Ep4 – Gabrielle Bates

Ep4.Thanks for joining me this week for my chat with visual artist, Gabrielle Bates.

This podcast means a lot to me, and I’m grateful that you’re here.

I love to create. Ideas excite me but ideas alone are not enough. They can be like eating a Mars Bar to deal with my hunger when what I really need is a good meal.

This podcast is my good meal.

It’s helping me have the type of meaningful conversations with people I’ve always wanted to have.

Each time I sit down to record with someone I learn something about them, about me and about our world.

I’ve also learned to check the remaining memory on my digital recorder’s SD card!

What moves us?

What events in our lives have led us to where we are today?

What are the stories we tell ourselves that have shaped how we see our place on this planet?

I like to get into it with people and I hope you enjoy the results.

You can follow all that Gabrielle is up to here:

Thanks to:

Podcast homepage – https://widtaabbqs.home.blog/

Boy Bands

Let’s be upfront here so as to save any future confusion.

In my teenage years I listened to what you would classify as boy bands.

I did it willingly – I wasn’t coerced. There was no nefarious reasons or ulterior motives for this. Even so, I did it like I was conducting a covert operation for the CIA.

No-one could know. No-one could even have the slightest hint that this was what was going on when I was walking around school with headphones on.

Ok, so you want details, right? Specifics?

Of course you do.

Take That – they were a big one. I loved them. 

Back For Good, Everything Changes, Never Forget. That’s only scratching the surface. By the time the band broke up in 1995 I was the proud owner of all 3 of their albums.

Yes, there were 3 and I owned all of them.

Beginning towards the end of Year 11 and throughout Year 12 I was quietly obsessed with Take That. I sat with the remote in my hand and the VHS on stand-by ready to record clips of them on the TV. I bought magazines featuring stories about them. I bought magazines solely about them. I went clothes shopping to try and look like them. The linen-look was in in 1995

In late ‘94 an Irish boy band emerged – Boyzone. Their cover of Love Me For A Reason burned up the UK and Irish charts. In March of ’96 my brother and I trekked from Erskine Park one Friday afternoon to watch them perform 4 songs on a makeshift stage at the Westfield in Hurstville. I still have the footage my camcorder.


As for other boy bands I liked, you can’t get past New Kids especially when they became NKOBT. Later NSYNC. The odd Backstreet Boys song. England in the late 90s and early 00s was rife with boy bands though by then I’d weened myself off their tight harmonies, precision dance moves and cutting-edge fashions.

By the time Year 12 rolled around I was feeling a little more emboldened and with 4 friends, we formed our very own boy band. In homage to That That we called ourselves Cop This.

My best friend, Alvin, and I wrote our one and only song whilst sitting on the floor of my bedroom one November ‘95 night towards the end of our HSC. I’d just been dumped by my only high school girlfriend, Casey.

As an aside, Casey and I had only being seeing each other for 4 weeks and from the end of week two the thrill was waning. After my first HSC English exam Casey was waiting for me outside the school hall. She handed me a letter, had the courage to make eye contact and smile at me – I always appreciate that – and then walked out of my life.

Com se, com ca.

So Alvin was encouraging me to plunge the depths of the emotional turmoil he assumed I’d felt because of the break-up. Our combined create output saw us write the epic ballad, Steal Your Love Away.

Sometime in December, Cop This went on tour thanks to my dad’s company Commodore and the 5 of us drove into the city for a night out. I brought the camcorder.

After parking we walked all the way up to the Opera House.

There, we found an alcove with sweet acoustics under one of the shells. There we performed and recorded two songs – Boyz II Men’s Water Runs Dry and our song, Steal Your Love Away, which the guys learnt in the car drive from St Marys to the city.

What you need to know about me as an 18 year old is this:

I was a real control freak.

I needed people to do as they were told.

You can see it clear as day on the video with how uptight I was.

Oh yes, there is video footage, and it still exists.

Here’s the other thing I feel it’s important to disclose:

I was never all in (it’s a theme that will re-occur)

I never could completely give myself over to the experience. I was always worried about who might be watching, who might turn a corner and find us there.

I was afraid of being seen, being laughed at.

blur.jpgThings began to change for me in late ’95. I bought my first Blur single, Country House off their The Great Escape album. This was the beginning of a new era. I would soon be hooked on Oasis and not too much further down the line, Radiohead.

The Britpop era was full steam ahead and I was on board.

So, why boy bands?

I was a socially awkward teenager who wished he had great rhythm – the hours I spent in my bedroom with the door closed trying to copy Hip-Hop dance moves from video clips – I’m sorry, Malcolm Gladwell, you’re 10,000 hours theory doesn’t apply to me and dancing. I had to settle for being just a half-step off the beat most of the time.

Boy bands looked good on screen. They could dance, seriously dance. I would go to Blue Light Discos and under-18 dance parties and watch other guys who could throw down. They’d step into the middle of the dance circle we’d have formed and knock out a performance as if they just stepped out of a Bobby Brown video clip.

There’s two more reasons and they are the big ones.

First, they could sing. Singing is something you either can or can’t do. It’s in-built. If you can carry a tune, sure, there’s things you can do to enhance and improve you voice. But if you can’t stay in tune or hit the right key, sorry, bud, you’re a busted flush.

You could call it envy and sure that’s an easy way to phrase it. I’d grown up singing along to the radio. I was always writing songs in my head when I was a kid. After mass and before lunch was served on a Sunday I’d take all available pots and pans as well as a couple of wooden spoons into the fancy living room where the stereo was, I’d put on Billy Joel’s Great Hits Vol. I & II and bash my way through a late morning of songs and music. Allentown and Pressure where always two of my favourites.

The lads in these boy bands, most of them could sing and some of them could sing really well. But more than any 1 individual, it was the harmonising that got me. Whether it was The Beach Boys on God Only Knows, almost anything by The Beatles or that moment in Crowded House’s 7 Worlds when Neil, Paul and Nick combine to sing, Seven worlds will collide, WHENEVER I AM BY YOUR SIDE, aw, the coming together of complimentary voices is an elevating experience I’ve found nowhere else in my life.


Boy bands were a condensed, cordial-like version of this, sometimes too syrupy sweet but when the mix was right, blow me over and call me Daisy.

And secondly, they were a band. A group. A gang. A bunch of mates out in the world having an adventure together. I so wanted to have a group of friends like this, to be part of something special.

I knew which guy in the band I would be. Never the main singer or the best dancer. I was the quiet one, the backing vocalist on most songs. I was the main singer’s best friend. We were tight and no matter how much more limelight he got than the rest of us, I was always there by his side, keeping him grounded, backing him up. He would begin as the main songwriter and over time he’d see that when we worked together we’d find ground on lyrics and music that would push us in a new direction.

And one by one as the group would disband, I would go wherever he went until there was nothing left to be part of.

I would even become a pretty good dancer in the end and by the third or fourth album, get to sing my own song – it would be track 10 or 11, but it would be on there.

There’s so much encapsulated in the archetypal boy band that attracted me to them.




Being involved in something explosive.

How could I not have been drawn to them?

So there that is. I’m leaning in to it. Now, though, I need to sit down.