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Grong Grong

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  • Years Active: 1980s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Australian noisemakers Grong Grong had a short but memorable career as New South Wales' most ferocious post-punk band during the first half of the 1980s. Conjuring a sound that fused the brutal approach of the Birthday Party with the druggy experimentalism of Flipper, Grong Grong were formed in 1983, with lead singer and sometimes sax player Michael Farkas taking the name from a village in NSW (the name is said to be an Aboriginal saying meaning "bad camping ground") that he found inexplicably hilarious while under the influence of LSD. Farkas recruited his half-brother Charlie Tolnay to play guitar in his new combo, with Dave Taskas on bass and George Klestinis on drums, and they began their frontal assault on the local music scene. Grong Grong's blunt musical approach coupled with their twisted humor quickly made an impression, and when they opened for the Dead Kennedys during an Australian tour by the Bay Area punk firebrands in the summer of 1983, Jello Biafra was so taken by Grong Grong he offered them a contract with his Alternative Tentacles label. Grong Grong accepted the offer, and in 1984 began work on their first album in conjunction with the Australian indie label Aberrant Records. However, before the album could be finished (or they could take Biafra up on an offer to tour with the DKs in the United States), Grong Grong's career came to a halt when Farkas experienced a severe drug overdose that sent him into a coma for nearly nine months. In time, Farkas made a full recovery, but by the time he was able to perform again several years later, Grong Grong were history, and their self-titled album featured several live recordings that substituted for songs unfinished in the studio (the American and Australian versions also featured slightly different track listings). Charlie Tolnay later went on to play with King Snake Roost, Lubricated Goat, and Bushpig, as well as a short-lived project with Jello Biafra and members of Steel Pole Bath Tub called Tumor Circus. In 2008, Memorandum Records released a retrospective Grong Grong collection, To Hell ‘n' Back, and the group staged an Australian reunion tour, the first time the original lineup had performed together since Farkas' brush with death.