Gentle Assassins
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Gentle Assassins


Band Rock Alternative


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Sydney Morning Herald (Spectrum)"

Since being the pointy end of '80s band Porcelain Bus he may well have attempted everything from Tibetan throat singing to nu-castrati, but Ian Towart's voice was made to sing rock songs of a driven but still soulful brand. The kind where you can be asked to channel Iggy Pop one minute and the next become a crooner pitched between mid-period Elvis and pre-debauchery Jim Morrison.

Along with fellow Bus veteran, Rob McKiernan, Towart has written an album that blows both to the garage (the organ-propelled sound of Next to Nowhere; the punching above their weight grit of Animal and City of Veils) and the backyard lizard in the sun mood of Don't Look Down, Good for Nothing Man and Killing Time). But there are also pop songs such as the gorgeous No Way Home and the slyly pretty but sharp-tongued Nobody Loves You.

With Died Pretty seemingly gone to the inner-city pub in the sky, I hope Gentle Assassins stick around to fill the gap.

(Bernard Zuel, 27/8/2005)

- Bernard Zuel

"Gentle Assassins at the Annandale (John McPharlin)"

"Although the core creative team is the same as it was for Porcelain Bus, I was warned that the Assassins would be quite different to the Bus. However Ian Towart's vocals are so distinctive in their unholy union of Iggy Pop, Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart (sometimes on his own account and sometimes channeling the shade of Elvis Presley), that reverberations of Porcelain Bus are always going to be audible in the background of any track he sings on.

The addition of the keyboards probably makes the biggest difference. Where the sound of the Bus was basically sparse guitar pop, like a darker, disturbed version Lloyd Cole and the Commotions (I saw Lloyd Cole playing a solo show late last year, so he's been stalking my unconscious lately, which probably explains why his name has come up twice in this review), the Assassins' sound is fuller, reminding me at different times of Simple Minds (in their louder, rawer moments), the later Small Faces and Died Pretty (and it's probably no accident that Brett Myers produced all of the Bus's records and now the Assassins' record is being put out by the same label that picked up Steve Clark's solo album).

For a band that hadn't played publicly for getting on for a couple of years, they also sounded pretty tight for the most part and clearly still knew how to punch out a tune so that those right at the back of the room had no trouble feeling the breeze as it went past. Standout songs were the mocking "Everyone's My Friend" ("All my empty friends/My sad, my bitter friends..."), the enigmatic "City Of Veils" and one other whose name I didn't catch... This time I'll be making sure that I don't miss them when that album launch comes around!"
- i-94 bar (website)

"Gentle Assassins - They Knew Too Much CD review"

Does anybody remember Alternative Rock? Australian rock? I am not sure it will make a comeback anytime soon, but if bands like Gentle Assassins got their deserved merits and praise, the chanced would be good. But the good music rarely ever gets the spotlight. Usually it is the mediocre, middle of the road stuff that gets the center stage the most. Well, you are not here for that anyway, but you want to see me shed light on what otherwise would remain in the dark. So here we go: The music of Gentle Assassins is straight forward most of the time on the surface but of unforeseen depths if you let their songs open up to you, “They knew too much” is an instant classic in many ways. The melodies are unforeseeable but sound definitely allright as soon as they unfold, and there is at least two dozen lines on this record that will stick to your head. This band has a history and the record has a future to grow on. Now it is time for a hearty “Where have you been so long?” and a “good to see you back again”.

Let’s go back to a time when the term “alternative rock” still meant something good. Let’s remember a time when Australia was the most important country on the rock-map (for about two weeks). That was a time when you had to search for great records. Imports were damn expensive. And it died with the mid-Nineties, actually, and if the rise of the internet falling together with the decline of alternative rock is a coincidence is for you decide. Did it all go down? No, there are still places far away and artists earthbound enough to hold true to the original idea of alternative rock, infusing the original idea with live and energy, touching the ground and working their way up from there. And I am not talking about REM here or The The here (though both are respectable enterprises). I am talking about Gentle Assassin, who have recorded an album of what I’d like to call “classic alternative” rock, but only if you promise to think of ever word in there as something positive. Otherwise I’ll call it pop/rock, because this is my favorite label for music anyhow, because it says exactly nil. Back on track now:

“they knew too much” contains eleven tracks of great, harmonic and original rock music without frills, without rap-parts or turntables or any modern bullshit, but it has guitars and emotion abounding. Eleven tracks ranging from soft and gentle (“good for nothing man”) to straight away rockers (the opening “animal”), but all of them unique and with their own original touch, that I already loved when the two songwriters of Gentle Assasings, the singer Ian Towart and the guitarist Rob McKiernan, played together in the great Porcelain Bus.

It is always hard to return to bands you once really liked (read in the review that I did in the best records of all times section and you’ll get an idea) when several years have gone by and the time in-between was filled with a whole lot of different things but void of the original. The expectations I built up between first hearing about this record being produced and hearing the production recorded changed between utter pessimism and naïve joy, but now I am relieved. No, that is saying to little: I am happy, because this is exactly the grown up version of Porcelain Bus that I needed. I have matured and so have McKiernan / Towart and that’s good. The energy is still there, the poetic power of the lyrics is still abounding and the lively twists and turns in the melodies of the vocals with the sombre power and diversity of Towart’s singing still keep me attracted and raving. After all these years it still the voice of Ian Towart that magnetizes me to keep on listening. He manages depth and variety in tonality that is unbelievable. Within one song, like e.g. “If you will” he is able to sound like Matt Johnson, Jim Morrisson, Tex Perkins on a healthy day and some other personaes all of his own at the same time.But the rest has been formed into a more grown-up, serious and maybe even sophisticated version. There is more control on the music played, the raw edge has gone somewhat, and made place for a more developed form of songwriting. Moreover, the production itself has expanded to using keyboards, string-samples and a little trickery here and there. Still, this is basically a real record. A record that lives from its edges and rough cuts, that distort the polished surface.

Here and there Gentle Assassins try out some new stuff, like the various sounds used in “Killing Time”, the distorted voice here and there and maybe even some funk-experiments mixed into the otherwise straightforward songs. Most of the time these new stuff works, and some of need some time to work. Does anybody remember The Godfathers (another classical great rock-band from back then, but this time from London, UK) released “Unreal world”, a record that suddenly included psychedelic songs and more and more effects – that was a surprise, but after a few listens most people had it figured out and it actually work - crack'd website (Hungarian zine)


They Knew Too Much (debut LP)

singles having receiving streaming/radio play:
City of Veils, Animal, Next to Nowhere, Killing Time, on:

fBi, ser
various college/community/online stations (incl Henry Rollins' 100.3 The Edge KDJE show)
'City of Veils' included on AIR annual sampler no.7 (2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Ian and Rob were founding members of Porcelain Bus, enjoying critical acclaim and some commercial success in Australia, Europe and the UK. The Sunday Times nominated their second album, Talking to God, as one of the top 10 Australian records of the ‘80s. Typical of the times, after a successful European tour the band split, the pressures of budget touring for too long together taking their toll.

Years later Ian and Rob met up again at a friend’s funeral and some time later were invited to collaborate on a track for the Citadel tribute album 'Storming the Citadel'. The spark was rekindled and, with the addition of Iain Jepsen (keys), James Lacey (bass) and former Golden Rough/Jason Walker drummer Andrew Lay, the group became a permanent arrangement.

The moody power of the band is driven by Ian Towart’s memorable, distinctive voice (combining shades of Iggy, Tom Waits and Elvis), fuelled by Rob’s searing guitars, and backed by a rock-solid rhythm section. The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, and The Soft Boys can all be heard within the genesis of the songs. Iain, Void and Andrew bring influences such as XTC, The Small Faces, the La’s, Pete Townsend, Simple Minds, and New Order to the band's sound.

The lyrics are urban, uplifting tales that fly the mast of doleful rejection with bittersweet acclaim. The songs are spawned from reckless acts of love and wanton tenderness. On a subterranean level are recurring themes of melancholy and despair, whilst on the surface everything seems upbeat.

Playing under a variety of names over the last few years, the band caught the attention of Megaphon Studios owner Shane Fahey when they were recording a self-funded EP at the studio. Shane ended up signing them to Endgame Records, and producing the album "They Knew Too Much."

“In some respects we tried a little too hard back in the Bus. This time we don’t feel that pressure. If we make it, great, if not, whatever, it’s just about writing songs and enjoying performing together,” says McKiernan.