Down,” “Get A Name,” and “Young People.” Let the fury of “Stole It From Alpha Ray” and “Evil Eye” consume you. Embrace the romantic melodrama of “The Devil in You” and “Whistle Clean,” and surrender to the raw energy of “Dragonfly” and “Garbage Juice.” The range of “Fake is Forever” is as vast as it is intoxicating, conjuring a spell of quiet menace.
Presented by Golden Robot Records, “Fake is Forever” marks the return of a legendary group, poised to captivate audiences once again. To celebrate the album’s release, The Wreckery will embark on an Australian tour starting in late 2023 and continuing through 2024.