one of the most popular bands in Australia's indie scene" Matt Buchanan 2002
C'Mon - Wet Taxis
(Original by The Atlantics)
Louis Rohan Tillett was born in 1959 and grew up in Sydney. In 1977 his first band, The Wet Taxis, began as a group "based around experiments with 'industrial noise'". In 1980 they issued a cassette, Taxidermy, on the Terse Tapes label – owned by fellow Sydney band, Severed Heads. For the album Tillett provided synthesiser (micromoog) and The Wet Taxis line up was Garry Bradbury on drum machine, Simon Knuckey on guitar, and his brother Tim Knuckey on bass guitar. In October that year Terse Tapes released an extended play, Terse Sample, by Various Artists with tracks by Wet Taxis and label mates: Mindless Delta Children, Agent Orange and Rhoborhythmaticons.
By 1981, with Tillett on piano and lead vocals, the group were moving into a "tougher 1960s-influenced direction". In 1982 Bradbury left to join Severed Heads and was replaced by Nick Fisher on drums. Peter Watt also joined on rhythm guitar but was replaced in the next year by Penny Ikinger. In February 1984 The Wet Taxis first toured Melbourne, they were hailed as sporting an American garage-style psychedelic sound, they covered bands such as MC5, Moving Sidewalks and Unrelated Segments. In Melbourne they supported Kids in the Kitchen at one gig and Chris Bailey at another. They followed with a live broadcast from the Prince of Wales Hotel, St.Kilda, on 3PBS FM radio.
The group signed with the Hot Records label and recorded a single, "C'mon", which was a cover version of The Atlantics 1967 track, "Come On". It was produced by David Connor and Kent Steedman, and was released in May 1984. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, noted it provided "an authentic 1960s garage/R&B sound". Late that year they issued an album, From the Archives, and by February 1985 went into hiatus. In July 1986 Pollyanna Sutton of The Canberra Times described the album as "a mix of studio and live recordings over three years". In 2002 the band, alongside Laughing Clowns, The Lighthouse Keepers and Gondwanaland Project, were described by The Sydney Morning Herald's Matt Buchanan as one "of the most popular bands in the Australia's indie scene" in an article reminiscing about Hot Records.
In January 1986 Tillett, Fisher and Ikinger revived The Wet Taxis with Rod Howard on bass guitar, Jason Kain on lead guitar (ex-Relatives), and Bronstantine Karlarka on keyboards. By May they were joined by a brass section of Dianne Spence on saxophone, Kathy Wemyss on trumpet (both ex-Laughing Clowns), and Gladys Reed on trombone. Reed had backed No Dance on Carnival of Souls. In July Tillett described his three newest members to Sutton, "there are so many hot female musicians in Sydney and none seem to be getting a go. It is not just a gimmick". The Wet Taxis supported a tour by Nico and undertook other tours. They issued a single, "Sailor's Dream" in May 1987, which was produced by Rob Younger (of Radio Birdman, New Christs) at Paradise Studios for Citadel Records. The band broke up by mid-year.
Written by Louis Tillett.
Wet Taxis. (Single from Stage 3 of Wet Taxis)
Wet Taxis Phase III...in this late stage of the lineup, the video portrays Louis as a heavy drinker who becomes almost transformed from his quiet, shy, and tortured self, to an animated, wild man. Louis is mythologized and caricaturized.... famously wearing his "Krolok" robe...one of the many Djellabas he brought back from Morocco to be shared around. He has always been an enigmatic character, considering his front-man status. Perhaps this "costume", and his drinking, in these early days was the only way he could bring himself to overcome his serious stage fright, and his shy and softly spoken true self. Despite his sometimes morose and serious affect, he had an over the top and candid sense of humor that regularly caught many off guard.
Research and Walking Tours by Frank Cotterell and Ian Hartley with special thanks to Peter Cox of the Powerhouse Museum. CREDITS • Produced by Hugh Liney and Ashley Russell for GTI Media. Written and presented by Hugh Liney. Design by Brian Crouch, Millmaine Entertainment. Original Poster Artwork excerpted from Plastered: The Poster Art of Australian Popular Music by Murray Walding with Nick Vukovic. Podcast and audio by Michael Thompson. Thanks to Dr Rock, Mojo Records, Peter Simpson, Brad Shepherd, Terry Darmody, Bruce Griffiths, Chris Ruhle and Peter Bowden.