In 1996, Alcotomic emerged from the post-grunge Melbourne music scene. Inner city pubs and venues saw 3 piece pop bands delivering quirky melodic tunes and Alcotomic were well and truly part of the 90’s 'Melbourne Sound'.
Although rehearsals began in late 1995 with Moler drummer Stephen Boyle, it wasn't until singer/songwriter John Baxter ran an ad in Beat Magazine looking for a permanent drummer when Adelaide boy Andy Strachan emerged. Ready to go home after difficult stint as drummer for the Australian U2 Show, the chemistry between Andy and John was immediate and living only blocks away from each other in Brunswick fate was sealed. With Porcelain Jane bass player Denny Brereton already on board, the band came to life.
Early 1996 saw the first of many Birdland Recordings with the acclaimed Lindsay Gravina extracting the energy from the trio. Johns biting double anniversary Gretsch bolstered by Andy and Dennys driving rhythm section formed a bedrock of sound that Lindsay became famous for. From these sessions came the debut self titled (mistakenly called 'Playing Cards') 6 track EP featuring, Nowhere, Elastic Fantastic, Living in Luxury, Super Sonic, Daisy and Loaded Gun. Living in Luxury picked up Triple J rotation and was added to the Stingers and Good Guys, Bad Guys sound tracks and immediately raised the bands profile.
1996 and 1997 was spent playing just about every venue in Victoria from the Punters Club to the Golden Vine in Bendigo to the Espy Gershwin Room and the Fish Creek Hotel. Great reviews, strong community radio support and profile gigs came thick and fast as did a record deal from Id Records, part of the multi-national Polygram Records. The deal fell through as Id Records was shut down through label re-structuring.
January 1998 saw the band head to Velvet Studios in Sydney to record its next CD produced by David Price. Missing pre-production due to a car break down in 40 degree heat in rural NSW, the band hit the studio recording the shimmering Anything But You single with B sides, Invisible and Black and White. Looking down the barrel of strong radio support and national touring, Denny Brereton un-able to commit parted ways with the band in March. Andy Strachan's ex-U2 Show guitarist house mate, Paul Inglis jumped at the opportunity to jump on bass guitar.
The strongest lineup to date, both vocally and sonically, the band hit the road with appearances at the PCMC conference in Sydney, an appearance ABC's Recovery as house band and a packed to the rafters CD launch at the seminal Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy. The band signed a distribution deal with US label Not Lame Records and was invited to play the Pop Overthrow tour also in the US.
On a surfing trip at Apollo Bay in March 1998, John was struck in the head by a surf board and diagnosed with a condition known as post trauma headache. The debilitating condition required 2 years of pain control medication and temporarily restricted live performances for the latter part of 1998.
1999 saw the band notch up their 100th gig and return to Birdland Studios in May to cut their penultimate CD. Originally to be an EP it was cut down to yet another single due to financial constraints. Although demoed at X-Tek studio's in Port Melbourne in 1998, The Birdland recording of Where You Go co-written by John, Andy and Paul, captured the true essence of Alcotomic; raw, angular and melodic. It also featured Falling Pins which would see a second life on a Prettymess album and A Little Hour featuring Andy on backing vocals and drum stick on Coke can. It was released through MGM and went on to get rotation on Triple J and the touring continued.
Early 2000 saw Andy Strachan temporarily fill in drums for Violeteen and then Pollyanna. As John and Andy were the creative core of Alcotomic and external demands on Andy increased, the bands days were numbered. Gigs continued but were few and far between. The last live appearance of Alcotomic was in 2001 at the 9th Ward at Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
Andy Strachan went on to join the Living End
in 2002. John Baxter and Paul Inglis formed Prettymess
and released the albums Greyscale Broadcast (2005) and Resistance is Futile (2006) respectively, which many drums tracks were played and co-written by Andy Strachan. All Prettymess cd's are available from Shock Records and the Magneto album is available from Pop Boomerang Records.