If there’s one thing you should know about Melbourne’s Private Function by now, it’s that they like doing things their own way.
In fact, in the few years that they’ve been together and making music, the group have made headlines for their unique releases. Most recently, the band’s debut album was a popular topic of discussion due to it being named after Metallica’s St. Anger, even recreating the artwork in a way that only Private Function could.
If you want something more interesting though, you could go back to their Six Smokin’ Songs EP from 2016. When the cassette was reissued in 2018, it was subtitled Live On Bin Night, complemented with overdubbed recordings of garbage trucks, and packaged with a piece of their own rubbish from the bin.
Amazingly though, this is far from the most intriguing musical format that has been released in the past though. While we’ve looked at interesting packaging in the past, it turns out that the Private Function folks have a pretty good insight as well.
To celebrate their upcoming I’ve Been Radicalized tour, we sat down with guitarist Joe Hansen to find out more about Private Function’s favourite impractical, obsolete, and useless musical formats from music history.
Check out ‘White Lady Funerals’ by Private Function:
Private Function’s favourite impractical, obsolete, and useless musical formats
With streaming becoming the de facto method for listening to music in 2019, the once ubiquitous physical format has all but gone by the wayside. Even the vinyl revival of the mid-2010s is still vastly overshadowed by the streaming giants.
Despite the prevailing trends, or perhaps in spite of them, there are thankfully still artists out there that are more than happy to push the envelope of how music can be packaged and distributed.
While some of these may not be quite as useless as our 2017 single ‘Frantic’ which was released as a 64kbps MP3 contained on a floppy disk, they all deviated strongly from the norm and reflected not only the band’s music, but their outlook on the way their music should be delivered and experienced by the listener.
Check out ‘Frantic’ by Private Function:
1. Beck – Song Reader
In 2012, the eclectic Beck Hansen (who has recently renounced Scientology) announced his new album Song Reader would be released in the form of sheet music, with no recorded musical component to be included.
Perhaps the most wholesome and traditional release on this list, the actual sonic reproduction of the compositions was left up to the consumer. Considering that recording costs are often the most expensive part of creating an album, I consider this to be a great cost-cutting measure.
Check out ‘Heaven’s Ladder’ by Beck:
2. Fucked Up – Reel Live
Boasting one of the most prolific discographies in punk rock, with countless singles and variants therein, Canada’s Fucked Up notably released their 2010 live album Reel Live as a reel-to-reel.
While the bulk of Fucked Up’s millennial hipster punks were most likely equipped with a record player to handle most of their discography, throwing a reel-to-reel into the mix no doubt tripped up a few nerds out there.
3. Fuzzsucker – Pig’s Head Record
I’m not sure what this album was actually called, if anything, but it’s come to my attention that local madman Fuzzsucker once released an album on a single USB stick which was contained inside a butchered head of a pig.
I know nothing else about the release and the contents thereof, and I don’t want to.
Check out ‘In Blood We Bleed’ by Fuzzsucker:
4. NASA – Voyager Golden Record
Created in 1977 and launched with the Voyager 2 space probe, this record set serves as a time capsule of the Sounds of Earth.
With the intention of potentially being found and listened to by extraterrestrial life, the concept is plagued with numerous problems. While the physical format itself isn’t the issue, this writer finds it hard to believe that an alien would be entertained by boring sounds of nature and played out music.
They’ve probably got way better bangers on Messier Galaxy 8 or whatever so I doubt they’d even make it through. Also I don’t think they included any way for the aliens to be able to differentiate between the sounds of humans talking and the sounds of farm equipment so there’s no way to stop them thinking we sound like tractors.
Considering the Voyager probe is currently over 11 billion miles from Earth (and any known life) I consider it to be a resounding failure.
Learn more about NASA’s Golden Record:
5. Punch – Flexi Your Head
The defunct San Francisco hardcore band’s most useless release is without question their medley of punk covers pressed onto a cardboard postcard and playable on a normal record player.
While I haven’t played my copy as I’m not sure cardboard is the best for my stylus, I’ve been told that the music itself is pretty good. Considering it could potentially hold up in the mail better than a normal record, I’d say the idea definitely has merit.
Check out a poor-quality recording of Punch’s Flexi Your Head:
Private Function ‘I’ve Been Radicalized’ Tour
Tuesday, December 31st, 2019
The Falls Music and Arts Festival
Saturday, January 11th, 2020
Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Friday, January 17th, 2020
Howler, Melbourne , VIC
Saturday, January 18th, 2020
The Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Saturday, January 25th, 2020
Nice Day To Go To The Pub
Torquay Hotel, Torquay, VIC
Friday, February 7th, 2020
The Eastern, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday, February 8th, 2020
Exeter Beer Garden, Adelaide, SA
Saturday, February 15th, 2020
The Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday, February 16th, 2020
Vinnies Bar, Gold Coast, QLD