THIS JUST IN: watch out for the launch of rage’s 30th Birthday commemorative magazine; coming your way from ABC Magazines in April 2017.

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30 Years of rage! The world’s longest-running music video program is now entering its dirty thirties. Go to http://www.abc.net.au/rage/ and check out Instagram @rageabc and Twitter @rageABC. #rage30 #watchingrage

For Guest Programmer snaps and behind-the-scenes moments go to Narelle Gee’s Real Wild Child Instagram account @30yearsofrage_ABC_

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Real Wild Child - Narelle Gee

Narelle Gee

Back in 1987, ABC TV began broadcasting screams of r-r-r-rage into the night. Why and how was rage created? What happened behind the scenes during three decades of rage? How has the world’s longest-running music video program survived for 30 years? The full story of rage’s creation, evolution, and unlikely survival, is now available online. Go to QUT ePrints to read Narelle Gee’s Maintaining our rage: Inside Australia’s longest-running music video program. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/85665/

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real wild child

Real Wild Child

Real Wild Child by Narelle Gee
Rage’s long-time producer recounts the humorous, often slapstick events of a Rage taping. She’s a close observer of her subjects and she conveys almost a hundred sketches of what rock stars are like when their guard drops.
TC (Toby Creswell)

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It’s Australian music’s most famous couch, and Real Wild Child ($35, ABC Books) tells the tale of those who have sat on it, guest programming Rage. Beautifully written by Narelle Gee, a Rage producer for 14 years, it’s not essential, but it is a fun read, with loads of anecdotes and Rage facts (the show’s working title was Rage Til You Puke). The first guest programmer was Andrew Denton (January 6, 1990); the first musician to do the job was the Go-Betweens’ Amanda Brown. Have enough Aussie acts been on the couch? By Howzat!’s count, 614 acts have guest programmed Rage between 1990 and 2010; 202 have been Aussie acts (33 per cent). As James Freud says of Triple J, we’re paying for it, so shouldn’t it be promoting Australian music?

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Narelle Gee spent fourteen years as head programmer of iconic Australian music show rage, during which time both she and the program’s infamous couch cosied up to hundreds of the world’s most famous, and occasionally infamous, musicians.

The resultant list of guest stars is, of course, a who’s who of the music world.  Over the years the show has been graced with the likes of Nick Cave, Beck, the Strokes, Public Enemy, Greenday, Kings of Leon, KISS, Coldplay, Chris Isaak, Tool, New Order, Gwen Stefani, the Prodigy, Ray Manzerek from the Doors and many others.  Gee saw her fair share of tantrums, rampant ego and prima donna preening, but more often than not was relieved that her idols were as cool, and relatively sane, as she’d hoped.  And as for the poor couch?  Its fabric, we learn, has been marked by all manner of substances, including cheap wine, fine Champagne, cocktails, beer, cigarette ash and a variety of foodstuffs.  One time it was even set on fire, when a shoot with the newly-famous Avalanches got particularly rambunctious.

Perhaps slightly surprisingly given the vices and predilections of some of the above luminaries, and occasional bouts of arson notwithstanding, Real Wild Child is hardly an unceasing compendium of vice and vitriol.  Gee is incapable of saying a bad word about anyone and the guest programmer’s are, for the most part, on their best behaviour, seemingly rather honoured to have been chosen to spend the next several hours as music video demagogues on a renowned national TV program.

In fact many of the book’s mini-chapters, each of which runs about 4 or 5 pages, consist of Gee expressing considerable relief that a number of rock’s ‘bad boys’ – Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson and Billy Corgan among them – are actually rather likable, if intense, fellows.  There are bouts of extremely non-rock star behaviour, such as when Gee answers a knock at the door, only to find an immaculately dressed Andre3000 helping an assistant lug the rage couch into the room designated for filming.

Other musicians, however, are more than happy to live up to their not inconsiderable reputations.  Courtney Love arrives five hours late and immediately begins barking orders at a hapless cameraman, declaring she’ll only be shot from certain angles and demanding a demonstration of his lenswork before allowing the actual filming to commence.  James Iha and D’Arcy from Smashing Pumpkins, so affable when interviewed by Gee in 1994, have, unbeknownst to her, ended a relationship by the time their turn as rage hosts comes around in 1996.  The tension in the air is palpable, and the pair’s bickering makes for one of the most unintentionally entertaining, and popular, episodes of all time.

So while it doesn’t exactly dish up an abundance of dirt, Real Wild Child is still a sprightly, readable and eminently enjoyable account of Gee’s time as rage director.  Interspersed throughout are dozens of pictures, factoids and snippets of insider info, and while it may not be exhaustive it’s still the next best thing to actually guest programming the show.  And for us music lovers of a tone-deaf persuasion, that may be the closest we ever come.

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Real Wild Child: An Insider’s Tale From The Rage Couch- Narelle Gee (Harper Collins)

What happens when the world’s biggest musical acts sit down on Australia’s most famous couch? Drunkenness, dark introspection, mania, hilarity incoherent rambling sharp edged commentary and fiery ‘artistic differences and the occasional food fight’ are common ground on Australia’s most famous couch. Author Narelle Gee, has had an impressive 14 year reign over the iconic couch as the rage producer and has seen the likes of musical maniacs Gene Simmons, the contortions of Courtney Love and the golden hot pants clad bottom of Kylie Minogue. This insider tells all about the biggest names in music and complete with juicy backstage anecdotes, Real Wild Child is packed with real wild moments, rock and roll tales and plenty of secrets from the couch.

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Real Wild Child - Narelle Gee

Narelle Gee

BEHIND THE RAGE

RAGE PRODUCER NARELLE GEE TALKS TO LIZ GIUFFRE ABOUT HER NEW BOOK, REAL WILD CHILD! TALES FROM THE RAGE COUCH.

Narelle Gee is the lady many of us have to thank for our musical education. As the producer of Rage for over a decade she handed musicians the keys to the Rage kingdom and let them reign supreme. Now that she’s out in the real world again she’s put pen to paper to share with us mere mortals some of what went on behind the scenes. The resulting book, Real Wild Child! Tales From The Rage Couch is an insider’s view, but also a fan’s notebook.
“I did say how nice it is to meet your idols so that they can make fun of you as well,” she says. “It’s great when you get to meet bands you’ve loved forever and then you meet them and they’re really lovely and then you love them even more.”
While we watch Rage usually late on a Friday or Saturday night, that musical television awesomeness comes at a cost to producers like Gee. The beauty of Rage is that there’s no host to guide the musicians, no one to prompt or ‘coerce’ the right response. But the bad side of that is often musicians, given that much freedom, are a little unsure of what to do.
“I have had people freak out,” Gee says. “I remember Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips, who was doing a wonderful job of hosting, a fantastic job, and then he sort of stopped half way and said, ‘Am I doing okay, is this what you want?’, and I said, ‘Are you kidding? This you can do this every Saturday night, you’re doing a great job.’ But lots of people are a little unsure. I remember David Byrne was particularly thrown by the concept. He was like, ‘Oh, I’m a TV host. Oh, how do I do that?’ And other people just love it.
“Australian bands you know, have grown up with Rage and dream of the opportunity to do it one day, to get their spot on the couch,” Gee says. Pausing, she adds the other beauty of Rage, how it lets musicians show their own fandom.
“Yeah, we get people [who come on Rage] who walk around with lists of what they would choose if they got to go on one day, you know, lists in their wallets, these tattered little lists – it’s fantastic when you encounter that.”
As you’d expect the book is a mixture of tales of ‘tired and emotional’ artists (told lovingly, but hilariously), as well as those who give those titbits that you wouldn’t have expected.
“I love the clowns [who muck about and don’t take it too seriously], but I also love the people who did get quite deep and meaningful on the couch and who talk about, I think Trent Reznor was one who talked about the difficulty of making music and told this wonderful story about being in this lonely beach house and trying to write songs and struggling, and how he would jump up and dance to hip hop tracks and was such a bizarre and unexpected insight into writing a Nine Inch Nails album.”

real wild child

Real Wild Child

What: Real Wild Child! Tales From The Rage Couch (Harper Collins)

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