Dave McCormack (Custard) Bio

Last updated February 2012

Dave McCormackDavid Liam McCormack was born in 1968 at Mater Hospital in South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He received his first guitar when he was two years old, as a present from his dad.

McCormack's first band was Who's Gerald?, named after Gerald V. Casale from Devo.  The band existed from around 1986-1989 and also featured Paul Medew of Custard fame.  Who's Gerald described themselves as a "Neo ethnic glam electro cow gothic psychosardonic fusion rock" outfit.  The music they made was very, very bad.  Despite this, the band managed to score some high profile support slots for bands such as INXS and Sonic Youth.  Who's Gerald released one 7" single, entitled Wrestle Wrestle / Gerald Is Stumbling Away Along The Highway Of Life.

When being interviewed during the 1990s about Who's Gerald, McCormack said:

Who's Gerald? was a bad band in a time of very bad music. The people in the band, although fine people now, were all idiots at the time. I was the biggest idiot of them all. All the songs, without exception, were atrocious. There are no good memories of that time. Except when we broke up.

Custard

Custard logoAfter the dissolution of Who's Gerald?, McCormack formed Custard Gun in 1990. The band also featured Paul Medew, James Straker (The Melniks) and Shane Brunn (Hugbubble, Vanlustbader).  Their first gig was at a BBQ at Straker's house.  They then played one 'proper' pub gig, before  Straker was kicked out of the band.  He was replaced by a sprightly young bank teller named Matthew Strong, and Custard Gun morphed into Custard. One of the band's early bios read:

We all met in grade one at primary school. Glen A. Baker, then 21, was our teacher... Our music is a hot bed of raging sexual liberation.

Custard's first release was the four track vinyl EP Rockfish Anna, which was issued in November 1990.  A fire breathing Elvis impersonator was part of the EP's launch festivities.

Custard's debut album, Buttercup/Bedford, was recorded in 1991.  It was meant to be released on CD in March 1992, but things went awry. The band, who were self-financing the project, gave all their money to an American company called "Bandit Audio", who were going to manufacture the CDs in the USA because it was cheaper there.  Unfortunately, the CDs never turned up on time for the band's CD launch - forcing them to give away copies of the album away on cassettes to keep the punters happy.  It wasn't until the end of 1992 that the band finally got their hands on the elusive CDs.  By this time Custard had signed to Ra Records and had released their first "major label" CD - an EP called Gastanked.  As a result the Buttercup/Bedford CD was only sold by mail order.  The band later re-released many of Buttercup/Bedford's songs on a compilation called Whacked Not Whacky, which they sold at gigs in the mid 90s.

Gastanked did very well for the band, peaking at #41 on the ARIA singles chart. Gastanked was followed in 1993 by another EP, Brisbane, and two singles - Casanova and the double A-side Singlette/Flanelette.  By this time the band was onto its third drummer - Shane Brunn had been replaced by Grant Herrinberg, who had subsequently been replaced by Danny Plant.

Custard's debut major label album, the Wahooti Fandango, was issued in 1994.  Wahooti is a slang word the band used to refer to marijuana.  The video for the album's first single, Aloha Tambourinist, was the only Custard video to ever get played on Video Hits.  The video, set on a beach, featured  males models pretending to be Custard, while scantily clad women roll around in the sand.

"That video got more air-play for us on Video Smash Hits than any other video we'd ever made. All of a sudden everyone was saying, 'Wow, this Custard are a great looking band.’ And they're thinking, ‘This is fantastic — they're playing that new teen-beat music called Grunge'. Then they found out it wasn't us and we were probably never played again. They couldn't believe that we were pretending to be something that we're not, whereas they manufacture act after act to be something that they're not. It's just full of hypocrisy." - David McCormack

Wahooti Fandango was critically acclaimed, being nominated for 'Best Alternative Release' at the 1995 ARIA awards.  However, the band's "breakthrough hit"  didn't come until October 1995, when they released Apartment, the first single from Wahooti's follow up, Wisenheimer.  Apartment received a lot of airplay on Triple J, and was voted in at number 7 in the 1995 JJJ Hottest 100.  At the time, it was the highest ever placing by an Australian band.

Custard's drummer woes continued.  Danny Plant was kicked out of the band.  He was temporarily replaced on tour by John Lowry, before eventually being replaced by Glenn Thompson.  From around 1995, Custard music video Andrew Lancaster would also sometimes play with the band at their live shows.

Custard live Dave McCormack1996 and 1997 were big years for Custard, touring Australia with Weezer, Frank Black, Beck and the Presidents of the USA, and venturing back to America (where Wisenheimer had been recorded) to play more shows with the Presidents.  While in the USA the band also recorded album number 4, We Have the Technology.

Nice Bird, the first single to be lifted from We Have the Technology, tanked.  The second single, Anatomically Correct, faired better.  However, it was the final single, Music is Crap, that captured the public's attention.  The song was written and sung by Thompson, and reinvigorated public interest in Custard.

Music is Crap's follow up, Girls Like That, became the band's biggest hit.  It bruised the ARIA top 50 singles chart, and came in at an impressive number 3 in the 1998 Triple J Hottest 100.  The album on which Girls Like That was issued, Loverama, was also the band's most commercially successful.  Loverama was the band's first album since Buttercup/Bedford not to begin with the letter 'W' (following Wathooti Fandango, Wisenheimer, and We Have the Technology).

Through 1998 and 1999 tensions were emerging within the band, with McCormack and Thompson on one side, and Medew and  Matthew Strong on the other.  Strong was becoming increasingly unreliable - even getting to the point where he refused to play one gig, so the band dressed Andrew Lancaster in a hat and a wig and got him to play guitar!  Custard went on a six month "hiatus" at the end of 1999, before eventually calling it quits for good.

To date, the band has issued four releases since their 1999 split - two best of compilations (Goodbye Cruel World in 2000 and Essential Custard in 2010), a compilation of the Brisbane and Gastanked EPs (2002), and a DVD, Spaces by the Side Of the Road: A Digital history of Custard (2007).

In the decade following their break up, Custard were offered several gigs but knocked them all back.  They were eventually talked into reforming by Powderfinger, who convinced the band to play a reunion show as part of Queensland's 150th Birthday Celebrations in Brisbane on December 10th, 2009.  The band played a 15 song set.  The gig went well, and in December 2010 Custard played a second reunion show, at the Meredith Music Festival in Victoria.  In 2011, the band played four sold-out shows (two in Brisbane - raising money for the floods in February, and as part of the Brisbane festival in September; and two shows at the Standard in Sydney in September).  In 2012, the band is booked to play at at the Between the Bays festival in Victoria in February and the Gum Ball festival in April.

If you are in Brisbane, you can visit the Fortitude Valley Walk of Fame, where you will find Custard celebrated alongside other Brisbane-related acts such as the Bee Gees and The Saints.


The Titanics

The TitanicsIn April 1998, McCormack met journalist Emma Tom at an Elle Magazine dinner.  In September McCormack proposed by email, and the couple married on October 25th (McCormack's 30th birthday).

During 1999, McCormack formed a band called The Titanics with Tom, Glenn Thompson and filmmaker Tina Havelock-Stevens.  After the break up of Custard, the Titanics became McCormack's primary musical project.  The band's first album, Size Isn't Everything, was recorded at home and sold online rather than in stores.  Several different versions of the CD were released (each with slightly different track lists).  The band's second album, Love is the Devil, was released in late 2000.  The band also briefly appeared in the film Garage Days (McCormack wrote the film's soundtrack).

Around 2001, Thompson and McCormack had a falling out, which resulted in Thompson leaving the Titanics.  Tom and McCormack's relationship also soured, and Tom left the band.  The Titanics continued on temporarily as a three piece, with Dylan McCormack playing bass.  The band played their last show at the St Kilda Festival in February 2002.


The Polaroids and beyond

Dave McCormack poster

After the break up of the Titanics, McCormack went solo.  He issued a collection of electronic oddities entitled The Matterhorn (2001) before recruiting a backing band called The Polaroids. To date, Dave McCormack and the Polaroids have released two albums, Candy (2002) and The Truth About Love (2004).  The latter was released on both CD and Vinyl, with alternate track listings.  The band have also released a DVD called Save Dave (2003), and a handful of singles.

In the four years following the release of The Truth About Love album, McCormack recorded several albums worth of material.  Some of these songs made their way onto an EP released in 2008 called  Cassingle and a 20-track album released in October 2009 called Little Murders.  Both were released under his own name, sans Polaroids.  Cassingle gained 'Single of the Week' honours by Rave, Time Off, InPress and Drum Media Perth, while Little Murders attracted a perfect five-star review from Rolling Stone.

Over the past few years, McCormack has also been involved in numerous other projects.  For example, he coordinated a studio tribute album to the Go-Betweens. The resulting album, Write Your Adventures Down, was released in mid 2007.  McCormack is also part of Sonar Music, which sees him work on TV and film soundtracks and various other projects.

On the live front, McCormack has played gigs over the past few years with an array of acts including the Polaroids, Custard, as well as solo shows with a revolving array of backing members such as his brother Dylan, Nick Naughton, and Seja Vogel (Sekiden / Regurgitator).

McCormack has played several notable gigs over the past few years.  For example, in July 2007 he appeared alongside the Saints at the historic Pig City gig, celebrating the rich history of Brisbane music.  McCormack's set consisted primarily of Custard classics, dating back to Bedford.  McCormack also performed a career retrospective set at the Famous Spiegel Tent at the Sydney Opera House in 2008.  That show involved him playing one song from each year of his career, inclusive of 1990 to 2008.



Side Projects

Miama Costume of SandCustard, then the Titanics, and finally the Polaroids have been Dave McCormack's main musical vehicles throughout the years.  However McCormack has also been part of numerous side projects.  A few of these included:

COW - which stood for Country or Western.  Also featured Glenn Thompson (Custard/The Titanics/Go-Betweens) and producer-extraordinaire Robert Moore, as well as about a dozen other people.  COW released one CD, called Beard, in 1995.

Miami - this band featured McCormack, Maureen Hansen (Dave's girlfriend for several years during the 90s), Nick Naughton and Paul Medew.  The band released two CDs, Costume of Sand and Feel the Seed of Miami.  The band split up shortly after David and Maureen broke up (circa 1997).

Adults Today - mostly a Glenn Thompson project, but Dave also played a few shows with them, along with his brother Dylan McCormack, Trevor Ludlow (The Melniks/Small Fantasy/Gentle Ben) and Nick Naughton.  Music is Crap was originally an Adults Today tune.

Frank 'n' Stein - also featured Robert Moore and Dave's brother Dylan McCormack, amongst others.

Warm Nights - David played on Robert Forster (of Go-Betweens fame) solo album 'Warm Nights.'

Computor - a collaboration between Dave and Robert Moore that was quite electronic sounding.  Computor released a tape called Floppy Disk.

Silver Machine - a collaboration between Dave and Peter Fenton from Crow

The Millionaires - a country styled outfit also featuring members of the Cruel Sea and Karma County. The Millionaires released an album in 2008 called Sentimental Horses.