In the annals of Australian music, Melbourne’s Beargarden would probably rate a passing mention at best, mostly due to singer Sam Sejavka’s notoriety as the inspiration for the character of Sam (as played by INXS’ Michael Hutchence) in the cult film Dogs In Space. Their back catalogue is long out of print and a web search gives you next to nothing. In their short-lived career Beargarden released four singles and one album on Virgin Records between 1984 and 1986. That’s it. There’s bound to be a story here but it’s nowhere to be found. Does anybody hold a torch for this band? It can’t be me. I don’t even own one of their records.
Largely made up of chancers on their second go-round (Sejavka and keyboardist Gus Till having played together in The Ears), Beargarden were a little too jaded and knowing for the Smash Hits crowd. The two singles which preceded this one, their debut “The Finer Things” and “Drink Drink Drink” leaned toward a more decadent pop and were not without their charms, but “I Write The News” should’ve been their meal ticket to bigger things. I happened to find the song by accident, lingering on a Virgin Records compilation tape amongst tracks by Scritti Politti and Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy. It had all the hallmarks of that period — the slap bass playing, gated drums, Chic guitar and perky synths making the song sound like one great big champagne party.
The band sounded like a cross between Simple Minds and The Teardrop Explodes, with Sam Sejavka’s vocals like that of a less throaty Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs. As far as 80’s fashion victims go, they dressed the part — the rolled up suit sleeves, Gus Till with his blonde dreadlocks and the impressively mulleted Sam Sejavka holding court like a pop Nick Cave (who at this time was still down in the ghetto). It’s worth looking up the clip of the song being performed on Countdown where the smell of maxi-hold hairspray in the studio must have been overpowering. I’m not entirely sure when or why the band broke up. Gus Till went on to work with Michael Hutchence on Max Q while Sam Sejavka appeared to retire from the scene to pursue acting.