Thursday, February 6, 2014

TRIBUTE: A Tribute to Warren (Toowoomba metalhead / punk)

The Irish Club Hotel, Toowoomba - they can't ban you anymore Warren!
Jalon (vocalist Dead Eyes) - Warren's mate
I heard that recently Warren died of an overdose in Toowoomba, Australia. I am not claiming to be a great mate of his. Actually we just met twice during my last year living in Toowoomba 2012 but he made a positive impact. I don't think he was in a band - he was just a fan, but the scene needs its fans. Sid Vicious was just a fan when punk arrived in 1976 and he probably should have stayed as just as a fan. Sid was a regular at the 100 Club in Soho, West London during 1976 and he knew Johnny Rotten well as well as the members of The Clash and The Damned. Remember the Cock Sparrer song "Where are they now": "Hollywood nights in Soho / writing on the wall of the Roxy loo"? In the days before Metallica formed, a teenage Lars Ulrich once followed Diamond Head on tour all around England which shows a dedication which passes all understanding. Warren too was a metalhead and he was a punk. He was around 35 years old and he was an expert on street punk and thrash-metal.

Skullphuck band - friends of Warren
I first met Warren one cold fine winter's day in 2012 on the bus as it was leaving University of Southern Queensland (USQ) bus-stop. As locals will know most of the Toowoomba buses use the USQ campus as a kind of end-point at that southern end of town so people will pass through there even if they are not students. I was wearing my punk denim jacket with Exploited backpatch on the back and The Business patch on the front. I don't recall whether Warren was at the uni and he got on the bus after me or he was already on the bus. The bus was nearly empty, as is normal for daytime buses in that part of Toowoomba, and so we got talking about punk rock. Warren knew who The Business was - respect for that. We had a nice chat about different punk bands and by the time we had nearly reached K-Mart Shopping Centre we had shifted over to talking about Slayer and other metal bands. My impression was Warren was really knowledgeable and a very friendly and humble guy. After about five minutes, one of us had to get off the bus and the connection had not developed to the point where we would swap contacts. I didn't see Warren for a few more months and I didn't know his name at this point.

Irish Club Hotel, Russell Street
Some hard times hit me and I was forced to resign from my work around October 2012 due to jealousy and hatred from some senior people above me at the organization. That meant I started spending a lot more time at the various pubs in Toowoomba city-centre such as The Irish Club, Norvelle, National and Gladstone. I also would often lunch at Grand Central or Garden Town Shopping Centre food courts and use internet at the library. During this period I got to know metalcore singer Jalon (Dead Eyes) at the Norvelle (or was it at the Gladstone?) and the guys from Skullphuck such as Dez and Ryan. All of these people knew Warren. One week-day I was heading out from the library around 2pm and, as you do, I turned left and headed north in the direction of Margaret Street. A guy-and-girl couple shouted out to me from the tables situated just to the north of the library between the road and the canal. I recognized Warren and there was a slim blond chick with him. Having nothing to do I went down to join them. Warren's girlfriend was wearing a Cannibal Corpse tee-shirt which I thought was cool. I had just seen Cannibal Corpse play in Brisbane a few weeks before so I could talk about the show - "Alex Webster shook my hand etc etc etc". We had a good talk about music and life and Warren heard I wasn't working at the USQ anymore.

Gladstone Hotel, Ruthven Street
We decided to walk the 400 or 500 metres to the Gladstone Hotel on Ruthven Street as I think they were planning to go there anyway and I just agreed to the plan. At the Gladstone we sat at a round table in the section outside at the back. Warren and I had pints of draught beer (yes the Gladstone serves pints) and his girlfriend had girls'-type mixed drinks. We talked a lot about the music. It turned out Warren knew Jalon and Skullphuck and they knew him. Warren struck me as very warm, considerate, thoughtful, and sincere. He said he could sense I was feeling a bit down compared to before. I asked: "Is it really that obvious?" He said: "No, it's not obvious at all, dude, I'm just sensitive to these things". Around 7pm, as darkness was descending, we all walked through the city north again, along Ruthven and Russell Streets, to the National Hotel. As a friend has said The National is the pub people go to when they have been banned from the Irish Club Hotel!!! Well the Irish Club can't ban you any more Warren! 

National Hotel - when you are banned from the Irish
At the National there was a good, warm, low-key, earthy atmosphere as usual and we sat on the outside terrace on the side of the pub and had some potato wedges and more beer. This couple was really great company: warm and funny, considerate and polite. As we got more and more drunk I forget most of the things we talked about at the National that night. Warren and his girlfriend did seem to know a lot of people there. Around 8-9pm we all decided to leave and head off in our different directions. Warren's girlfriend said she really wanted a Poison backpatch. If she reads this contact me and I will send you one! We arranged to meet at The Gladstone Hotel later that week as they offered to buy a punk jacket I had been discussing (not the one mentioned earlier). On the afternoon we were due to meet I waited at the Gladstone at least an hour and I enjoyed a late lunch seated on one of the high stools looking out over Ruthven Street across to Dee's Thai Restaurant (where I could see them if they walked past). However, they never showed. A few months later, on 23 January 2013, I left Toowoomba and I never saw Warren again.

National Hotel (this is NOT Warren)
I write this tribute to Warren not as his great best mate but as someone who knew him around town and someone who had shared many drinks with him that one memorable night in November 2012. Warren was a real expert on metal and punk and he was a considerate, polite, respectful, and usually serious guy who could be funny at times in a low-key way. It is sad the drugs became his master and he became the puppet. The Irish Club can't ban him anymore! If his girlfriend reads this it would be nice if she got in touch. If anyone wants to write a tribute to Warren or supply more information please contact me, Jack Frost, on Facebook ( My last words: stay away from drugs, live a long life, outlive all your enemies, read their death notices in the paper [by Jack Frost, 7 February 2014].  

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