Canberra 1971-1975

Article by Paul Culnane and Peter Ilyk

Roman Demkowski (lead vocals)
Rod Eckersley (saxophone, flute)
Dennis Flynn (guitar) 1971
Tony Hayes (bass) 1973-75
Peter Ilyk (rhythm guitar, trumpet, backing vocals)
Andy Ingram (drums) 1974-75
Henry Sliwka (drums) 1971-74
John Thompson (bass) 1971-73
Bernie Nizynski (lead guitar)

Left: Snibbo in 1973 (L-R) Tony, Bernie, Roman, Henry, Peter, Rod


The pages of Milesago will readily indicate to the reader that we don't limit our scope to just the big-name bands and artistes, nor do we only cover the biggest events or milestones in Aussie music. We recognise that many of the most important acts that developed into seminal entities in the history of OzRock grew from humble beginnings in the smaller towns and cities outside the melting-pots of the major state capitals. And if you cast your mind over an imaginary "family tree", you'll discover, possibly to your surprise, that many future luminaries of Australian rock music hailed from, or at least served their 'apprenticeship' in the oft-maligned national capital!

That is not to say that Snibbo were by any means seminal, influential, or particularly important in the greater scheme of things, but their story is certainly worth telling here &endash; not simply for the originality and ingenuity they displayed, but also for the fact that such bands as Snibbo were very popular in their own precincts. Plus, it was a huge buzz for this author to be involved with Snibbo for much of their zany journey, and I'd like to try to evoke those great times for you here!

The original Snibbo was formed in 1971, the band's name derived from a segment on the TV show The World of Beachcomber starring Spike Milligan, which featured an all purpose product called "Snibbo". The idea to use the name came from original guitarist Dennis Flynn. Band members hailed from a number of established local outfits, among them The Casuals and The Chosen Few. Not long after the band formed, Dennis was replaced by Bernie Nizynski on lead guitar &endash; but not because of Dennis' nomenclature suggestion! This lineup never recorded any Singles although there are several live recordings of the band and some "studio" recordings (to use the term very loosely) made at radio 2CA studios.

In June 1972, Tony Hayes (formerly from local "Hoadleys" title-winners, Heaven), replaced John Thompson on bass guitar. It was with this new line-up, introducing Tony's fresh musical input, in cahoots with Peter's blossoming creativity, that the band began to forge its reputation on Canberra's quite healthy live performing circuit, by presenting a highly polished mix of pop, rock and blues standards, together with deftly-chosen "progressive" staples of the day &endash; among them, pieces from Juicy Lucy, King Crimson, Deep Purple, Chicago and Jethro Tull. The brass and flute line-up within the band enabled Snibbo to display a wider musical palette than most of their guitar-bass-drums rivals, which made the band a bit more unique and attractive to punters. 

At the height of their popularity, bass-player Tony, with his customary perspicacity, likened the sound of Snibbo to a steamroller almost out of control. Certainly, Henry's walloping twin-bass-drum set-up, Tony's penetrating and inventive Burns (and later Rickenbacker) basslines, then another layer mixing the triple assault of Bernie's Jeff Beck-influenced guitar squalls, Peter's sweeter but solid rhythm flourishes on gold Les Paul gat, with sporadic trumpet support; and Rod's deftly-placed sax and flute embellishments (capped by the unique powerhouse versatility of Roman's singing) gave convincing credence to Tony's canny call there.

Snibbo went on to become one of Canberra's (and its surrounds) biggest live attractions, securing solid fan support through its regular appearances at the established venues of the day (such as Xanadu and Zeplin), as well as at high school dances and regular Saturday night dance-hops like 'Berties' at the O'Donnell Youth Centre. 
The group finally disbanded in September 1975 and played its last performance at Wests Rugby Club in Jamison ACT. Most of the members went on to various other bands and musical activities. But I'm sure each ex-Snibbo member remembers these heady days most fondly.

Snibbo interview

Interview with Snibbo members Roman Demkowski and Rod Eckersley, conducted by David Kilby on his "Sundays" radio program, ABC 2CN (666 AM) in September 1998 (with a special surprise guest!)

DK: So when were Snibbo extant then, when did you form?

RE: Phew ... '70?

RD: Woulda been late 60s, early 70s

RE: Yeah, I'd say it was about '69-'70 when the "embryonic" got together, because that was the first line-up and we did do a few character changes in the band of course

DK: Was it one of those bands where there were a lot of different members or just a few?

RE: No, just a few. We were very lucky I think, we hit it off straight away

RD: Basically, Peter Ilyk and Henry the drummer, and myself had been in and out of bands for quite some years prior to Snibbo ...

DK: Now, were these Canberra bands then?

RD: Canberra bands - we were basically in bands from school days, and it just sort of eventuated from there. You know, we got to meet Rod along the way, Dennis Flynn, and another local bass-player, John Thompson at the time

DK: Was it a meeting of the musical minds then? I mean, did you all come from the same sorta background in music or the same taste in music that got you together?

RE: Mmm, I dunno, I'd kinda grown up with Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman with my old man - when I hassled him I wanted to play sax, y'know, and that was it, so - but after that I was actually playing in Canberra in, like, schooldays, but different bands from these guys. I was playing in a quartet &endash; keyboards and doing the RSL and golf clubs and I was still at school &endash; I think I was making more money than the ol' man at that stage actually

RD: Well that's right, that's the ironic thing: when we were in school, of a Friday afternoon, we would get picked up to do a job in Cooma or Goulburn or somewhere out of the area, we'd pretend ...

RE: Pretend to have licences ...

RD: ... as they're looking or waving to us: "where are you playing this weekend?" It was quite, er, everyone was taken by it: music was in our blood!

DK: Yeah, so what about you musically then, Roman - Rod was into the jazz era if you like &endash; what were you into?

RD: I was taken by, well, I suppose bands like The Easybeats, Australian band, y'know; erm, so was Peter and so was Henry, the three of us ...

DK: So it was really Rod who was the odd person out?

RD: Yeah

DK: And if you could describe Snibbo's sound, and I know that's not easy, but did it have a sound, and if it did have an identifiable one, what was it Rod?

RE: Yeah, it did. In the old days, you see the thing was, I was lucky because I was the only sax player around in those days apart from, um, oh gawd, who's the bloke who used to work at 2CA? Can't remember his name, he was an announcer, but he used to play sax as well ...

DK: Oh, "Boots" &endash; Bruce Lansley?

RE: Bruce Lansley, yeah. So honestly there was no-one around, so I kinda had the pick of the crop really. All the guys'd ask me to play in the band and stuff. So that was our kind of signature was that we did have a sax in the line-up and also flute, 'cos we used to do Tull, a lotta Jethro Tull ...

RD: Oh, this I think was ironic with Snibbo, was that our musical range ... we basically stretched it from one limit to ... phew!

DK: What, depending on the venue or at any one given thing, you'd do a whole range of stuff?

RD: Well, I mean our repertoire went from rock & roll through to Jethro Tull, King Crimson

RE: Bill Haley, Slade

RD: Originals in the end ... Slade; I mean (laughs), you name it, whatever was out there, we grabbed!

DK: So what sort of audience did you have then, I mean, where were your most popular gigs?

RE: Alright, we did tons of school gigs, like you wouldn't believe. That was when all these high schools used to have ...

DK: Would pay for a band

RE: Yeah!

RD: It was a circuit!

RE: From Daramalan, even, oh, er, Scullin Primary School used to have these things

RD: We just about played every high school in Canberra

DK: Which is not a bad circuit when you think about it, is it?

RE: It was very lucrative in the old days. I don't know what happens now

DK: I think by and large you pay a DJ to come in, I dunno but I imagine ...

RD: That's it, you hit the nail on the head - things have changed

DK: But that sort of experience too, would expand your repertoire as well I'd imagine, wouldn't it?

RD: Certainly, yeah. I mean, the kids out there &endash; it was live music and whatever was happening at the time, y'know, we got ahold of and played to 'em and we were asked back! (laughs). So there must've been something there that clicked

DK: Yeah, well you must have had a bit of an attachment to the university too, didn't you?

RE: Oh, gawd yeah. Yeah! (laughs)

DK: Because one of the tracks you cut was called Burton Hall Boogie (mutual laughter)

RD: Ah, there's a story there. I think we need a former, er, Peter Ilyk on that one 'cos he's the man from Burton Hall

DK: Right, he's the man from Burton Hall, the subject of ... we'll just play a snippet of this. This is a snippet of Snibbo, doing one of their famous tracks called Burton Hall Boogie ...

(track from first maxi-single plays)

DK: Well that's not Jethro Tull and it's not, er - pretty heavy isn't it?!

RE: It's a mixture isn't it? But even in those three tracks you'll find there's quite a diverse way that we go

DK: Alright, now, how far did you travel? I mean you used to, as schoolboys, zip up to Cooma and stuff like that. Did you have a big territory to cover?

RE: Sydney

DK: Did you?

RD: Yes, Sydney, Chequers, the old Chequers nightclub

RE: The old Chequers. We used to be very very popular up there. When we first started going up there, would you believe, we were like support band for, um ... Buffalo

RD: Buffalo, yeah, Buffalo was a big band of that time. We ventured to Armidale, that was the job, oh that was a classic

RE: A beauty

RD: That was a -

DK: Another university-associated one?

RE: Yeah, it was huge but kind of turned into a total riot!

RD: Wild!

RE: Wild (laughs) - it was fun

DK: Was it a wild era then &endash; a lot of the gigs turned wild?

RE: Yes, well I'm not being ...

DK: Because of the Snibbo music?

RE: Whoa! Oooh, I dunno. I think people just enjoyed it anyway. Not going total nutters, you know, but I mean just enjoying themselves. That kind of enjoyment, not &endash; what I see a lot today is a bit brutal I think, but in those days it was like we ...

DK: Just a good night out

RE: Exactly, it was just enjoying themselves, get totally frazzed!

DK: What size crowds would you play to in Canberra here; I mean down at the uni or wherever you were playing?

RE: Well you basically couldn't move, within the refectory and all that. In the old refectory, wasn't it?

RD: Oh yeah, in the old refectory it was chockers, it would absolutely thump! We did a lot of supports ...

DK: You've mentioned Buffalo; any other names come to mind?

RE: Well we did a lot of interstate and overseas stuff as well

DK: Yeah, like who?

RE: Um, Gary Glitter

DK: Oh did you really? (laughs) Terrific!

RD: The Mixtures. Yeah, and we did &endash; this was a strange one this one &endash; a lass called um, I'm trying to think of her name now; she had one hit single. Oh what was her name? See? This is how my memory's sort of hazy

DK: Okay, we're talking to Snibbo who are frantically trying to remember way back to the early seventies and bands that they supported ...

RD: No it wasn't Wendy ... Pussyfoot!

DK: Pussyfoot, oh for heaven's sake yeah! Support band for that? Was there ever a time when Snibbo actually went over better than the act you were supporting?

RE: Well I guess we used to do that most of the time, to be honest!

DK: Modest little fella, inne?

RE: We were a polished band, a polished band!

RD: I would have to agree in a lotta cases, yeah; that would be the, er ...

RE: Because we could do the covers basically just as good because of the experience from the musicianship

DK: Right, so you never had any worry about that did you?

RE: Nup! And it was good, you know, we all liked one another as well (laughs)

DK: And that continued right through, so the band didn't break up on account of personality differences?

RE: Not personality differences, no. Just people leaving ...

RD: I think it just rode itself out. We'd done, how many years had it been Rod?

RE: Five?

RD: Oh, I thought it coulda been more, six, seven?

DK: So five, six, seven years &endash; a pretty long time really

RE: I think it's just ... people decided to diversify after that and go and discover other things, you know, and that was just the way it was for us, but it was amicable

DK: Given your wide sort of repertoire, did the band actually change with the times? I know you played a bit of everything, but did your sound, your image or anything change noticeably?

RE: Ah, yeah, on the recordings it did. We got into serious effects and just tried to go along with the flow from the overseas stuff

DK: Right, so who was dictating the terms from that point of view?

RE: Within the band?

DK: No, no, from outside. What were the external things you thought, well, we wanna sound like that when we go into a recording studio. So who did you, in a sense, try to emulate with their different sounds? Progressive I presume?

RE: Oh yeah

RD: The last single we put out &endash; one side was So Long Sally and the flipside was I Don't Wanna See Your Face Again ... very reminiscent to another song of that vintage but totally different!

DK: So it wasn't The Angels at all?

RD: It was not (laughs). I think we would have had that title prior, in place, yes ...

DK: Obviously they heard you and just ... (mutual laughter)

RD: Unfortunately The Angels didn't do theirs with a cello &endash; we actually brought in a cello

DK: Oh did you really? So tell us about the recording &endash; where did you do them, and how many did you make?

RE: Oh, David, you're talking garage stuff! This is garage &endash; 4-track, isn't it?

DK: Whose garage and where?

RE: It was Bernie's. Bernie Nizynski in Downer. And at that stage we ... one of the guys who used to help us out was ...

RD: Paul Culnane, yeah, another local boy that, er ...

RE: He used to get into the music scene a bit; not so much playing but he was into sound. You know, used to just love experimenting

DK: Right. Sales-wise, how did Snibbo go? And airplay, where did you get airplay?

RD: Airplay was tough, it was tough at the time

DK: Is there a reason for that?

RE: I think it was 2CA, that was about it in those days!

RD: Well 2CA was the only station that existed, apart from the ABC

RE: And I don't think they were really interested in local stuff. Well, they did play ... if I can just say, there is one particular song that we did and I forget the name of it, I'm sure Roman knows it; and there is a particular line in it, and unfortunately, it's about a horse that &endash; if I can say this &endash; it's a bucking horse! And unfortunately the radio executives decided to take it upon themselves that it was not that word, it was ...

RD: Misinterpreted

RE: Misinterpreted, the word being something else

DK: So that was a good reason not to play it

RE: Well exactly, but we got a bit of airplay with Bike Pump Rock

RD: Actually, I think the charts &endash; we got into ...

RE: We were in the charts, we charted!

RD: Nothing fantastic, but ...

RE: Actually, I don't think we got above the Bee Gees or anyone, (laughs) but it was there, you know, it was notoriety

DK: Who were your great rivals at the time? At the time, was it between Snibbo and someone ... this part always fascinates me of the Canberra scene?

RE: Yeah! The Croatia-Deakin Soccer Club when it was called Xanadu! ... The other big band?

RD: Wally & the Wombats? Who turned into The Ritz

RE: The Ritz, yeah, Wally & the Wombats, yeah, that was a great band! Very good, yeah, I liked them

RD: We didn't encroach, they had the Yes, sort of Focus sound with predominantly keyboards

DK: So what happened after Snibbo broke up? What did you do Rod, I mean, did you join other bands, or ... ?

RE: Yeah, yeah, went on to other bands of course, but, ah, that was a long time ago now, but, er ...

DK: Are you still playing now?

RE: Not much, no

DK: There's no chance of a Snibbo reunion? The Second Movement reunited last night at the Southern Cross Club!

RE: With "Langy"? Arthur? Arthur Lainge ... (prominent Canberra entrepreneur and showman) Ah, the bloke!

DK: Arthur!

RD: I'll be blowed ...

DK: They had a big reunion gig last night

RE: Oh, I woulda loved to have gone along and seen that! (laughs)

RD: Well, I've spoken to Arthur on several occasions and he's still trying to get this Snibbo bit together -- it's been something that he's been working on for quite some time, to get Snibbo, The Ritz and a few other bands of that era, to do a one-off

DK: Back to the battle of the bands!

RE: The Hoadleys!

DK: Did you ever do the Hoadleys?

RE: Yes we did!

DK: Oh did you really?

RE: Yes, and I can tell you, we thought we had it sown up (laughing) &endash; we had to be the most popular band in Canberra, right? And we had it sown up, right? And we're there being over the top type of thing; and what happened was, I guess we kinda took it a bit easier, you know, we thought we had it sown up at the Canberra Theatre. Everyone was going "Oh, you've got it". All our fans were there &endash; we'd do our thing and then there was a band goin' on which was Heaven ... and they toppled us! (laughs). And you know, the word after that, everyone was walking out afterwards and saying "oh no, it was Snibbo's do". But, I mean, no big deal

RD: Mass media attention. There was a lot written about it in the local rag called The Canberra News

RE: Was it David Broadbent? Someone or other who used to do it in the old days (It was Tony Wright &endash; Ed.)

DK: Coulda made a big change in direction, couldn't it? 'Cos a lotta bands went on after (Hoadleys) ...

RE: Yes, that would have led to the Sydney titles, which would have been great! Although we did recordings up in Sydney as well, with, oh, Warner Brothers

DK: Did you really?

RE: Well kind of &endash; it was a bit under the ... it was a bit shady wasn't it?

RD: I was actually talking to somebody today about that. The famous lost video tapes

DK: Oh, lost video?!

RD: Done at a studio called, er, Premier Studios in the old part of Sydney, like Pyrmont? I dunno if the studio is still there

DK: Well how about that? ... Well, I'll tell you what, we've got Paul Culnane who's on the line ...

RE: (gleefully) Ohhh!

DK: If you'd just like to put your headphones on, we'll get Paul on the line (collective laughter). You never know who's listening, do you? ... Paul, how are you?

PC: Oh, g'day!

DK: Thanks for the call!

PC: Oh no worries

DK: Yeah look, I've got a couple of reprobates here, you might like to, er, reminisce with them

PC: Absolute reprobates they are!

RE: (laughing) Paul, how are you mate, it's Rod!

PC: Oh, lovely to hear from ya, hi Rod!

DK: Rod and Roman are here

RD: Did you have a late night last night, Paul?

PC: Er, yeah, what, does it sound it?

RD: Yeah, it certainly does!

PC: Ha ha! Ah, look, great, fortuitous, um, y'know, my brother rang up and said that you were on the radio so I thought I'd give you a call!

RE: Fabulous

DK: So what was your role then Paul?

PC: Ah, producer for the first two Singles. And the one they were just talking about that we did in Sydney ...

DK: Oh, the famous missing video one?

PC: I've got it! I've got the master tapes of that!

DK: You should see their faces &endash; Rod?

RE: (reduced to laughter)

RD: There you are!

DK: And what, are you waiting until they become famous Paul, and then you're gonna sort of make mega-bucks out of it and release it?

PC: That's right mate &endash; we were gonna put out an album called "Snibbo's Greatest Hits, and Thirteen Other Songs"!


RE: Paul, can you do it before we die?

PC: I'm workin' on that now! If I can get a hold of Peter Ilyk who's got some great, um ...

RD: Yes, recording equipment, yes I know...

PC: Um, we can remaster all those beautiful tapes that you've been talking about and put them out on CD for a few friends

RD: Well as a matter of fact, I was talking to Bill at Impact Records this morning, and he's anxiously awaiting the release of that anthology!

PC: Well, we're gonna do it

DK: Well the pressure's on you Paul. Paul, er, being their producer and er, general roustabout with them, what do you regard as being Snibbo's finest hour?

PC: Oh, I Don't Wanna See Your Face Again. A great song that involved not only their best moments as a band, but had a choir, and orchestra &endash; well, at least, a double-tracked cello!

All: (laughter)

RD: Amazing what you could do in those days

PC: Oh, it was brilliant in those days!

DK: And would still stand up today, you reckon Paul?

PC: I think so. If it was remastered. Like, the pressing ... 'cos it was a six-plus minute song, and we had it done on seven-inch, it didn't really have the full "oomph" that the original tapes had, and it'd be great to get out those original masters and try to do something, digitally remaster them, y'know?

DK: Well I think the pressure'll be on for you Paul

PC: Well, I'm up for the challenge

DK: Alright! Paul, can I say thanks very much for joining us this afternoon

PC: Well, thank you for having me, and I'm just gonna listen to the rest of the interview, and if you can dig out a couple of those tracks and play them, that'd be an even better bonus!

RE: Thanks Paul!

RD: Good to hear from you Paul!

RE: Lovely talking to ya mate

PC: Likewise Roman and Rod, take care, see ya

RD & RE: Bye

DK: That was Paul Culnane who was actually the manager (he wasn't really, but that's a long story - Ed.), and also producer of Snibbo talking to us here, and I've got Roman and also Rod here. In just a minute we'll try and dig out one of those tracks &endash; I've got a selection here &endash; I'm gonna see if we can find that record that Paul was talking about, I'll put a snippet on -- according to Paul Culnane, the finest hour of Snibbo happened with this particular song which was later taken up by The Angels and turned into a massive hit (background chuckling), thereby, y'know, Canberra didn't do too well outta that one. Er, memories of it before we play it &endash; what where the circumstances, the writing and so on?

RE: Oh, I dunno, I wasn't really involved on that side of things, I left it up to the masters of writing

RD: Well, even though we were talking about The Ritz, we actually used two members of The Ritz to do some background vocals

DK: Oh did you really? The rivals. Okay, we'll listen out for a bit of The Ritz too. The title of the song again?

RD: I Don't Wanna See Your Face Again

DK: Alright, I guess it's to a certain extent autobiographical for the writer?

RE: (chuckling)

(track plays)

DK: Oh, seriously, I wish it was TV, because the faces on Roman and Rod (who can be heard giggling in background) as the memories came flooding back and so on, were a delight to see! And I thought that was recorded in Sydney but you're telling me that was that garage recording? And the cello player was from where, Rod?

RE: I'm sure he came outta the School of Music. He was the head boy there but he also played in the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, you know, the guy was good! But that was through the influences also of Tony Hayes, our bass player, who was ...

DK: Been around on the scene for a long long time, yeah?

RE: Yessiree!

DK: My word. Well, Snibbo, it was a delight for you to come in and chat to us about the life and times of a favourite band in Canberra

RE: It's been an absolute pleasure

RD: A pleasure!

DK: And we look forward to the reunion when it happens; and of course, the release of "Snibbo's Greatest Hits And Thirteen Other Songs" as well!! See ya later!

... gales of laughter ...

The friend and collaborator's story -- "My 15 minutes"

I could select from any number amusing anecdotes from the mad voyage I had as being a kinda "hanger-on" with the band. It's hard to know where to begin. But here's one grablet I think you might like ...

Snibbo was booked to be the support act for the Gary Glitter concert at the Canberra Theatre in 1973. The band took this opportunity seriously &endash; the exposure alone was bound to be valuable and it was going to be a hoot, come what may. The guys enlisted me to help with preparations for this momentous event. We went to the studios of the Canberra School Of Music to pre-record some pieces on the school's newly-acquired Moog synthesiser, to use during the group's tour-de-force version of King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man. We put down some wondrous bleeps, blurps, bubbles and farts &endash; it sounded great! Then we took my not-so-trusty Sony 4-track up to the ambulance station at Dickson to record various wailing siren sounds in full stereo. The plan was to use these recordings during the concert, along with other tapes such as the "Use Snibbo" jingle from Spike Milligan.

Came the day, and your correspondent was very excited, for I had been invited to appear onstage with the band for this monumental performance! I had never been to a "sound-check" before, and when some of the Snibbo guys and I arrived in the afternoon, we were all astonished by the sheer volume of the Glitterband's rehearsal. Two drummers in unison were mixed to full volume, with the other instruments mixed to an excrutiating level over the top &endash; like a big, loud, glittery cake! We thought we'd floor the audience with our carefully-chosen repertoire, amplified loudly. We couldn't go wrong.

Near to showtime: How can I ever forget the backstage image &endash; Gary and his band's dressing room was knee-deep in spangles. It was outrageous, ridiculous and wonderful all at the same time. But Snibbo was not to be denied &endash; everyone rose to the occasion. Tony and Peter wore their brightly coloured tailored satin pants and other finery. Roman's intro was so cool &endash; he came onstage dressed in a weighty black velvet cape decorated with huge mother-of-pearl emblazonments. Before a note was struck, he announced to the crowd (about his coat): "Man, this is heavy!" Fantastic, accidental rock & roll banter of which Little Richard would be proud. My role, I s'pose, was to man the tape decks and be a bit of a Roxy-era Eno. To this end, I chose to dress in a black suit adorned with red sequins, and wore bright red platform boots. To complete my ensemble, I added a fake eyelash, a la Alex from "A Clockwork Orange". At at 19 years of age I suppose I must have looked a very pretty boy indeed. Backstage, in this fantasy outfit, I ran into Gary Glitter who was exceedingly camp, and I was a little taken aback by his demeanor. My Snibbo mates were quick to whisk me away smartly, although I did make friends with Pete Phipps and Gerry Shirley who were really nice, down-to-earth blokes &endash; we went shopping for clothes together the next morning, and had a fab time!

The performance itself went by like a whirlwind, and Snibbo acquitted themselves with their usual aplomb, treating the capacity crowd to a well-chosen set of covers and originals. The sound coming back through the foldback monitors was bloody monstrous and blew me sky-high! When it came time for my turn with the tapes we'd prepared for 21st Century Schizoid Man, I was thoroughly freaked out, but the version by Snibbo that night was absolutely awesome, adorned as it was by strobes, searchlights and other visual madness that complemented the incredible echo-delay bottlekneck jamming from Bernie on guitar, the heavy steamroller sound of the band as a whole, coupled with my own crazed tape contributions. I went nuts! Mind you, the sound engineer did his best to sabotage the band's fantastic sound and performance, but I don't think we cared really. Because this bunch of motley hobos from down-home Canberra just about upstaged a cock-a-mamie hit group from mother England in one fell swoop. They never forgave us for that, but that's the nature of Snibbo. A perfect band for the times. And how cool was it for me to be with them, onstage for just one night? Lemme tell you, I'll never forget that!!

PS: I really do love GG's records. I'm a member of his gang!

Paul Culnane, October 1999.

The Recordings

This is an extract from the liner notes from the Snibbo Singles CD, by kind courtesy of its author, Peter Ilyk. It gives an intriguing insight into the primitive yet inventive recording techniques employed at the time.

There were no recording studios in Canberra in 1972 when Snibbo began making the first single. However, a chance meeting at work (Department of External Territories) between Peter and a young, fresh faced Paul McCartney look-alike named Paul Culnane led to discussions about music and recordings. Paul was an eager music fanatic and fancied himself as another George Martin. He accompanied Snibbo to the recording sessions at 2CA and after hearing the extremely poor efforts engineered by Peter Scotland, claimed he could do better himself on his stereo tape recorder.

The band duly proceeded to commence its recording career with Paul. The recording of the first single was undertaken in the garage of Bernie's parents home in Downer with a very small, primitive mixer and a 2-track recorder. The recording was accomplished by recording bass and drums in stereo and then "bouncing" these onto another 2-track recorder while adding guitars and other instruments. The vocals were added in the final "bounce". The only microphones available were the band's road microphones, mainly Shure SM58s and SM57s. After the actual recording was completed, there was some additional "mixing" in Paul's bedroom at his parents' home in Turner. With this equipment the band recorded its first single Bazooka b/w Bike Pump Rock and Burton Hall Boogie. The single was released in April 1973.

Interestingly enough, among the many quiet and coy innovations the group were to make, was perhaps one of the earliest instances of "sampling"! Befittingly, Bazooka opens with an explosion salvo that Paul filched straight off John Lennon's "Remember". (fer chrissake, don't let the Plastic Ono Band find out! And remember, this was '73! &endash; Ed.)

The band was unable to get much local airplay for the record (despite personal meetings with 2CA's programmers) and the single was actually banned because of the suggestive lyrics. Despite this, the record managed to reach number 5 on the local charts.

The second single was recorded in 1973 and was a far more ambitious attempt at recording - although the recording equipment and techniques were the same; somewhat primitive. During one mixdown session, Paul accidentally erased the coda of S'Long Sally. In trying to repair this alarming error, he discovered "phasing" when synchronising two tape recordings of the stereo tracks of the ending of the song. The resulting happy accident led to the dramatic effect being applied to the intro as well as the outro of the song. Additionally, Tony suggested the use of a cello on I Don't Want To See Your Face Again and talked his friend Christian Wojdewicz into playing on the track. This track was multi, multi layered and also featured heavily reverbed backing vocals. It was Paul's attempt to recreate the Phil Spector wall of sound. Also notable is the fact that the single was released in a foldout sleeve &endash; unique for the time &endash; featuring many photos of the group members.

The third single was recorded in 1974 and had the working title of Schtoonk Rock (no one recalls why!) and the flipside was called Take Me Back. The a-side was influenced by the Gary Glitter sound at the time while the b-side was Peter's attempt to write a song along the lines of St Louis by the Easybeats. For this record the band moved out of Bernie's garage and actually recorded on a 4-track Tascam machine at Arthur Laing's newly opened recording studio at Fyshwick. However, the mixing was still done in Paul's bedroom on his new 16-track desk!!

Paul and Peter took the master tape to Sydney for remastering at EMI studios. The result was not particularly successful as most of the original bass was lost (making Tony very unhappy). Paul subsequently combined the original recording and the EMI remix onto his new Sony 4-track recorder. The version on the CD is the combined recording. The single was never released commercially.

Later in 1974 Henry left the band and was replaced by Andy Ingram. This final line-up of Snibbo recorded one single, "14 Baby" b/w another version of "Take Me Back". This recording was made at Arthur Laing's four track studio and for the first time Paul was not involved in the recording or the mixing. Unfortunately the master tape of this record no longer exists. A mono cassette dub of the recording was recently uncovered by Peter in his garage under a pile of rubbish. That cassette recording is what appears on (the CD compilation). Despite the poor quality it has historic interest and has therefore been included in the compilation. This single was also never released.


All the singles were digitally remastered by Peter in 1998 in his home studio in Queanbeyan, and released on the limited-edition CD. The remastering process has been able to reveal details in the original recordings that were lost in the pressings of the recordings onto vinyl way back in 1972-74.


May 1973
Bazooka / Bike Pump Rock / Burton Hall Boogie
(Obbins 001; 7" maxi-single)

Aug. 1973
"I Don't Want To See Your Face Again" / "S'Long Sally" / "Mama Weer Alright"
(Obbins 002; 7" maxi-single)


Snibbo: The Singles 1972-74 (Obbins CD1, independent limited release)
1. "Bazooka"
2. "Bike Pump Rock"
3. "Burton Hall Boogie"
4. "S'Long Sally"
5. "I Don't Wanna See Your Face Again"
6. "Mama Weer Alright"
7. "Rock And Roll With You"
8. "Take Me Back"
9. "14 Baby"
10. "Take Me Back" (second version)

Sound design by Paul Culnane and Peter Ilyk

Extra musicians: 2, 4, 5: various combinations of Peter Dodson, Steve Maughan & Alan Cook from The Ritz/Second Movement on harmony vocals. 5: Christian Wojdewicz on multi-tracked cello. 7: Extra drums by treasured roadie Bill Smith

7-10: previously unreleased

1-6: basic tracks and overdubs recorded in Bernie's Downer Wonderland; further overdubs, mixdown and mastering for 45 vinyl done at Slapdash Sound (Paul's bedroom)

7-8: Recorded at Arthur Laing's Air Studios, Fyshwick. Initial mix and master done at Slapdash. Further augmented mix at EMI 301 Sydney. Combined 1999 stereo remix and post-production by Peter Ilyk

9-10: Recorded at Air Studios, Fyshwick. New drummer, Andy Ingram. Post-production and extra instrumentation by Peter Ilyk at his studio in 1999.

Compilation devised, designed and produced by Peter Ilyk. Digital remastering, post-production by Peter, from analogue tapes originally produced and engineered by Paul Culnane in 1973.


Further Snibbo archive recordings, including some rare and exciting live performances, may soon also see the light of day on CD.


Now you can see why the band got banned! Reg Presley and Ray Davies, eat yer hearts out! Modesty or whatever aside for the moment (ha!), your author was occasionally called upon to supply some lyrical hooks and quirky bon mots for the boys' songs. This was a delight, and I loved working, particularly with Tony Hayes, on word ideas. And I get a precarious thrill from knowing that some of my very own lines caused at least three of Snibbo's songs to be banned from airplay! My own lyrical contributions are therefore proudly reproduced in italics. Political correctness? In Snibbo lyrics? That's a non sequitur if ever there was one! Enjoy this exclusive presentation in Milesago. We're planning more! (PC)

A brisk rocker, opening with a John Lennon sample, utilising the staccato riff from The Easybeats' Sorry, and shamelessly filching the guitar solo from Whole Lotta Love For all that though, a highly original tune.

Short fat Fanny with her red dress on
Lovin' all night and still goin' strong
Fanny won't you ever change your ways
Can't you believe that true love pays?

Don't want a shotgun
Don't need no cannon
Have your good fun
And keep on bangin'

Short fat Fanny
You're my bazooka
Don't wanna love you
I just wanna shoot ya!

Tossin' and a-turnin' like a bucking horse
Ooh how she aches to feel my force
Fanny won't you tell me where you been?
Short fat Fanny, lovin' queen

Don't want a shotgun
Don't need no cannon
Have your good fun
And keep on bangin'

Short fat Fanny
You're my bazooka
Don't wanna love you
I just wanna shoot ya!

Oh lord won't you help me please
Fanny's on her knees
Help me please and make it quick
I think I'm gonna be sick!

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha ...

"Bike Pump Rock"
Handclap-driven medium-paced workout with delightfully idiosyncratic solos from Bernie and Rod

Hey Big Jenny, won't you go down on me?
I've got a bike pump hangin' down past my knee
No other woman can give it to me like you can
Stop talkin' put my bike pump in your hand

Ridin' all day, it gets too hard to touch
Won't use the seat, you like my bar too much
No other woman can give it to me like you can
Stop talkin' put my bike pump in your hand

Ride ride ride ride, Jenny ride (repeat)

Feel my pump, see the juice running down my leg
My pump's turned to wood, and now it's just a peg
No other woman can give it to me like you can
Stop talkin' put my bike pump in your hand

"Burton Hall Boogie"
Firmly in the T.Rex school of down n'dirty wickedness. Great solos ahoy! ...

Soiled underwear on a dark lustful night
Acting the virgin pretending to fight
Have to rely on tales of your woe
Saying you love me and wanting to go

Alright, alright

Two nights alone and you wanna be wed
Keep hangin' around, can't get to my bed
Have to be thick if you cannot see
Don't want you tonight, you're just not for me

Alright, alright

Now that you've gone I think it's okay
(unintelligible) and work hard all day
Waiting for Jenny to come here tonight
Then you come round, man what a fright!

Alright, alright (repeat)

"S'Long Sally"
Slade-inspired spelling, gigantic riffage, and the juiciest phasing ever acidentally committed to tape. The delicious multi-tracked guitar solo sounds just like the best kind of strawberry milkshake.

So long Sally, get back while you can
I don't need no queen to hold my hand
We could never ever do it right
Grab a cab and turn off your love light

Hey hey hey come on (repeat x 4)

Time to live means time to see you fly
Turn your head your mind will still be dry
People think it's strange that you and me
Do the things that still come naturally

Hey hey hey come on (repeat x 4)

"I Don't Wanna See Your Face Again"
An epic widescreen ballad production, a la "Isn't It A Pity?" or "Hey Jude", featuring massed choir, mega-tracked cello and all manner of adornments barring (barely) the kitchen sink. Roman renders the melody beautifully on this:

I ain't got nobody
That I can believe in
No one to depend on
Love don't last forever

When you're falling down
I won't be around

I don't wanna see your face again
It's not worth all the pain
I don't wanna see your face again

I am not a dreamer
I have no delusions
Make it on my own
You just cause confusion
You think that a friend
Is a means to an end

I don't wanna see your face again
It's not worth all the pain

I don't wanna see your face again

"Rock And Roll With You (aka 'Schtoonk Rock')
Remix engineer at EMI: "How did you get that fantastic drum sound?" Reply: "Crap equipment, mate, really!". A Glitterband-style stomper with all the trimmings...

Met her on a subway but I couldn't see her face
Said that she was lonely 'cos she came from outer space
Didn't have her number so she gave me her address
Asked me did I rock & roll, I had to answer yes

Hip-shakin' mama gonna rock and roll with you

Drove my car up to her home, the street was super-dark
Everything was quiet then a dog began to bark
Crept up to her front porch and I knocked upon her door
The lights were low, the music played, she pulled me to the floor

Hip-shakin' mama gonna rock and roll with you

Songs composed by Tony Hayes and Peter Ilyk. ("I Don't Wanna See Your Face Again" credited to
Hayes &endash; Ilyk &endash; Culnane. Paul Culnane's lyrical contributions to other songs denoted by italics).
All lyrics © 1973-74: Copyright Control/HIC Publishing/Slapdash Productions. All rights reserved. © Renewed 1999

References / Links

Thanks to:

- the members of Snibbo for their co-operation in the gathering of information, and especially, Peter Ilyk for his his archives, writings (reproduced here with his kind permission) and his ongoing enthusiasm for the cause

- David Kilby for his interview with Rod & Roman

Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)