Grong Grong are a punk rock band from Adelaide, formed in 1983 by singer Michael Farkas, his brother guitarist Charlie Tolnay, bassist Dave Taskas and drummer George Klestinis. Allegedly Grong Grong were named after an incident in which Farkas consumed acid during a road trip from Adelaide to Sydney. After losing his grip on reality somewhat during the trip he arrived in the rural New South Wales town of Grong Grong, the name of which Farkas found hilarious. Later, when in Sydney trying to get into a local club for free, Farkas pretended to be in a band named Grong Grong to gain access. The ruse worked and Farkas decided that the name was lucky.
Formation[edit | edit source]
After his return to Adelaide Farkas started Grong Grong with Taskas, Klestinis, and his half brother Tolnay. They drew heavily upon influences; The Birthday Party, The Pop Group, The Stooges and Pere Ubu. After spending several practices writing songs the band made their debut at a party in February 1983. Their harsh and brutal sound met with extreme reaction. In May of the same year Grong Grong won a free recording session during a local radio telethon. They recorded four tracks originally meant for release as a demo. After supporting Melbourne band the "Corpsegrinders" word of Grong Grong's unique sound spread to Melbourne which gave them a spot supporting the Dead Kennedys at their performance at the Thebarton town hall in 1983. They managed to heavily impress Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra and he's quoted as saying this about them,
"I lay awake for about two nights after seeing Grong Grong, still wondering if I actually saw what I really saw."
Jello later signed Grong Grong to Alternative Tentacles and financed their first album. Jello later collaborated with Charlie Tolnay on Tumor Circus and signed Farkas' later band, Hack, to Alternative Tentacles.
On Christmas Day 1984, went into a drug-induced coma that lasted nine months. Though he eventually recovered, the band split up. As of 2013 Grong Grong are one of the two only (The other being "Hack" ) Australian bands to have had a recording released on the Alternative Tentacles label. This was their self-titled debut album, released in 1984.
Reformation[edit | edit source]
In 2009 original members Farkas, Tolnay and Klestinis reunited with the assistance of Nathan Dale on bass, a former member of Farkas' band Hack. The reformed group embarked on a well received tour of Australia's eastern states playing a set of classic Grong Grong material not heard live for 25 years. On return to Adelaide George Klestinis departed to return to his career as a DJ and filmmaker and was replaced by Michael Wilczek, a collaborator with Nathan Dale in a variety of projects. Michael performed his first gig with the band without rehearsal and improvised his way through a 15 song set, the next night week departing on tour to Melbourne. Since 2009 Grong Grong has played across Australia, with gigs in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle and Geelong, and played supports with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, reestablishing their connection after 30 years of hiatus. Numerous live recordings of the current lineup are in circulation although it is rumoured that the band are releasing a 7" single through No Patience records, potentially with an album to follow later in 2014.
Relevance[edit | edit source]
Grong Grong is considered to be a seminal influence on noise rock. Grong Grong was also one of the first bands to refer to the term grunge. Grong Grong was also considered to be crucial to the Australian "Swamp Rock" genre that later influenced/mutated into the Black Eye scene in Sydney and is a major contributor to the "Pigfuck" sound popularised in the US.