════════════════════ Mad Cow (2002 - 2016) ════════════════════

MAD COW WAS a band I had been with for 14 years, the longest of any band I have been in and undoubtedly the most prolific gigging band. It's also a band I am very proud of and I think we had a pretty impressive product.

 

But for now let us go back to early 2002 and see where it all started.

Mark Laidler had left Average Wedding Band and Peter, Tony and I had joined forces with Greg Willis and Mark Killey and we had a new band but we didn't have a name.

Line-Up One
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Mark Killey – Guitar/Vocals 
Greg Willis – Guitar/Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

We did the usual thing one night, sitting around trying to come up with a name. Tony suggested Mad Cow, everyone stopped and thought about and it was agreed we had a name. At the time there was the Mad Cow Disease going on overseas so we felt it was timely. I remember saying we should also play up on the word Mad, to make it something more than just five guys on stage. I came up with the Mad Cow the band not the disease tag with the word disease all blotchy like it was diseased. I also used Prepare for the stampede on the bio and website. I found the font for the name and used alternate lower and upper case letters. Mark Killey worked for an advertising company and he asked one of his colleagues if they could design something and the logo with a cow playing a guitar backwards was born.

Unfortunately the playing up on the word Mad wasn’t really taken on board by some members of the band but Tony certainly excelled at it. He is the best front man I have ever had the pleasure to have worked with over the years. We go back over 30 years now and I love him like a brother, who else would? Some of the things he says and comes up with on stage, can have me in stitches so that I can’t even play properly!

Tony got us our first gig at Engadine Tavern, he has a gift as far as talking to bookers or agents goes. In fact he was a booker working at Sphere for about 18 months before Mad Cow so he used his contacts, always a nice thing to have in any band.

It was all going along quite fine, we were socialising a lot which I think is good for a band, we became friends. I had a long history with Peter Downy and we got on like a house on fire, I liked Peter a lot. Things started getting narky, mostly because some of them didn’t want to work too much and were treating it more like a Weekend Warrior thing. That's fine, I don't have a problem if that's what you want to do, but they were starting to knock back gigs and to me that's just not right. This led to Tony and I compromising too much and the band started to disintegrate. He and I wanted to take it to the next level and become more professional.

One particular incident led me to re-think how I felt about the other members and I decided I wanted out. It was hard for me to do as I had genuinely liked them all. The atmosphere was just not right and this didn't sit well with me. Tony wasn't sure about leaving but eventually he could see it was never going to be the same, things had changed and there was nothing we could do to fix it. So we parted company with the others with the agreement that Tony and I would take the name and everything associated with it.

 

The next stage of Mad Cow wasn’t very pleasant at all for me. It started out somewhat OK, it seemed to be working but it soon became obvious to me it was never going to work. I decided to leave, I couldn't justify to myself any reason to stay.

Line-Up Two
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Grant Cardwell – Guitar 
Terry Cairns – Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals 
Bruce Fischer – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

Tony continued for a short time with another drummer, but he soon realised it wasn’t going to work out.

 

Line-Up Three
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Grant Cardwell – Guitar 
Terry Cairns – Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals 
Bruce Fischer – Bass/Vocals 
Mark Cardwell – Drums

 

Tony called asking if I was interested in coming back and starting a new line up as he was having the same issues as I had. I said I was but only if we did it right this time and get the right people. He agreed and the third line-up was disbanded.

We decided to get professional management involved. This would take the pressure off us doing it all and have someone who could be the voice for the band.

Enter Viv Hamilton. Tony had worked for a couple of Viv’s bands and I knew her from my days of working with Mark Laidler doing PA & Lighting for one of her bands Shooga Katz. Tony and I set up a meeting to ask her if she was interested in taking on another band and fortunately she was.

 

During the time of the second line-up Tony was working for a company where the new National Sales Manager turned out to be Enzo Magistro. Enzo and I had been in That’s Right! together and Tony would occasionally get up and sing with us. Enzo hadn’t been in a band for a while and the time was right for him to get back into it. When Tony spoke to him about starting up a new version of Mad Cow he was in like a flash.

Viv set about finding some great players and we had our first audition/rehearsal. But the Keyboard player Steve Tapai and his wife Kerry who was the singer decided not to continue as she had just found out she was pregnant. But the Guitarist Craig Vine was interested so that was a good start.

The next people Viv found Emilia Pirri-Depares - Lead Vocals/Percussion & Robert Bellenger - Keyboards turned out to be the right ones and we finally had a new line-up for Mad Cow and we were on our way ...... or were we?

Line-Up Four
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Emilia Pirri-Depares - Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Craig Vine– Guitar 
Robert Bellenger - Keyboards 
Enzo Magistro – Bass 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

After a number of rehearsals Craig decided it wasn’t for him and he left. This turned out to be a good thing for two reasons, he didn't really fit in with the rest of us anyway and Viv found another guitarist Perry Eves who turned out to be the right mix.

 

From August of 2007 this line-up stayed together till August 2015 when Perry decided he'd had enough and was planning to move up the central coast with his partner. It's a pretty rare thing these days to have the same line-up stay together for so long and something I'm quite proud of.

Line-Up Five
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion
Emilia Pirri-Depares - Lead Vocals/Percussion
Perry Eves – Guitar/Vocals
Robert Bellenger - Keyboards
Enzo Magistro - Bass
Greg Morris - Drums/Samples/Vocals

══════════════ Mad Cow Promotional Video ══════════════

 

Credits - Video

Filmed at: Warehouse Studios, Rydalmere NSW. Director: Viv Hamilton Editor: Peter Hamilton

Credits - Audio

Recorded at The Tone Temple, Rydalmere NSW. Engineer: Warren Mason
Songs used in medley:
Love Shack written by Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland & Cindy Wilson

(originally recorded by The B-52's in 1989)
Lady Marmalade written by Bob Crewe & Kenny Nolan (originally recorded by Labelle in 1974)
Footloose written by Kenny Loggins & Dean Pitchford (originally recorded by Kenny Loggins in 1984)
I Kissed A Girl written by Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin & Cathy Dennis

(originally recorded by Katy Perry in 2008)
Hey Mickey! written by Mike Chapman & Nicky Chinn (originally recorded by Toni Basil in 1979)
Time Warp written by Richard O'Brien (originally recorded by Tim Curry in 1975)

The Heat Is On written by Harold Faltermeyeri & Keith Forsey (originally recorded by Glenn Frey in 1985)

Mad Cow Medley

Well as usual all good things come to an end and with Perry's departure this left quite a hole to fill. But as luck would have it one of Viv's other bands Party Express was disbanding. I had seen them play and was very impressed with their Guitarist Chris Nagy so Viv asked him if he was interested in replacing Perry and fortunately he was.

Line-Up Six

Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion

Emilia Pirri-Depares - Lead Vocals/Percussion

Chris Nagy – Guitar/Vocals

Robert Bellenger - Keyboards

Enzo Magistro - Bass

Greg Morris - Drums/Samples/Vocals

This line-up lasted about 12 months when in fighting started up over the usual thing "money". Viv had retired from band management due to poor health and some in the band thought they knew how to do it better. I've never been in a band for money, sure it's nice to be paid but it was always about the playing for me.

 

So after one very volatile meeting where I was belittled and sworn at I decided to leave the band. It's a shame really because I liked all of them a lot and we certainly were a great band but to be treated that way was very disappointing. I sure as hell know I didn't deserved to be treated that way after all I had done for them and the band over the years. At this point Tony knew he was out numbered so he decided to fold the band.

 

Mad Cow was our original concept anyway, we own the logo etc so no one put up a fight, it actually appeared they were happy it had come to an end. Complacency can be a big killer, especially of bands and Mad Cow was no exception.

 

Fortunately Chris wasn't part of this meeting, when he joined he didn't become part of the partnership so he was spared most of the aggravation and in fighting.

As I say I'm pretty proud of Mad Cow, from it's early beginnings back in 2002 till 2016. For 14 years Tony and I with lots of help from Viv took it a long way and we achieved quite a lot, over 350 gigs with 288 of those coming from the last two line-ups, click HERE for a full list of these Mad Cow's gigs.

 

We were nominated for an ACE Award (Australian Club Entertainment Award) for Best Show Band  four years in a row 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately we never won one but it showed the band was doing something right!!

Money ... it's a great thing to have but it's also the cause of many bands falling apart and Mad Cow was no different but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and who's that I see at the end of it, why it looks a lot like a Krazy Kat.

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