Words by Matt Gleeson, 5th September 2016
A Sunday afternoon, Father’s Day show in Melbourne Australia reminded me once again of the brilliance that is Joe Guiton. Joe, the father of Melbourne ‘grumpcore’, appeared alongside Lachlan Hicks, Jo Neugebauer and Pete Akhurst, all performing solo acoustic sets.
I think I first saw Joe perform sometime in 2014 and I am the first to admit he didn’t make the most amazing impression. Sorry Joe, it wasn’t you, it was me. Running from band to band with a camera in hand, pretending to be the greatest and busiest rock photographer in the history of mankind meant that I often didn’t spend the time to kick back and appreciate the music. Full bands and the energy they bring to a stage are far more dynamic to a photographer’s eye than a dude on stage, alone with his guitar performing some acoustic folk punk. Ultimately though it was Joe’s guitar that brought us together.
Joe plays most of his solo sets with the most amazingly stickered guitar. The collection of stickers on this guitar is almost like the map of Joe’s musical influences. He carries this visual story like some carry their tattoos, a reminder of where we’ve been (and maybe where we want to be). I was visually intrigued by Joe’s guitar and would always make sure I would get a few photos of it whenever I saw him play.
Early in 2015, Joe contacted me to ask whether he could use one of my images of his guitar for the gatefold of his third solo recording, titled ‘Sober’. Being the self-obsessed narcissist that I am, I indulged my desire to own anything with one of my images on it and promptly bought a copy of the release. It was the breakthrough recording for me.
Sober is six tracks of masterful story telling. Joe accompanied by the amazingly talented guitarist Simon Barlow produced a collection of songs that tell authentic tales of love, punk and being sober for a whole 28 days. Listening to the second track on the recording, ‘Blood on your Hands’ sent shivers up my spine. The song recites the tale of an act of street violence resulting in a death. The plaintive lyrics don’t dress it up in hyperbole, telling the story of how no one wins when two men meet in the street and settle things with violence, in a simple yet compelling way. The third track ‘Leave Us Be’ is my personal favourite, proclaiming what many of us feel about our punk family. After discovering the brilliance of Sober, I went seeking Joe’s back catalogue and found another two recordings that were just as impressive in their story-telling.
Apart from his solo work, Joe also fronts Joe Guiton and The Suicide Tuesdays, which were formed in late 2013, after, according to Whisk and Key Records, Joe got sick of playing solo. Performances by the Suicide Tuesdays are an electric (and often unpredictable) affair. Accompanying Joe on lead vocals and guitar, are Simon Barlow (guitar), Admiral Ackbar’s Dishonourable Discharge front man, Toffer (bass) and Nathaniel Cardwell (drums).