══════════════ The Undecided? (1983 - 1990) ══════════════

WOW, WHERE DO I start with The Undecided?

At the beginning” I hear you say, well in that case grab a drink … or maybe two and get ready for the ride.

The Undecided? went through 9 line-up changes … so maybe make that 3 drinks!!!

 

After Kev left The Fringe Mark and I had had so much fun we didn’t want it to finish. We also felt doing all 60’s songs had run its course as we wanted to do some more modern songs too. We advertised for a Bass player and that’s when Peter Downy ex Mistaken Identities first comes into the picture. The three of us then advertised for a Guitarist and Jeff Stevenson from a band called Main Street was the lucky one to get the gig.

Line-Up One 
Mark Laidler – Guitar/Lead Vocals 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Lead Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

We started rehearsing and Jeff had a few original songs so we worked on them too. Mark had a couple from our Fringe days and Peter had written a couple of songs as well so The Undecided? slowly started to turn into an originals/covers band.

We were starting to sound very good and we did a couple of backyard parties for friends of Jeff’s to iron out some bugs before looking for work.

Jeff had a contact at Clovelly RSL as Main Street used to play there and he was able to get us our first real gig and we were off and running.

During The Fringe Mark had gotten the bug about operating PA's and decided to put one together, which the band was lucky enough to be able to use. We had the lights we used in The Fringe so we had lower running costs which was good as far as making a few bucks which is always nice. This lasted for about two years. Mark decided he would leave to concentrate on the PA thing and started to hire it out to bands. We decided to get a front man and keyboard player rather than another guitarist as this would flesh out the sound, original songs were now taking priority and we wanted a bit more colour to them.

 

I had met singer Tony Crisafulli when his band The Pengwins hired our PA & Lights while I was in The Fringe. He wasn’t in a band so I suggested him to the others. They knew Tony as he would sometimes come to our gigs and get up and sing so they were happy with him to be front man. We then advertised for a Keyboard player, enter Alex Jostsons.

Line-Up Two 
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Alex Jostsons – Keyboards 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

This line-up was to produce some of my favourite songs of my whole career. Alex is a sensational player, at the time he was very young, this was his first band and he had some great equipment.

Tony is a brilliant writer, his lyrics and melodies blow me away most times. Jeff can write a great song too and his guitar playing is sensational. At his audition when we finished the first song I said “That was magic” and his nick name was Magic from then on.

 

A piece of trivia: Jeff was the one to give me my nick name of The Bear, cuddly like a bear, that's me!!

Tony, Jeff and Alex in my opinion wrote some of the best songs I have ever heard, or certainly had the privilege of playing on that’s for sure.

Peter and I clicked as a rhythm section so with all of these elements in place this meant the second line-up of The Undecided? were a particularly good band.

All was going along smoothly; we were getting plenty of work. A friend of Jeff’s, Peter Raymond was our manager, he’d never managed a band before but he did a great job. We had recorded an album, Stick Movie? and released it on cassette. We sold them at gigs for $5.00.

At one memorable gig at the Kings Head Tavern – South Hurstville NSW, for one set we played the full album. After each song Tony told the punters this next song is from our album Stick Movie? which we are selling here tonight. “Get your copy for $5.00 or 2 for $10.00”. We actually sold heaps that night!!

I have included Stick Movie? for your listening pleasure (see player below) please send your $5.00 care of this web site!! Also you can go to the RECORDINGS page to hear more songs by The Undecided?.

We recorded Stick Movie? at Axent Recording Studios – Kogarah NSW. The owner/engineer was Ross McGregor, he is blind and makes his way around a mixing desk better than most I’ve seen; it was amazing to watch him at work.

Ross had built a new studio and called me saying he would give us some free time to try out the new studio with his apprentice Richard 'Riz' Stark. This was a way of giving him some hands on experience without the expectations of the client associated with being charged for it. "Sure we’re up for that, who wouldn’t be?" I say.

This session produced 3 new songs and Riz was great to work with, he was closer to our age and had younger ideas so it was a good mix, we all got on really well.

After the recording Riz rang me to offer his services as producer of the band, which we accepted. Riz had some great ideas and I believe the songs became better due to his influence.

 

Unfortunately around this time Peter Raymond had left as our manager, he got married and couldn't spare the time anymore.

If that isn't bad enough, something else happens to spoil the fun.

There was another band called Dance Park and they stole Alex from us. Simple as that, they sacked their keyboard player Andrew Schwartz (who was a friend of Tony’s) and coaxed Alex away from us. Why did they want him? Well as I said he’s a great player to be sure but he had great equipment, top of the line at the time and they wanted that more than anything else. Sad really as I’m not sure Alex really knew or understood that.

Moving on Tony suggests a friend of his Mat Nichols but he only lasts one gig before we part company.

 

Line-Up Three 
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Mat Nichols – Keyboards 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocal
s

Around this time we are being managed by Jeremy Alexander of Last Laugh Management.

We then advertised for another keyboard player, find one and we are a band again.

Mark Merton was a nice guy, a good player and fitted in quite well.

We rehearse and with Jeremy on board we start to gig.

 

Then, nine months after Mark joined he tells us “This is not really what I’m looking for”.

 

Really, it took you nine months to work that out?

 

Do you think there is a trend forming with keyboard players?

Line-Up Four 
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Mark Merton – Keyboards 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

We advertise for yet another keyboard player, find one, start to rehearse and he leaves.

All I remember is his first name, John!!

Jeremy from Last Laugh Management is also out of the picture so what are we to do?

Line-Up Five 
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
John (Unknown) – Keyboards 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

We decided to record some more songs and have a break from looking for another keyboard player for a while. We had a few new songs but they didn’t really have keyboard parts, so we recorded them without and Riz overdubbed them later.

Not only can he produce us but he can play keyboards as well, he did a great job.

A friend of Riz's Paul Lewis offers his services as manager and we are now looking for another Keyboard player .... again!

Line-Up Six 
Tony Crisafulli – Lead Vocals/Percussion 
Richard Stark – Keyboards 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

This turns out to be harder than expected, maybe the well is dry?

 

OK, OK enough is enough!!

 

Tony is now starting to get jack of it all and decides to move on and Jeff takes over as Lead Vocalist. He knows a guitarist, Chris Taylor so we are back to a 4 piece.

Unfortunately Riz parts company with us too. I think he found the style changing, with no keyboard it was becoming more Rock orientated.

Line-Up Seven 
Chris Taylor – Guitar 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Lead Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

Chris was a great guitarist, he and Jeff worked well together sharing lead breaks and some of the guitar harmonies were really nice too.

To help us get some work two friends of Jeff's (again) came on as co-managers George Hambezos and Scott McGill. We gigged a bit and then Jeff took off to the US for six months but by the time he gets back Chris has moved on, maybe it’s us not them??

 

Alright then let’s take ALL the angst out of it let’s be a 3 piece!!!

Line-Up Eight 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Lead Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

This was a lot of fun, the 3 founding members of The Undecided? just doing what we knew best. We had now been together for about 6 years so we knew each other really well. We also spent a lot of time together socially, so it just clicked. We rehearsed and started gigging and we had some great nights.

 

But all good things come to an end and we did our last show at the Intersection Tavern – Ramsgate billed as Last Show Ever with Tony joining us and his friend the aforementioned Andrew Schwartz on keyboards. It was a great night and we were lucky enough have it recorded for posterity.

 

But hang on there's still a bit more; surely we can go one more round!

 

I’m not really sure why we had decided to finish but we came back with Jeff’s cousin on guitar to give it one more try.

Line-Up Nine 
Des Webster – Guitar/Vocals 
Jeff Stevenson – Guitar/Lead Vocals 
Peter Downy – Bass/Vocals 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

This line-up lasted till Peter was offered a job in New Zealand and left Australia around 1990. We did our very last gig as The Undecided? at Clovelly RSL with yet again Tony and Andrew helping out, another successful night.

Almost eight years I spent with The Undecided? mostly it was good times, not a lot of bad; truthfully all the angst mostly came from unstable line-ups which is probably what gives most bands grief.

They were great guys and I would go on to work with Jeff, Peter and Tony for many years to come.

But for now, Shanghai.

I have written an article about The Undecided? for the Australian Music History web site so if you would like more information on the band click on the logo below.

════════ Stick Movie? - The Undecided? (1985) ════════

All tracks Recorded at Axent Recording StudiosKogarah NSW. Engineer: Ross McGregor

 

Credits

Tracks 1, 2, 4, 8 & 9 written by Jeff Stevenson
Track 3 written by Tony Crisafulli & Alex Jostsons
Track 5 written by Peter Downy
Track 6 written by Peter Raymond & Peter Downy

Track 7 written by Tony Crisafulli & Jeff Stevenson

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