Ripper Dunnies is best known as Australian songwriter and cultural icon Bob Leash who grew up in the suburbs of Adelaide in the 70’s and early 80’s.
Ripper Dunnies started as a grass root movement when founder, Mr Leash began improvising original chants while urinating in the communal urinals of footy stadiums in regional South Australia. Much to his delight and astonishment, fellow piss-takers joined in the choruses and the practice took off like a pill in Ibiza.
Being business minded, but conscious of what he thought of as the sissy MTV culture becoming popular and corrupting the minds young Aussie blokes, turning them away from footy, Bob set out to find a way to monetise his passion for music while saving young blokes from becoming Phil Collins.
The piss-taking chants slowly and steadily made their way into urinals across the country. From local cricket games to growing popularity with the more mature crowd of lawn bowls players. From rugby union matches all the way to the National parliament where the prime minister at the time, Bob Hawk was reportedly whistling the smash hit “She’ll be Right” along with the treasurer while on a break from senate budget talks during the 1980s financial crisis.
The late 80’s and early 90’s was the time Ripper Dunnies emerged from urinals and onto the main stage. Back then, the band was still not signed with any major label as there were no formal band member as such, and the music had fleeting aura of magic and you-had-to-be-there-to-hear-it sort of vibe, plus, no official recording was available.
Multiple groups formed in regional NSW and Victoria claiming to be the original Ripper Dunnies and booking agents everywhere were falling over each other, trying to book weekend slots in their otherwise sleepy Pokie venues, which only featured Phil Collins cover bands no one wanted to hear.
Myths and legends grew about the movement founder, Bob Leash, and stories of brotherly urination with Bob circulated in high-brow bars and clubs of the inner cities. As the years passed and Ripper Dunnies popularity grew, so did the mystery around the enigmatic father of the cultural phenomenon.
In 1989, on a cold September night at the MCG, Bob Leash was invited to sing the National Anthem for the opening ceremony of the Grand Final. It was a surprise. Organisers spent months secretly planning and negotiating a six figure sum with Bob for a short appearance at the most popular event of the year.
Being an original Ripper Dunnie, Bob used the platform to promote his music and political agenda. Much to the dismay of organisers, and to the cheers of 100,000 ecstatic fans, Bob took his willie out of his pants and pissed all over the lyrics of the National Anthem while performing his original number and undisputed crowd pleaser “Bob is Your Uncle”, until police stormed the stage and reluctantly arrested him.
Asked later by the press if he regretted his actions, Bob showed no remorse:
“What is the anthem? What does it represent? You? Me? Nah. Some dickhead a 100 years ago doing a really bad job trying to compose the word Australia and put it in a song…it’s too bloody long. They make it four syllables and it sounds laboured, elitist and shit. Au-Stra-Li-Ya…what the fuck?”
Asked if he loved his country, Bob replied:
“What is a country? The sand? The people? The government? I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen some shitheads around the place, and if you ask me if there’s something that brings all of us Aussies together, I’ll tell you that it is taking the piss. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’m a patriot, and because I’m a patriot, I am not afraid to say that it is fake to pretend that we are all united as Aussies and this land is so amazing…and let’s rejoice and blah blah blah… It ain’t all great. I’ve seen some shit holes around, and as far as the government goes, if anything divides us, it’s those dickeads in parliament. The notion of country comes from the stories we tell ourselves, those who control what stories gets to be told dictate what the country is. I’m not gonna stand around in front of 100,000 people and sing the story of some Scottish colonialist named Peter Dodd who lived in 1878. Who the fuck is this guy anyway? and what did he knew about footy? I’m gonna tell my own story, and that is what I encourage everyone else to do. This country is beautiful and each of us have a story that captures this beauty in a unique way. How hard can it be to write a fucking song about it?”.
He went on to say:
“…From my experience in urinals all over the country, people are friendly as fuck. They don’t need a stupid anthem to tell them who they are, half of them were not even born here, but they all have exactly the same things between their legs. Mine is slightly bigger, but that’s beside the point”.
When asked if his parents would approve of his actions he said:
“Why won’t you ask them? As far as I’m concerned, they raised me to be my own person and form my own opinions. I didn’t murder anyone. All I’ve done was urinate on some lyrics. If they don’t like it, they can get fucked too”.
“…I love my parents and I know they know that the criminal here is not me, it is the bloody organisers who can’t help themselves and stick bloody politics into a footy game. They should be ashamed of themselves. Why do we need to sing that we are ‘advancing Australia fair’ when politicians are making gazzilion dollars while communities in the Northern Territory can’t afford a bloody stubby holder? What does the anthem have to do with kicking a ball and bashing into each other? Is footy a fair game? Is it free? No. You can’t even see the southern cross during a match because of all of them bloody flood lights. Stop lying to people, that’s all I have to say”.
The anthem incident was received to mixed opinions, but there was no doubt it elevated Ripper Dunnies to become a national icon and a symbol of the Australian working class. Bob refused to sign a record deal with any major label and the little fortune he made from the MCG gig allowed him to self-produce and distribute the only album Ripper Dunnies ever released. The album “Yonks” was recorded in urinals throughout regional South Australia in 1994 and featured the voices of local, disadvantaged communities who still benefit from royalties of the recording to this day.
Several bronze statues of Bob holding his willie have been erected in regional towns and the songs became part of the local folklore.
When asked about the cultural legacy of Bob Leash and Ripper Dunnies, Phil Collins commented:
“Who the fuck is Bob Leash? Never heard of this guy. My drum sound is the best sound that came out of the 80s. No one disputes that”.Phil Collins
Overtime, and with the onset of the PC revolution in schools during the early 2000s, Ripper Dunnies turned more inclusive. Community chanting was not restricted to urinals only and there was more acceptance towards blokes cross dressing and having whatever they wanted to have between their legs as long as they rejected the music of Phil Collins.
In one of his last interviews, Bob Leash was asked what his problem with Phil Collins was. He replied:
“It’s not Phil in particular. It’s the cultural phenomena of music entertainment. I’m sick of music being a passive medium. Something only the ‘gifted’ or ‘talented’ are allowed to practice. Something to be in awe of. Anyone can sing and everyone should. It’s bloody ripper. Music is not a business and culture is not something to be consumed. It is part of us. Wankers like Phil Collins and the mammoth industrial forces behind him create the illusion that there’s something bigger out there. Of course, it sounds bigger if you add shitloads of reverb to it. But it’s not better, even if it costs a million dollar to produce. The bloke just sings about some abstract nonsense, and everyone can assign whatever meaning they want to it. ‘He can feel it coming in the air tonight’ Who gives a shit? what the fuck does this even mean?”
“Music today is a tool of control by the rich and powerful. Instead of marching down the street chanting and breaking shit up in protest, kids today go to rock concerts where some douche on stage is getting paid millions to sing about breaking shit up while no one actually breaks shit up because they are too bloody drunk and scared to be tossed out of the venue…Can you see the paradox here? Music is no longer a social tool for bonding and change, it is a product to be consumed and it is being regulated by an industry full of dicks in suits using fuckwits like Phil Collins as their puppets. I don’t blame Phil or any other pop musician in particular, they are just an instrument of the industry”.
“You see, since the whole MTV cock fest appeared, music stopped being a social activity. I can just sit at my home by myself and drool endlessly to videos of freaks in spandex waving their genitals at me. It doesn’t even matter what they sing about, all that is stored in my memory after is wow, there was a huge dick in my face, I’m hungry now”.
“If you’d ask me what the future of music in this context of consumption culture is, I’d say there is none. These two cannot co-exist truthfully. We need to settle for less. Celebrate the excellence in human mediocracy through encouraging people to turn their screens off, get out there and sing while breaking shit. Sing at the top of their lungs and demand change from the people who try to keep them glued to the screen, buying shit they don’t need. No more stadium gigs, no more multimillion-dollar musicals and burn the fucking Hollywood film industry to the ground. That might bring reality back into people’s lives. Am I done here now? any more questions?”