Back in 1979 as a glued-to-the-television-screen 13-year-old, I was watching Jim Toomey play drums in his band THE TOURISTS on COUNTDOWN – the Sunday night ABC pop music program that was a weekly ritual for a generation of Aussie teenagers of that era.
Jim recently published a memoir chronicling his three years touring with the band. Two members of THE TOURISTS went on to form British pop duo THE EURYTHMICS so his name is frequently mentioned in connection with the origin story of that band as well. I began by asking Jim how he feels regarding the possibly double-edged sword nature of that association –
Having your name forever linked with the formative years of two other musicians (Annie Lenox & Dave Stewart) who went on to garner worldwide fame throughout the 1980’s, could make you feel in some ways a little like the so-called 5th Beatle, drummer Pete Best (who played in The Beatles during their time as a club act in Liverpool before they rose to international mega-attention in 1963). Do you look back on those years (1977 – 1980) with THE TOURISTS as three of the best years of your life?
Those three years were spent travelling the world and thoroughly enjoying the experience. The answer is really in the conclusion of the book.
What’s the origin of the book’s cover shot?
The cover shot was chosen by the publishing company. It was one of hundreds taken of the band.
What was the process like of finding a publisher for WE WERE TOURISTS?
I got turned down by one publisher and asked to do a re-write by another.After some negotiations I finally signed with Austin Macauley in London.
Tricky, but it would have to be Annie’s song ‘ONE STEP NEARER THE EDGE’ (HEAR IT HERE) on the album we recorded at Montserrat.
And your favourite EURYTHMICS song? (You can’t say ‘I NEED A MAN’ (HEAR IT HERE) ’cause I bags that one!)
So many classic songs to choose from. Maybe ‘WHY’ (HEAR IT HERE).
I understand you taught English for a while in Japan (something I know a little bit about as well) Could you tell us about that experience?
I lived in Japan for two years, an amazing experience. I wasn’t teaching English in the conventional sense. I was teaching English Conversation which meant I got to meet some amazing people. An amazing culture and amazing people.
After getting the part in the Pirates movie I did auditions for TV ads and I play a drunk in a movie not released yet called IN LIKE FLYNN.
Are there any upcoming gigs for ONCE A TOURIST – the band you assembled for the launch of the book?
There will be some further gigs later in the year.
And finally, if you’re up to it Jim, some queries from the rapid-fire and unflinching QUESTIONATOR –
- Do you have any tattoos? No
- Best place you’ve ever lived? Brisbane
- I love the sound of… music (not the Julie Andrews movie!)
- Whose look do you envy (you’re allowed to say Bruce Wayne, Doctor Who or even Donald Duck if you want to!) David Bowie
- I wish my house had a … recording studio
- I can’t live without… my MTV
- Favourite quote? “We are only in it for the money” – Frank Zappa (1940 – 1993)
- Favourite movie? The Budapest Hotel
Ps. On a completely unrelated note, your bonus read this week is the short story of an 88-year-old grandmother who decides the time is right to get her very first spray tan.