The Zoo, 1997

Below is a cut ‘n paste of a recent post from Brentley Frazer’s blog. It’s about the good ol’ days. Mostly I wanted to put it here so I could include this lovely shot with Steve Cummings and Fiona Horne.

So this was the launch of my book Strange Rain in I think late 1997. Fiona and I had become pals and for the night she launched my book, and also wrote and performed a song she wrote called “Strange Rain”. It was a blast. She sang it with a young guy accompanying her on guitar and somewhere the video for the event still exists… must hunt it down. A year or so later Fiona sent me a properly recorded demo of the song, with full band, put together by the producer of Massive Attack’s first album. Must hunt that down too!

In those days Fiona was keen to learn all about writing and publishing. A few years later she had her first book out and since then she’s had many. One night we were sitting in Gerties Bar in New Farm having a drink and talking about these things, plus music of course, and I was telling her how much I loved Skyhooks. At that moment Shirley Strachan wandered past and smiled at us. Well, he especially smiled at Fiona, who was certainly living up to her surname. It was sort of surreal…

And, by the way, the band who also performed at the launch, whose name Brentley can’t recall, were Velour. The singer and guitarist worked for Random House, my publishers at the time. They had a fantastic sound.

Such a great night, and this pic was in Rolling Stone. Needless to say, having the brilliant Stephen Cummings there as well was out of this world…

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Here is Brentley Frazer’s post:

Travel Under Any Star

Circa 1990 something a skinny young punk with fresh acne scars and waaay cool hair stood in the crowd at The Zoo in Fortitude Vally and watched witch goddess and lead singer of electro pop band Def FX launch Strange Rain by Venero Armanno. The ultimate writers name I thought when I saw the poster. At the time I worked at The Zoo running a poetry reading named The Rose Croix. The poets featured tended to celebrate decadence and debauchery in their verse. I met several reincarnations of Marquis de Sade there. The thirty litres of free Spanish wine The Zoo provided only lasted hours. A band, I cannot remember their name (no surprise, really) who dressed as fallen angels with wire wings smoked joints right there on stage. To keep the story skinny like the faded punk writing this, I  have ever since admired the writing of Venero Armanno. Now,  twenty years later I’ve had the honour to not only meet Veny but to edit, typeset and publish a collection of his fantastic short stories for my fledging indy press Bareknuckle Books. No critic can argue with good writing and this Armanno provides in this beautiful collection of stories about . . . well, outsiders and so much more. Arnold Zable, acclaimed writer, novelist and human rights advocate reviewed the manuscript for Bareknuckle Books and what he had to say (one of the best uses of an LY adverb possible) sums up the power of Venero Armanno’s work, one of the greatest ever Australian writers:

“Venero Armanno is a writer who fearlessly explores the primal urges, pressed desires, and the intense, contradictory cravings that drive human behaviour—and the betrayals, family breakdowns, violence and tragic misunderstandings they leave in their wake. While the settings, and the social and cultural references are contemporary, there are echoes of the ancient Greek melodramas in his work. Armanno’s stories probe beneath the explosive surface. and in unmasking his characters, he exposes the elemental human need for intimacy, connection, and a sense of belonging.”