The History of Enticer – as told by Mick Keating
Enticer was originally formed in 1987 by myself (Mick Keating) with Dave De Francesco and Steve Moore. I’d met Dave through my previous band, Fallen Saint. A newspaper ad found drummer, Steve Moore who was still at school at the time. My memories of our first rehearsal was jamming on Dio songs at a Petersham rehearsal studio. Further newspaper ads found another guitarist, Steve Burton. Now Steve was a great guitarist and a sweet guy but otherwise unemployable. He sometimes wore a long-haired wig after losing some hair in a mystery shrouded incident at a neighbour’s. He drove an unregistered old Holden with a least a foot of rubbish on the floor. His equipment to say the least left a little to be desired. He owned a rusty old distortion pedal that he found on the side of the road. We nicknamed it “The Cicada” because when he would press it to go into a solo it sounded like a chorus of cicadas on a hot summer day. Steve was given the nickname “Spunna” because he said people who knew him thought he was “spun out”. In the name of professionalism Steve eventually had to go.
Around this time John Gaughan joined on vocals but his heart wasn’t in it and after a few months of rehearsals he left. A school friend of Steve’s, John Kyd joined on guitar. This was a stable line-up although still short of a vocalist. Our set list at the time included Saxon’s “Power and the Glory”, Maiden’s “Flight of Icarus”, Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages”, Judas Priest’s “Rock Forever”, Stryper’s “The Way” and “Turn Up the Night” by Black Sabbath. We had a couple of originals written at the time which would become mainstays of our early live set, songs such as Dave’s “Highway Burner” and my “Victory of the Throne”.
Playing live was still a while away as our search for a vocalist continued. We eventually found Gregg Moore through contacts in the local scene. Gregg, no relation to Steve, loved three things – music, alcohol and girls. Unfortunately, too often he let the last two interfere with the music. He had a bad liver from drinking and his doctor advised him to give it up. But he loved his bourbon too much to stop. I once found him in his flat, lying in a darkened room in too much pain to move. As skinny as I was at the time, he was downright puny so I was able to carry him down two flights of stairs and then to hospital.
With our line-up now complete we began rehearsing twice weekly at Stage Door Productions rehearsal studios at Alexandria. Prior to Gregg joining, not requiring a PA for vocals, we rehearsed often at Dave’s dad’s factory at Botany. It was in an industrial zone so there was no noise restrictions. I don’t know how one of us wasn’t killed though when we used the various cranes and equipment for crazy stunts. Stage Door studios was one of the better rehearsal spaces in Sydney and was used by many of the better local acts and visiting oversaes bands. We would run into many known bands such as the Angels, Rose Tattoo. Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads, the Divinyls and Johnny Diesel. On a few occasions we saw Jimmy Barnes and his band. He was probably the biggest Australian rock act at the time and when he was rehearsing for the tour promoting the Freight Train Heart tour he would truck in mountains of extra mixing boards and equipment and his wife would set up trestle tables with woks cooking delicious Asian food for the band and crew. Jimmy would always have a chat with us and give us encouragement. I’ve met him a few times over the years most memorably when he gave me a backstage pass at a Living Loud gig and I was able to hang backstage with rock legends Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, Steve Morse and Don Airey. Just last year Jimmy was kind enough to autograph my copy of Freight Train Heart at a Glenn Hughes gig.
I was once at the counter at Stage Door buying a Mars Bar and turned to find Peter Tork standing next to me. I’ve always been a huge Monkees fan and was speechless. I then met Davy Jones and then saw Micky Dolenz sitting in the studio’s office. I came up behind him and said “Hey Fuzzy Wuzzy!”. This was a quote from the Monkees psychedelic movie “Head” when the red neck cop addressed Micky who at the time had a bit of an afro. Micky told me that the movie was “Jack Nicholson on acid” (Jack being the movie’s director).
It was into 1988 when we settled on the name “Enticer” which was suggested by Dave’s girlfriend, Alex. Our first gig was September 16 1988 at the Three Swallows Hotel, Bankstown supporting Kizum. Kizum were a Rush-like three-piece (Kizum being “music” spelt backwards, sort of ) . I think we made $120 less the cost of the mixer plus I had to spend the afternoon loading in the PA.
Our music at the time was not as heavy as it was later to become. Our publicity photos however were quite glammy which is what happens when you let girlfriends and sisters dress you for a photo shoot. The shoot itself took place in Hyde Park in the centre of Sydney much to the amusement of shoppers, winos and Japanese tourists. During the mid-1980s the look in the Sydney scene was a cross between LA glam and leather and studs Judas Priest. These were the days before Metallica and Slayer swept all before them and Guns’n’Roses made tattoos and piercings the norm. Playing venues such as the Wagon Wheel Hotel at St Mary’s quickly put paid to any glam fashion aspirations we may have had. Local drinkers there were known to poke punters in the eye if they didn’t like the look of them. Our stage gear quickly settled into the standard metal look of tight jeans, white hightops and black shirts.
By early 1989 we’d played about 10 gigs mainly at the Wagon Wheel Hotel and the Royal Hotel, Sutherland. Some fans even started to turn up in home-made Enticer t-shirts. The Royal was a metal mainstay at the time. Every Saturday night was metal night and as well as Sydney groups interstate bands such as Blackjack from Melbourne and Vice from Queensland played there. Even DRI played a show there once. Bands we played with included probably one of the last gigs by Lotus, featuring their singer Dale in tight leather pants with the arse cheeks cut out and one of the first gigs by thrashers Addictive who we were to play many gigs with in the next two years. Addictive absolutely blew me away the first time I saw them. I’ve still got their demo “Ward 74″ which included songs that were later to appear on their first album “Pity of Man”. One memorable gig at the Royal included headliners Apocalypse (later to become Redeemer), Enticer and the Sexations strip show. There is nothing like loading into a gig while naked babes cover each other in fluorescent paint.
At this time we decided to do some recording. Our original music was becoming heavier as was our choice of covers which now included Metallica, Holy Terror and Metal Church. We would go on to cover songs from the first three Metal Church albums. In March 1989 we entered Sound Barrier Studios with engineer John Hresc to record the EP “Into Reality”. This EP contained 5 tracks – “Living Fast”, “Into Reality”, “Roll On”, “Danger Within” and “The Final Act”. “Living Fast” was written by Dave with lyrics by Gregg and was for a while our opening live number. “Into Reality” was a 10 minute epic with music by Steve and lyrics by me. It told the story of a man realising he’s trapped in a mental asylum. It featured a lot of solo trading between Dave and John and also a nice acoustic intro by John. “Roll On” was as close as we got to a ballad. The music was written by Dave based around a guitar lick he ripped off from a TV commercial that was on at the time. I wrote the music and lyrics to the last two songs, “Danger Within” and “The Final Act”. “Danger Within” was about letting your anxieties hold you back and “The Final Act” was about nuclear annihilation. This was a time before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War and pretty much every metal band had a song about everything going pear-shaped and the world ending in nuclear devastation.
After the release of the EP we played another 9 shows through to July 1989. During this period we began to realise that maybe Gregg wasn’t the singer for us. It was sometimes an uphill battle to teach him melodies and I vividly remember us trying to teach him the three part harmony in the middle of Priest’s “Rock Forever”. His drinking was also interfering with the band. We weren’t saints but we always were sober for rehearsals and gigs. Gregg got smashed before our second ever show which was at the Wagon Wheel Hotel and made a complete dick of himself. Not a good way to impress the fickle Sydney metal audience. Matters came to a head in late June when we had a show supporting Precious Metal, a band which specialised in covers from Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, etc. This band were originally Gold Zeppelin who to my recollection was among the first “tribute bands” which would spread like a cancer through the music scene. Great musicians though. It was getting close to show time and there was no sign of Gregg. One of the hotel staff came into the dressing room to say we had a phone call. It was Gregg and he’d been arrested DUI. I knew he already had one or two DUIs under his belt and wasn’t surprised that they locked him up. We decided that we’d do the show as an instrumental with maybe Dave taking over vocals for a couple of songs. We weren’t playing to a metal crowd anyway and the gig was at Hornsby, hardly the metal heartland, so we thought why not? Somehow though Gregg walked in as we were going on stage and we were able to do our normal set. But we needed someone more reliable.
These were dark days for metal however. I hear people now complain about the scene but those days in comparison were like living in the Great Depression. This was before grunge made it cool to listen to heavy music. There were enough guitarists to go around, but decent singers and drummers were scarce. We were lucky to have Steve Moore, one of the best metal drummers in Sydney but we really needed a new singer.
Luckily enough a vocalist fell into our lap. We were contacted by a guy who was making a documentary on the Sydney metal scene to be called “Loud, fast and Angry”. His name was Steve Sidhu and he was making the doco for his college project. He came down to Stage Door Productions to film the inetview and I recognised him straight away as I’d seen him recently singing in a band whose name escapes me but I do remember him billed as “the air raid siren”. Steve told us that he’d left that band so we hinted that we weren’t happy with Gregg and Steve said he liked our band and so he was in. The next rehearsal Steve reshot the interview with him as our vocalist. Steve joining gave us a real shot in the arm as he had boundless enthusiasm (sometimes a little too much) and always gave 100%. He designed and made the backdrop that you can see in some photos.
We thought that we’d do something to make a bit of money so we jumped on the tribute bandwagon. We thought we could learn a set of covers and do that on the side to make some cash for recording. We became Angels Tribute act “Night Attack” and learnt 20 Angels songs and a couple of AC/DC for encores. Our friend Ben Frost who played in “Lost Angels” and “The Law” was doing a sound engineering course and needed a band to record. So with the free recording time we put down “No Secrets” and “Coming Down”. We were hoping to use this demo to get work. We had a manager at the time named Reid Heath (if he wanted to work for us and earn 20% of nothing then go right ahead) and he got us a show at Ingleburn RSL. The show went fine and we probably made as much money that night as we had thus far with Enticer but I think we realised that we wanted to do originals. I don’t know if we would have lasted in RSL land as that night we were banned from some parts of the club because of the way we looked and dressed. We weren’t punters, we were working there!
It was another 5 months before our next Enticer gig. During this time however we lost John Kyd as our guitarist. For a while he’d been a bit disillusioned with our heavier musical direction so we split amicably and continued to see him and play shows with him when he joined FU Roek as their new guitarist. FU Roek were to say the least “different”. Their name came about when they were registering their name and “rock band” was misspelt “roek”. Their line-up included Bert on keyboards who was a balding, hilarious, funny-looking Indian guy who would go on stage bare-chested wearing ugg boots and leopard skin tights with literally a cucumber shoved down the front. Their drummer Arnold had a kit covered in pornographic pictures and he would trash his drums ala Keith Moon at the end of, or during the course of, every show. He would purposely not tighten his cymbals and would hit them with an upswing causing the cymbals to fly across the stage or into the crowd. I’ve never seen a band care less about what audiences or venues for that matter thought of them cared for them. They tried to get banned from certain venues and did so with aplomb. They actually left Australia and toured the USA as “Forced Underground”. John Kyd is still there to this day living in California as is Bert although he is living under an assumed name to avoid warrants for unpaid fines in various counties.
To replace John we brought in Rhett McCoullough who Dave met when Rhett was working at the Guitar Factory, Hurstville. The Guitar Factory were always very supportive of us. They paid for half our t-shirt production costs (they were advertised on the back) and gave us some guitars to donate to the Starlight Foundation. Rhett fit in straight away and was completely happy with our heavier, more technical direction. Prior to gigging with the new line-up we recorded our single “Reaper of the Earth/Dying Age”. These songs showed the thrashier angle to our music. “Reaper of the Earth” was about the Newcastle earthquake and “Dying Age” was about the North Shore Granny Killer, a serial killer in Sydney at the time. We had seen an ad in the local street press for a deal to record a single at Rich Music Studios. The deal included studio time, mastering and pressing of the single. The single was pressed on vinyl as CDs were still not used 100% of the time as they are today. In fact it was pressed on red vinyl. We probably wasted a bit of studio time in the getting the special effects that can be heard at the beginning of each song but it certainly made the songs a bit different. To my delight I was able to use some knowledge I’d gleaned from studying “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn. On “Reaper” we needed Steve’s voice to sound like it was coming out of a telephone. I remember reading that Paul McCartney when recording the vocal line “now she’s hit the big time” in the song “Honey Pie” heavily limited the track by chopping off the signals at both ends of the frequency range to make it sound like it was coming out of an old phonograph. I told our engineer Craig Porter to use this on the line “there shall be only one reaper of the earth” and it worked.
We launched the new line-up and the single at the Seven Hills Inn on my birthday 20 April 1990. I’d always wanted to play the Seven Hills Inn as I’d had great memories of seeing bands there over the years like Godspeed, Azgard, Assasin and White Widow. Around 1986-87 it was always Thursday night, St James Tavern, Friday night Royal Hotel Sutherland and Seven Hills Inn on Saturday night. The new thrash direction and the single seemed to be going well. We were interviewed on 2RRR and also on 2JJJ’s metal show with Helen Razor. However, there were to be more line-up changes to come.
At his 21st birthday party Steve told us that he was leaving the band. I knew Steve and Dave were not getting on. Even though it stopped just short of fisticuffs it was clear the situation couldn’t go on. Steve had been helping out Redeemer on drums but left us to join Addictive. In hindsight it would have been better for us to chuck Dave and keep Steve as soon after we sacked Dave. We felt he wasn’t putting in 100%. Rhett knew guitarist Serg Dimitrijevic from the Guitar Factory. Serg was only 17 and still in his last year of high school. He’d only been playing a couple of years but already was a prestigious talent. Steve brought in a drummer he knew by the name of George Velenik. George was a big fan of Ian Paice and Dave Lombardo and he also played in a Greek dance band which certainly gave his style a unique feel.
It was around this time that we took on new management – Kezra Lorenz and Firm Management. This certainly lit a fire under us but at the same time it was the beginning of the end not that we knew it at the time. Kezra had a colourful past and was the matriach of a dysfunctional household in Glebe. She had been married to “Chewy” Lorenz, a six foot six Comanchero who was sent to prison after the Milperra Bikie Massacre. She fled to London for several years after writing a expose on bikie life and a contract was put out on her. Even years later when we’d play at the Lewisham Hotel she’d hide in the toilets when she’d hear the Harleys pull up. Bikies were always a problem at the Lewisham “Haunted Castle” They’d never pay to get in, harass the women and pick fights with the headbangers. One of them once had some poor sucker pinned against a wall and turned to my inebriated friend Rob and said, “call this guy an ambulance”. Rob said, “Mate, you’re an ambulance”. The confused bikie let the lucky guy go.
In early 1991 we did a few shows with Mortal Sin. Andy their bass player had reformed the band with our old guitarist, Dave and three other new recruits. This line-up recorded the Rebellious Youth album for Virgin Records but broke up soon after when they were dropped from the label. We also played a few shows at the Kardomah Café in Kings Cross including the Megadeth concert after party, not that anyone from Megadeth showed up. The Kardomah was a real sweatbox just off the main drag. The ceiling mustn’t have been more than 8 feet from the ground. It wasn’t a bad place to play but you weren’t allowed to load out after a gig and had to come back the next day to collect your gear. The Kardomah carpet always had an interesting smell the next day.
Someone had come up with a brilliant idea for a gig that would really bring in the punters. Sadistik Exekution were a Sydney band that had reached almost legendary status without ever having to play live through the release of a few demos and through the distinctive artwork of their singer Rok. Someone came up with the idea that if we got them to play live we could draw a massive crowd. Addictive at this stage were being handled by Firm Management and FU Roek were also getting work through Firm. A meeting was convened at the Friend in Hand hotel at Glebe and the Sad Ex boys were convinced to play live. The gig was organised for June 8 1991 at the Mars Club at Darlinghurst. Bands played on the second floor of the club above a lesbian bar. To add to the event it was decided to call the night “a festival”. “Doomfest” was the initial suggestion but we soon decided on “Metalfest 91″. Motorhead were touring at the time so the gig was also advertised as the Motorhead pre-tour party. There were give aways including albums by Motorhead, Sadistik Exekution, Addictive, Frozen Doberman as well as t-shirts from all the bands on the bill and Motorhead concert tickets. Top rock photographer Tony Mott was brought in to take some promo shots of Sadistik, Addictive and Enticer. All in all the night was a great success. 500 people showed up even though the capacity of the club was only about 350. Who knows what the lesbians on the floor below thought of it all. Metalfest was also held in 1992 at the Hordern Pavilion with Addictive headlining and photos from that night can be seen in their “Kick Em Hard” album.
The next week Metalfest was taken on the road to Melbourne. We hired a luxury bus for $2000 and Sadistik Exekution, Addictive and Enticer and various hangers-on headed south. Sound engineer Keith Barrows and FU and ex-Enticer guitarist John Kyd also came down. The bus had a fax machine (which didn’t work) and a VCR and on the way down on Friday night we watched bootleg Celtic Frost videos as well as one of Dave Slave, Sadistik Exekution’s bass player destroy a bass on Hey Hey it’s Saturday’s Red Faces.
The Melbourne show was at the Sarah Sands Hotel in Brunswick. Local band Despised (who I thought were pretty good) opened then Enticer, Addictive and headliners Sadistik Exekution. Rok brought a mutilated Barbie Doll which he would thrust into the crowd, shouting “who wants to fuck my plastic woman?” He was apparently a keen fisherman and would take weird fish with long needle like teeth on stage. I thought we played okay but the Melbourne crowd was not very receptive to the Sydney bands, even a bit aggressive.
Some members of the tour hadn’t slept since we left Sydney. On the return trip on the Sunday we were refused service at a McDonald’s and ended up at a roadside café. Wayne Campbell, ex Mortal Sin drummer had come down on the bus with us (for some reason). He fell asleep at his table wearing dark glasses and holding a menu. I remember looking over and seeing a waitress trying to get an order out of him not realising that he had fallen asleep.
A week later Motorhead were playing the Hordern Pavilion. Addictive were lucky enough to get the support slot. They wanted to use some of our equipment and we were only too happy to roadie for them on the night. The guys from Motorhead turned up at about 3pm for a sound check and a photo shoot with Tony Mott. Their guitarist Phil Campbell was literally carried in. Apparently he’d misread his intinery and didn’t realise he had a gig on that night so he had really tied one on the night before. In fact he thought he was still in Japan and wondered why all the TV shows were in English. But once his guitar tech strapped his axe on him he was fine and played great. After Addictive’s set Rhett asked Lemmy what he thought and he replied “What would an old dinosaur like me know?” I watched the show sitting on a roadcase just off stage. Awesome!
June was a busy month. We recorded three songs at Sun Studios in Sydney with our sound engineer Keith Barrows. “Towers of Silence” was written by Serg and Steve’s lyrics were about funeral rites of the Parsi people in parts of India where the dead are put on pedestals to be eaten by vultures. I wrote the music to “Intravenous Insecticide” and Steve completed it with lyrics about a spy living undercover. “Feel My Pain” was a song that came out of a studio jam. Kezra had known bassist Bob Daisley, who played with Rainbow, Gary Moore, Uriah Heep, Malmsteen and most notably Ozzy Osbourne, since the 1970s and we wanted to demo a few songs with the possibility of Bob producing an album for us. Bob was producing the second album from Addictive, “Kick Em Hard”, and we thought it would be great for him to do the same for us. The difference though was that Addictive had scored a record contract which paid their costs while we had to raise the money ourselves. Kezra knew that I was a huge fan of Bob’s so she organised for the three of us to go out together for drinks at the Friend in Hand Hotel in Glebe. When he arrived at Kezra’s home we were watching a documentary on the American kids who had committed suicide apparently after listening to Ozzy’s “Suicide Solution”. Bob walked in and casually said, “Yeah, I wrote that song”. Bob later gave me the strings he used to record the album “No Rest For the Wicked”.
In August we entered Damian Gerard Studios and recorded 5 songs again with Keith Barrows as engineer. We recorded alternate versions of the songs on our single “Reaper of the Earth” and “Dying Age”. “Drugs Create” was written by me with lyrics by Steve about the problems drugs create in society. “Surgery” was a thrasher written by Rhett with lyrics by Steve inspired by the movie “Hell Raiser”. “Jenkie” was written by Rhett and Steve and Steve’s lyrics, or more precisely those that could be understood and made sense, were based on the “House” series of movies. The effects that can be heard on these songs were from an effects tape that Keith had picked up with sound bites from an old Godzilla movie.
It was at this recording session however that the band fell apart. Tensions had been building between the band and management for a while, personal, business and financial. George’s back problem meant that he couldn’t play as well as he liked and our brand of music was very demanding on a drummer. I think the final straw was the pressure to raise the money for the album. I had more money than the other guys in the band and so it would have cost me my life savings with the other guys contracted to pay me back. Not that I didn’t trust them but I just doubted their ability to afford to do it. How the final decision to break up the band was made I can’t remember but we decided to finish the recording session and call it a day.
Enticer’s last gig was August 29, 1991 at Max’s, Petersham.
After a 20 year hiatus Enticer have returned to the recording studio to deliver two massive slabs of metal, “Speak the Truth” and “Redemption”. The songs featuring founding member Michael Keating on bass and guitarist Rhett McCoullough with guests Mark Briggs on vocals and producer and drummer Syd Green (iota, Mantissa) were mastered by Rick O’Neil (Aerosmth, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam).
Michael Keating says “This is just a taste of things to come. We are currently working on an album and are very excited about the new songs we’ve written. In the meantime I hope you all enjoy these two opening salvos.”
2014: The band release the 12 track album “Origin of Sorrow” featuring drummers Robin “Frog” Stone (Norse, The Amenta) and Allan O’Rourke (Dawn Heist) and Australian showbiz legend Kamahl who provides narration on the three part metal/orchestral epic “March of the War Elephants”. The album was engineered by Russell Pilling (Hoodoo Gurus, Noiseworks, The Vines) and mixed by Lord guitarist Tim Grose. The songs reflect thrash, power and doom infuences and combines them into an original mixture of old school metal.
August 2018 saw the release of Enticer's second official album "Äncient Symphony". The Enticer lineup of Rhett McCoullough (guitars), Michael Keating (bass), Mark Briggs vocals and Robin Stone (drums) are joined by guest musicians Stu Marshall (Death Dealer, Night Legion), Genevieve Rodda (Temtris), Paul Bielatowicz (Carl Palmer band), Doug Skene (Hemina) and Aria-recognised composer Craig Morgan. The production team again included Russell Pilling and the album was mixed and mastered by Doug Skene at Ploughman Studios.
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