Magic Dirt’s debut EP Signs Of Satanic Youth was originally released in November 1993, on CD and on vinyl as a double seven-inch single. Both iterations have long been out of print, but next week, Emergency Music/Remote Control Records will reissue the beloved six-track on both formats. We asked revered frontwoman Adalita about her recollections of the EP’s initial creation, and the band’s upcoming tour.
Your description of putting together the cover artwork – physically moving the collage’s parts and details around until it was perfect – is fascinating. What were you assembling it on? A canvas, or cardboard, or something else?
Well, the cover is actually a painting that was done by an artist friend of ours in Geelong, Matthew Green (“Greeny”). And I think he did paint it on cardboard, because if you look close enough you can see the corrugations. We loved the painting, and it was perfect, but we had to come up with the rest of the art – for instance, the font on the front. Pretty sure the font was done by Daniel [Herring, former guitarist] who must’ve painted it on to a bit of art paper, and then we cut it out and placed it on top of the painting.
Then we thought, because it was called Signs Of Satanic Youth, maybe we could put some horns on the cool half-insect, half-alien, half-man creature on the cover! We used a pen and drew some horns which took ages, ‘cos we wanted just the right horns… so we cut them out and placed them over the top of the creature. Not sure Greeny took to that straight away – you know, us kinda going over the top of his painting! But it’s all cool now! I don’t think that cover would be the same without the horns!
The back cover of the original CD was a black and white photo of the group of you sitting around a low coffee table, which is littered with stuff – it almost looks like a still from aforementioned scene of making the cover art. What do you remember about the circumstances of that band shot?
That was Dean’s [Turner, former bass player who passed away in 2009, aged 37] bedroom in Geelong. Dean had heaps of cool stuff at his house. We loved all the candles and coconut incense that he’d get from the local hippie shop. He had really cool records and fanzines that he collected (there’s one on the table), and you’ll notice that all the guys are wearing retro-type Hawaiian shirts –they were Dean’s, he used to collect them too from cool vintage and op shops. We all loved hippie, retro, ’60s psychedelic and ’70s-inspired things, and you can see it in the decor here: the tablecloth for instance, with the swirly ’60s pattern. This was one of our first proper photo shoots so we were pretty new at it, but it was really cool.
It’s been reported that Dean once said the five tracks on the EP were the first five songs y’all ever completed as Magic Dirt. Is this true?
Yes. We pretty much have always recorded songs as soon as we write them. Supporter (a different version) was released as a 7″ before the EP on Steve Pav’s Fellaheen label, and then we re-recorded it for Signs, so it was one of the very first songs we wrote. Funny story about that track: When we were looking for a drummer and trying out Supertear with them, none of them could quite play anything to that frenetic bit in the chorus. So we got all Cinderella and we were like, “…Okay, whoever can play that part will be in the band,” just like the glass slipper search. Adam came along… and he just got it first pop. Literally, first pop. And not just playing any old thing – he played exactly the perfect part. We were like, “This is the guy!”
The presser notes that Signs of Satanic Youth was “a project spearheaded by Dean” – do you mean that he was the most enthused (or just motivated) for it to be completed and released?
The part about Dean spearheading the project refers to the reissue of Signs. For a long time, nearly 25 years, Signs wasn’t available on CD or vinyl, and has never been available digitally. But this year we acquired the rights and the masters, so we can now release it. It was Dean that instigated that whole process to try and get Signs released as far back as the ’90s, so it’s been a long process, and he was really adamant about getting the EP out there again. And of course, we’re so happy now knowing that we’ve finally made that happen. He would be stoked.
Since its release, have any of the tracks in particular sprouted another meaning or life which you weren’t anticipating?
It’s been great hearing the songs again; it’s definitely given me a new appreciation of the band from my perspective now, as its elder. It’s such a great time capsule, a great snapshot of a passionate and emerging young band. I can hear how young we are and how it meant so much to us in every note and every choice we made about the recording. We were obsessed with tone and delivery. We wanted everything to be the best it could be – to get down exactly what we were feeling. It was a lot of fun, a great time. I think for me, Supertear is getting another chance to shine. We’ve been bringing it out for these Hotter Than Hell shows, and I just love playing it. It’s such a unique little number and it definitely is some peoples’ favourite – it’s just one of those special songs I think.
After your tour through QLD, VIC, NSW, SA and WA (through to end of Feb), you’ll be playing Golden Plains. What are your must-dos for GP itself?
Must do’s…hmmm…I would say the biggest must do is let your hair down and have a great time! It’s such a great festival and one close to my heart…we’ve been playing it since the early 90’s and it’s our local so it’s going to be a pretty awesome. Dean would be super proud, he loved playing this festival. We can’t wait to represent!
Signs Of Satanic Youth (reissue) is out January 18 via Emergency Music/Remote Control Records.
Magic Dirt are currently playing their Hotter Than Hell tour, to celebrate the reissue of Signs Of Satanic Youth as well as the memory of late bassist Dean Turner. Catch them on the remaining dates below.
GLADSTONE (QLD) SAT 19th JAN, 2019 www.hotterthanhelltour.com.au
GEPPS CROSS (S.A.) SAT 2nd FEB, 2019 www.hotterthanhelltour.com.au
MT EVELYN (VIC) SAT 9th FEB, 2019 www.hotterthanhelltour.com.au
IPSWICH (QLD) SAT 16th FEB, 2019 www.hotterthanhelltour.com.au
DUNSBOROUGH (W.A.) SAT 23rd FEB, 2019 www.hotterthanhelltour.com.au
TARONGA ZOO w/You Am I – FRIDAY 1st FEB, 2019 www.twilightattaronga.org.au
GOLDEN PLAINS – SAT 9th MAR, 2019 – www.aunty.goldenplains.com.au