4 Characters session, BackPocket Recorders, Melbourne 2010: Ken, Paul, Rod & Stafford
Core live lineup, Sydney 2011: Rod, Kim & Stafford
ABOUT THE MEN
"No we won’t give up the Day Jobs, but we won’t get off the stage.
We groove on in the basement, refuse to act our age! "
The Next Big Thing”, from Men With Day Jobs’ CD Dreams and Tinsel © 200
Once upon a time they threw in the Day Jobs and… but we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s start further back, into the mists of time…
Rod Crundwell and Stafford Sanders met in first year high school in 1965 and discovered a shared passion for music and Not Paying Attention. In the late 1970s they threw in their Day Jobs in an ill-advised tilt at fame, roping in Paul Fenton and Ken Stephenson too late to save the Sydney-based wannabe popstars from oblivion - for all the usual reasons. But not before they wore sailor suits on Countdown and survived some memorable experiences. You’ve seen Spinal Tap, you know the sort of thing.
After the crash-and-burn, Ken headed for Melbourne, designed software, played and produced with various bands and big names – and of course set up BackPocket Records. Rod and Paul also kept playing, but in Sydney – with some top acts including goodtime rockers On The Prowl (formerly “Ol’ 55”), who also featured Kim Constable. Stafford veered off into other forms of writing – journalism, radio and TV satire, and stage musicals.
Around 2000 Rod, Paul and Stafford reunited to form Men With Day Jobs - making two CDs of their quirky originals: Men With Day Jobs (2004) and Dreams and Tinsel (2008). In 2008 Paul moved to Tasmania, and Rod and Stafford hit the Sydney semi-acoustic circuit. See early (2008) live clips at www.youtube.com - search “Men With Day Jobs”
They all joined Ken in his Melbourne studio in 2010 to record their third CD, 4 Characters.
In late 2010 Rod and Stafford invited Kim to join their live Sydney lineup. They’ve written more songs and played some of Sydney’s best semi-acoustic venues. More recordings are in the pipeline.
The Men’s songs have been recorded by others, sung by schools across Australia, and made finals of both ASA and SSA national song contests. They’ve appeared on TV and radio, and are steadily winning live audiences.
Their music has been described by Sydney Morning Herald Associate Editor John Huxley as having “Great words. Great tunes. Funny, poignant, political without being precious, ingenious without being pretentious.” They draw from a range of genres, lyrics veering gleefully from personal to political to plain puerile. Live performances by the Men mix melody, harmony and rhythm with stories, humour, audience involvement… and Not Paying Attention to normal performance conventions.
While the Men appreciate your support, rest assured they won’t give up the Day Jobs again – at least, not until they have enough super to live on.
WHO DOES WHAT
Rod Crundwell (Day Job: Insecurity Guard)
Elegant, urbane Sydneyside exterior belies a shameless pop tart who flails at various keyboards - comes naturally from being raised on a diet of honky-tonk and Honky Chateau. Also plays some bass, cameos on electric guitar, mandolin and more. Tilts heroically at high harmonies. Plucks cute phrases and haunting snatches of melody from thin air and adds performance flair, classical, jazz and artsy influences.
Paul Fenton (Day Job: Impersonal Trainer)
More than your usual cliché of drummer-turned-guitarist, this Kiwi-turned-Sydneysider-fled-to-Cygnet, Tasmania. Bangs at kit and other percussives, occasional lead guitar and mouth harp. Sings mean and mostly low. Revels in rockier feels and getting sounds right. Live veteran who’d now rather lug light and lay back in rootsy clover. Wide-eyed and slow-chuckled, with the odd uneasy lurch into moody intensity.
Stafford Sanders (Day Job: Communications Impediment)
Craggy, daggy Sydney songwriter crammed with ideas, lists, stories and grand designs. By instinct more writer than muso, but gets nice noises from his old acoustic guitar, as well as rhythm and occasionally lead electric, percussives, lots of singing and silly noises. Weighs in heavily with words, tunes and eclectic arrangements. Raised on folk and pop, also frolics in funk, fusion and whatever else he can f**** up.
Ken Stephenson (Day Job: Systems Avoidance)
Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist, instrument maker, IT innovator, BackPocket maestro. Plays bass, lap steel, mandolin, most lead plus other guitars, and more; sings a bit; adds inspired programming and engineering flourishes. Much experience working with top names. Boyish exuberance thinly masked by practiced air of world-weary cynicism. A dry wit, a wry chuckle and a dash of Old Lady.
Kim Constable (Day Job: Dysfunctions Manager)
Managed to avoid appearing on 4 Characters by joining the live Sydney lineup just after it was recorded. Plays electric and upright bass, sings and has started to write with Rod and Stafford. Cheerful ex- tea-chest plunker (and presumably, plonker) with the Conway Bros and many more. Professional experience in managing seniors with chronic mental issues – so he’s just the right man for this band.
The Chorus of Angels
While recording 4 Characters we were graced by the presence of three fine singers: Jo Kelly Stephenson, Julianne Jessop and Helen “HJ” Stephenson. The three of them sang lovely soul backing on Gates of Heaven (Julianne getting the solo moment), and Jo joined Rod for a spirited jazzy duet on Flowers and Seasons. We’re greatly indebted to all three and are more than ready to fall on bended knee and admit We’re Not Worthy.