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Insomnia Punk

Tony Irvine

It was the early 90s, as The Lemonheads and Diesel sat atop the Aussie charts when a twinkle-eyed music fan walked through the door of the PBS office (then in St Kilda) to volunteer his services.

Little did they know of the thousands of future broadcast hours that awaited.

Tony Irvine has lived and breathed the PBS ethos ever since, “getting away with blue murder” in the after hours realm he inhabits, as he puts it.

The embodiment of a public broadcaster - dedicated, quirky, independent, passionate - Tony lives true to the “underrepresented” charter of the station with IrvineJUMP!, PBS’s most enduring late-night offering.

He reels names from decades ago off the top of his head without pause - obscure drummers, keyboardists, guitarists of electronic singles long forgotten. The Sparks, he says, sit high on his all-time list. A quick background check reveals Tony’s pre-Wikipedia memory to be flawless.

He talks fondly of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, a German electropunk outfit with an anti-US manifesto. Also, the Patrick Cowley megamix of 'I Feel Love' by Donna Summer - a perennial dancefloor filler. (“I’m totally up for filling the floor at 4am.”)

Overlaying Tony’s distinct electro and disco leanings is a punk wash. “Punk transcends a genre,” he says. “A typical complaint of punk is that anybody can do it, but that’s what you want - different interpretations of things.”

He talks of an incident where his confidence wavered late one shift, and his anxiety levels rose out of nowhere, only to hear from Moorabbin Airport tower who said they playing him loud and live.

Streaming has been a big turning point for the graveyarders, giving them new audiences and opportunities. Suddenly you can access Tony’s huge body of work at the click of a mouse via the PBS website. “It’s a great thing,” he says. His sister in Yorkshire can tune in live too.

His secret to staying sharp through the wee hours? Coffee tracks, he calls them, giving him time to re-caffeinate from the PBS Coke machine.

The future? “I would like to see more local dance music….and maybe a party for the 30th!”

Tony Irvine celebrates 25 years on PBS this October. Check out Irvine Jump! now.

Written by PBS volunteer Richard McLeish.

Electronic & Hip Hop

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