By Theo Umbrivides
Unbelievably Bad Contributor
Before Kylie Minogue, Pseudo Echo and Bliss n Eso there was Buffalo.
Formed in ’71, Buffalo was the heaviest, scariest and loudest thing the country had seen since World War Two and the Depression, too. Their first three albums are bawdy, ballistic, ball-busting classics of boogie rock. They put hair on those big balls and saw that face again before anyone ever saw that face again.
Tonight (September 9) at The Bald Faced Stag, Dave Tice, Buffalo’s singer and founding member, will perform some Buffalo classics under the name Buffalo Revisited.
UB caught up with Dave and talked about Buffalo, Brisbane, blues, birds, booze and Bon.
How did Buffalo get together?
Buffalo began as a Brisbane band in about 1968/69. At that time we were called Head. We were mainly a blues band. Pete Wells, who really started that band, and I decided that we’d come down to Sydney – to the big smoke.
How did you meet Pete?
We met through a newspaper advert. He was like the old man of the band. He was only a year or so older than the rest of us, but he had a lot more experience. You’d know Pete in Rose Tattoo as a slide guitar player, he was pretty much an icon as far as they’re concerned. To my way of thinking he was a great slide player, but in my opinion he was a much better bass player.
For what reason?
He was a fantastic bass player. It’s as simple as that.
You moved to Sydney and changed your name and your style. Why’d you decide to go in a heavier direction?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. When we came down from Brisbane, Pete and I had a guitar player and a drummer with us. Both of whom didn’t really last long. They got frustrated and pissed off back to Brisbane pretty quickly. So we looked around for other players. We ended up hooking up with John Baxter. As far Pete and I were concerned we were still trying to put together the ultimate blues band. John turned up and we had a jam with him. He’s there slashing away and doing all this stuff. Pete and I went outside the rehearsal room and had a quiet cigarette. I said, “Pete, this bloke can’t play blues. Are we wasting our time with this guy.” Pete said, “yeah, I don’t know what it is that he’s doing, but we should give it a go. It sounds interesting.” So the impetus to go for a heavier sound and rely more on riffs than the blues idea was because of the way that John played.
What was Sydney like when you arrived?
It really wasn’t that much different to Brisbane as far as we were concerned because the agents down here didn’t want to know us either, especially when we went heavy. They didn’t know what the hell we were doing. It certainly wasn’t Sherbet and it wasn’t Flake and it wasn’t The Valentines.
What bands were you playing with at the time?
Blackfeather, Band of Light, Taman Shud, Max Merritt and the Meteors, Daddy Cool. We’d do a show at Hornsby Police Boys Club and there’d be 1,200 kids there. Fifty cents each to get in. That’s how much people expected to pay.
In most cases a band will start out heavy and tend to mellow over time. Whereas Buffalo’s first three albums get heavier. Darker, more aggressive. Was this a conscious decision or a happy accident?
Once we developed a following it became obvious to us that the heavier style of stuff was having an impact and working for us, so we just tried to be heavier. We were determined not to be classed as a pop band and the fact that we were outsiders was very much a part of our espirit de corps. We thought, well fuck you, man. This is what we’ll do, you either like it or lump it.
Buffalo Revisited plays The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney, with fellow reunited legends Tamam Shud on Friday, September 9 – tonite!