JOHN FREEMAN BAXTER
// bass (98-01)
Originally from Adelaide, Andy co-founded Alcotomic with John in Brunswick where they were both living in 1996. An integral part of the band, Andy contributed to writing and singing credits. In 2002, he joined the Living End whom he is still playing with today.
Also from Adelaide, the former guitarist joined Alcotomic on bass in March 1998 after the
departure of original bassist Denny Brererton shortly after the Anything But You EP. Paul and John continue working together in the bands Prettymess, Magneto and Five Mile Sniper.
THE FULL STORY
In February 1996, three piece band Alcotomic, emerged from the burgeoning Melbourne music scene. A time when the sticky carpeted inner city pubs and clubs were fast becoming the Australian epicentre of the alternative pop/rock movement, and artists from across the country flocked to town hoping to rise through the competitive and sometimes cutthroat scene. Alcotomic shone through with their unique brand of melodic, hard edged power pop and became part of the famous 'Melbourne Sound' .
Rehearsals began under the name of ‘Dozer’ on February 29 1996 with Moler drummer Stephen Boyle and Porcelain Jane bass player Denny Brererton. The band’s first demo’s were recorded at Birdland Studios on March 15 and May 27 and two songs from these sessions appeared on their debut EP. It wasn't however, until singer and guitarist John Freeman Baxter formerly of Melbourne band Holocene, met drummer and fellow Brunswick resident Andy Strachan in October, that Alcotomic’s line-up was consolidated. The scene was set for the next five years with the bands first live appearance at the Public Bar in North Melbourne October 24.
December 4 1996 saw the first of many Birdland sessions working with renown producer Lindsay Gravina. Lindsay helped shape John’s biting power chords and brought Andy and Denny’s driving rhythm section to the foreground, which became the bedrock of sound that Alcotomic became known for.
Launched August 7 1997 at the Esplanade Hotel, the debut self-titled EP (often called 'Playing Cards') featured live favourites Nowhere, Elastic Fantastic, Living in Luxury and Daisy. Community radio across the country, including Triple J, picked up on Living in Luxury, which also featured in 9 Networks Stingers and Good Guys, Bad Guys sound tracks.
1997 was spent playing around Victoria in venues large and small; from the Punters Club, Fitzroy to the Golden Vine, Bendigo, and the Espy, St. Kilda to the Whalebone, Warrnambool. High profile support gigs and festival dates came thick and fast along with a two album record deal from Polygram Records label iD Records, which eventually fell through due to label acquisition and restructuring.
Over four days from January 18 1998, Alcotomic commenced recording a follow-up CD at Velvet Sound Studios, Sydney with Bell Jar keyboardist and producer David "DP" Price who had previously worked with Midnight Oil and Split Enz. The band almost missed the sessions, the result of their Falcon wagon breaking down in rural NSW. However, they eventually hit the studio producing the Anything But You single including, Invisible and Black & White, which was released July 4.
Unable to commit to further touring, Denny Brereton parted ways in March, and was replaced by Strachan's housemate and guitarist, Paul Inglis. The band hit the road again, and included an appearance on ABC's Recovery on July 18 and a packed to the rafters CD launch at the Evelyn Hotel, Fitzroy. Alcotomic signed with US label Not Lame Records and was invited to play the Pop Overthrow tour in the US. Around that time, the band was also selected alongside 78 Saab, Resin Dogs and Lodestar to showcase at the Pacific Circle Music Conference in Sydney as most promising artist for 1998. November 22 they performed for industry professionals from around the world at The Globe in Newtown.
In mid 1999, the band notched up their 100th live show and were filmed by RMITV playing live at the Punters Club Hotel in Fitzroy on December 2. They signed up to work again with Lindsay Gravina to cut their penultimate CD and although the band had recorded 6 new songs at X-Tek studios with Nic Moore earlier in the year, the decision was made to return to Birdland. Recorded May 13, the intended EP was cut back to a three track single featuring Where You Go, Falling Pins and A Little Hour. These final Birdland recordings, produced by Lindsay Gravina with Mike Alonso assisting, captured Alcotomic at their best; raw, angular and melodic. On July 3 2000, Where You Go, the band’s last release through Magneto/MGM went on to receive glowing reviews and rotation on Triple J.
By early 2001, band members were branching out into other projects; Andy temporarily filling in drums for Sydney band Pollyanna and John working on new band, Prettymess. Shortly after Andy landed the gig as permanent drummer for chart topping band the Living End and Alcotomic’s days were numbered. The last live appearance of Alcotomic was on August 1 2001 in Melbourne at the 9th Ward Bar, Flinders Lane.
// bass (96-98)
Formerly from Melbourne bands, Porcelain Jane and Hobby Horse, Denny was major contributor to the early Alcotomic sound when the band was developing its direction. He amicably departed ways in March 1998 and continued to work with the band as their photographer.
Melbourne born singer & songwriter, John had been in many high profile alternative acts from the early 1990's including Holocene, Prettymess and Porcelain Jane. Currently, he is the guitarist and singer in Five Mile Sniper and now has a podcast covering his 30 plus years in the music industry. You can check it out here.