Formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1981, by brothers Bruce and Ian Hearn, Strange Tenants are widely recognised as the Godfathers of Australian Ska. The originality of their songs transcended this usual genre, with first-class musicianship and vocals. They toured Australia almost constantly and supported overseas acts including UB40, The Style Council and U2.
Strange Tenants released their self-titled debut mini-album only weeks after their first gig and were soon touring nationally in a frenetic schedule that saw them perform around 1200 gigs between 1982 and 1986 while managing to record and release four singles, three mini-albums and two full albums through their own BlueBeat label – all unaided by management, record labels or publishing companies.
Staunchly independent, they were known for the loyalty of their fans and the (left-wing) social commentary of their lyrics – lending their services to causes such as Rock Against Racism and Friends of the Earth. Their motto was, “if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing”.
The band called it a day in 1986 but in recent years have reunited to tour and release new material. In 2014 they visited the UK on their first-ever overseas tour.
Bruce ‘Boots’ Hearn
Vocals, trumpet, harmonica
‘Evil’ Ian Hearn
Chris ‘The Artful Dodger’ Rogers
Robert ‘Bobby Dazzler’ Calvert
Jeff ‘Bongo I Dread’ Denny
John ‘The Wad’ Holmes
Phil ‘The Reverend’ Groves