"They play Long Tall Sally at the Palais/ maybe there's a fight in the back alley." - Rockin' At The Palais - Damien Webster.

When Shipwreck Coast rockabilly band Slap N The Cats began as The Runaway Boys in 1992 they had to scratch their monicker.

The Warrnambool warriors discovered there was a Melbourne rockabilly combo with the same name.

So to avoid confusion and legal action on trips down Highway One to the big smoke they adopted a feline cloak.

It worked - the coastal cats scored exposure on a Scandinavian compilation disc and rave reviews for their indie 1998 debut album Hot Rods & Haircuts.

The band wrote all 14 tunes - including two hidden tracks originally on a 1993 EP.

One of those was lead guitarist Damien Webster's Shark Shuffle - theme song of Deakin University footy team The Sharks.

The album was recorded at the Yelp studio in Warrnambool - the HQ of Lost In Suburbia bassist Peter Bird who did his time in seventies country band Nevada.

And Lost In Suburbia now boasts Robinvale reared ex-Slap N The Cats drummer Rohan Keert - original T-Bones sticks man - who left Slap N The Cats after a hip operation.

The Sunraysia saddletramp wrote surfamental 3 Minute Hold Down for Slap N The Cats but was replaced by Hot Tamale Baby drummer Rob 'Rockin' Billy' Bevan.


Slap N The Cats long soaked up their coastal lifestyle with interstate trips to showcase their energised music.

The trio, regulars at rockabilly romps and the Port Fairy folk festival, have enjoyed vast international acclaim without the expense of expensive overseas sojourns.

Double bassist Robin Sharrock is an award winning photographer whose CV includes the Warrnambool Standard and The Age.

Sharrock and Webster co-wrote their debut disc title track, Cat Food and Get Smart.

And they're a focus of a fertile Shipwreck Coast roots scene that enabled Slap N The Cats to release a second indie album Ruby Red Lips in 2002.

That disc included 15 originals and bonus live tunes from Port Fairy pub the Stump circa 1844 - the oldest Victorian hotel - and long time haunt of fisher folk and musicians.

Their signature tune Rockin' At The Palais draws its inspiration from a fifties dance hall that is now the office of an accountancy firm whose principal owns adjacent roots music venue - the Hotel Warrnambool.

Robin Sharrock

The Palais was the breeding ground of the buckle of the Bible belt's rock bands - seminal influences on the coastal roots music scene.

Webster name checks local legends The Ghost Riders and The Vampires in the song that details the Saturday soirees that lured four decades of music and marital buffs.

It was also the battleground for young farmers and townies fighting for the affections of dairy belles and coastal cuties.

And the post dance recreational action of the combatants.


"The night's all over and it's time to park/ I'm gonna get my car down by the old pie cart/ Slap and Slam, Sledge and Slim are revving the car and looking at him/ hang on baby, hang on tight/ they'll be dragging the cars out the mad mile tonight."

The mad mile is a long stretch of Highway One east of the Tower Hill volcano between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

Ironically, the drag strip runs parallel to an historic cemetery that eventually became the final resting place of many of the nocturnal petrol heads.

Slap N The Cats music is heavily influenced by traditional rockabilly but also embraces
surf, neobilly, greasy back alley riffs and "ska-o-billy."

There are shades of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Stray Cats, Blasters, Johnny Burnette & The Rockabilly Trio, Paladins and many more.

But it's their original tunes that won them credibility within and beyond the neon.

Further info - www.standard.net.au/~sjsden/slapncats/slapncats

E-mail: robs@standard.net.au - slim@standard.net.au

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