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
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,
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..."