| In The Beginning... Hippy Dribble was one of the alter-egos of the Plunderers, who were Stevie Plunder on guitar and vocals, Nic Dalton on bass and vocals and Geoff Milne on drums. The Plunderers first played under the name 'Hippy Dribble' for Geoff's debut show with the band in late 1988 at the Kauri Hotel in Glebe along with the Proton Energy Pills first Sydney show. Geoff was replacing Pete Pillage, whose last show ( billed as "All Petered Out!") with the band was a couple of weeks later on the 29th December.
They originally formed as a separate entity to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The Woodstock concert by putting on a huge night at the Lansdowne Hotel in August 1989 called the "Love-In Reunion". The night was sold out by 9pm and was one of the biggest and most memorable nights ever at the venue (but if you remember it you weren't really there, right?) and Hippy Dribble were joined on stage by Fudgetunnel (anti-hippies, Velvets-style Hummingbirds) and Swirly Maharajahs (a potpourri of Moffs and Hellmenn, who musically stole the show, according to their guitarist). All Petered Out! Documents show that Hippy Dribble hired some special outfits for the night: 1x red/green jacket, musketeer hat, wig, headband & feather, 1x Indian vest, green wig, 1x purple vest and cleo wig. Hmmm, wonder what a 'cleo wig' is? For two weeks the Plunderers had been learning a special set of late-Sixties classics done acid-style (Open My Eyes, Nights In White Satin, Almost Cut My Hair, If You're Going To San Francisco) and then proceeded to get totally fucked-up and 'de-learn' the songs on the big night. Their art co-ordinator made dozens of huge peace signs to hang from the ceiling and not long before showtime it was realised that dozens of Mercedes Benz logos had been hung around the Lansdowne! With the help of some masking tape they were ready to proceed with the show.
Hippy Dribble decided to continue as a band proper, separate from their main outfit. Jon Casimir wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald: "What do you do when you write more songs than you could possibly use? Overwhelmed by their own songwriting prolificacy, Nic Dalton, Stevie Plunder and Geoff Milne (collectively known as The Plunderers) were recently faced with the choice of either dumping some of their favourite songs from the set or radical surgery. Love In! They opted for the latter and, thanks to modern science, have now become three bands, each with it's own personality". In June 1990 they entered the old Troy Horse studio on King Street, Newtown to record four songs for an EP. In typical Plunderers fashion, the band decided to celebrate the "Love-In Reunion" Woodstock night again coming up in August but this time by launching their new EP and playing an entirely original set - just to confuse the audience! They were joined once again by Swirly Maharajahs and lovers of everything sixties Elastique Mindbladder. The poster for the gig said: Hippy Dribble will be making their debut as a real band with an all-original set they have spent months concocting. But that's not all! On the same Saturday the 25th August, Hippy Dribble will launch their first record! It is called Wild Strawberri and is a 12 incher and features four tunes "Take a Ride", "Dog The Bone', "Motels On My Mind" and their theme song "Hippy Dribble". It was a busy time for the boys, as on the following Saturday, The Plunderers launched their new 7 inch single "Christo" at the Annandale Hotel (wrapping as many objects as possible in the venue!).
Released on their own label Trip Records, Wild Strawberri contained a very early Plunderers song "Take a Ride" which was one of the first songs that Stevie and Nic wrote together. "Motels On My Mind" dated back to their days with Get Set Go (a folk-pop outfit with Stevie on bass, Nic on drums, future Falling Joy Suzie Higgie on guitar and her sister Jenny on casio keyboard). The two remaining songs were written especially for Hippy Dribble. The Plunderers were now in a strange position where they had two completely separate bands, both vying for the songs that the Plunder/Dalton/Milne team were churning out. set list They had created a sometimes frustrating situation where the Plunderers fans assumed that the 'Drib were strictly a silly sixties side project for the boys when in fact a lot of the more contempory cutting-edge songs and Sonic Youth-inspired epics were joining the Dribble set rather than the Plunderers. In an interview with Rave mag, Nic said: "People think we're stupid because we released a Hippy Dribble record. We just like to give it different names because people think 'Oh, the Plunderers, they do three minute pop songs', so we give it a name. It's sort of like an actor playing a part." When asked why they had two very similar bands hitting the live circuit, they would reply that they had too many songs to play in one set so it made sense to split them over two bands. This all came to a head on New Years Eve in December 1991 at the Annandale when Hippy Dribble supported the Plunderers and, according to most reports, blew the headliners off stage!
In 1990, The Plunderers had just had a great deal of success with their "Sarah's Not Falling In Love" 10 inch ("The Shining" on the b-side has a chorus of 'hippy dribble' chanted over and over) so it only made sense to follow it up with a classic pop number called "Cheerleader" by Hippy Dribble, didn't it? If strong-armed by a major label (who wouldn't go near them) "Cheerleader" would have definitely been released under the Plunderers name but this song (written by Nic and Tom Morgan at the old Half A Cow store) was given to Hippy Dribble to "catch up" to the Plunderers! As they had to pay for all their own studio time, the recording of the song went from June 1991 to February 1992 over three different studios. Based on a true story about a 26-year old man Charles Daugherty who enrolled in a high school as a girl and got into the all-girl cheerleading squad, escaping detection for a week, the song starts off with the same drum pattern from "Sarah" before launching into the bubblegum chorus. The "Cheerleader" 7 inch was released in 1992 when Half A Cow did a deal with Regular Records. Three songs appear on the b-side, most notably "Eskimo" which is a different version to the one that is on the "Silver Apples" compilation. The "Cheerleader" cd single wasn't released until 1993 with a karaoke version included plus two versions of "Eskimo". A cartoon video of the title song was also made by their friend Jay Ghost. They even made a fan out of Dr Karl who descibed the song as "...the greatest piece of music ever written in the history of the human race, after Beethoven's Later String Quartets and Muffin Man by Frank Zappa". Despite its catchy chorus and radio potential, the single sank without a trace but this can mainly be attributed to the fact that by the time the single came out Nic was in the US playing with The Lemonheads and Stevie who, having already formed the Whitlams, was also playing guitar in the latest version of Rob Younger's New Christs.
band photoOne show that is worth a mention was when Hippy Dribble supported Dread Zeppelin and Mojo Nixon at Selinas on Saturday 11th January, 1992. Apart from being extremely late (which stressed out the promoter, a certain R. Grierson), the band played early to a half-empty room. This didn't deter the band from putting on their full show, which concluded with a violin - no, not what you've seen done by Jimmy Page or the guy out of The Creation either. While Nic made monster noises with the violin bow scrapping across the bass strings, Stevie grabbed the violin by the head and attacked his guitar with it - not the underside either, but the violin strings and bridge down hard onto the guitar. Nic, with bow in hand, came over to Stevie and started playing the violin as well until it all exploded everywhere!
Barry Divola wrote in the review for The Drum Media: "Hippy Dribble were the Plunderers with blinding trousers and no inhibitions. They're the band that Pebbles compilation forgot. They're tripping in the bubblegum garage. Some of the songs are about drugs, some are about girls, and some are about drugs and girls. They're as sloppy as a bowl of porridge, but they're a lot louder and a lot more fun. By the end, Stevie is scraping the back of a violin over the pickups of his screeching Strat, Nic balances his bass precariously on one hand while sawing a bow across the neck, and Geoff flails away like he's auditioning for The Electric Mayhem".
Another reviewer in OTS wrote: "I found Hippy Dribble so awful that to think about them hard enough to review their performance would surely make me puke!!"
band photoBefore Nic went away in May 1992, Hippy Dribble recorded the six songs that were going to follow on from "Cheerleader" on a proposed 12 inch mini-album (in their lifetime, the Plunderers never released a cd - only 7, 10 and 12 inchers). Apart from new songs like "Spree" and "That's Wow" were another two songs dating back to the Canberra days of Get Set Go in 1984 , Stevie's "Just Another Dream" and "Oceans So Deep". Special guests included The Smudge Choir on backing vocals and Half A Cow Store work experience teen Nyree Webster on the flute. Because of Half A Cow changing their sugar-daddy from Regular to Mercury the recordings didn't surface until March 1995 under the title Silver Apples and included all the Hippy Dribble recordings and also Captain Denim's Fade. Captain who?
To confuse matters even more, the Plunderers started up a third band Captain Denim, to play the more laid-back songs mostly from the very early Plunderers days when they were influenced by the likes of Buffalo Springfield, Country & Western and folkrock. In a Sydney Morning Herald interview in August, 1990: "We have heaps of Velvetsy, Triffids-type songs we wrote when we first started. Captain Denim is for all the people who have heard The Plunderers and thought we were just a thrash pop band - Captain Denim is their chance to like the songs we do. Whereas the people who like the harder stuff will see Captain Denim advertised in the paper and think 'No, they're too wussy for us'."
tickets Captain Denim's live debut was supporting Hippy Dribble at the Sandringham, Newtown in December 1990. The band wore denim from head to toe (of course) and, apart from their own originals, played songs such as "You're So Vain", "Burned" and who could forget Don McLean's "Everybody Loves Me Baby, What's The Matter With You?". In the winter of 1991 they recorded four songs at Troy Horse - again two of them ("Last Time" and "Dying (So Long)" - not the same song on the Plunderers Green Fez 7 inch) from Get Set Go days and the other two ("Crayon Cafe", "And So The Story Goes") from early Plunderers. The band gave themselves appropriate pseudonyms (Geoff Jag, Nic Lee, Stevie Leisuremaster) and when they rung up Michael the engineer to find out his last name for the credits were most surprised that it was actually Levis! "Fade" was released on 10 inch under their own Vest Records banner, each cover with its own denim star (lovingly helped by Plunderers manager Caroline Pegram and jeans supplied by the girls from North Sydney Girls High) and hit the stands sometime in mid-1992. Like all of the Plunderers records, the 10 inch is now deleted but all the songs appear on Hippy Dribble's Silver Apples compilation.
"But history lessons aside, the sound is more important than the statistics. The disc happily presents a collection of slinky, mellow songs (like "Filthy" and "Dying") and zippy pop tunes with its fair share of 'ooh oohs' ("Lurve") and 'woo woos' ("Crayon Cafe") and 'ba ba bas' ("And So The Story Goes"). The trio also turn up the faders on the rockier tracks such as "Take A Ride" and "Dog The Bone". Tunes like "Spree" show an ever-economical side to the band with each of the above styles cropping up in five minutes of music. And don't forget the psychedelic "Last Time" - weird vocals and creepier backing vocals amidst a swinging '60s beat. All in all a top album. Plunderers fans will love it, and so, quite possibly, will you." (Melanie Jones, Rip It Up 3/95)
The Last Show last show
When Nic finally left the Lemonheads in September 1994 and resumed his life back in Sydney it was a given that the Plunderers and Hippy Dribble would start to play live again despite Stevie being busy with the Whitlams, Geoff playing drums in the Red Planet Rocketts and Nic completing the recording of Godstar's "Coastal" LP. The Plunderers had been saving up many songs for an album that they knew they would record sometime down the track and Hippy Dribble had a forthcoming compilation ceedee to promote. A night was booked to launch "Silver Apples" at the Annandale Hotel on 23rd March 1995 with Whopping Big Naughty and Small Handgun as supports. As Geoff, Stevie and Nic hadn't played live together since March or April 1992 they decided to give the fans a special treat by playing a "best-of" set of both bands - Plunderers and Hippy Dribble - something they had conscientiously made sure they never did (like slip "Cheerleader" into a Plundees set). In typical fashion, if they'd billed the night as the Plunderers there would have been more than the 180 payers who paid to see the show that night.
Sadly, this would be the last show that the Plunderers/Hippy Dribble ever played as Stevie was to take his own life on 25th of January, 1996 at Wentworth Falls in NSW. His death was, and still is, a huge shock to his family, friends and fans and he will be incredibly missed forever.
The Late Nineties
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998
Last night John Peel played Hippy Dribble's Eskimo at 10.25pm on National Radio One!