Combat Wombat are an outspoken troupe of hip hop punks mainly located in Melbourne. They’ve just released their second album ‘Unsound System’. Armed with only samplers, mics and turntables, powered by solar energy and an uncompromising belief in Truth over Spin, these desert nomads are the real deal, creating an album that reflects the frontline activism they have become famous for. Unsound System is a bullet to the dark heart of the Australian psyche.
Sonically rugged and funky, Monkey Marc’s beats draw their influence from 70s reggae, Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad and the golden era hip hop of the early 1990s. The album moves from A-grade head thunkin’ hip hop to seriously heavy dub reggae, all laced with relevant and politically charged vocals and samples, with ARIA award winning DJ Wasabi providing cuts.
MC Elf Tranzporter (Metabass ‘n Breath) flows marvelously, rhyming with the gift of enviable flexibility. MC Izzy’s approach is the perfect contrast: her stand and deliver, take-no-prisoners approach, injects high-spirited passion into the mix. Together they add a potent combination of hip hop, ragga and punk political flows.
Combat Wombat delve into issues of national identity, the government’s treatment of refugees, indigenous sovereignty, US military force and uranium mining with a sense of urgency that is balanced by their ability to turn words into action. They’ve collaborated with various people on their journey so far including Ozi Batla (The Herd) and Seed MC (TZU).
At Combat Wombat’s core is the Lab Rats Solar Sound System, which was formed at the Jabiluka uranium mine protests in 1998. Monkey Marc and MC Izzy are Australian pioneers of vegetable oil conversions for diesel engines (which will also fuel their upcoming national tour). Their fully equipped mobile studio runs off the solar panels on the van’s roof, and Unsound System was written and recorded using this same eco-friendly energy.
Combat Wombat have performed alongside Anticon, The Herd and Curse ov Dialect and at venues right across Australia – from shacks in the outback desert to inner city venues like the Prince of Wales Hotel in Melbourne.
Background – Facts Sheet
Whilst endless discussions on the merits of politics in music continue passionately, artists like Combat Wombat keep creating and speaking out without pause to debate.
They’ve traveled and toured Australia constantly, lending their expertise to a wide range of causes; working with traditional owners in the Western Desert to oppose uranium mining on Aboriginal land; providing sound systems for Reclaim the Streets parties and blockades across the country; running workshops in isolated desert communities in Central Australia; assisting with the setup of the Warumpi Studio in Papunya, Central Australia; and showing farmers how to convert their vehicles to vegetable oil.
Monkeymarc and Izzy have embarked on more adventures thus far than most encounter in their lives. Marc grew up in various countries, including Yemen (where his family required a bodyguard equipped with a semi-automatic to accompany the kids trips to the pool) and had flown over 26 international plane trips before the age of ten. After working as a geologist at a gold mine in Cue, Western Australia, Marc had two hair-raisingly close brushes with death in one week (house fire and car crash), causing a complete re-evaluation and a move from working the mines to other ventures. Izzy grew up with one parent working for ASIO and subsequently the family moved home consistently – she ran away at 16 to a life on the road. Izzy and Marc met in Darwin as they forged new paths for themselves.
Below is some of the history of Combat Wombat from the members themselves:
“I’d come up from Sydney after hearing about the blockade. I’d been doing parties with Trevor Parkee and the All Funked Up Crew and had also been doing a radio program with Trevor on a Saturday afternoon with. I’d been playing mainly old black funk music and some reggae and dub from the 60′s and 70′s. I was essentially inspired by bands such as Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, James Brown and bands with songs of political and social struggle. I believed at the time that it was music like this that would give us the strength to take on all the baddies in the world involved in such things as Uranium Mining and cultural genocide. I remember watching TV and seeing loads of worn faces of blockaders up at Jabiluka and thought that if I took this music up there to the front line, we could bring some hope back into the situation and we may even win. So off I went to Darwin armed with my decks, sampler an 808 and a bunch of (what were in those days) dust free records.”
Izzy (on Activism):
“I don’t know how many times I have been arrested, bashed or verbally abused and arrested for some thing I didn’t do, denied my right to a lawyer or a telephone call, strip searched and had our vehicles, camps or houses raided. Once I was even flown with 4 police escorts on a private aeroplane from Eden (home of the Dishoewa woodchip mill) to be imprisoned in one of the worst women’s prisons in Australia for 7 days with no actual charge. I’m just one of many who have felt long arm of the law with all its prejudice and corruption and violent tendencies, its ten times worse if you’re black in your own land.”
DJ Wasabi was an ARIA award winner in 2004 for his turntable work on the Scared Little Weird Guys. He also performs in numerous other groups around Melbourne including Phat Logic.
Elf Tranzporter, founding member of pioneering hip hop group Meta Bass ‘n’ Breath has been performing since the mid 90s. Meta Bass toured Australia many times, and even toured the USA, playing at the world renowned Rock Steady Reunion in NYC. Elf has built a solid reputation running events and weekly hip hop nights such as ‘Phat Logic’ in Melbourne for years. He is also part of live hip hop group ‘True Live’.
Vege Oil-fueled vehicles:
“Well firstly you need a diesel engine. We installed a whole new fuel system so the car in essence runs like a dual fuel vehicle. To get the van running on veggie oil we built a heated fuel tank that heats the oil by circulating hot water from the radiator through a copper coil in the tank. This thins it out enabling it to be used as a fuel. We then installed a fuel pump and an extra fuel line with a re-washable fine filter to clean the oil before it hits the motor. At the end of the oil full line is a tap. The basic principal is to start the van on diesel for ten minutes; this then heats the oil in the tank. When the oil is hot enough we turn the fuel pump on the diesel tap off the veggie oil tap on and it’s fish and chips all the way. Before we turn the motor off we run it on diesel for 5 minutes to clean out the motor. It’s as simple as that.
It is very efficient; we actually get more miles per gallon on veggie oil than we do on diesel. Also all the oil we get is old oil so it’s all recycled and free. We’ve done just over 20,000 km’s around Australia for basically nothing. Environmentally it puts out much less pollution than a normal diesel. It can be done to all almost all diesel vehicles from cars to trucks to generators.”