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INTERVIEW – Jamie Page, Trilogy – September 2014

| 12 September 2014 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Jamie Page, Trilogy – September 2014
By Shane Pinnegar

In the early 1980s, while pop music and the New Romantics dominated the airwaves, a revolution was happening in boozy pubs the world over. Denim and leather-sporting teenagers and twenty-somethings were drawn to dive bars to see local bands bringing rock back to the everyday person. In London it was the likes of Iron Maiden and Saxon, in America Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister and their ilk had been slogging it out in clubs for years and were finally getting noticed, and inspiring the next wave of rockers to go faster, louder.

Perth, Western Australia is the world’s most isolated regional capital city, and it felt like it in those dark days. Usually left out of the touring schedules of rock bands, Perth wallowed with a small town mentality and little to do but fuck or fight.

Enter stage left, Saracen. A blues rock power trio led by singer/bass player Jon Ryder, and featuring guitarist John Meyer and drummer Pete Thompson, Saracen tread the boards of The City Hotel and other dens of local iniquity from 1980 until Meyer was tapped to replace Pete Wells in Oz Rock warhorses Rose Tattoo in 1983.

Jamie Page, meanwhile, had been showing a knack for summoning sturm und drang from the six string himself, notably in Gypsy (who actually supported Rose Tattoo in early 1983) who renamed as Black Alice for their solitary album release, Endangered Species.

Ryder snapped Page up to replace Meyer, and alongside Thompson they rechristened the band – now leaning away from the heavy blues and more towards Rush’s sound, with Ryder not only handling bass and vocals, but also keyboards and bass pedals – Trilogy, and rocked The City Hotel most Friday nights for several years, until Page relocated to England to try his luck, and the band slowly wound down.

Both Saracen and Trilogy were hugely influential for local rockers and both are remembered fondly by many Perth fans and internationally for their single albums each – self titled, in Saracen’s case (this would also later be released in Europe as a Trilogy album and titled Next In Line), and Trilogy’s Life On Earth.

Fast forward thirty years, and upon hearing that graphic designer Mic O’Donnell – who designed the Life On Earth album cover and did a lot of other music industry work for many years – was sick and wanting to sell his treasured guitar, Page was determined to help.

“Mic was always a good mate of everyone in the band, for many years,” explains the guitarist, who nowadays looks after sales at Kosmic Sound, one of Perth’s largest instrument outlets, and plays with tribute bands Nitro Zeppelin and Siren whenever he can. “When he got sick, everyone had reason to make an effort to do something. He just basically gave in one day, he said ‘look I’m going to have to sell [this guitar].’ I just said, ‘if you’re going to sell it, no probs at all but what else can we do to help you as well?’

“So I just rang John Meyer and said, ‘no, fuck it, let’s do something.’ We put the word out to everyone that was involved [back in the day] to see who would get involved with it, including [Jon] Ryder. He basically said he didn’t want to [do it]. So we thought, ‘fuck it, we’ll just get a bunch of special guest artists to do all the vocals and keys and bass and everything else. We weren’t going to let it stop us, you know?”

Page is adamant that the September 13th gig is billed as a ‘Tribute Show’ to Saracen and Trilogy, and absolutely not a reformation, and that the door is always open in case Ryder decides he wants to reform either band.

“We’ve tried [to reform the bands] a couple of times,” explains Page, “I mean we came close to doing a Saracen show a few years ago… [but we had to say] let’s just move on and see what we can do otherwise. It’s not like there aren’t other guys who are good [enough to play]. With Mico being sick, [we hoped] it’s a really good reason for everyone to just bury the hatchet and go and be mature adults here and actually do something.”

Another key player not on the line-up is Ashley ‘Smashley’ Cooke, who replaced Thompson as Trilogys drummer and has lived down south, in Bunbury for many years.

“Ashley’s not very well unfortunately,” says Page as he takes up the story. “He’s a guitar player now, not a drummer. He was invited, and his missus was trying to get him to come up and have a crack. But now it’s not an option for Ash unfortunately. H would have probably loved to have done it but just the sheer physical pain of what he’s got to go through to play the drums is just not worth it.”

Sadly, age catches up with us all – Trilogy were the first band I considered ‘mine’, going to see them on countless Friday nights at The City Hotel when I was 16 and 17, putting me teetering dangerously on the brink of the big 5-0 now.

Page sighs sadly, “The same for Tommo, believe it or not. Pete Thompson, he’s got arthritis. He’s hugely excited about doing what he’s going to do, but he’s not capable of holding it down on his own anymore so we’re going to have Mick Burn [Chain, True Colours, Nitro Zeppelin] playing drums through the whole thing and Tommo just getting up and doing as much as he physically can without hurting himself.

“We’ve got young Ralph [Berman] who used to do fallback for us back in the day. He’s quite a good drummer and he used to get up and jam in the old Trilogy days, down at The City quite a lot. He’s going to come down from Broome and play some drums as well, which will be great.”

With so many names from the old days and such a good cause, Page is looking forward to reliving that special time from his – and our – youth, and has very happy memories of those times.

“Yeah, absolutely and that was the whole idea with the gig,” he says, “we originally wanted to almost call it some kind of City [Hotel] Revisited [thing], to kind of re-create the vibe, exactly as you said, of The City. That’s really what we were going for. Just to really transport people back to that time, with the excitement and the people. There’s going to be a lot of great people there and hopefully the vibe will be very similar to the old city days, I would hope. That’s the plan.”

As well as Page and Meyer, another of Perth’s guitar heroes, Graham Greene [famed for his work with Ice Tiger, Resonance Project and a fruitful solo career] will be in attendance, but don’t expect a G3-style shred-off.

“No, actually – that’s something that John in particular is not keen on. He wanted to keep it fairly clean, so he’s happy to do his thing with the Saracen guys. With the Trilogy aspect with Graham, he ironically is going to be doing quite a bit of singing, because he’s got a very good voice for a lot of that stuff. He’s going to be doing a little bit of guitar here and there, but not a lot of guitar. I’ve kind of convinced him to get up for one song at least in the end and have a bit of a play, but I will leave that to John on the night [if he wants to join in.]”

Page says the master tapes for the Trilogy album have been lost over time, but it’s not impossible they’ll record or film this gig for posterity.

“That’s something that we would like to do, yeah most definitely,” he enthuses. “Obviously depending on all the guys involved and getting their approvals for their performances. You know what people are like, in fairness, you want to put the best thing out you can. We’ll have a look at it and see what’s left at the end, what comes off in video.”

Make no mistake though, this is a one-off event, and not to be missed.

“Yep, just an absolute one-off event. Pulling it all together is pretty hard and I don’t think we’ll be able to do it again in a hurry, but we left it open there for [everyone] if they ever want to do [an official] reunion show. In real terms they can certainly still do that. They’re invited, it’s just the tribute, so that was a deliberate thing to give them a bit of an opportunity to be able to do other things with it.

“The big thing really is in all honestly is the amount of friends we’re seeing get sick. There’s a whole pile of people that we’re dedicating the gig to, apart from Mico, they’re all going through the same thing. At our age, I guess, you start to see a lot more of that. You’ve got to protect your own so to speak. That’s the real reason for all of this.”

The Gig For Mic is THIS Saturday 13 September, 2014 at The Charles Hotel in North Perth, from 7:30pm

Category: Interviews

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