Serious Young Insects (SYI) were a three-piece band that emerged out of Melbourne’s post-punk scene in 1980.  The sound of the band was an amalgam of their UK influences (Wire, The Cure, The Jam, XTC, Magazine, Joy Division) shot through with a 1960's British-explosion pop aesthetic (Beatles, Zombies etc.) Their brief two-and-a-half-year career falls into two phases; the first, centred around inner city venues like the Crystal Ballroom; the second involved a record deal and relentless six-gigs-a-week interstate touring

In 1980 at the Ballroom, they opened for their heroes, The Cure, Magazine and XTC amongst many other acts. Although high energy the Insect’s aesthetic eschewed anything ‘rockist;’ they had no ‘moves,’ no lead singer as such. Like much post-punk music, they attempted to create a new musical vocabulary using none of the conventions of the 1970s.

In 1981 the band signed a record deal with an indie label (Native Tongue) through Epic/CBS (now Sony) and recorded 'Trouble Understanding' with Men at Work's producer, Peter McIan at Richmond Recorders. At the end of 1981 the band returned to Richmond Recorders with Tony Cohen and then with legendary Australian engineer/producer John French to record an album, 'Housebreaking' (1982), which although being slicker than expected, had none of the perk or fury of the band’s live performances. 

In a move that both made them and finished them they became a touring band and moved out into the 'burbs' of the capital cities of Australia playing six nights a week. The band was created outside of the rock ‘industry’ but eventually they were absorbed and ground down by it. The band released three singles: ‘Trouble Understanding Words’ (1981), ‘Be Patient’ (1982) and ‘Faraway Places’ (1982), as well as an album, ‘Housebreaking’ (1982). 

Lisa Perry of The Canberra Times praised the album "several times I had to check the cover to see if there were not also some session musos or others contributing to the sounds I was hearing. For a three-piece combo, these lads sure make a good sound"

In 1985 Peter Farnan went on to form Boom Crash Opera.

Serious Young Insects line-up included: Peter Farnan - Vocals/Guitar, Michael Vallance - Bass, Mark White - Vocals/Drums. 

Peter Farnan, 1980 - Photo by Ian McPhail

Click HERE to view the full Serious Young Insects discography

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Click HERE to see a list of SYI gigs
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Serious Young Insects - Am I Dreaming.mp3

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Click HERE to watch more SYI videos 

  • Main Image - Serious Young Insects, 1980 - Source: Peter Farnan
  • Background Image - Trouble Understanding Words 7" cover, 1981 - Source: Discogs
  • Peter Farnan, 1980 - Photo by Ian McPhail
  • Serious Young Insects discography gallery, 1981 - 1982 - Source: Discogs
  • Serious Young Insects promo gallery, 1980 - Sources: Timothy Hughes and Dolores San Miguel
  • Serious Young Insects photo gallery, 1981 - All photos by Ian McPhail
  • 'Am I Dreaming', 1981 - Unreleased (Vallance)