A Lucas Story
For sometime now I’ve contemplated writing a biography of Lucas Abela, figuring that most everyone who knows Lucas, or has come across him, has ‘a Lucas story’. So the idea here is to collect people’s Lucas stories and print them in an irregular fanzine and online.
Who is Lucas?
When not being mistaken for a grandpa, homeless man or male model, Lucas Abela is better known as the pseudonyms he works under to present his music – Justice Yeldham and the Dynamic Ribbon Device, DJ Smallcock, Peeled Hearts Paste – to name a few. His unusual and often exhilarating performances started around Sydney back in the early 90’s as he also launched Dualplover, with fellow cohort Swerve, which has now become one of the biggest CD brokers in Australia as well as releasing stange and unusual music from around the world.
Lucas spends a good portion of each year taking his art on the road, these days as Justice Yeldham, which involves him making music with a piece of glass. His notoriety for bloodied performances is legendary and has garnered rave reviews and horrified audiences from Singapore, China and Korea, to the U.S.. and Europe and beyond. Undoubtedly these performances alone would provide plenty of stories but ‘a Lucas story’ seeks to go beyond this and let the readers into the personal life and times to uncover what lies behind his twisted madness. Be warned – some of these stories are more horrifying than his performances.
Toby ‘Kandos’ Baldwin
On occasion, I have had chance to run into Lucas in a variety of capacities; doing sound, setting up some show or just shooting the breeze. Despite the fearsome stage incarnation that has been his hallmark for years, there is little doubt that Lucas is one of the most charming, erudite and entertaining men around. Oft accompanied by Wolf, his enthusiasm for Sydney’s overlooked underground music scene is certainly one of the few lynchpins holding the whole mess together. Notwithstanding…
The image seared into many a cerebral cortex is of a man possessed, bloodied and poised teetering over the abyss. DJ Smallcock. Justice Yeldham. Moniker aside, we are talking of one man and his pane. This is how many will remember him, so my anecdote concerns a night in which Mr Abela is performing as Justice Yeldham at the Newtown RSL alongside Castings. Wolf Eyes and Moonmilk may have also been present – so many gigs, so little recall.
Per our standard arrangement, the PA system has been cranked into the red, and the room is starting to fill with howls and booms. As per his standard arrangement, Lucas was thrusting his arms upwards, beckoning for more sound. I had done all I could, so I left the desk in charge of the house operator and went backstage to organize the special education class that is Castings. After half a minute’s chat with Mark and Dale, the inevitable occurs. Something is wrong. This becomes evident as Lucas hurtles past the three of us to the bathroom backstage.
I watched as Lucas heaved and coughed and retched. Blood was pouring from his mouth and throat. Much more than would normally be expected. This continued for about 15 seconds until a shard of glass about the size of a ten cent piece finally exited and landed in the sink, now awash in crimson. It was the first time I had ever seen Lucas that injured by his performance.
Without hesitation, he strolled up to Mark and grabbed his beer, taking a hefty quaff. Assuring us he was fine, he asked me to make sure I collected the larger remnants of the pane, so he might use them again at a future performance. Proof, again, that Lucas has a unique ability to comprehend and transcend both the ordinary and extraordinary.
All this said, most folks I know who have witnessed such performances quite quickly dismiss Lucas as a “mad motherfucker.” Tragically, they fail to recognize the irony in such a statement.
Nathan Null Object
I had to meet up with a friend of mine, Kizza, who was putting some compilation together I was going to be part of. She rocked up to my warehouse apartment on Sussex St in Chinatown in Sydney’s city with Lucas. At this period in my life I had seen Lucas play a few frightening gigs where he stuck miked up knives into spinning saw blades and record players, destroy his setup in about 30 seconds and walking offstage. I’d also seen his trampoline performance at the Big Day Out sometime ago now.
So I knew who he was and I was pretty much in awe of what he did. I was a bit excited he was at my place and looking around and stuff.
My pad was a third story warehouse about the size of a typical terrace house without walls. Long and thin. It had a small area in one corner partitioned off for my bed and the rest was pretty much open plan with all my electronic gear out and about with a lounge room set up near the front windows. It was a really nice pad. It kicked ass really.
Kizza kinda just lounged about cause she’d been walking all day and Lucas whipped out his days takings of new vinyl. She and he talked about stuff I had no idea about and I felt very “above ground” and left out. Lucas did not really say anything to me but upon his leaving words and emotions flowed like a bomb going off.
Although his words were little and not at all life changing, it was what I saw in his eyes when he said them at all who know him can affirm.
He left after looking around the whole space one last time simply saying – “you could be really loud in here eh?”
At the very first T.I.N.A. (This Is Not Art festival) I went to in 2001, I was at a forum on extreme labels. Anyway, ‘Mark N’ told Lucas that he looked like Russell Crowe, they both stood up to face each other off, Lucas pushed Mark on his arse and it that was the end of that panel.
Heady stuff for the circle jerk that usually constitutes music industry panel discussions.
Cockbash-80 (Suicidal Rap Orgy/Butchers Harem)
I’m sure I could muster up a fair few Lucas stories, as I have known him for a few years and borne witness to (and partaken in) some of his antics, both savoury and unsavoury.
If I must choose one memory, it is this: we had just come offstage from our Dualplover album launch at the beautiful Lanfranchis (R.I.P.). the (at the time) 6 or 7 strong crew were upstairs sharing a post show shower (removal of goop, faeces, blood and cum is best done in company), when the degenerate Toecutter appeared in the room, drunkenly bellowing, and proceeded to hose us all down with a considerable stream of thick alchohol and chemical laced piss, provoking mixed reactions from all present.
He disappeared, then reappeared at a hole in the wall and continued to subject us to a lengthy dose of urine. This accomplished, he began laughing. I joined in the revelry, and made the point that if he was gonna get us started he’d better finish us off.
It was at this point that the inimitable Mr. Abela entered the room and proceeded to do just that, milking my flaccid penis like I was some kind of bipedal jersey cow. We smiled at each other, and for a brief moment I thought “this is probably the greatest record deal I will ever get – a stack of questionable CDs and a wristy from the label manager. I’m fairly certain this usually goes the other way, and it would have to be mouth or rectum. I bet Richard Branson never tossed off any members of the Sex Pistols”. Beautiful.
Unfortunately, I could only muster up a half-mongrel, and Lucas soon gave up on my less-than-impressive wang. Still, I’m fairly certain that someone, somewhere has video footage of this most wondrous event, and if so, they should send me a copy so I can jerk off to footage of myself being jerked off. Bam.
Oh, I heard that Lucas makes music or noise or something too. Whatever.
Cut to Ribbons by Danger Coolidge
originally printed in Unbelievably Bad fanzine
I remember the first time my sister ever met Lucas Abela (or Lucas Abel as he was originally known to me); she thought he was the single biggest scab on the devil’s red earth. It was early evening at a street party we’d put on in Waterloo about 10 years ago where she witnessed this shabbily dressed, barefoot son of a Greek caravan park owner (yeah, he once could proudly be called true trailer trash!) bludge seven ciggies off me in the space of an hour, ask if he could have a drink, cone, packet of chips, whatever else was going. I was lucky to get away without blowing him ‘sis reckoned. But Lucas is one of the most resourceful people I know. Why would he pay for durries when he knows I’ll pack him up?
I remember he was billed as Peeled Hearts Paste for one of the early ‘What is Music?’ festivals, would’ve been ‘round ’94 or ’95, at the old jazz joint the Harbourside Brasserie (R.I.P.) and he needed me to help him steal these two gigantic arched metal frames – kinda like massive semi-circular ladders. His idea was to weld to these arches a series of rotating motors from old household fans with saw blades and sanding discs and drum cymbals and all sorts of stuff attached. He then planned to switch them all on at once and “play” them with hand-held contact-mic’d metal skewers plugged in through a chain of effects pedals. Contact mic = Lucas’ best friend.
The plot to “acquire” these metal monstrosities had come about after the imaginative young noisemaker had spotted them resting up against the walls of a manned state rail control office situated adjacent to the lines just north of Redfern station. We didn’t bust out the balaclava’s for the mission, but we still looked dodgy as all fuck, right there on Elizabeth Street heaving two huge hunks of metal over the barbed wire fence and chucking them through the side doors of an illegally parked kombi van with one hazard light working – the same kombi Lucas used to record his debut CD. Having carried out our noise crime we drove away laughing maniacally, the barb scratch blood pissing down our forearms but otherwise unharmed, and, better still, unbusted.
But Lucas wasn’t laughing when he played the Brasserie a few months later, slashed an artery or two in his hand with a saw blade and had to be rushed to hospital. I wasn’t laughing to be rushing him there. And i’m sure whoever’s car it was he was bleeding all over was laughing least of all.
He’s either the most dangerous or clumsy musician on earth. He needs tetanus injections as regularly as a diabetic needs insulin. When you meet a mutual friend and you suddenly discover that you both know Lucas, invariably one or the other always says, “I rushed him to hospital once.” His blood has the power to bond total strangers.
Since he released his first CD ‘Music To Drive By’ under the guise ‘A Kombi’ in ‘96, Lucas Abela has made performance-based noise under a glut of aliases – Peeled Hearts Paste, DJ Smallcock, and lately, Justice Yeldham and the Dynamic Ribbon Device. This latest handle seems perfect, since living precariously and provoking reaction are his primary aims, and macabre humour a part of his nature. Justice David Yeldham, the muchly celebrated old paedophile judge who gassed himself in ‘96 after being fingered (he wished!) by a royal commission against police corruption for brazenly sleazing around inner-city railway station toilets throughout the eighties and nineties and having the special branch cover everything up, together at last with the jewel in the Coca-Cola company’s crown, the Dynamic Ribbon Device TM, very possibly the most uninspiring and pointless thing anyone has ever bothered to trademark in the history of blind greed.
But just as his moniker waves a red rag flagrantly in front of Coke’s lawyers, so too does the blood-spattered Justice Yeldham live experience scream out to be seen. Playing an amped-up sheet of glass with his face, the Justice holds court like no other. You’re not going to get disinterested knobheads down the back of the venue making idle chitchat with folded arms, or people yawning wondering when this shit is gong to be over. Sure, some folks have to stick their fingers in their ears to shield themselves from the excruciating volume levels that give Justice Yeldham a stiffy, but you can bet your arse they ain’t leaving. Whether they’re hoping he emerges with only minor abrasions, or praying he takes out a ventricle and makes it his final performance, every punter’s eyes are glued to that stage until the sheet of glass is milked to its very last shard. and invariably, unless he has to skip a bus to the emergency ward early, his shows always do go down to the last shard, in keeping with his great performance instincts.
Living the role of wild, barefoot, Australian warrior spilling claret profusely in the name extreme audio violence, he knows all the visual tricks to heighten the drama. From the globs of KY jelly he ritualistically squirts into his mouth at the start of a performance, to the startled, blood and lube-smeared faces he makes up against the glass, to the stupefied stagger he employs at the turbulent climax, his public masochism has all the power of the finest greek drama. and all the gore of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Justice Yeldham and the Dynamic Ribbon Device has been on the road touring the world for almost two years straight now. So far he’s crunched glass in America, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Korea, China, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Italy and there’s probably even some I’ve left out. His last Australian appearances were earlier this year on the E.A.R. stage at the Big Day Out, and he aptly supported Regurgitator on their Breaking Glass tour after they came out of recording that dodgy album in a glass bubble while on TV. I really should have gone to see him on those shows, if only just to see the look of horror on those little recoiling ‘gurge fans’ faces.
The last Regurgitator show I had seen Lucas at was probably the only other one he’d ever been to, when the Boredoms supported Regurgitator (strange but true) at the Metro almost 10 years ago. That night, Phlegm played the opening support as part of a quasi-reunion show for them, where they were joined onstage by members of the legendary Mu Mesons. It was a momentous occasion for all of us because Phlegm had broken up and swore they’d never play again, and the Mesons hardly ever played. But obviously some rude, thick Regurgitator-associated fuck didn’t appreciate their twisted avant noise and after about 25 minutes had the audacity to close the curtains on them while they were still playing! Well, Lucas wasn’t standing for it, and he jumped the front of stage barricade and grabbed hold of the bottom of the heavy curtain, only to be dragged mercilessly along towards the centre of the stage and into the waiting arms of security who heartlessly ejected him. We were huge Boredoms fans so to miss this show would’ve been hari-kari material. I vaguely remember people running around frantically trying to locate members of Regurgitator to help get him back in and those guys not even being able to cut any ice even at their own show. As the curtain reopened for the start of the Boredoms’ set, I spared a thought for poor Lucas outside in the gutter. And then I saw him, front and centre, with the stupidest haircut ever! He’d gotten a pair of scissors from somewhere – bloody resourceful motherfucker that he is – and hacked all his long hair off so the door gorilla wouldn’t recognise him. That was probably when I first realized the extent of his resilience. Nothing can kill this guy. No saw blade, no electric current, no piece of glass, nothin’. Then again, starvation might.
So you should check out his records and the records he releases through the label he co-owns, Dualplover: http://www.dualplover.com. They also do good deals on CD manufacture. If you’re lucky the long awaited Justice Yeldham DVD might even be out by now, made up entirely of amateur footage contributed by audience members who have filmed his performances from Lebanon to America to Wagga Wagga. The Justice continues his world tour throughout 2005, where he will play Switzerland’s lausanne underground film and music festival, visit Norway for the first time and maybe even play a few shows at home. See him before he kills himself.
Snippets from Toecutter
It was late one night at Lanfranchis. After a gig. We probably bought too much red wine. Cask red wine. And everyone was getting pretty loose. I can’t really remember how this started, but somehow Lucas was suddenly naked and on top of Kirralee, who was fully clothed and horrified, thrusting. She was kind of screaming and laughing at the same time, a bit of a sensation overload, I heard later that I had taken Lucas’s clothes off. So we are trying to pull Lucas off her but he won’t let go of her. So I had the bright idea of licking my finger and putting it in his bum, then he came off her like you take a fork out of a bowl of sugar.
Lucas has a dog called Dodo. Dodo is an Alaskan Huskie. Dodo is very affectionate, kissing Lucas, anyone, etc.etc. One day we were in Summer Hill and Dodo was licking the feet and toes of this overweight derelict woman whose feet looked like they had been burning on fire and put out with tomato sauce. Weeks ago. Lucas discouraged him.
The first gig at Lanfranchis. Suicidal Rap Orgy and v/vm. I think this was also the night Lucas gave one of the rappers a handjob on camera in the shower after the show. But i digress. We were running a bar as a way of paying for our alcohol consumption and we had made some money. Hellen Rose had brought her Polish Nazi gangster boyfriend, who approached Lucas as he was packing up the bar. He said “if you give me…” and before he could say “one” Lucas had grabbed him by the throat and knocked down a temporary wall, whilst screaming words to the effect “we’re not giving you any fucking money you cunt!” No one was more shocked than the Pole, but we all grabbed a limb and carried him down the hall and into the stairway.
Lucas washed Dodo with flea shampoo in the shower and got some in his eye which lead to a severe eye infection, and so Lucas was getting up in the morning with so much fluid dried around his eyes that he couldn’t see. He was walking up stairs to the shower draped in a lazy towel which revealed that all the coins he had slept on were stuck like shining decorations on his clammy thigh and buttock.
Lucas was complaining of a stomach ache. He asked Hana if she was suffering also, as she had also eaten the prawns yesterday. She wasn’t. Lucas moaned. I suggested that yoghurt was good to settle an upset stomach. The fridge held a litre of strawberry Yoplait which Lucas started to eat. He was about three quarters through it when he moaned again. “Maybe I’ll feel better after a shower…” He went up the stairs. It was pretty clear how the prawns and yoplait got along as we could hear the sound of Lucas wretching, even bellowing, and the sound of vomit hitting the tiles thunderously. Lucas came downstairs sheepishly and went straight to bed. After a few hours I went in and said, “if you’re not up tomorrow morning, I am taking you to hospital.” At ten the next morning I was about to drag him out of bed, but he got up with a spring and said, “I feel fine!” and got into the shower. Lucas is all about the shower. When he came down, I asked him what had happened. He said “well, I pissed, shat and vomited all day in bed, and have cured myself!” He went into his room and flipped his mattress over on the trampoline.
I heard that while Lucas was living at Imperial Slacks in Alex Davies’ room (while Alex was away), someone walked past the door with a visitor who looked in to see Dodo on Lucas’s ripped futon mattress, knawing on a spinal column, the surrounding room packed with boxes and festooned with other pungent dog treats. They exclaimed, “how adorable! the dog has it’s own room!”
Originally printed in ‘Funny Shit’ zine. In Lucas’ own words
Li Tian Jiao better known as Vivi was simply put the most beautiful thing I had even seen. I first saw her coming down the Broadway shopping centre’s escalators and had thought just that, commiserating myself at the same time that never in my wildest dreams would I ever meet anyone like this.
Luck befell me days later when she innocently took a seat beside me in an internet café. My heart raced as silently side by side we checked our e-mails. After the incident at the escalator I had cursed myself about my inability to introduce myself so I decided to do something I never had the gumption to do before. Still too coy to simply say hello, I took this rare opportunity to introduce myself anonomously. After spying her e-mail address over her shoulder I quickly proposed a date, then left fearing the worst.
The next day, to my surprise, she had remembered me and was willing to meet. We went out, enjoyed each other’s company etc and I was on top of the world. Unfortunately I found out our days together would be short; she had to return to Beijing, China in a matter of days. By the time she left we were truly in love, at the airport I made a declaration I would follow her to China as soon as I could muster the fare and two months later I took flight to the Middle Kingdom to secure her heart.
I spent my first evening in China resting at a hotel, Vivi met me at the airport and took me there to rest, I was to meet the family in the morning. Excited I was up early the next morning and headed out to meet the potential in-laws. Just outside the hotel a toothless couple where serving what I was later to learn was jianbing, a rolled up pancake style street food filled with egg, some shallots, criskett bread and some multi coloured spreads that I’m yet to identify. Anyway it looked tasty and cost barely 10c so I got myself one and continued onward to Vivi’s place.
The effects of the jianbing where almost instantaneous, you could probably still see the vendors cart behind me when the unmistakable feeling of sudden toilet need came on. I started to peel my eyes for a public restroom unacquainted I was then with the local’s habits of befouling between parked cars. This was a nation where the local outfit for toddlers had no arse even in winter, so they could take a dump whenever and wherever they liked! Once I was especially alarmed when a 3 or so year old took a dump in the middle of the markets while still holding her mother’s hand firmly. But presently I didn’t realise I could ease my suffering so casually and wanted to do the right thing. In the distance I finally spotted the international symbol for shithouse – the standing man and marched quickly for the door.
Unfortunately for me this public restroom was in actuality a squat, not of your anarchist variety, the inhabitants of this fully furnished bathroom facility was what seemed to be a large extended family group, men woman and children sitting around waiting while breakfast was prepared in the corner. Feeling uneasy about crapping in what was probably a closet I decided to try my luck and hold off until I reached Vivi’s grandparents place that under normal circumstances wasn’t too far off.
The steps that ensued told me this wasn’t to be no ordinary passing, my sphincter was acting like a pressure cooker, mysterious gasses leaked to relieve the force of the upcoming onslaught of poo. I made the final distance with my butt cheeks clenched so tightly I walked like a penguin all the way to the communist block tower Vivi called home.
When I finally made it to the door my knocking was so panicked that when she and her grandparents opened the door I spared them the pleasantries of meeting and greeting and made my way instinctively and unannounced to the bathroom where I came across a traditional Chinese squat toilet. In a single motion, pants came down, knees bent and diarrhea shot out from my anus at a tremendous speed hitting the back wall, floor and everything but the hole in the ground specifically built to house it.
For what was conceivably my quickest bowel movement ever I was in that bathroom a long time before I reappeared to finally meet the family. My best estimate would have me in there for at least half a hour soaking up the gooey remnants of my jianbing with scrunched up balls of toilet paper. How many times did they hear the toilet flush thinking I would be out to meet them soon only to hear it flush again? What passed through their minds as this stranger from across the seas used up a year’s supply of dunny roll on a single movement.
God only knows what they were thinking or saying to each other in Mandarin but the sweat beads on my forehead in the dead of winter must have alluded something to them, but they were kind enough to never mention it and began serving the best chicken like tofu I’ve ever tasted.
Years later I couraged up enough to ask Vivi whether or not her grandparents knew what had happened in their bathroom that day ‘of course, you idiot, you think my family is stupid?’ was her firm reply.
A long day in a sleeveless safari suit by Swerve Dualplover
I am only relaying this story, Lucas denies remembering/doing it at all. Although I remember falling over laughing when I heard it.
I was living with Lucas at the time, and I used to go to work early, as did most of the household. Lucas used to get up late and then proceed headlong into the day. But this day was different.
We used to have a shower and toilet that was outside the main house, the door between the two was deadlocked and the windows into the house were all barred. So it was a pretty hard place to break into.
Anyway, Lucas gets up and as was his routine he went out to take a shower/shit dressed only in a towel. After performing his morning rituals he left the bathroom only to discover the deadlock had tripped and he was locked out of the house. After trying unsuccessfully to break into the house he walked up to the main shopping street.
With only a towel to protect his modesty, he did manage to get someone to take pity on him and give him 40c to make a phone call. So he called a friend who was at home and she offered to come and pick him up with some clothes from her father’s wardrobe. Being a little on the stocky side, said friend decided the only thing that would fit Lucas was a lime green polyester safari suit with no sleeves.
So after changing into the suit, Lucas decided to go and visit people until we got home.
First port of call was in Woolloomoolloo to a fellow musician’s house. After sitting around for a while they decided to go up to Kings Cross as the musician had some effects pedals she wished to pawn. While in the shop Lucas’ gut started contracting and he felt a massive gastric convulsion, which ended up spraying all the way down the back of his legs (he was not wearing underwear).
The musician was still haggling over the price and so didn’t notice Lucas had discreetly taken the jacket off and tied it around his waist. but when they left it became all too obvious what had happened.
So they headed back to the musicians house for another pair of pants. And the rumour is Lucas lost it on the way home again and shat the second pair. Two pairs of pants that he didn’t even own is pretty good going I reckon.
A Lucas Story #1, 1000 copies given away free with Unbelievably Bad fanzine #9 sometime in 2009. Other random copies photocopied and sold here and there but feel free to reprint yourself or pass on to your friends once you’ve read it. If you’re throwing away don’t forget to recycle or use in your dunny to wipe your arse.