The resurrection of pop-punk band the Sunnyboys has lasted longer than the original band was together, but it’s not for the love of money or wanting to relive yesteryear.
Peter Oxley formed the band with his brother Jeremy, Bil Bilson and Richard Burgman in 1980 and spawned hits like “Alone With You” and “Happy Man”. They split merely four years later due to frayed relationships, industry disappointment and their frontman Jeremy’s health issues – which was later revealed to be schizophrenia.
“We had success but it was really quick, really fast - all of a sudden we were a big Australian band and then everything fell apart,” Peter Oxley said. “We’re very happy and so glad that we’re able to play because for a long time we didn't think we’d ever play again.”
It would be the first time in 25 years the group stepped on stage together when asked to play with the Hoodoo Gurus in 2012. Peter recalls it a nerve-wracking experience.
“We weren't sure if we’d be any good or if it would sound too mechanical like there wasn't any love there, we were quite nervous about if anybody would want to see us play,” the bassist said. “But once we started rehearsing we realised the four of us had this great feeling.”
The group is playing in Thirroul for the first time this February as part of their annual tour, something Oxley believes is somewhat therapeutic for his brother.
The gigs – some of which are sell-outs – replace memories of “chaotic” times with cheerful fun while giving him something to look forward to.
“We’re very careful about where we play and what we do so Jeremy feels comfortable, we look after him and we make sure there’s no pressure on him that’s going to affect him in anyway,” he said. “Jeremy made it through [really hard times], he survived his schizophrenia, he survived his mental instability and he’s able to play music again. He was really not able to play for such a long time.”
Jeremy’s battle with his illness meant he often turned to alcohol to quieten the voices in his head. It wasn’t until he met his now wife Mary Griffiths – a nurse – who helped his doctors find the right formula to control his health issues.
Oxley admitted there were many times when he thought his brother may not make it through, often thinking there was nothing more he was able to do. But he’s glad his brother, his mate, has made it through the other side and is sounding better than ever.
“There’s something about playing music where, when you’re playing often you’ll go into this zone where everything disappears and you're just thinking about the music,” he said.
“Certainly for Jeremy playing music is something that gives him a great deal of satisfaction and as a guitar player Jeremy’s just getting better and better and better, and he’s got a beautiful voice. It’s bloody great fun.”
Sunnyboys play Anita's Theatre, Thirroul, February 23, 2018. Tickets on sale now.