the motown experience
peter cupples band
ecause Masons Cure had established itself Stylus really hit the road running. We knew each others styles and quickly became each others family. We played a lot of Motown soul music. One of our early favourites was the Marvin Gaye classic "What's going on?" I had started writing a few songs, and we started playing them as well. We hooked up with a guy called Jeff Joseph who became our manager. Jeff really believed in Stylus and he managed to help us gain a record contract and some commercial attention. We had been playing "Summer Breeze" back in the Masons Cure stage and it became our signature tune. We often had to play the song 2 or 3 times in one show to satisfy the audience. Our version of the Seals and Croft classic became our first Top10 hit.
We made our first performance on Countdown - an incredible experience for a young group of guys from the bush. We really were "Living in a world of make believe" when we went into the studio to record that track. Some songs just come out sounding sweet and "Make believe" was one of those. It gained national airplay, hot on the heels of the success of "Summer Breeze". We were just blown away with how quickly it was happening for us at this stage. We recorded our first album, Where In The World, which boasted our two proud hits and a collection of other songs I had written.
Things were moving along pretty fast at this stage. We started to tour outside our Victorian borders, our shows got bigger and bigger and we started to wonder where it would lead us. We had national airplay, national hits, and we had to follow it up with national touring. Adelaide was particularly exciting. The two songs went Top 3, and we were greeted with a huge response. As the touring got bigger, so too proportionally did the expense of getting the show on the road. We saw the touring as a necessity and, although it was a costly exercise, we felt that it would set us up for the next big thing - album number 2. Because the first album had been such a success, we thought that would feed through to the second record, and the touring and time away was an investment in our future.
For the Love of music was our second album. I think that potentially it should have been our best record. We had discovered, at this stage, that we had a wonderful and unique vocal talent in our band - our bass player Ashley Henderson. I set out to write some ballads to match his beautiful voice. This added another dimension to our music. The trouble was, with the pace that things had moved, and with the weight of the constant touring, we didn't have enough time to sit back and let it develop at its own rate. I had the ideas for the songs, and we were rushed into getting it out to follow up on our debut success. The record, whilst it was a nice recording, was probably a bit of a let-down. We changed managers at this stage and we also seemed to lose a bit of momentum. So we continued to tour and slog it out on the road.
Around this time we hooked up with the management of Glenn Wheatley and his brother Paul. Glenn worked Stylus along with his other project, a group of guys called the Little River Band. At one Music industry conference they managed to sign LRB to Capital, and Stylus to Motown. Not a bad weeks work.
We followed this up with our third album, Best Kept Secret. This album was released locally on Oz Records and in the United States, under the banner of the worlds most respected Soul label Motown. The Motown subsidiary, Prodigal, carried the Stylus name to the worlds biggest market behind the disguise of a mask. We were pretty excited with being signed to such a prestige label but, as things turned out, we were the last act to be published on Prodigal, and the American market never found out that there were five white Aussie guys hiding behind the mask. It did, however, leave us with the legacy of a great story to tell future generations
Our fourth and final album was Part Of It All. Again this is a nice recording. With the promise of the Motown emergence still ever present in our enthusiasm, we worked hard to produce a top quality record. Unfortunately, it ended up being the finale to a great part of my life.
Stylus was very different to the other bands of the time in many ways. Not only musically different, but also culturally different. We were friends and family, and remain so to this day. Our reunion concerts move the audience because there is still magic between us that time has not eroded. Our recent reunion at Capers (see current projects), proved to our loyal fans that we still have the ability to create something special when we do get together.
In the same way that we came together as friends ,we parted as friends. There was no definitive rock and roll type split, no arguments over musical direction, no tensions within the band, no religious differences or bad karma... We were just all very tired from the touring. We had been on the road for 50 weeks a year for over 5 years, and it was wearing us down.
Quite naturally we all started working on different projects, some still working with each other, but the band that was known as Stylus, that had been such a wonderful era in all of our lives ceased to exist. In the end it was wonderful to have been "A part of it all"
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