DAME is a graffiti writer from Sydney. He started painting in the mid 80's and is a member of ML TPC RBS & UT CREWS If you ever picked up a copy of the All Stations mag you'd recognise his work. He was painting panels all through the 90's producing some real Sydney classics. We caught up with him to hear some stories from back then and asked for his favourite five flicks.
1. What got you into graffiti?
I remember it clearly. It was 1985-86 & my mate brought his brothers copy of Subway Art to school & I was hooked. I was always into drawing/cartoons & couldn’t believe what they were doing on trains in NYC & instantly started drawing pieces & trying to imitate those kings.
2. How would you describe your style and who were your influences?
My style was public. I wanted it to be readable, weather you flying past on a train or you were standing 50m away. I had many aliases & use to play around with different styles & letter combinations. I wasn’t really influenced by any one writer but more graffiti as a whole.
3. What was the Sydney graff scene like during the 90's?
It was a fucking crazy time & so much fun, we all just ran amok. Black market in Redfern had a monthly hip hop night that was always stacked with writers & a massive night, many a drunken mission started from that place.
I feel the 90’s were a pretty influential time for the Sydney graffiti scene as the start & finish of the 90’s were a completely different story. In the start there were no mobile phones or internet & there was a lot of shit paint, or the good paints like tuxan & touch up’s were small & caps were hard to come by as lot of paints used chisel tips. Then by the end of the 90’s everyone had a phone & there was a massive amount of quality paint & a lot specifically made for graffiti & a wide selection of caps & the internet was loaded with graffiti from all over the world. This also led to a new way people were getting up, online. People could now get seen by the masses without having to battle with the buff.
4. Do you have a good chase story?
Yeah I got a crazy one!!
Back in 97 all us MainLine boys (Clue,Hoot,Kies,Banos,Muddles,Hense & myself) had planed on doing a whole car, it was going to be a fucking massive top to bottom ML & a top to bottom character at the end. Now at this point I am not sure if any double decker whole cars had been done & if there had, then they were as rare a rocking horse shit & there we’re definitely no 2 letter block buster whole cars. We spent weeks racking paint & storing it, we stashed ladders in the yard as these were not on platforms or in tunnels.
It was a daytime yard & we rocked in ready, we noticed the ladders were gone, not a good sign so a quick huddle to work out what to do. I know I had a bad gut feeling (& not just the hangover) & I fucking bet everyone else did to, but the adrenaline was pumping & no one wanted to be the one to call it off. So we hobbled together some crates & bins to stand on. At one stage we had people on otto bins with others on their shoulders to get to the top, I still don’t know how we didn’t break our necks or stack it. Anyway we were ripping in & about 3/4 through, long enough to get slightly comfortable as I was expecting a chase early on.
Then all fucking hell broke loose! Cop cars came flying in & people scattered everywhere. It was fight or flight time & I took flight & was off scaling barbed wire fences like they were nothing with that massive adrenaline burst you get when a raid happens. Well I made it over several fences & hid, I couldn’t see or hear anyone around & figured I had lost them or they chased others in another direction, so I managed to get up on top of a shipping container next to the river & laid there for a few minutes working out my next move as I was still not out of danger. Then I remember hearing a loud noise, like something out of a war movie, the fucking police helicopter comes over the trees & right on top of me & yelling at me via their speaker. Fuck me I was on the run again, out of ideas I ran out the main gate. At this stage about 4 security were running in & as flight hadn't worked I thought I’d try fight. So I grabbed a pipe & went them, not my smartest move as I was out numbered & they pined me to the ground until the cops got there. I was done & had just added assault to my list of impending charges.
So I was eventually taken to the cop shop (after about a hour) & as I was being led down the hall we past a interview room, when I looked inside I saw all the other boys in there sitting on the floor & the floor was soaking wet. I remember asking the cops with me if they had pissed themselves, as I was led away. I later found out that they all decided to take a swim across one of Sydney’s most polluted rivers (well at least one of them couldn’t swim & was dragged across) & they also found out the hard way there was no escaping the chopper. They were promptly picked up on the other side of the river.
I still don’t know why, but that day we all walked away with fines & no charges. I was kept a few hours longer & they kept threatening me with assault charges but for some reason let me go with just fines too. I was never so happy to get fined as then, as I didn’t need more charges going to court.
A few of the boys were in a cab heading home when they stopped at a level crossing for a train, then it rolled past, not completely finished, but fucking massive & still impressive. That was it’s one & only trip, straight to the buff.
5. Any plans on making a comeback?
In the words of LL Cool J, “ don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years” haha.
But seriously I think once a writer, always a writer & any writer who has been out of action for years would gladly have a crack again if the opportunity arose. As I had a lot of run ins with the law in the early days & was even raided by the GTF which led to me being dragged through the courts for over a year, would love to go back & do it again with what I know now. But the scene has moved so far ahead I couldn’t keep up with the quality that is being done these days.