An open letter to Dead Cat Bounce

Dear Shane, Jim, Damo (and Mick),

For the most part, the bands I like are either disbanded or dead (or increasingly, both). That means I’ve never really had the chance to get excited about tours or anticipate new albums. I don’t go to music festivals or blow all my cash on stadium shows. Music is often a static fact for me. It’s something I missed because I wasn’t in the right place at the right time.
And then there was Dead Cat Bounce.
I heard “Switzerland” on TV in 2010 and was intrigued. Finding myself in Sydney during the comedy festival I decided, on a whim, to see your show. A love of musical comedy is just a part of who I am now but thinking back that was probably an epiphany moment. I was still working out what I liked when I came to music and to comedy but I walked out of that show and I knew that, whatever it was, this was it.
During my gap year I lugged Live at the Sugar Club with me everywhere. I’d regularly listen to it twice to compensate for the fact that it was only 20 minutes long, waiting for the diskman (yes, diskman) to spin down before spinning it back up again. “Rugby” is still tinged with the memory of windowless hostel rooms and lonely adventure. It’s corny but those songs kept me company on long train trips and in unfamiliar cities. I can still sing that album from start to finish.
By the time you came back to Australia in 2011, my best friend knew all the words to Sugar Clubas well. She came to visit me and we trekked down to Sydney together. We bought Live at the Roisin Dubh and blared it my tiny communal kitchen, not caring if my housemates noticed or minded and even though “Firemen” isn’t a song you should play at 100 decibels if you don’t live alone. I didn’t care. For a couple of days I wasn’t lonely. I wasn’t rattling around in that weird shared house with people I didn’t know. For a while I had my best friend and brand new Dead Cat Bounce songs. And that was nice.
The last time I saw you guys (although I didn’t know it would be the last time) there were five of us. After the show we skipped through the streets of Marrickville, yelling the songs loudly and out of tune. I swear we must have woken up everyone between the Factory Theatre and Sydenham station. We played on an empty playground at midnight and laughed because the show had been good and life was good and we were happy. We missed our train and had to wait on the empty station platform for hours and hours until the next one came. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that it was cold or that we didn’t get home until 5am. That was one of those nights when real life felt like a scene from a movie. Somehow you’re so happy it seems fictional.
I’m glad that night was the last time. It’s a good ending.
When you announced your farewell show this week I was sadder than I’d expected to be. It wasn’t exactly a surprise – I’d suspected for a while – but knowing I’d never get to see another show, that there will only ever be three albums, was really hard.
I won’t get to see the final show. If it was any closer (say, less than 12 hours away) I’d be there in a heartbeat. There probably won’t be a commemorative DVD or a recording of the show. There is no farewell tour. It’ll be something I missed because I wasn’t in the right place at the right time.
So let me take this opportunity to say thank you, for the music. And for providing the soundtrack to so many adventures. You have been my rock band.

Alexandra Neill

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year