Ask me a year or two ago who my favourite boy band were and the answer was simple: Backstreet Boys. In the grand scheme of things, BSB have encapsulated that fine balance of having catchy pop songs, memorable dance moves and initiating some unique fashion trends of that era.
With so many boy bands that have come and gone over the years, there’s not many that are still standing strong both musically and successfully since their inception. One group I believe is doing this better than anyone else. And their name?
Raye’s Outdoors - Camp #3
Great Ocean Road / Cape Otway
Of all the camps we’ve been on, I think our third one down at Cape Otway (Great Ocean Road) tends to be overlooked in comparison to our more ‘eventful’ ones. Sandwiched in between our second camp in Grampians/Great Ocean Road and the pivotal fourth Camp at Mount Buffalo, this camp in many ways was a much more quiet but nonetheless important in the history of Backseat Ballads.
It was a relatively small camp with four participants: myself, Peter, Mark and Age. There’s always that sense of excitement you can feel when someone attends their first camping adventure with us and it was evident when we (me, Thai and Mark) all slept in that morning whilst Age was standing outside all packed ready to go at 7am. With a necessary early morning coffee stop at Torquay, we made our way down the Great Ocean Road where we viewed Erskine Falls and had lunch at a food court in Apollo Bay. Looking back now, this was the first occasion where we ate a meal that would becoming a major factor later on.
We ate fried chicken.
The second hike was to Beauchamp Falls where we relaxed by the cool stream before making our way back to the car in the blistering heat. Not surprisingly we kind of got lost trying to find Johanna’s beach but that allowed us to admire the views and play a few rounds of OSAKA BANG! Now this was the first and only camp where we didn’t have a campfire but that deter us from having fun.
Warm summer evenings are best complimented with a cold beer and sadly by the time we realised we wanted alcohol, all the stores would have been closed. I guess we’ve learnt our lesson by now - it’s most likely we’ve pushed it to the limit in recent times. Noodles & pasta was consumed, the glowsticks came out and we held our own little rave party whilst all the other campers were fast alseep. There’s something quite relaxing about camping near a beach with the cool night breeze and soft sounds of the waves crashing in the background.
Still, I remember talking to Peter about how easy this camp felt. Obviously we had to plan and prepare for the most part but it made us aware of how easy it was to simply pack and go on a camping trip over the weekend. And I think that’s something I’d like to do more of this year.
Backseat Ballads Christmas Party 2013
Tish had been gone for a good four months and alot had changed since her departure. All of a sudden we were now cooking most weeks for movie night & having all these dinner parties which were things we’d been talking about doing as a group for some time.
The Christmas party we had the previous year (2012) turned out great though I was in a foul mood at the start. I wasn’t going to let that be the case this year and luckily, I feel more relaxed and control when hosting. We made an extremely nice batch of NGC with many of the guys complimenting it and saying we should really sell this.
The second main for the night was Neil’s roast pork belly, something he had been thinking about making. Initially I thought he was pulling my leg but I was amazed when he entered with the roast in both hands and the gravy pot on top. But sadly, no graviander this time round. Sure it was a fail in some ways with the extremely hard skin but the meat was nice and tender. It doesn’t matter to me: he said he’d cook it and he did.
I was extremely proud of him that night.
And the sides included hand-made dumplings by Tom and Peter’s coleslaw… from Safeway.
It was nice night to just kick back with friends, share a meal together with some drinks and a few laughs. In a way the night did feel incomplete, I felt that some of the others should have been there as well.
But that’s alright.There’s always next year.
Cheesbuger Pizza Crust & 24 Hour K-Mart
Anytime something remotely new or interesting comes out from any fast food joint, you can guarantee at least one of us will try it. Whether it was KFC’s chicken pie or Pizza Hut’s hotdog stuffed crust, someone was always willing to be the first to sample it and report their feedback to the others. This time, it was Pizza Hut’s new Cheeseburger Pizza Crust.
Obviously marketing plays a big part and we’d ourselves always salivating whenever we see their promotional images knowing that we’d most likely be disappointed when we get the actual product. This was time was no different. Me, Age and Peter had planned to try it out on Friday and I was hesitant once I read some reviews on it. Still, Age convinced me to try it out, I think it was moreso we didn’t want to spend our Friday night cooped up at home. A few messages later and Neil decided to join in as well.
And the verdict? Don’t bother. The ‘cheeseburger’ resembled more of a meatball than a patty which ended up tasting like a sausage roll (similar the ones from Pie Face). Furthermore the meat wasn’t even great and having this crust meant less toppings on the base. And the final factor is price. We decided to get the meal deal which included the cheeseburger crust pizza, a large pizza, 1.5l drink and garlic bread all for $29.95. Bloody ridiculous.
We smashed through it and decided to head off to the 24 hour K-Mart in Werribee since Age wanted to buy cheap hoodies and a picnic rug. By the time we left I was already beginning to feel tired and napped most of the way back. Oh well, I can’t wait for the big picnic we’ll be having tomorrow. Hopefully that’ll be abit more eventful and interesting to read about :)
Me, Myself & I [Aussie Pop]
A few weeks ago I invited a few of the guys over on an extremely warm Sunday evening. Here in Melbourne we had been experiencing some ridiculously hot days and I thought, why not kick back with the boys over some beers and snacks.
As we sat around outside eating nachos and getting bitten by mosquitoes, I started talking about the Nottest 100 list to Law. Frankly I was quite outraged as half the songs on the list were songs I love. You can tell as these were the songs that tended to appear on the Raye’s Outdoors Mix. We began going through the list and as expected, the guys were also outraged by some of the choices.
I mean, c’mon, Total Eclipse of the Heart?! That’s like one of the greatest powerballads of all time!
From there we began to youtube Australian pop music videos from the late 90s/early 00. Now anyone who’s watched Video Hits or Rage will know we weren’t always renowned for our alternative indie artists like now. A lot of it was just pure manufactured crap that somehow was entertaining/catchy in their own twisted ways. Funny because as we made our way through bands such as Scandal’us, Mercury 4 and Gabriella Cilmi that’s when it suddenly hit me.
I remembered at the very moment why I started Backseat Ballads in the first place.
Just that session with all of us singing along and laughing to all these songs reminded me of when me, Law, John and Raye use to do this after our first camp back in 2011. Our love for cheesy ballads and pop songs evolve into what would be known as Me, Myself & I. Yep, another facebook group!
And probably the most important factor would stem from that warm summers night. And our love/obsession has grown exponentially ever since.
It’s who we are as humans, it’s in our nature.
It’s why… We sing.
Rodney’s Farewell - Huxtaburger [Prahan]
I once asked my friend Rachel if her group of mates would be throwing her a ‘farewell’ party before she left for Malaysia. She replied with a simple no. I mean, why would they? She was only going for two weeks. In some ways I guess it’s such a contrast to how our group of friends are. Generally it’s always been the girls who have travelled the most ranging from two weeks to up to a year. We tend to always have some sort of farewell celebration which has slowly transitioned from messy drink ups to dinner parties in recent times.
For a group made up predominately of guys, we sure are a sentimental bunch. Even if someone is travelling overseas for a short period of time, we tend to try to see them off at the airport. I know, you must be thinking about the costs of parking at the airport.
The more I think about it, the more it feels as a gesture of encouragement in some strange way. Not many of us travel mainly because of lack of funds hence why we favour road trips and camps instead (I might writeup another Genesis post soon about this) hence it kind of is a big deal if someone does travel. I just came back from a month long trip to the US, UK and Paris which is something I would have never imagined possible 5 years ago.
Hence when Rodney informed us of his upcoming trip to Thailand, we knew we had to take him out since it’d be the last time we’d see him… for two weeks. Sounds pretty lame but a lot of it stems from the fact at how close knit our group really is. We have our Favourites/Movie Nights on Wednesday, basketball for the guys on Tuesday and generally from Friday-Sunday we’d be doing random things from road trips, brunch or late night coffee runs.
We’ve been telling Rodney that we had to take him to Huxtaburger since he’s never been, hence it was decided another burger adventure was in the mix. And in the end, it’s times like these where I truly cherish my circle of friends and how we are as a whole. I mean, kicking back over beers and burgers is one thing… but singing along the Human Nature in the car is a whole different arena ;)
Huxtaburger - Prahan
201-209 High St
Prahran, VIC 3181
Tel: 03 9417 6328
Roadtrip to Horsham
One of the many reasons why I tend to be so delayed when it comes to uploading photos is simple: my Macbook is a piece of shit. Understandably I’ve had it for nearly 3 years now and it’s filled with so much crap but still, I know that when I open Lightroom to get cracking on editing photos it would take me forever to the point I usually just give up on it. Or when it crashes.
I’ve been telling the guys my plans of buying a new iMac desktop computer since last year. Understandably those plans were put on hold as I had to save for my end of year trip to the US/UK/Paris and forking out $3000+ on a new computer didn’t seem like such a great idea. But once I got back I figured it was time I invested in one. With all my plans of future adventures meant more photo/video opportunities. Meaning I really needed a new computer to edit because if this continues on, who knows when people will ever see anything.
I decided to look on Gumtree/Ebay instead and after many days of constant browsing, I found one which I quite liked and thought was a decent price. There were two options for the winning bidder: postage of pickup. The guy lived in Horsham which is a good 3.5-4 hour drive from Melbourne. I immediately told him pickup would be my preference.
Now understandably for some, they must think I’m pretty crazy to drive 4 hours to and back just to pickup a computer. I’ve always felt it would make more sense to pick it up rather than getting it posted since who knows what could happen in transit. Plus this sounded like the perfect opportunity to have an adventure. I mean, it’s like another hour past the Grampians which meant I’d be seeing some great views along the way.
My original plans was to leave on Saturday night, stay overnight in the Grampians where I’d watch the sunrise at Boroka Lookout. Later on I’d head to Horsham, pick up the computer then slowly make my way home.
Those plans went out the window once I realised we’d be drinking the night before. Yep, our ritual Valentines Day Drinkup.
Surprisingly with less than 6 hours sleep (I slept at 4 and found myself up by around 9:30am) I was still in decent condition when I left in the afternoon. Neil decided to join me which made the journey much more enjoyable. I mean, here’s the guy who decided to put on Mariah Carey’s Christmas album on even though it’s February.
Many laughs were had along the way as we discussed many topics such as our roles within the group, arranged marriages and maintenance of sewerage systems. Felling a tad peckish, our discussions led to burgers with the lot from fish and chip stores which solidified our cravings. Hitting Ararat we headed to the nearest store where we got two burgers, minimum chips and a corn jack. I’m surprised Neil didn’t remember what they were but one bite into it and all the memories came flooding back.
Making our way back onto the road again, I decided to stop the car when I saw Mount Zero on the left hand side. I guess that’s one thing I’ve always liked about being the driver: stopping to take photos whenever you feel like it. During my trip to Reno/Lake Tahoe in the US I was stuck on a bus full of Vietnamese oldies and it just made me wish I could have driven and explored on my own. Nevertheless the warm afternoon light made everything looks so pretty. Definitely need to stop by this area again in the future.
Entering Horsham not too long afterwards, I was greeted by the parents of the seller who were extremely friendly and kind. It took me and Neil a good 5 minutes to figure out how we were going to secure the computer in my car but we finally got it done. The lady even offered me an old picnic blanket which I am definitely going to store in my car.
On the way back, I would tell Neil that by the time we got to Ararat, I’d take a break and we’d swap. Mind you it was already 8:30pm by then. With the sun setting I knew I had to make the most of it and find somewhere to view this occasion. Having past a lake on our way to Horsham, we decided to stop by and check it out. We were tripped by the fact that:
- The lake had sand
- There were waves. WAVES.
I’m sure there’s some logical explanation for it all (Neil’s probably going to make one up) but it sure did feel like I was at the beach instead of out in the countryside. Photos were taken and I tried to soak it all in before the surprisingly cold howling winds overwhelmed me.
Back into the car, Neil ended up sleeping whilst I put one of the many compilations for the Raye’s Outdoors Mix to keep me awake. Stopping by Ballarat at the petrol station, Neil paid for my petrol (cheers man!) and also bought me a Golden Gaytime since he knew I was craving ice cream. I continued driving back until we got to Bacchus Marsh where I knew I needed a break.
In all, I drove for a good 7.5 hours with stops along the way. Quite an achievement I think.
This trip me and Neil felt was a taster before we head to Byron Bay in April for the Blues Festival. But in the grand scheme of things, I like knowing that at least I’m trying to make the most of my weekends. Going out and exploring is something I always say I’ll do but usually don’t end up doing it. Sometimes I’ll look at Lynh’s photos and find myself envious of her ability to just go out and do it. I’ve received many compliments on Instagram for some of the photos I took (posted below) and it does make me feel good. I guess if my own random adventures/travels can inspire others to get out there and do the same then I must be doing something right.
Valentines Day 2014
Who knows how this tradition of us getting drunk on Valentines Day started. Apparently it began four years ago when Tish and Frannie went over to Peter’s place to drink and wallow in sadness about their single status. The following year we had some drinks in Maribyrnong when we came back to my place and all hell broke loose. In the best way of course!
Last year turned out to be an even more eventful drink up but nevertheless it was once again a night filled with heavy drinking, lots of vomitting and many of our favourite love songs being played. In some ways we were hesitant to how it would be this year. Would it live up to the expectations of previous years? And most of all… will anyone actually drink?
Luckily it turned out to be a great night. A few new faces who sadly didn’t drink but still joined in the festivities with lots of serenading and general cheesiness in the room. For awhile Tish has been saying she missed the drink ups at my house where we’d just sing and dance to ballads so I’m glad she finally got to experience it once again.
As everyone departed I was feeling pretty good on the inside. There were still so many ballads to sing and dance along to but hey, at least there were no dramas. Everyone seemed to leave in good spirits and no-one seemed hungover. A good night of drinking and fun I felt.
Then I found out the next day Tish was hungover. Three years and counting ;)
Movie/Favourites Night: Two Year Anniversary Edition
Traditions are a funny thing. Sometimes they’re born out of sheer necessity and yet othertimes they simply grow organically through the passing of time. If you had asked me at the end of 2011 that a simple night spent at my house introducing my close friends to the cinematic masterpiece The Room, I would have laughed and said ‘What a story Mark’.
Like anything in life, there’s always going to be ups and downs. Sometimes I find myself questioning whether it’s even worth continuing having Movie Night at my house. But there’ll be moments where it all clicks and I remember why we have it to begin with: kicking back with the boys (when the girls don’t rock up) talking about our favourite topics #sexbusters2000, watching shitty so-bad-its-good films and in recent times, experimenting/cooking for NGC.
That’s why we have Movie Night. That’s what it’s all about. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be here to write about the future anniversary in years to come.
Travelling to the UK made me realise how easily time can be wasted. I had left on a Sunday evening and through the magic of travelling ended up in the UK just after midday. Yet somehow I had managed to lose a day. And personally, I found that pretty disheartening. All those hours that could have been spent doing something productive (not really) were instead spent on a plane. And yet it’s the price we pay to see the world, to be in a different place than where we are right now.
What’s most bizarre is the sense of losing any sense of time. I’ve always what it must be like to cross that barrier: where one minute it’s night then miraculously it’s daytime in that region. Obviously not that simplistic but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought about it. There were so many times I simply didn’t know what time it was and it seriously messed with my head big time.
I guess in many ways it reminds me of when we all go camping: as nightfall arrives we usually find ourselves surrounded by darkness with the flicker of the campfire providing us a source of illumination and warmth. As the drinks keep coming and dnm’s conversations take place, the sense of time has sped to the point where we feel like it’s really late.
It’s only when someone looks at their mobile do we discover it’s only 7pm.
Everyone is doing something with their time: whether it’s wasting it, using it, making it, buying it or simply letting it pass. With the new year I found myself wondering what would I be doing with my time.
Because we all know as slow as it may be, days turn into months and before you know it, we find ourselves seeing top ten lists and anticipating what the new year will bring. I’d like to think I’ve learnt a lot last year and even if I didn’t, at least I’ve been in many situations outside of my comfort zone. And I hope with this year, I’ll use my time more wisely with more things to do and places to see.
What will you be doing with your time this year?
People always say that you learn more when you travel, so did I learn anything? The answer is No. I spend enough time as it is thinking about everything. All this trip really did was reiterate what I already knew about myself and re-enforced my perceptions about life. Having the chance to camp and getting to see the views that I’ve been lucky enough to have seen, I always thought to myself that never will there be a moment where a man made structure can put me in awe as something as seeing an endless horizon of mountains. I found that this wasn’t the case when I saw the Eiffel Tower glitter at night and seeing a glimpse of the Louvre through some dark arch ways. I didn’t spend much time overseas but the one thing that I have to say to you all is, hold the people you care about close to your heart and hold your family even closer and EXPLORE, whether it’s just jumping in the car for a road trip or hopping on a plane, I urge you to do it. There’s nothing better.