Biography: The Immaculate Crows were originally named and founded by Bruce Neilsen (lead guitar, songwriter) in late 1981. The original band members were Bruce, Mark Kassulke (rhythm guitar and harmonies), Brad Leaf-Milham (bass), Chris Allen (drums) and Hamish McKie (singer). Hamish and Mark Kassulke left and were replaced by David Page (vocals) and Mark Hocknell (guitar). David had been a teenage pop star for a brief time making appearances on shows such as Countdown and The Paul Hogan Show. He was the first Australian to be signed to the prestigious Tamla Motown label. His pop career ended once his voice broke. He joined The Immaculate Crows sometime in 1982.
The first recording was made on 27 June 1982. Two songs, ‘In The City’ and ‘Dingo’, were recorded. ‘In The City’ was inspired by Bruce’s visits to seedy nightclubs as a frustrated young man trying to meet someone to connect with. It is pretty much an indie-pop song. On 1 September 1982 The Immaculate Crows recorded ‘Psychedelic Girl’ and another version of ‘Dingo’. This was a 2 track recording done in the now defunct Basement Studio. ‘Dingo’ was inspired by the Azaria incident where it was finally considered during a coronial inquest that baby Azaria had been killed by a Dingo. This is possibly the most original Australian punk song done in this period as it starts off with a folk style harmonica, then a sinister riff being replicated by bass and guitars followed by an almost metal type riff and David’s amazing scream.
‘Psychedelic Girl’ was inspired by a night Bruce had with someone called Fiona who gave him two acid tabs. As a result they both ended up not being able to sleep and amused themselves doing simple things like tripping while walking through Toowong Cemetery, visiting a bisexual bi-polar ex-priest and finding new pleasures in looking at a Donna Summers poster. This was also one of the most original Garage songs of this era as it started off with a heavy bass/drum pattern which gave it a slightly Psychedelic feel combined with Bruce’s use of a flanger on his guitar part. A copy of this recording was provided to Brisbane Community Radio Station 4ZZZ and played heavily for a considerable period of time on a daily basis during which The Immaculate Crows played many 4ZZZ gigs and were told that they would be supporting big acts like Midnight Oil and The Allnighters. However, David left to be replaced by Hamish and then Chris left. David Page was possibly the first gay indigenous person to be a vocalist/front person for an Australian Alternative band. He was also the director of music for the Indigenous Bangarra Dance Theatre and was one of their integral members until his death in 2016.
The band struggled to replace Chris and in the process lost a lot of the momentum they had gained. Bruce wasn’t happy with the replacement (Neal) and left to form and name two other bands Insurrection and The Popes before reuniting briefly with The Immaculate Crows before they broke up in early 1985. The Popes only played once but it was at Brisbane’s biggest and most respected venue at the time (Festival Hall) in front of thousands of Catholic schoolgirls.
Before they broke up The Immaculate Crows had some free studio time with an audio engineering student and recorded ‘Family Life’ which was inspired by a domestic incident Bruce remembered from when he was young. It is basically a ‘New Wave’ style song featuring Hamish on vocals, Mark Hocknell, Brad, Bruce and Dave Taylor on drums who had come over from The Popes to join the Crows. This recording also had Tricia Bones from Trish and The Trash helping out on harmonies.
No songs were released commercially until 2019 when Bruce converted the Eighties recordings to digital and released them for streaming. He also reunited with former bandmate Mark Hocknell and for a brief period of time until February 2021 fifteen songs from this partnership were released which consisted of older songs that had never been recorded and completely new songs. Bruce wrote and arranged all songs and Mark produced and played on the initial tracks. Bruce also played on all tracks and Carolyn Neilsen recorded all vocals plus extra parts done by Bruce. Vocalists are locally sourced Brisbane musicians with varying degrees of recording and singing experience.
Since 2020 The Immaculate Crows has become a loose collective where Bruce writes, arranges and plays on all songs, Carolyn Neilsen produces all songs and a core group of singers and other musicians are drawn on when necessary. The core singers currently are Daphne Mae, Jessica Shipley, Ray Foai, Nicky Steel, K M Steele and Elena Skoko. Wayne Harvey is a new addition to guitar playing duties.
Song genres vary from Alternative to Psychedelic, Punk, Indie Pop, Rhythm and Blues to Country Folk and Alternative Country. Song themes vary from Youth Suicide, Poverty to Domestic Violence, Unrequited Love and Alienation, with most songs focussing on the human ability to understand deeply and connect with the problems we sometimes face.
Kagenstudios does all mastering.
Listeners and Journalists have said the music reminds them of artists as disparate as The Stone Roses, Public Image, Siousie and the Banshees, Patti Smith, Jefferson Airplane, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Echo and the Bunnymen and Paul Kelly. All these artists are completely different to each other which shows really how unique The Immaculate Crows sound is.
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