Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust: Theatrical Release

Sep 19, 2013

Matt Weston (bassist for The Nation Blue and a music video director) impresses in creating an entertaining portrait of “Australia’s most unlikely rock and roll heroes”. I was surprised to learn that Weston didn’t come to the project as a fan of the band (he was too young to catch the band at the height of the hysteria). He, instead, became enamored by these lovable larrikins and their dry parochial humor upon meeting them and this translates to the screen.

First, a potted history for those unfamiliar with the band: Forming in the early ‘80s, the Cosmic Psychos built up a loyal following around Australia with their scuzzy pub rock and soon embarked on the first of many European tours. Championed by the guys from Mudhoney, their albums saw release on Sub Pop and Amphetamine Reptile which led to many people dubbing them “The Godfathers of Grunge.” Through the departure of various members and death of guitarist Robbie Watts the band continues to this day, albeit in a sporadic manner.

Being the only original member, bassist, songwriter, and vocalist Ross Knight is the main focus of the film and gets plenty of screen time to cover his life away from the band as farmer, family man, and amateur power-lifter. In addition to recollections from past and present bandmates, we hear from others associated with the band and many musical contemporaries, including some of Seattle’s grunge royalty.

The film recounts their many beer-fuelled shenanigans through the use of some amusing animations as various interviewees tell the tales. This was a nice touch to keep things from being simply a parade of talking heads. There is a wide array of video clips (some of it rough around the edges—just like the band) and photos from the archives to add plenty of color and movement while the Psychos’ back-catalogue wails beneath it all.

Displaying the lyrics in large type over some of the songs walked a fine line between celebrating their tongue-in-cheek naivety and base humor, and mocking the slightly Neanderthal nature of the words. With songs like “On the Farm” and “The Man Who Drank Too Much,” the Psychos obviously never set out to deliver a serious message, so I hope that viewers will view them as the former.

Despite coming dangerously close to a vanity project (Weston was introduced to the band via drummer Dean Muller) that glosses over conflict, this film is worth seeing for the personalities and stories alone. Where else are you gonna see Eddie Vedder show off with a coin, a pint glass, and his clenched butt cheeks? –Colin Flaherty (Umbrella Entertainment, Unit

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