Model student with honors and bachelors, a rising star on the Australian swimming scene.
He had it all going for him and then…well then…he decided to become a punk rock hero and entertainer who made the music scene a much richer, cooler, sleazier and simple place to be.
Ladies and gentlemen, the man who exposed the world to bands like The Onyas, The Egos and now as a part of Cosmic Psychos….John Mckeering aka Mad Macka who conquered the world and gave it all!
When did you start playing the guitar for the first time?
Mate, I started paying guitar for about 3-6 months with a guy up at Zillmere when I was 8 year old. From memory we just did open chords and stuff and strummed along to his playing I knew probably the G chord and that was about it. I played on an acoustic guitar, it was fun and it was after school and stuff. The teachers name was Ric Purdie from memory.
This lasted only 3-6 months though as I said and from here I didn’t really pick up the guitar again properly till when I was about 17 years old. There were a couple of times where I recorded music once in Noosa with a guy called Nick Kerr – we recorded onto a cassette and the song was called “This is not a record” which was sort of like “This is not a love song” by PIL. This was when I was about 13-14 years old but then it stopped again. I was spending a lot of time swimming and stuff and never had time to pursue my musical interests.
I was buying a few records and stuff by this time mainly oi! and punk records etc.
So it goes that I seriously got into guitar around 17 yo probably around September 1989. I was getting ready to finish school and I had just split up with my girlfriend. You know how the story goes so I got heavily into playing guitar from about then.
What or who inspired you to become a musician?
That is a good question. I listened to a lot of punk as I said. Probably the first record I got was when I was 8 years old, it was the “Alive “ album by KISS and I used to listen to it a lot.
Later and again coz of this on and off thing with music it became punk. I got the Sex Pistols when I was 13 years old, this would have been 1986 but I heard of the Pistols when I was 10 because of the “Some Product” tape. My cousin had it.
No one really inspired me to become a musician it just happened and I still question really whether I am one or just an entertainer.
Was it punk at first sight or did you have some embarrassing teenage crush on a totally foolish band?
Pretty much punk at first sight although as time has gone on it has got a bit rock. No teenage crush on foolish band. I have a few weird records thought stuff like Wang Chung:
..umm Bronski Beat
..and Duran Duran. I didn’t mind them or quite liked them actually.
Who is/was Mrs Deagon?
A mother of a swimmer that I helped coach that shall remain nameless, lets just leave it at that.
How did The Onyas come together as a band? There was a lineup of the band at high school.
Yes there was a line up at high school. It was Stu Gillett on drums, Luke Gordon on guitar and Nigel Watherston on lead guitar, there was no bass. So in some ways it was pretty seminal.
We played some very rudimentary versions of a couple of songs including
“All Day and All of the Night” by The Kinks
“We Can’t Be Beaten” by Rose Tattoo
..and “Task Force” by Razar a Brisbane punk band
I didn’t know what all that meant and I still don’t know what it means now. Anyhow yes I do know what it means a bit. The Onyas basically came together like this. I had a mate that I used to swim against called Andrew Weston. He introduced me to Richard Stanley a couple of months after we finished high school. Stanley had heard a couple of tapes that Weston and I had swapped with each other you know like:
The Four Skins
Anyhow I rang Richard up one night and asked him to play bass for a jam. He was playing in another high school band called The Shots at the time. So we started a cover’ish band called Dr Strangelove and played a few halls and stuff.
Come the end of 1990 I quit playing…for about 5 minutes. In April 1991 we formed The Onyas with Richard on bass and his brother Jordan on drums. For a while Richard’s mate Anton Bladwell played guitar as well. By sometime that year we started playing gigs. Jaws was only 14 or 15 years old when he started playing in the band. He used to sign himself out of school to play gigs and stuff.
Is there existing any photos of you without holding a beer?
Yes there are many.
Supposing that not even the rock star fame up the years from Onyas to Cosmic Psychos could support you enough financially, what have you been doing besides playing music?
Quite a few things; Lawyer, Swimming Coach, Pizza Hut Delivery driver, Laborer, Carpet Factory worker, Store man and now bartender.
After Onyas came Egos, lasted little but a helluva good record, was it meant to be such a short living band?
That is a good question. To this day I would have liked it to go on but also realized that as the others in the band, including myself and besides my wife, have their own projects to focus on. Who really knows? At that time in my life I had a lot going on and there was a lot of confusion. Hahahah.
If I say New Bomb Turks what do you say?
Good Shit from Columbus OHIO
I remember very well the first and unfortunately only concert I saw with you guys at 1000fryd in Aalborg, Denmark. A show with NBT and The Onyas, I believe you came up on a last minute thing due to a cancelled show somewhere else.
Don’t think I’ve ever seen a concert quite like that ever since. I believe you were trying to burn your soaked underwear panties off on stage for the rest I just remember an explosion in my face of total madness and the best punk rock ever…for my part even better than NBT!
The question to you is, why can’t the new generation of bands loosen up the same way?..do they not drink enough beers or how is that?
Look I don’t know, they probably don’t loosen up because they haven’t seen what we have seen or something like that. They have seen something else. Anyhow that is about all that I can say here.
Besides burning your panties, what is the craziest thing you have ever done on a stage?
Got on it. (for the readers, pls interpretate as you like ha ha)
Wildest show you ever played?
There have been quite a few wild shows I can’t remember one exactly. Some of the COSMIC PSYCHOS ones of recent date have been pretty wild.
Funniest experience during your tours abroad?
Too many to distinguish between.
Did or do you ever go sightseeing while touring abroad?
What are ‘Jaws’ and ‘Stanners’ doing nowadays?
Jaws and Stanners live in Melbourne. At this point I live in Brisbane. Jaws plays guitar in the THE MEANIES and drums in the CASANOVAS. Stanners play bass in EXHAUSTION and OOGA BOOGAS and other bands as well. The ONYAS play from time to time as well. 2 weeks ago we played with the OBLIVIANS in Brisbane.
You declared yourself a CP fan and then you ended up playing for them. How was that?
Pretty weird but fun to be honest.
Is it mandatory to show your naked bum after every CP show?
If we are the last band on this is what happens usually.
Lets talk about the Mad Mack/a or John the private person!
How was your childhood?
Pretty normal with a few weird chunks thrown in. I spent a lot of time swimming and made the National Age Group Final twice in the Medley events around the age of 14 and 15.
I even beat Kieren Perkins once hahaha.
Is it true that you were a Class A graduate student?
Sort of. Honors 11A in Politics, Bachelor of Laws and now Masters of Arts by research in Musicology. As well as a few other courses, it keeps life interesting.
If the above question is true how do you go from being a good student to burning off your underwear on the stage?
You tell me!!!!!
Rumors have it that you were an Olympic swimming coach, The Egos lp “Fast Swimming” title and cover sorta adds to those speculations?
No. I spent a lot time with kids in the 1990’s that ended up swimming for Australia at Age Group level etc. I even had a kid that was admitted to the Australian Institute of Sport and ended up winning the National Open Championship for the 400 meter Individual Medley, so he ended up the best in Australia. At Olympic trials he only ended up third though so he never swam at the Olympics. That is about it. Probably won’t coach again though, I have had enough of it.
Have you ever done any other sports other than lifting beer cans?
Yes, I used to do country swimming, water polo, rugby union athletics and I go to the gym 3 times a week these days but this is to keep myself fit and healthy.
What are you passions besides music and beer?
My wife and my son and daughter.
Is there something you regret having done or not having done in the past?
Should have done more tours.
What has been the biggest moment in your life so far?
Having my children with my wife.
What is the nicest thing you have ever done to someone else?
Given them a beer.
Married to the same Sheila since 2006, went out with her since 1997.
How many women’s heart did you break over time?
How many women broke your heart over time?
Having seen the CP documentary, it revealed that you have excellent skills in the kitchen, what is your strongest dish?
What is your fave dish prepared by someone else?
Is a beer a beer or do you have a preference?
I am drinking Bundaberg Rum as I do this in shots.
What does nature mean to you?
Do you ever sing in the shower?
If you found yourself alone in the outback and felt like shouting out something to the world, what would that be?
Ever been in danger?
Do you feel lucky in life?
A special mentioning to people that have meant and/or still means a lot to you?
All the people that I have entertained with and my immediate family including mum and dad. Also Mr and Mrs Stanley.
Spend a few words on Robbie Watts?
Good bloke gone too soon.
What do you want people to remember you for?
Giving it everything.
The Onyas / The Egos / Cosmic Psychos / Mad Macka
Au Go Go Records / Swashbuckling Hobo Records / Desperate Records