Having reunited to play last year’s Dig it Up festival and now most recently as special guests for The Sunnyboys reunion shows on the east coast, one of Perth’s most popular and iconic bands, THE STEMS, have made an impressive return to the national scene with some blistering live performances.
THE STEMS have made their welcome return with a new line-up consisting of founding members Dom Mariani, Julian Matthews and Dave Shaw with Even/Paul Kelly’s Ashley Naylor on guitar and vocals replacing keyboardist Richard Lane.
THE STEMS epitomized 80’s indie rock, giving it a wider currency. They are one of only a handful of bands (among them the Hoodoo Gurus and The Sunnyboys) that cracked the mainstream charts with an indie approach in the 80s.
Making their debut in March 1984 playing alongside The Triffids and The Saints, THE STEMS released a series of independent records on Sydney’s Citadel Records. Each release made it to number one on the Australian alternative charts. But it was their 1987 debut album, “AT FIRST SIGHT VIOLETS ARE BLUE” that received national and international acclaim. It became one of the best-selling Australian albums of that year despite an almost total lack of commercial airplay in the corporate FM dominated 80’s. Rolling Stone named “AT FIRST SIGHT VIOLETS ARE BLUE” one of the top 100 releases of all time. It eventually went Gold and still continues to sell strongly today.
Appearances on Countdown, magazine covers, sold out shows – the world seemed at THE STEMS’ feet. However due to the pressures of non-stop touring and the usual “personality differences” THE STEMS mysteriously imploded on the eve of a massive European tour in late 1987, sealing the legend for all time.
Rising from the ashes of their 1980’s breakup, THE STEMS reformed in 1997 to perform a reunion show in their beloved hometown of Perth to an enthusiastic response. It is fair to say they were all surprised – even amazed - how popular they still were. They toured Australia, Europe and the USA including an incredible one-off show at the invitation of Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist (and Sopranos, Lillehammer TV star) Little Steven, who lists himself as one of THE STEMS’ biggest fans. At this show they shared the stage with The Stooges, Bo Diddley, Big Star, Nancy Sinatra..., and 60’s underground bands The Chocolate Watchband, The Pretty Things, Creation and the Electric Prunes who were an influence on their sound in their early days.
Things seemed to gain momentum. At the urging of Little Steven and a host of others the band made plans to record an album of new material ultimately titled “HEADS UP” – released on Shock Records in late 2007. Recorded in Perth on all analogue equipment and mixed in Cincinnati by producer John Curley (White Stripes, Afghan Wigs, Greenhornes and Ronnie Spector) the album was released to rave reviews and sold solidly around the world.
On the release of “HEADS UP” in late 2007, THE STEMS were invited on the “CLASH OF THE TITANS” tour with Radio Birdman and the Hoodoo Gurus.
Successful tours of Australia, Europe, Japan and Austin Texas’s SOUTH BY SOUTH WEST Festival soon followed to much acclaim. The band went off the road again in 2009 before reforming with a new line-up in 2013.