FLYING TOO HIGH
When Sydney band Glide called it a day in 2000, it was in the most sombre of situations. Their last concert together was at a wake for the friends and family of their singer, William Arthur, who died suddenly and mysteriously towards the end of '99. His death at 34 spelled Glide's end after a ten year run as one of Australia's most endearing shoe-gaze acts but now another decade has passed, the band are on a timely mission to remind us what we lost in Arthur - a songwriter of great stead. Glide's complete and much sort after catalogue is to be reissued through iTunes, coinciding with a two date live performance, which will see Youth Group's Toby Martin – a long time fan – step into Arthur's shoes. He will be joined by the surviving Glide line-up, bassist Marc Lynch, guitarists Andy Kelly and Tim Scott and drummer Jason Kingshott in celebration of William's work at the East Brunswick Club. I catch up with Jason Kingshott today as preparations mount and the buzz builds for what promises to be a very memorable night.
"I think the early to mid '90s was a pretty exciting time for music, especially in Australia." Jason begins, "That said, I always though Glide had a very international sound. We had a lot of fans in New Zealand and England and the overseas influences were strong in our music, and in a way I think our potential wasn't really picked up on at the time because we weren't really 'typically Australian'. I think we were up there with our contemporaries though." Many agreed, and Glide, although never reaching mainstream success, bashed out a solid underground niche for themselves alongside the likes of Clouds and Smudge. Their breakthrough came when two overseas contemporaries at their peak, Blur and Ride, requested Glide as a support on their respective Aussie tours. A chance to meet their musical idols and even match them in concert was too good to pass up, Jason recalls. "You don't get cocky about it, but we thought it makes sense that those bands would want our band to open for them. It wasn't intimidating because we felt we had a kinship with them and when it came to performing, we also had that wall of noise thing going on and were just as able to fill those big venues with our own sound too."
After stumbling upon internet forums discussing Glide, many fans up til now have seemingly been swapping the bands rarities in mp3 format. Actual CD reissues were never really discussed, Jason explains, as Glide's complete recordings are finally available in digital glory. "I just think iTunes is a more immediate way for people to get hold of the music, and a lot of our older fans will already have the CDs so there wouldn't be any need for physical releases. Also doing it this way means people can fill the gaps in their collection and get songs that were previously only out on B-sides or EPs." With just two reunion shows and Glide's reissues on iTunes only, it all seems a little understated. Perhaps as Jason pointed out their appeal was quite marginal in Australia and a full fledge re-emergence would create confusion. A small backlash has inevitably occurred, but it's difficult to fault Glide's reasoning. Jason responds, "When the press release first came out there were some people saying, it's wrong and this sends the wrong message or whatever but I honestly don't care about that." He ensures, "It (Glide) was a big part of our lives and also why not celebrate William's skill as an artist. Further more we have the full support of his family for these shows so I am completely at peace with our decision to go through with this because we're doing it for the right reasons."
I recall The Triffids reunion/tribute shows back in early '09 as Jason speaks, and the addition of Toby Martin as one of the late David McComb's stand-ins. As a long time fan of Glide, Martin once again is set to re-visit his from-fan-to-conduit role. Kingshott says on how Toby came to be involved. "We were already acquainted through friends in the music community, but the turning point came after I had a conversation with Andy a few months ago along the lines of wouldn't it be great to play together again and get Toby to front it." He exclaims, "Being that its 20 years since we started the band, and ten since we performed William's tribute, something just clicked and Andy actually told me he'd been thinking about the exact same thing." He adds, "The fact that we both had been thinking it suddenly meant it could be tangible and before we knew it the whole thing started to come together. Plus it turned out Toby was a big fan of William's music."
Kingshott on his Glide band mates, believes making music was the glue in their friendships. He further describes. "Andy and I still would get together for drinks and so forth but there was always that other side to our friendship not really being indulged - making music – and it was pretty hard to ignore, so when things started coming together with Toby we already knew we could see it through properly." Jason continues, "Toby has been so committed too, and he can even get those bizarre chords that William came up with. Everyone's been playing so well in rehearsals but even though it's harder for Toby because he's following an existing blueprint in a way, he really gets it."
The man whose untimely death all this is in response to, William Arthur must have had quite an impact on his band mates. To revisit all of his work and relive music they made together would surely carry with it a painful twinge for a lost mate. Jason contemplates. "It is very bizarre looking back at some songs I had shivers down my spine to be honest, particularly because they evoke so many memories for me. It definitely affects the senses." He adds, "You have to step back from yourself sometimes, which is kind of how I remember William in a way. In the early days we all loved a drink and many an after party would go on into the wee hours in these indie clubs in Sydney and Melbourne and William would always be there just taking it all in." Rumoured to be somewhat anti-social, Arthur was instead all about moderation. Jason continues, "Contrary to the belief that he would retire to his hotel room after shows, don his smoking jacket and take in a little Norman Mailer," Laughs, "William was human and needed to blow off steam as much as any of us, but he was a very creative and intellectual guy, you know, he just didn't like to dance."
Seeing as Glide are now a full band again, the question of future projects with Toby staying on as the singer seems relevant. Jason concludes, "I gotta be honest with you that did cross my mind. I haven't spoken to the guys about it yet, but I doubt we could release anything new as Glide because that was William's band. But talking about it now makes me think that maybe the idea I had in the back of my mind wasn't so crazy after all."