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Punk icons immortalised on cityscape

A GIANT mural has been unveiled at Upper Roma St in inner Brisbane to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original line-up of seminal Brisbane band The Saints.

The Saints formed in 1974 and by 1976, the band — then comprised of guitarist and songwriter Ed Kuepper, singer-songwriter Chris Bailey, bassist Kym Bradshaw and drummer Ivor Hay — set up shop at a residence at Petrie Terrace in inner Brisbane.

The house was a combined practice space and home for some members of the band, and because it was being used for rehearsals, Club ’76 (as it had come to be known) became a popular local hangout.

The Saints released their debut 7” (I’m) Stranded and B-side No Time in September 1976.

The song predated both the Sex Pistols’ debut single Anarchy in the U.K. and The Clash’s White Riot, and The Saints became the first “punk” band outside the US to release a record.

The Kuepper/Bailey creative partnership lasted for three albums — (I’m) Stranded, released in 1977, Eternally Yours and Prehistoric Sounds.

Kuepper was on hand for today’s unveiling of the mural, which is a stone’s throw from the former Club ’76 and was painted by Brisbane artists Frank & Mimi.

When asked how he felt about the accolade, Kuepper said it was “nice that people remember us”.

“It’s weird, because one sounds like a complete egotist or something, but I always believed in those records, I thought they were really great rock ’n’ roll records,” he said.

“I think the thing that impresses me most is The Saints were never a fashionable band, they were never the darlings of the media.

“In fact, they were largely ignored, yet people have kind of made their own way to the band, so people that love those records have found those records by themselves, in much the same way all the records I really love I found myself.

“I think that’s a really fantastic thing because sometimes bands can attract a lot of attention because they were fashionable or media darlings at a particular time but The Saints were never that.”

Kuepper will be performing songs from his former band with a new project — Ed’s Garage Band — at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall in nearby Caxton St on Friday night.

“We’re doing Saints songs, but we’re doing them in a different sort of way,” he said.

“If you can imagine yourself in the suburbs of Brisbane in 1972, and there’s a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band, that happen to live in the same house as a string quartet, but instead of doing Creedence Clearwater songs, they have the foresight to do songs by The Saints that haven’t been written, and they incorporate the string quartet into that.”

QUT creative industries lecturer and former bassist for Brisbane band The Go-Betweens John Willsteed, who helped spearhead the Arts Queensland-funded mural, said it was a “first step in a process of figuring out the best way of activating Brisbane’s cultural history”, with plans in place to create a more extensive cultural heritage trail.

“As part of doing my PhD I’d been thinking about Brisbane and its cultural history for about five years, and a couple of years ago I had a meeting with a couple of guys from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, who said ‘we’re thinking about the 40th anniversary of (I’m) Stranded and what we can do’,” Dr Willsteed said.

Dr Willsteed already has some ideas about where he would like to see the cultural heritage trail expanded to, saying: “The idea is it’s based on sites rather than entities, so rather than the bands it’s actually about places, which I think is really important because that really nails it to the geography and the city.

“Obvious ones would be say The Zoo, even The Triffid, even though it’s quite young, at some point, Bruce Window Studios over at West End, where (I’m) Stranded was recorded, would be another one.

“The CPA rooms in the Valley, where Triple Z now lives, would be another one. The University of Queensland Union, where all the joint efforts happened throughout the ’70s … I’ve probably got about 15 in the inner city and the Valley.”

Kuepper approved of the concept of The Saints mural becoming a part of a wider Brisbane cultural heritage trail.

“I think it’s really great to kind of commemorate cultural activity in a city,” he said.

“It makes people feel good about where they live, it makes me feel good about where I live to know that things have taken place, that’s it’s not just politicians that get the accolades.”

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