At the Bar with Musician Steve Pinkerton

Melbourne musician Steve Pinkerton is best known for his supergroup The Ronson Hangup, and drumming with Dallas Crane, but this time teams with ARIA-Award winning musician Andrew Pendlebury [The Sports, Stephen Cummings] for a special project and debut album they’re launching at St Kilda’s George Lane on Friday May 3rd.

Pinkerton talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series, sharing his go-to interstate pub, wines he enjoys and where you’ll find him in Melbourne.

The Ronson Hangup


I live in Melbourne, and love it because music is deeply part of its culture. The reason Melbourne has so many music venues is because people, including proprietors, actually want to be part of that culture – even when it may be commercially more lucrative as a pokie venue! The same cannot be said about Australia’s other cities.


I’d really like to say the Sgroppino from Lupino (sorbet, prosecco and vodka) which is on their dessert menu, but I reluctantly admit it’s technically a drink – so I’ll say Snapper with Sicilian Caponata and the chilli infused olive oil from Lupino at 41 Little Collins St).


The Prince Front Bar is my local favourite in St Kilda because I can still feel the spirit of 80’s and 90’s rock bands. I oscillate between ordering a pot of Kosciuszko Pale Ale or a glass of Tasmanian Pinot Noir – usually both.


I love a dirty martini because it takes me straight to a happy place, and I’d like to think it reflects my sophisticated and worldly personality – but in reality, it doesn’t disguise my inner bogan.


Chilli Scrambled Eggs and a Bloody Mary at Frankie’s Top Shop in St Kilda West – delicious.


My new fave is Ern Malley in Adelaide because it’s Australia’s oldest literary bar and as it happens Andrew Pendlebury and I have a song on our latest album called Angry Penguins and Ern Malley Hoax which is about a poetry hoax by conservatives played upon modernists in 1940’s Australia – and also the inspiration for the name of the Bar. When in Adelaide I like drinking any local McLaren Vale Shiraz


I’m stuck on the Mont-Redon Reserve 2021 Cotes Du Rhone Red and have been for a while because it’s not as heavy as some of our local big reds and never/rarely gives me a hangover! $22 is great value for money. I take this bottle with me everywhere. By the way, I blame Slava Grigoryian for putting me onto the Southern Rhone reds.


When I’m playing gigs in Adelaide particularly with Dallas Crane we frequently end up in McLaren Vale because you have Willunga beach and the wine. One of my favourites is Coriole Winery because they do a great Montepulciano and the restaurant is excellent too.


My next destination out of Melbourne will be Newcastle (NSW) because Dallas Crane has a gig with the Hoodoo Gurus.


I think I’m just wired to think musically, and I think most musicians would say the same (i.e. I’m not special). I constantly have music in my head, and every sound, word association or beat triggers something musical. Music is great therapy.


One song that always comes out after too many sherries is Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and this is usually a good sign that it’s time to go to bed. Aside from that a couple of other my favourite drinking sing-along songs are I Was Only Joking by Rod Stewart and Waiting on a Friend by The Rolling Stones when I’m getting all sentimental and need to be poured into the cot.


Andrew and I met when I was fortunate enough to play with The Sports on their final tour not too long before Martin Armiger sadly died in 2019. Andrew and I jammed together originally with Mark Ferrie at my house just to get a feel for each other. We felt a natural ease with each other so we agreed to jam again after the tour. Andrew lives not far from me, so during Covid when the opportunity arose, we would jam at my house. What’s fascinating to me is that I was influenced by Andrew’s work with The Sports i.e. melody, song structure etc – and perhaps that’s why we click. We are very much aligned on which direction a song should take. I love Andrew’s guitar playing – solos and chord structures – and he seems to genuinely get a kick out of my lyrics and melodies.


We made it our goal to finish the album after we finished one of our first tracks (Smithy) which ended up being the first track on the album. We knew we had something, so we decided to make it our project to finish an album as soon as possible – and the time constraint fuelled us.


Many of the songs have a conservative versus progressive theme – and it wasn’t intentional – it was just natural inspiration. For example, Smithy is about Charles Kingsford Smith who features on the Australian $20 note. My grandmother lived opposite Sydney Airport in Mascot and when her son (my uncle) Tom was a kid, he was playing in the hangars. Tom asked Charles for an autograph who promptly told him to f’off. The song explores Kingsford Smith’s hero status versus his flirting with fascism.

Molly Dean is the 2nd single off the album, and is about the brutal murder of a young woman in Elwood in 1930. Molly was a bohemian and aspiring writer whose lifestyle was frowned upon by conservative elements in society.

Angry Penguins and Ern Malley Hoax explores a Conservatives vs Progressives theme.  In this case, conservative poets were incensed by the modernist poetry. They were so incensed that they conspired to create a hoax whereby poems were written deliberately in modernist style in an attempt to make a fool of modernist critics. They succeeded – yet the poems are now seen by many as great examples of modernist poetry despite the motives.


Andrew: “In 1970’s Melbourne where my music career began, there seemed to be many more venues such as pubs, where people gathered to meet and socialise. It was a delicious soup of musicians and ideas and a cross breeding of different styles. Sometimes The Sports would play at Melbourne University in the afternoon, then stay in Carlton to see out the evening at Martini’s (the pub du jour). There was no sign of a poker machine which I felt put an end to live music in many parts of the country. The Sports and JoJoZep had a brother/sister relationship. That is, we had the same producer, we often shared stages in Melbourne and Sydney – and we played on each other’s records. More importantly we had creative control of the music and over the finished product. This feels very much like the approach Steve Pinkerton and myself take now. Unlike today, in the 70’s there was also no home recording or digital platforms so by the time a band entered a studio, where you had a month to record and mix an album, they were match fit from playing and touring. To me it was a new, musically inventive and exciting time and I would like to think Steve and myself have captured the same feeling on our album”.

Steve: “I’m very aware of what a difficult time the live music industry is going though at the moment – but I’m always heartened that new venues keep popping up. Andrew and I are looking at the scene as older and (hopefully) wiser musicians so it’s difficult to know what it’s like to be a struggling young band these days – but I’m sure it’s not easy. I’m just happy to have an audience of music lovers that continue to support us live despite the crazy cost-of-living pressures.

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