══════════════════ The Fringe (1980 - 1983) ══════════════════

THE FRINGE IS one of my favourite bands because it was the first band I was in with my best friend Mark Laidler. We always talked about being in a band together when we were at school but it never came about. So after my time as a Punk Rocker it was time to get back to what I love best, a good Pop song.

I met Greg Carstairs who had immigrated from Scotland to Australia to live who was a Guitarist. We got together with another Guitarist Peter Brookes, who had immigrated from England. Greg had met him at the hostel when they both arrived and we did a few parties just for a bit of fun, no Bass player but it didn't seem to matter. With our mutual love of music talks led to forming a band. Peter wasn’t interested in taking it any further, so I suggested my friend Mark.

The only problem was that Mark wasn’t very confident in his abilities so he baulked at the idea. I started putting pressure on him to give it a go. It took me a few weeks to talk him round. He finally agreed with me when I said “You might look back on it and say I should have at least given it a go”. I’m pleased he did because it led to many years working with him in a number of bands.

We needed a Bass player so I contacted Ian Olive from my days in The Prisoners and he was up for the challenge.

Line-Up One 
Greg Carstairs – Lead Vocals/Guitar 
Ian Olive – Bass 
Mark Laidler – Lead Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

Mark and I have a mutual love of 60’s music so we wanted to do as many 60’s songs as we could. After discussions with Greg and Ian it was agreed we would do all 60’s songs as a way of giving the band a theme. Songs were picked and worked out and we started rehearsing at the Sweat Box at Como! It was sounding good but unfortunately Ian had to leave as he was offered a good job overseas. Bummer, back to square one!

By this time Glenn A. Baker had released a 2LP record set called 'Monkeemania'* and The Monkees were all the rage again. We then decided we would do all Monkees songs, not so much a tribute but just showcasing the great songs they have.

We advertised for a new Bass player with this in mind, the ad specified "Doing all Monkees songs". We got many responses but only one from a guy called Kevin Carle, who said “I love The Monkees and 60’s songs in general”. Surely he’s the right guy? Luckily he was!

Line-Up Two 
Greg Carstairs – Lead Vocals/Guitar 
Kevin Carle – Bass/Vocals 
Mark Laidler – Lead Vocals/Guitar 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

We rehearsed quite a bit, even started to do a few original songs with a 60's feel to them, it was really coming along quite nicely. Kev had bought a TEAC A-3440 4 Track Reel To Reel Tape Recorder and we started to do some recordings as well (see player below). We were pretty much ready to start looking for gigs too. As I say it was all coming along nicely and then Greg announces, it's not working for him and has decided to leave! 
 

Really? .... Months of work, gone .... again. 
 

Obviously disappointed but we were undaunted and continued on. 
 

This time we decided to flesh out the band a bit more so we advertised for a Guitarist and Lead Vocalist. First to arrive was André Massoud, he had just left The Clones and he also sang. We then found a guy who seemed to be interested in being the lead singer, unfortunately I can't remember his name now. He had a great voice and at the audition you could tell the vocals and harmonies just lifted the band. He agreed to join and we arranged our first rehearsal for the following week and we said our goodbyes. Kev, Mark and I were really pleased with how this had turned out, maybe Greg leaving was a good thing?

Oh, and by the way, at this stage we still don't even have a name for the band.

Line-Up Three 
Unknown – Lead Vocals
Andre Massoud - Guitar/Vocals
Kevin Carle – Bass/Vocals 
Mark Laidler – Guitar/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

The following week rolls around and the unknown singer doesn't turn up and we never heard from him again, maybe this is why I can't remember his name? Not sure why, but André decided to leave soon after this.

Bummer, back to square one ..... again ..... or are we? 

 

I made a suggestion that we try it as a three piece, get into a studio and just see how it sounds. The three of us had been playing together for a while now so we knew the songs we just hadn't played them as a three piece before. Mark wasn't too happy about the idea of being the only recognized Lead Vocalist but Kev and I knew he could do it and with our encouragement he agreed to see how it would sound so we arranged a rehearsal. 
 

Well to say this is how it should have been all along is an understatement, it just worked and finally ... The Fringe was born!!!

Line-Up Four 
Kevin Carle – Bass/Vocals 
Mark Laidler – Lead Vocals/Guitar 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

Because we were going to be a 60’s band we tried as much as possible to come up with a look and feel of the 60’s. The first thing we needed was a name for the band and we did the usual thing and names were flying around the room and we end up deciding on The Fringe. Kev found the font and he designed the logo, which I think is very much in a 60’s style. We also hit the Op Shops looking for 60’s style clothing and we kept it as colourful as possible, paisley was a popular choice!

 

By this time we had dropped the idea of doing all Monkees songs, we kept doing many Monkees songs but we returned to doing a mix of different bands. There are just too many great 60’s songs to do and we didn’t want to miss out.

The Fringe did quite a few things most bands tend not to do. We bought a PA and built a lightshow. We made our own back drop, which was a lot of fun when we painted it.

 

We hung it from a clothes line and threw paint at it till we were happy with the look, then painted the name using a huge stencil that Kev had made. We made our own posters, t-shirts, flyers and business cards. We were quite industrious!

OK ... we're ready to start gigging. For listing of gigs click HERE.

There was an ad in the local paper calling for auditions for a new venue opening up soon so we made arrangements to audition. On Wednesday 23rd September 1981 at Bogey’s Bar & Bistro at MirandaThe Fringe made their debut, a 30 minute audition.

We are about half way through the audition and the manager hands Kev a piece of paper. I saw him hand it to him and I’m thinking "Oh well we gave it our best shot, it probably says get off!!" Well I’m happy to report it in fact said “Announce that you will be back Friday night”.

Oops, we actually don’t know enough songs to do a full night yet so it was agreed we would come back the following Friday night instead. We were very pleased with ourselves, we must have been doing something right after all. But, we need some more songs so rehearsals were ramped up to get ready and we made it ... just.

We had two PA operators during the life of the band too, Steve Law and Glen “The Gnome” Patterson. I don't think either of them had a lot experience, if any in doing sound but we all learnt together. When they first started with us we asked them to come along to a couple of rehearsals. We would set up as if we were on stage and they would run the PA for us. This was good not only for them to get the experience but we were able to hear what they were doing and iron out any bugs.

More gigs at Bogey’s Bar & Bistro meant we were getting tighter and we were having a blast. Time to look for more gigs so we started ringing venues and some gave us work, Cronulla Workers Club, Penshurst Hotel and the Royal Hotel at Sutherland to name a few. We hooked up with a couple of agencies which led to more work and further afield too, like the Marlin Hotel at UlladullaShadows Wine Bar at Crows Nest and the Leppington Inn supporting Mad Gorilla. We also had a gig supporting The Beats at Kareela Golf Club.

The Fringe lasted roughly 2 years with the 3 piece line-up being the only line-up to gig. We had some terrific times, the three of us just clicked as a band. As I said when I first started this story of The Fringe this was the first band I was in with Mark so our friendship was a driving force behind the whole thing. It was great to have Kev along to share the ride with us, we are still mates with him to this day.

 

But everything comes to an end, for some unknown reason Kev decides that marrying some good looking girl and moving up the Central Coast to live is better than being in a band … go figure?

 

The Fringe is over but Mark and I aren't finished yet. Although we're not quite sure what to do next … you could say we were The Undecided?

═════════════════ The Fringe Demos (1982) ═════════════════

All tracks Recorded at The Fringe HeadquartersMenai NSW. Engineers: Mark Laidler & Kevin Carle 

Credits

Tracks 1 & 3 written by Kevin Carle
Track 2 written by Mark Laidler

Track 4 written by Lou T. Josie (originally recorded by The Grass Roots in 1968)

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*Monkeemania - The Monkees
Label: Arista
Record Company: EMI Records Australia
Release Date: 1979