From 1994–7, DJ Damage was a member of Brisbane hip hop group Towering Inferno with Lazy Grey and B-Boy Flex. The members of the group met at Burnt Toast, a jazz/hip hop/funk night in Brisbane, organized by Hams and Felicite. Towering Inferno performed at the first Annual East Coast Funk Festival on 1 July 1995 at Festival Hall, Brisbane. The band also appeared at the first B-Boy Kingdom “all ages hip hop jam”, Friday 9 February 1996 at Lighthouse, corner of Ann and Creek Streets, Brisbane. Towering Inferno released a tape called The Toowong Sessions with Brad Strut in 1996. Towering Inferno performed alongside fellow Australian hip hop groups Def Wish Cast (Sydney) and also representatives from Finger Licking Good (Adelaide) and Brethren (Sydney). Bevan Jee, from Bomb Hip Hop Australia, noted in his Towering Inferno article that,
“The name Towering Inferno seems appropriate given the way the group blew up when they first entered the local hip-hop scene. “Fire is a symbol of hip-hop, if you can’t cut it you get burnt” say’s [sic] Damage the group’s DJ.”
Tony Mitchell, in his 1998 Glocal subculture paper commented on this quote saying, “. . . although US rap was the inspiration, the local scene caught fire on the fuel that was already there.”
Towering Inferno: Blowin’ Up
The name Towering Inferno seems appropriate given the way the group blew up when they first entered the local hip-hop scene. “Fire is a symbol of hip-hop, if you can’t cut it you get burnt” say’s Damage the group’s DJ. It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m finally sitting in my room with DJ Damage and Lazy Grey as they share thoughts on Towering Inferno and the current state of hip-hop in Australia (trying to get the two current members of Towering Inferno together is like getting blood out of a rock). The members of the crew Towering Inferno met at Burnt Toast, a jazz/funk/hip-hop nite club run by locals Hams and Felicite in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. They discussed hooking up and giving Brisbane some live hip-hop flavour. Members of the crew were Lazy Grey, B-Boy Flex and DJ Damage.
- Lazy Grey has had an extensive background as an MC from the late 80’s, as well as being a prominent figure in the hip-hop community. DJ Damage started breakdancing in 83′ to electro and then in the late 80’s he started collecting records. B-Boy Flex a writer, breaker, MC, DJ, I guess just all round B-Boy, joined the crew as an MC. The group then went on to get props on a national level as they ripped shows with several interstate acts such as Def Wish Cast (Sydney) and also representatives from Finger Licking Good (Adelaide) and Brethren (Sydney) . But B-Boy Flex, left the group to go back to his home town of Melbourne. “750 clique is my group of supporters from my home town Algester, the south side, my neighbourhood”, says Lazy Grey (the significance of 750 being the volume in ml in a longneck bottle of beer in Australia) “I have much respect for groups like Digable Planets and Beatnuts who take really jazzy sounds and make them sound so funky, I also have respect for KRS-1, Afrika Bambatta, George Clinton, James Brown and DJ’s Scratch and Cashmoney” says Damage. Damage lists’ the key components of his studio as the ASR-10 keyboard sampler, the 808 drum machine and the 1200’s. He refuses to lists’ any influences, rather states that “everything I have ever listened to has influenced me, I try to be open minded on music, but focused in hip-hop”. What does Towering Inferno sound like? Heaps of beats and cuts, real b-boy shit. “People are forgetting the real origins of hip-hop and what first set it apart from other styles of music, were just brining that back” comments Lazy Grey. The crew is all about respect and paying dues, doing something that is real. At many occasions they have performed at clubs, with the only pay being the satisfaction of moving the crowd and doing something positive for hip-hop. No hip-hop vinyl or cd’s have come out of Brisbane, but the first vinyl project that the crew is connected with is Blunted Stylus, which is an album full of phat beats, cuts and instrumental shit to drive you insane. It is being arranged by DJ Jigsaw (also out of Algester), who started the hip-hop radio show in Brisbane in about 1983. People are waiting for the bomb to drop from this crew and a solid underground hip-hop album on vinyl is the group’s long term goal. Towering Inferno is the next shit out of Australia, and hopefully their dreams of a career in music will be granted and they will move into 96. – http://www.bombhiphop.com/towering.htm