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Australian rockers the Kryptonics were a band that brought together two common threads of Aussie rock-- the garage-influenced sounds of such acts as the Hoodoo Gurus, the Triffids, and the Scientists,…
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Australian rockers the Kryptonics were a band that brought together two common threads of Aussie rock-- the garage-influenced sounds of such acts as the Hoodoo Gurus, the Triffids, and the Scientists, and the harder, Detroit-centric approach of bands like Radio Birdman and the Celibate Rifles. The Kryptonics were the brainchild of Ian Underwood, who was a high school student in Perth when he assembled the first lineup of the group. Underwood (no relation to the one-time Frank Zappa keyboardist of the same name) had previously appeared in three memorably named but short-lived bands (Satanic Menswear, Puddle, and Froot Loops), and the Kryptonics was his first project to play more than three shows. In 1984, Underwood, still learning to play guitar, joined forces with school chums Cathy Webb on bass and Michael Reynolds on lead vocals to form the Kryptonics; drummer Shakir Pichler was recruited through an ad in a local music paper. After months of rehearsals, the Kryptonics played their first gig opening for the Stems in August 1985, and soon developed a devoted local following. The Perth-based indie label Cherrytop Records issued the Kryptonics' first single, "Baby" b/w "Plastic Imitation," in January 1986, but the record release show for the disc also proved to be the last show with the original lineup. Four months later, a new version of the Kryptonics surfaced, with Underwood taking over on lead vocals from the departing Reynolds, drummer Brett Ford replacing Pichler (who joined the Bamboos), and new lead guitarist Peter Hartley. After extensive local live work, the second lineup cut a single, "The Land That Time Forgot" b/w "She's Got Germs" and "Theme from Love Story," which appeared on Easter Records in early 1987. A successful tour of the Australian East Coast followed, but after a disastrous return to Sydney some months later, Ford and Hartley left the Kryptonics to form Lubricated Goat, and Webb quit music after receiving a degree in physical therapy. Undaunted, Underwood's next version of the Kryptonics was up and running three months later, making their debut in December 1987; joining Underwood were guitarist Greg Hitchcock (who had been in the Bamboos with Pichler), drummer Russell Hopkinson, and bassist Jeff Halley. This edition recorded the band's first full-length album, 69, but they failed to click with fans as a live act, and splintered in July 1988; Hitchcock later worked with the Neptunes and the New Christs, Hopkinson would drum for Cremator and the reunited Radio Birdman, and both were members of You Am I. Underwood and Halley recruited guitarist Tony Rushan and drummer Andrew Robinson for the Kryptonics 4.0; after recording a few tracks for a compilation album, Robinson bailed just a month after joining, and Peter Kostic was behind the drums for the belated tour supporting 69. The group's fifth lineup cut a single, "Oedpius Complex" b/w "When It's Over," which sold well, but when a tour was scheduled for late 1989, bassist Halley was unable to join them and quit the act; he would later join the Chevelles. Ken Bland replaced Halley for the end of 1989 tour, but didn't get on with his bandmates, and in January 1990, Greg Brennan became the Kryptonics' bassist, who in typical fashion left due to personal reasons in April. Richard Corey, who had been in Front End Loader with Kostic, became the new bassist for the group, and it proved to be the Kryptonics' most stable lineup, lasting over two years. In the summer of 1990, the Kryptonics left Perth to set up shop in Sydney, and soon cut another 7", "Bad September," which had to be mastered at 33 instead of 45 due to its six-minute length. A five-song EP, Tonka Tuff, was released by Zero Hour Records in 1991, but the group had failed to win the larger audience they'd hoped for in Sydney, and when Kostic announced his decision to leave the group, Underwood decided to dissolve the Kryptonics and booked a stretch of final shows, a few of which were billed in tongue-in-cheek fashion as performances by "69," Australia's leading Kryptonics tribute band. The Kryptonics played their final shows in June 1992, though in 1995, Underwood formed Challenger 7, which featured three former Kryptonics in the lineup, Hitchcock, Corey, and Kostic. In 2008, Memorandum Records released Rejectionville, a complete collection of the band's recordings.