By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor
The Social Surgeons slice apart the façade and open up society’s bloated guts, and they do it on time and under budget.
Band leader Juan Ofmany started it up a couple of years ago, when Tony Abbott was relevant, and they’ve been steadily accumulating YouTube videos. They have just released their debut self-titled CD on their own AntiMundanity Records, which includes (the audio for) all the YouTube favourites like “Landlord” and “Facebook Is _ _?”, as well as pertinent new material such as “I Hate Waiting In Queues”.
UB speaks with the leader of The SS, Juan…
Who are the members of Social Surgeons and are any of you related to the guys in TISM?
A few people have mentioned the TISM thing from us wearing masks but all the band members have their own reason for doing so. I (Juan) sing and play guitar and started wearing a mask when I got chickenpox (wouldn’t recommend as an adult) and had unsightly blisters all over my face. This gave Pedro (guitar) the idea to wear one too for anonymity as he owes so many people money and is constantly having to disappear from town. While Fidel (drums) wears one as like every drummer he is in numerous bands and doesn’t want them to know he is moonlighting with us. Rosalie (singer on a few songs whenever in town) has made all the masks and often performs in other projects mask-bound as well. Bob (bass) is just too handsome to wear a mask… and also gives the audience something nice to look at other than four masked people.
You claim to be from Sydney but I’ve lived here my whole life and you don’t have the typical plasticy bleachy cocainey smell about you. And your “Facebook” video was set in art-friendly Melbourne. Is this a ruse to confuse?
Don’t tell anyone…hmm…but that was Pedro’s idea to keep the loan sharks off his back. However, Bob actually spends most of his time in Far North Queensland so we only play during the four or five months he is down amongst the arty Melbourne public.
Do you need to have more than just a little tune in your head before you are inspired to write a song? Do you need to be angry?
Initially I was angry and disgusted at the idiocy of the politicians of the time and decided to write and record a song as well as film and edit a video all within a day (I work well with deadlines… ha). The songs just seemed to come naturally when I thought of one of these fuckwit politicians. This happened for “Tony Abbott is a Cunt”, which I did myself, and “Oh I Pine for the end of Pyne” with Rosalie. And I was about to do “Let’s Play Hockey with Joe Hockey” when he all of a sudden got booted. Things then went on the backburner for a while as I was busy doing other projects. However, when Bob was about to head back to Queensland, I was offered use of a studio for a night and decided we could do Social Surgeon stuff. Over the next two days I knocked out some songs and assembled a cast of musicians to record them. During the recording session I played everyone the song, we would do a run through and then record it. I loved the simplicity of the process. On mixing the recording I realised how much it worked for me and needed to be released. Luckily all those involved agreed.
“Tony Abbott Is A Cunt”:
You’ve written some disses of Aussie politicians. Abbott was an easy target, Pyne less so but you still had a go. In your opinion, who is an example of a good politician?
Good politicians cannot exist within the current political system. The system does not allow such a thing. New politicians (predominantly party puppets) are consumed within a party political system that is all about preservation of the status quo. The multinational corporations’ influence within this system is profound and whenever they make bad business decisions we (the public) are often bailing the fuckers out. The system is a sham, however, as we witnessed recently, a lunatic like Trump can pretty much buy his way into office. He was aided though by riding a wave of US political discontent. The fucked-up thing is the most wealthy 20 percent of Americans own 85 percent of the country’s wealth and having Trump as President will only increase this immoral imbalance. But getting back to your question, there are actually some community based politicians/councillors I admire as they recognise that a community based decision-making process is key to a fair and equitable society … off the top of my head Stephen Jolley comes to mind as someone highly community focussed and involved.
“Facebook Is_ _?”:
“Facebook Is _ _?” – a fascinating experiment, if nothing else. The video essentially shows how the voice samples were collected but can you explain what your approach to people was? Were all of the comments gotten by organic means – i.e. Not “staged”? Because that’s certainly a lot of people who said Facebook is “fucking boring”.
Um… the video is just video. Nobody would actually speak to me when we were doing the Facebook video… ha. All the vox pops were actually collected one evening in a local pub. The pub was pretty full and I wandered from table to table with my Zoom recorder. Like you hear at the start of the song, I asked, “Can I get two words out of you? I need you to finish that sentence”, and held up a sign saying “Facebook is _ _?”. It was a great night to do it as there was a really diverse crowd at the pub. Naturally, everyone asked what my two words would be so I showed them a sign saying “Facebook is fucking boring” and asked them to repeat it if they thought it encapsulated their thoughts. I must admit, I was pretty surprised at all the negative comments about Facebook as I thought I would be in the minority thinking the thing is fucked. The whole thing took me about 20 minutes of wandering around and every comment made was put into the song.
You just launched the CD. What’s next on the social agenda?
We have some shows in the New Year while Bob is still around and hoping to find a night in the studio in Feb and see what happens with some new stuff.
Tell us a joke.
I am one of those people who cannot for the life of them ever remember jokes but we still all get a chuckle when we say to our drummer, “Count us in, Fidel”…
Listen to The Social Surgeons: