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Primitive Calculators

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Melbourne, Australia (1977 – 1980, 2009 – present)

The Primitive Calculators were an Australian post punk band of the 1970s, known for their use of a screeching Mosrite Ventures model guitar, primitive synthesizers (a Wasp and Roland SH2) along with an electronic organ played through effects pedals, and an extra fast drum machine keeping time (Roland CR-78). Their frantic, low-fidelity sound pumped out of Marshall Combo amplifiers. Loudly. Their music was influenced by proto-punk New York acts like The Godz, The Velvet Underground, Texas 60’s psychedelic punk, James Brown, and The Silver Apples and Australian bands such as Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. They are often compared to the The Screamers from Los Angeles, Suicide and bands from the No Wave music scene from New York.

They met as teenagers in Springvale, a rough working-class outer suburb of Melbourne, moving in 1977 to St Kilda, then the centre of the punk rock scene. Despite socialising with the likes of Nick Cave from The Boys Next Door they remained outsiders to this scene (most of which was comprised of people from middle-class backgrounds with private-school educations), and in 1978 moved to Fitzroy. Here they settled on the 4 piece lineup that recorded and found like-minded friends,such as Ollie Olsen and John Murphy of Whirlywirld, and were instrumental in organising a series of gigs named “Little Band nights”, where hastily-formed bands would play for 15 minutes each; this led to a compilation EP being recorded. The Primitive Calculators played their last gig in March 1980, though their self-titled live album came out in the early 1980s. The band reformed briefly in 1986 to perform a live version of their song “Pumping Ugly Muscle” in the film Dogs In Space.

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