The Queensland government is bankrolling a $60,000 mural project to honour punk pioneers the Saints, continuing Brisbane’s penchant for venerating its rock bands via city landmarks.
The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced the funding on Wednesday for a large-scale mural to “immortalise” the Saints at Upper Roma Street, a stone’s throw from its onetime share-house cum rehearsal room and live venue in Petrie Terrace.
The mural, to be launched with a concert and recording by the band’s former guitarist Ed Kuepper, will mark the 40th anniversary of their album (I’m) Stranded, now widely considered a watershed release of punk.
“This exciting project will create a rich addition to public art in Queensland and will fittingly celebrate a home-grown band revered worldwide as one of the most influential punk rock bands of all time,” Palaszczuk said.
It follows the renaming of a park in Oxley near Kuepper’s childhood home as Ed Kuepper Park, which the Brisbane city council approved in July after a local resident’s petition.
In 2010, an inner-Brisbane toll bridge opened as the Go Between Bridge, a celebratory nod to another influential local band, the Go-Betweens.
The Saints mural and music project was driven by former Go-Betweens bassist John Willsteed, who is now a Queensland University of Technology creative industries lecturer.
The Saints’ origins lay in 1973 when singer Chris Bailey and drummer Ivor Hay joined forces with the German-born Kuepper, writing many of their classics in the Kuepper family’s Oxley garage.
Bailey, born in Kenya to Irish parents, grew up in nearby Inala, an area that Palaszczuk now represents as the local MP.
Initially ignored by local record labels, the Saints’ first recordings coincided with the very beginnings of punk as a worldwide musical movement.
Their first single, (I’m) Stranded, was recorded in June 1976 – two months after the Ramones cut their debut in the US and a month before the Sex Pistols played what would be their first single, Anarchy in the UK, live.
The Saints released the single independently in September, with a review in a UK magazine prompting EMI in London to order its Australian arm to sign the band.
The album (I’m) Stranded was released in February 1977. The band split in late 1978 with two other acclaimed albums under its belt.
Palaszczuk, who made the announcement at the opening of Brisbane music industry conference Bigsound, said many of the 150-plus acts in the city for the event would “acknowledge the huge influence of the Saints”.
They not only helped “change the face of rock music worldwide in the 1970s but [showed] that a Queensland band could have a big impact on the world stage, paving the way for many of the great Queensland musical acts to follow”.
Palaszczuk said the large-scale mural would be “situated on the north side of Upper Roma St, close to the Saints’ original practice room, share house and live music venue at 4 Petrie Terrace, known as Club 76”.
Kuepper in concert would “reimagine songs from the first three Saints albums” in collaboration with Robert Davidson of Topology, she said.