Swill Magazine Issue 5 - Out Now

It's fun until it isn't anymore, funny until it's scary as fuck. Some of my best stories were born out of biker clubhouses and, without naming names, I'm here to share a few.

Jordan McDonald


Right before the retro rock renaissance of the early 2000s (hallo, Wolfmother), stages were few, opportunities slim, and outposts for headbanging upstarts like myself were all but extinct. A world immune of trends, defiant of change and proudly left of the law, however, existed in impunity, under our noses and willing to listen. My band learnt a lot playing for outlaw motorcycle gangs. The gigs were always on their turf, always on their terms and they were always off their heads. It’s fun until it isn’t anymore, funny until it’s scary as fuck. Some of my best stories were born out of biker clubhouses and, without naming names, I’m here to share a few.


Brookvale, Sydney  

“Cash or guns, how do you wanna be paid?” The guns did sound tempting. 

Before anyone could answer, the bikie asking the question followed up with “well, you’ve already drunk your pay over the bar”. And that was that. We never got paid in those days anyway. And if it had been an issue, nobody was gonna raise it. 

Club regalia of all kinds adorned every wall, sports-bar-style monitors rock a 24-hour stream of security footage and hardcore porn. But there was one highly nuanced and particularly unsettling design choice in this place – little yellow smiley face stickers, cryptically dotted over faces in certain photos. Maybe one in a hundred faces wore one, but the weight of their presence would own the room.  

The bar was fully stocked. There was merch to purchase and no, you didn’t need to be a full member to wear the T-shirts. This did make it a bit confusing as to who were hangers-on, and who was the real deal. A bartender, expert in cracking cans of pre-mixed bourbon drink manned the bar at all times. Under a glass benchtop was a metre-long pharmacy of powders and pills. A wiry ‘prospect’ with indoor sunnies and a rat’s tail preferred the blue ones. He told me part of the gig was to drive the old-ladies (a bikie’s partner or wife) home and it took 100mg to satisfactorily complete the task.  

We came prepared to play two solid sets of Roadhouse Rock. These got the nod of approval and it was decided we would play until they said we could stop. At some point during the fourth or fifth marathon set, something extremely strange occurred. 

One of the old ladies had had enough, and was being carried out over the shoulder of her man. Five minutes later the same thing occurred with another couple, then another, and by the end of the set about ten limp ladies had left in the same fashion. Hours later, the sun is almost up, I’m packing gear into my car and an alarm next to me sets off. One of the women is inside bashing on the window to get out. One by one, cars all over the lot explode to life in a flare of desperation, they were coming to. Fearful I’d be held accountable, I got lost real quick.   


Daytona, Florida

Years after cutting my teeth in the parking lots of Brookvale (‘Ghost Mutt’ broke up – it was the only way to cut ties with the clubhouse), I was behind the drums of a touring rock band, traversing the States in an enormous tour bus and feeling pretty cool about it. We’d pulled into a few potent spots but none as alarmingly charged with machismo as the Daytona Bike Rally. It was like an outlaw Christmas, opposing gangs uncaged from their clubhouses and off leash outdoors. Our tour bus felt like an enormous target, outnumbered a million to one by the helmet-free rebels. Parked between the stage and the Wall Of Death (look it up), I set about exploring. The female staff were completely naked, with uniforms painted on. A few fist fights had already broken out that afternoon, security intervention was swift, but unfortunately they had no intention of breaking it up. Security would enforce a circle so no outsiders could intervene and the violence played out until the best man won. It was a loaded atmosphere to say the least. 

I was warming up to the side of the stage and the intense glare from two swarthy old dudes won’t let up. They’re leaning on a fence. One is swizzling the tip of a boot knife in his palm and I’m wondering what’s got them fixed on me. It took a minute but became apparent a friend of theirs had a deeper interest and they were keeping watch. She was in her mid-60s with a Richard Simmons style marmalade ’do, extremely inebriated, and approaching haphazardly. The weathered gents, now standing completely upright, are casting a protective eye over the action. 

We’re eye to eye now, her cuticles are bloody and she stinks like barbecue. A very Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 moment. She stops, and flirtatiously pulls out a makeup bag. Her stubbed, bloody fingers rummage around until landing on the prize. An eyeliner pencil, sharpened to a point. She held her gaze, an absent stare that wouldn’t let up, I felt a climax of some kind coming, aware of the audience we’d gathered, the tension was insane, not a word had been said, and all of a sudden she drove the pencil into her eyeball, puncturing the membrane with a sickly ‘pop’ sound. She didn’t flinch. 

This is an excerpt from the latest issue of Swill. Want more? Order issue 5 today 

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Jordan McDonald


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