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club filter: in memorium

melbourne's club filter ran for a decade every wednesday night from 1992, and IF? collaborated often with the night's organizers mad rod & rudeboy to do collaborative live electronica sessions.
 
we also spent way too many of our wednesday nights hanging out there getting plastered!
 
here's a blast from the past, and from one very vital institution in melbourne's electronic muzak history...

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the filter story

the half-way mark: 1997

written for zebra mag (in inpress)
by andrez in 1997
 
 

With five years under its belt, Club Filter at the Lounge has virtually established itself as a cultural icon within Melbourne's dance music fraternity. Not only has the club been around for the long haul, but the five year milestone makes Filter Australia's longest-running techno club and one of the true veterans of the global scene.

Throughout its half decade, Filter has continued to push the boundaries, establish new directions and nurture upcoming local talent.

Early on the club brought out internationals like Dave Angel, Colin Dale and Lenny Dee before their careers really took off, and more recently they've invited cutting edge artists Jammin' Unit and his brother Khan (aka Bizz OD) to play.

On another level local achievers like Zen Paradox and Voiteck got their first big breaks at Filter, while the current crop of producers coming through - people like Soulenoid, Blimp, TR-Storm, Organism and Honeysmack - have all played there as part of the Wednesday night tradition within the past six months.

The fact is that Filter has become an enigma.

Most visitors from interstate and overseas - regardless of musical tastes - are struck by its vibe and its chameleon-like quality, with Dom Phillips of the UK's Mixmag going so far as to declare that "Filter is a wicked club, one of those long-running midweek specials that are, somehow, always cool... Some things are international."

So what exactly is it about this club that makes it so special?

Both the club's organisers - DJs [Mad] Rod and [Jason] Rudeboy - have their own theories.

"I think the fact that it's consistent on whatever level it's performing on at the time," assesses Rod. "It's got a very casual atmosphere and everybody feels welcome regardless of the music or scene they may be into. Filter is also a very interactive environment - doing your own thing is basically what it's all about."

Jason agrees and takes it further. "Yeah, it's probably because we try to put something different on every week and we put a lot of energy into the club. We do banners and we dress the room up - apart from MUD [Melbourne Underground Development] nobody else really does that. Nobody. At Filter we're constantly changing the environment people are in. But above anything else it comes down to the people who turn up every week - if it wasn't for them it wouldn't be on."

Here he shrugs. "I don't really know. We just do it every week and it's busy every week."

For the record Club Filter is run by Jason and Rod in conjunction with their silent partner Dave Pumpkin. Rudeboy also helps run Octave Records in Prahran and has a program on Kiss FM, while Mad Rod continues to produce his ground-breaking show Tronik Voodoo Exorcism on PBS; both have been asked to DJ at various clubs and parties around Australia and - in Rudeboy's case - even China.

But since 1992 the duo have stuck with their club, beginning under the brief name of Switch before switching it to Club Filter and barely looking back since.

Filter's musical policy also overcomes the usual perimeters, taking in the various sub-genres of dance music such as acid, house, techno and drum 'n' bass, a fact that both guys are very happy about.

"We have a lot of variety," Rudeboy assesses, "so if one set of people aren't into what's going on one week then they'll what's on the next week - or the week after that. A lot of other places stay the same and never change."

"That's what I mean about it being consistent," Rod adds. "No matter where we go on any particular night - we basically present the best parts of all these areas, or whatever's happening at the time. It's all one thing anyway. These days there are so many different realms of music and so many different cultures with their own particular communities and energies, which is a good thing. It's nice to explore all of it."

The live music element has always been a fundamental aspect of Filter's philosophy and it's here that live acts have been able to show their own particular wares to often enthusiastic audiences over the years.

"That's a different thing again, and again it relates to Filter's consistency," says Rod. "We've been around for so long that we're able to provide a space for these people and so that audiences can actually see what's going on around them. It was a lot harder to do that early on, but we persevered with artists like Zen Paradox, Voiteck and Arthur Arkin and we were the only real venue that did it at the time."

"Everyone waffles on about international acts and especially DJs," says Jason, "but these people play live - they're not DJs, they're musicians - and they're from right here."

After five years, what's the inspiration behind continuing?

"Hmmm," Jason muses, "it's still the enthusiasm that comes across. I enjoy playing at Filter. And we've come this far so why not keep going - I mean I see it that we've become like a local pub for techno people, without the pokies or the Taberet."

"A lot of people over the years haven't understood where we're coming from," infers Rod. "Overall it doesn't matter what you do; the thing is that if it's meant to be then it will be, and we're still here. And the point is that we're not doing a bad service, we're not doing an egocentric service, and we're not doing a stupid thing. We're actually helping people. And we've helped people so much that we've got a lot back. It's got a great energy about it."

With this in mind Filter has also been the forum within which a wide range of local DJs have been able to work their wiles and stretch their own stylistic perimeters - from the progressive house grooves of Liz Millar to jungle DJ Trooper's cuts, and on through DJs like Richie Rich, Eden, Nigel Last, Andrew Till, Dee Dee, Syme Slieker, Cara Caama and Fiery Eye. Hell, even me.

At Filter's upcoming fifth birthday celebrations they'll continue to pursue this tradition as upcoming DJ Nick Dem Q will be joining Mad Rod and Rudeboy behind the wheels of steel.

"As always, Jason and I haven't really planned the birthday," Rod admits. "It will be whatever the crowd who comes wants it to be; I don't like to hype these things up too much - it means that it allows people to make up their own minds when they come. It will definitely be something spontaneous."

Here Rod chuckles in an enigmatic kind of way. "And, I think, something special..."

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the filter story

eleven years - and over

by Ides for inthemix.com.au, 2003

Earlier this year a blank stare of disbelief swept over Melbourne's dance community as news spread that after 11 years and nearly 600 consecutive Wednesday’s later, the most enduring club in worldwide electronic music – Club Filter - would be closing forever. ITM’s inside reporter DJ Ides got together with the man behind the magic, Hot Rod, for a look back at what has made Filter the world’s most unique and unrivalled clubbing institution.

The Filter name was born in 1992 as Rod threw a packet of cigarettes at his then housemate Jason Rudeboy and yelled “Filter!”. From this simple beginning, the name has since been shaped by Rod to stand for everything in electronic music which embraces cutting-edge music and a constantly evolving, vibrant and inspiring atmosphere for its promoters, DJs, musicians, artists and punters alike.

It’s been a rare, sometimes confronting, but uniquely disciplined approach which has seen Rod persist in giving us so many nights of fun and great music that have lasted since day-one in the history of modern electronic music. “I’ve always wanted to have a place where likeminded people can go and feel relaxed: adult orientated with interesting music that’s always changing. What we had to do was remove ourselves away from every other electronic, or techno, or house denomination. As it started to get more popular, we had to move away from that to keep ourselves underground.

“It’s the real stuff that I want to hear and I want to employ those people playing stuff that people are still making in their bedrooms and putting on vinyl – that’s really inspiring, instead of music or fashion or culture that’s made for money. If we’d decided to sell out we would’ve sold out a long time ago and wouldn’t have lasted. That’s why Filter’s lasted – it’s because it’s a place that caters to a lot of people, but not mass amounts of people. It’s always about the newest, most innovative music and innovative people that also don’t really go along with anything. The basic philosophy is that it’s a place that’s just a bit more unique.

“The spiritual aspect is on a deeper level: trying to have it very ‘templey’ or very calming and very peaceful. On a DJ level and also of course on a patron level, it is trying to have an energy that people can be a bit more aware of what they’re doing and not so ego-centric and not so in-your-face… It’s just through my own experience, DJing and running clubs and working in night clubs for over 20 years, you get to see a lot of stuff and me trying my hardest to be as spiritually aware as possible, to give that to other people and that’s what Filter’s all about. The DJs are obviously going to have that type of education via us and so is the vibe of the club, the patrons, the staff, the door, everything… and it’s all worked. I mean we’ve never pushed it down people’s throats it’s quite subtle.”


Even the change in the Filter title – now ‘Club Filter’ – stands as evidence to the diligent evolution of the essential ideas and philosophies Rod welcomes as part of the something very special that the club has offered our city. “I was looking around at all the techno happening and it was getting quite big at this stage (around ‘94), and everything reminded me of ravers, big pants and stuff that I was getting completely over, cause we’d already done that. So I said to Jason and thought ‘Let’s make it into a real club’, make it a bit more stylised and adult orientated… and it worked, it really worked. You know – ‘Club Filter’ – it just looked so much nicer too, even presented. We were still the same and our philosophy was the same. Filter has always been a place for everybody, but especially for a more mature crowd. If we always had kids keeping us going we wouldn’t be here anymore. Whereas an older crowd gets more established; they like to play pool, have a dance, see their friends, hang out. That’s what Filter’s all about, just hangin’ out and I think we actually created that for Melbourne. All promoters have come down every few months to see what was going on and then sort of take our ideas, which I thought was quite inspiring really. People still shake my hand and Jason’s hand in the street going ‘Thanks so much for the inspiration’. We were the guinea pigs that did everything and then people with more money and probably more commercial ideas also would put our more fundamental ideas to use.”

Now after 11 years, Melbourne is left with the prospect that all of these exceptional ideas and values presented to our underground culture by Rod, musically by Jason and through all the work of the tight-nit staff, will be no longer. Rod pragmatically offers us some words as time draws near for Filter to make its last stand as a weekly foundation and pennant for everything ‘electronic music’ in our city. “The secret of Filters success is us being there full-time for the last decade. I was trying my hardest to get overseas for 10 years: I got offered to DJ, to make music, to travel, to do all sorts of amazing things with all these amazing people, and I personally could never go because of Filter. Each time I thought ‘Yeah I’ll go now’, I had to be there cause every 3 months you have to reinvent the night and reinvent the whole thing. I think for probably ten months in the whole 11 years it did run quite freely, where we didn’t have to keep re-inventing it and it was all smooth. But the reason why it was smooth in that period was because I was there the whole fucking time! I just cant do that anymore… Basically, the universe is just saying it’s time to close.”

In the coming months, the good news for Melbourne’s Filter devotees is that Rod and Jason have now come clean about working under the trademark banner on a different scale. “Jason and I have had doing Filter parties on the agenda for the last ten years. And what we’re going to start doing in the next 6 months or so is just do a Filter Reunion party. If that’s successful and people are interested – which I hopefully presume they will be – we’ll continue that once every few months and just have fun.”

The Club Filter finale takes place on Wednesday 11 June 2003 at the Lounge Nightclub. The night will be hosted by Hot Rod, DJs include Rudeboy, Ransom, Luke McD, DJ Ides, Zanna, Dextrus, Dan Woodman and Dom Hogan, with performances by Feral Beral & Co. and decor provided by De Ja Voodoo and Sioux.

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