Countdown Memories


Jason: When did you first tune in and start watching Countdown?

Andrew: The first time I started watching Countdown was late 1979 / early 1980. This was the time when the new wave sound was really starting to kick and the catch cry was "Death to Disco". Mi-Sex, Gary Numan and the B52's were at the top of my list of favourites at the time.

I am still deeply scarred from two music related incidents during 1980. Firstly my mother and sister took me to see the movie Can't Stop The Music by the Village People and secondly my sister took my very first album (Full Boar) to school to loan to her teacher and I never got it back. Countdown has been an important part of the healing process. Currently I only heal one month of the year, in January by watching Rage. I don't think I will be totally healed until I successfully locate and purchase the Full Boar poster on Ebay (complete with pig's head and headphones).

Jason: What are your earliest memories and greatest perormances/highlights when watching Countdown?

Andrew: The Knack being guests on the show. They totally spoiled my view of them as New Wave when one of the band members said something like "It's only rock 'n' roll man". I was devastated. My father liked Rock 'n' Roll, not me. That's as far back as I can remember.

Some of the highlights for me were when Devo did the "Working in a Coalmine" track on stage. Also when INXS put out "I Send A Message" and I first heard that thumping beat at the start of the song while the robot walks across the floor. And I was ready with tape deck poised. Another highlight was when Molly started absolutely raving about a young musical genius from the States who played almost every instrument and wrote his own music called Prince. Countdown played Controversy that night.

Jason: What bands and artists did Countdown introduce you to that had a lasting impact on you?

Andrew: I think this question can be best answered by reviewing what I was wearing at the time.

Spandau Ballet had me wearing lemon trousers and a nice pastel shirt instead of the flannelette shirt and Faberge stretch jeans I grew up in.

After seeing "I Want A New Drug" by Huey Lewis (didn't GET the Ghostbusters connection for years) I went out and bought a bright red pair of pants. Could never find the jacket though!

Well this is the really tragic part! I wore a white "University" top and Apricot baggies (Pseudo Echo-ish) to a punk / gothic nightclub in Richmond in around 1985. Who would have guessed they would ALL be wearing BLACK!

One too many INXS and Icehouse film clips and I started wearing a big trench coat. Worse still, Iva's hair-do in Crazy convinced me to try perming my hair. I currently have a much more civilised Billy Idol spike, so Billy probably had the most lasting impact on me.

Jason: What were your favourite segments of the show?

Andrew: Definitely Humdrum. I was always waiting for that new release and loved getting information about my favourite bands. Even today, I am like a walking encyclopaedia about early 80's music, much of which I picked up from watching Humdrum.

Jason: Did you ever attend Countdown, and if not did you really want to at the time?

Andrew: No, I can't say I really wanted to most of the time. If a band I really liked such as Mi-Sex or Split Enz was playing live I would have liked to have been there. I was a child of the rural urban fringe of Melbourne and the city was a long way away.

Jason: Do you have any favourite Molly moments?

Andrew: My favourite Molly moment was when he had Devo in the studio and one of the members of the band was, in true Devo fashion, being a quirky nut case and saying things like "if the spud fits, wear it". If my memory serves me correctly it was one of the few times Molly wore a different hat, a Devo energy power dome.

Jason: Do you think Countdown had a great impact on Australian pop culture?

Andrew: Countdown was and is an absolute Gen-X icon. For me this era never ended. I hear new artists continually sampling the 80's music and performing using 80's styles. Even D12 and the film clip to "Fight Music" is a take off from "TheWarriors", a classic 80's movie. The film had that crazy guy who kept saying "The Warriors come out to play-ay!" while he was banging a couple of beer bottles together in his fingers. The beer bottles actually sounded like an early INXS track - "The Unloved One", not to be confused with "The Loved One" (versions one or two)!

Countdown was very influential. If Molly said something was good, you at least listened to it. He was very supportive to a number of local and overseas acts and can take a lot of the credit for the fantastic quality of music we were surrounded with in this era. How many Australian and NZ bands would the average person know today? We were very fortunate to have Cold Chisel, AC/DC, The Angels, INXS, The Flowers, Aussie Crawl, Mondo Rock, Split Enz, Mi-Sex, Midnight Oil, The Models, Dragon, Mondo Rock, The Church, Rose Tattoo, Mental as Anything, just to name a few. Molly, Gavin and Countdown helped create an environment in which these bands thrived.

Jason: Were you sad when Countdown ended, or do you think it was a good time for it to end with music getting rather bland by 1987?

Andrew: I felt Countdown had mostly served its purpose by 1987. A new wave of shows took over but it was mainly clips and the people / information side that was lost.

Jason: Do you think a show like Countdown could work now, or do you think the great love and passion for music and pop stars is something of the past these days?

Andrew: Yes, I believe it would definitely work. There are a lot of people from the Countdown Generation (Gen-X) who have a great passion for the music from this era.

Look at Chartbusting 80's and the following that show has gained!

Jason: Do you think it's important that shows like Rage keep repeating Countdown so that a new generation can be introduced to the history of Australia and International music through Countdown and just in general?

Andrew: Essentially, the music loving Gen-X group is huge and should be catered for.

Jason: Do you think would be a good idea if the ABC repeated Countdown on a regular basis?

Andrew: I for one would love Countdown to be played on a regular basis, even if it was at some odd time.

Jason: What other programs did you watch whilst growing up that you thought were up there?

Andrew: WROK with Richard Wilkins and Sounds with Donnie Sutherland were both pretty good. As far as non musical programs went, I was into Family Ties and of course Back to the Future.

Much of my youth was invested (some would say wasted) watching videos like the Toxic Avenger, The Warriors, DC Cab and Egor and the Lunatics. Watching these programs has helped me develop into a well balanced upstanding member of society.

The films with great Soundtracks were also of great interest. Risky Business with that great track "Swamp" by Talking Heads, Footloose, Purple Rain and Pretty in Pink (Molly rules!).

Jason: How do you think music and music programs differ today compared to the 70's and 80's?

Andrew: There seems to be less focus on the musical ability and song writing ability of the artist. Creating a song appears to be more about creatively building on someone else's work (ie. sampling) in many cases. I don't mind sampling, if it's used creatively but some tracks are simply an insult to the original creators of the songs.

The sounds are often fairly middle of the road in many cases and don't have the same edge that an early Midnight Oil or the incredible sounds like "When Doves Cry" by Prince had for example. Molly helped draw out the more unusual developing talent and put them in our lounge rooms.