THE search PARTY

Mark, Aaron, Ross, Keiron, Masque, Rik, Cye







































I began writing songs with my nephew Kieron Gardiner in 1993.

By 1996 we had decided to record some demos of the songs with the view to approaching record companies and releasing a single.

To that end, I flew up to Byron Bay where I enlisted the help of Ross Pepper, a wonderfully clever and irresistibly eccentric musician/programmer who I had worked with a few years before at "The Music Farm". He neglected to tell me he was getting married on one of the three days I had booked him for, but in the ensuing chaos, we still managed to record three backing tracks.

Back in Sydney, I booked a studio and Kieron flew over from Adelaide to record the vocals. The songs were "This Is The Drug", Too Much Ecstasy" and "Looped Out".

Mark, Aaron, Rik, Cye, Masque, Kieron.

Masque relaxes at home


In the early nineties I'd also met an incredible kid by the name of Cye Wood who played the violin remarkably well. We had talked about one day putting together an experimental band, so we called him into the studio and he played some highly unorthodox though inspired violin on the songs.

At this stage, Rik Peters (another nephew) and I had been discussing computer animation. Although Rik had worked at Rhinoceros Recording Studios, he was essentially a very talented graphics man. I suggested that perhaps he could get on board and we could create our own film clips. He was up for it.

These demos produced results and in 1998, with Mark "Cal" Callaghan on side, the THE search PARTY signed a deal with Festival Records but the thing was, they didn't just want a single, they wanted a whole album! I wasn't really ready for that, but what are you going to do!

I also decided to become anonymous and assumed the identity of "Masque" and wore a large cubist/african-ish mask i whipped up me self.

It transpired that Ross wasn't in a position to work with us at that point so I turned to my very good friend - keyboard player, arranger, composer, conductor etc. Mark O'Connor, to help me out. Fortunately he obliged, and for the next how ever many months, we worked tirelessly at his little home studio in Neutral Bay. In winter we dubbed it "Mawson's Hut" for obvious reasons.

Another nephew, Aaron Peters had also been working away at his song writing and was doing some great work. When it became obvious that we would need more songs for a whole album, I put it to him that perhaps he would also like to join the group and bring a couple of his songs with him. He agreed.

Meanwhile, Rik and I had managed to talk Festival Records into letting us produce our own videos, and they supplied us with a camera and computer gear. In a groundbreaking innovation for that time, we created the CD-ROM "This Is The Drug", that included not only three audio tracks, but also a film clip and an eight minute fully animated interview/movie featuring each member of the band (see above). It was both PC and MAC compatible. Not bad for 1998. It was great to finally see it in the shops and on the TV!


The CD-ROM single "This Is The Drug"

Rik summons Kieron

We were half way through creating our second film clip and single "Aloha Baby" when the bad news came through from Festival Records.

A Mr. R. Murdoch had bought Mushroom Records and Festival Records and was going to merge them. In the ensuing rationalisation many of Festivals acts were dropped. Unfortunately this included THE search PARTY.

Mark O'Connor on the Aloha Baby film set - that ain't workin'!