If you're at a party talking about the formation of Australia's dual-gender grunge pop four-piece Love Hate Rebellion, chances are you'll be telling the story of their chance meeting in a Brisbane gay bar; or you'll be hearing it from someone else. You might mention the "Suspenderboys AAA Side", (their first release), or even drop the names of producer Jeff Lovejoy, film maker Rob Johnson (Orange Light Media) and model/actress Sarah Livingstone (she starred in the music video).
The story you won't tell will be the one about Sex Flower; and that'll be ironic because it's not just the second track on the "Suspenderboys" disc, but also the original name of the band. The story of Sex Flower gives a fuller perspective not only on the song, but on the band's formation.
You might already have noticed track two on the "Suspenderboys" disc is actually called "Sweet Orchid" and not "Sex Flower".
You're a bright one; so let's get on with the story.
Everyone knows the Pelser sisters (Rachel and Ariana) had travelled from Durban (South Africa) to Sydney, finally settled for a time in Brisbane, Australia, before meeting Jim Sky during a clubbing marathon. Fast forward to November 2010, and Jim was singing at a club called the Jubilee Hotel, fronting math metal band KUNST with Peter Mengede (HELMET, Handsome). Having been holed up for months in the rural north west, Ariana snapped for lack of musical direction and hit the town that very night with her sister Rachel. The girls were out to let off some steam and get into some alcohol-fuelled crazy times, but Ariana had another plan underneath it all; find people to build a band with.
Before the incident where Jim was drunk out of his mind with grief, having just broken up with his fiance, and now chasing a new romance into the depths of a gay bar; before he ran into his future bass player in the same establishment, thrust her onto an unsuspecting drummer and unknowingly danced momentarily with her sister; and even before Jim's new girlfriend decided his new crazy friend wasn't a gay bass player, but was instead hitting on him; Ariana Pelser was standing in the crowd at the Jubilee Hotel, mouth wide open in amazement at the power and ferocity of Jim's performance as the front man for KUNST. So it was no surprise that she approached him later on.
Fast forward again past the confrontation the very next morning over the misunderstanding with Jim's girlfriend, past the point where they almost parted ways and didn't speak to each other ever again, beyond the months when they did in fact refuse to speak or make contact, and we see Jim and Ariana finally relenting and walking into Jim's basement, guitars in hand. LHR still didn't exist at this point, the other two future members having their own lives and projects going on.
At first they only played around with Jim's material, Ariana later explaining she was 'too shy' to let her own work out of the bag. At long last, Jim's gentle and encouraging approach pushed Ariana out of her shell and into showing him the key bass line for a song she wanted to finish and call 'Sweet Orchid'. Jim followed along at first, then suddenly branched out with a discordant riff, and the pair fell immediately into musical love.
What followed were weeks of long nights, candles, fairy lights, bourbon and guitar riffs (the preference for writing music being under this particular atmosphere). Meanwhile in their personal lives, each was undergoing a powerful relationship crisis coupled with sexual identity issues. Encouraged by bourbon, Jim and Ariana discussed their deeper life issues and realised just how much they had in common both as people and as musicians.
As the band moved into a rehearsal room and filled with more members, the pair realised that underlying much of their blossoming work was a sense of sexual repression, low self esteem and a powerful lack of fulfilment. Ariana's self-deprecating notion that she must be something that other people wanted at the expense of her own life appeared in the first verse; while Jim's negative and apocalyptic self-image appeared in the second. Encapsulating the personal verses, Jim's chorus referring to his continuing idea that anyone engaging in a relationship with him would inevitably come to hate him and leave.
A haunted past including cheating lovers, domestic violence, self-harm, mental instability, intoxication and a deep internal wish to break free from the pain of existence were all poured like so much bourbon into the verses of a song still unnamed.
At the same time Jim and Ariana talked almost incessantly about band names, watching DVD after DVD of bands they loved - Placebo, AFI, Coldplay, The Doors, and more. Eventually deciding that a band name must be extremely special and have a powerful meaning, they started delving into numerology, coming up with numbers preferential to a successful, long lasting and meaningful band name. Lists were made, arguments had, and then quite suddenly one morning while leaving for another rehearsal, Ariana stopped and said "screw all that - why don't we just call the band Sex Flower?"
It seemed perfect, encapsulating everything they'd experienced and were still going through. It also seemed perfect as the name of their still untitled track. Not forgetting all the numerology work, they checked the numbers, and the name stuck. 'Sweet Orchid' was out, and 'Sex Flower' was in.
There was just one problem - the rest of the band- Rachel (guitar) and Andy, (drums), were now a romantic item and didn't like the band name. Citing "The Sex Pistols" as being too close and a variety of other reasons, "Sex Flower" quickly became a bone of contention among the band. Against a backdrop of romantic tension among the new couple and arguments over the band name, things weren't shaping up well for the fledgeling outfit. Before the dust settled, time would pass and each band member would snap. Ariana would storm out of their rehearsal space on more than one occasion, and at one point Jim would lose his cool and lock her out of his home.
At long last Jim and Ariana decided to drunk again, and reflected on the whole affair.
They reread the lyrics of the song, and suddenly realised they both had at some point decided they were no good to anyone - yet together they managed to look beyond their own self-hate and see a mirror image of someone truly special with a great gift for the world. This in turn created a rebellion against the original feelings of self-destruction, epitomised by Rachel and Andy (guitar and drums) rebelling against a band name they knew to be representative of their negative side. From this realisation came the band name proper - Love Hate Rebellion.
They walked back into the rehearsal room with LHR under their belt, and agreed that things had to slow down. Love Hate Rebellion was agreed upon by all as being a great band name and indicative of the band dynamic as a whole. As a footnote, LHR fit the numerology bill as well.
As for "Sex Flower" the song, there would be one final transformation. After such an intense emotional journey the band needed something to put their energy into - and so what had previously been a deep, slow groove sped up into the distorted mid-tempo powerhouse they would later take into Jeff Lovejoy's studio. Reflecting a more positive and hopeful outlook, the song returned to its original title "Sweet Orchid", and the band continued on with a new song and a new name.