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MEDIA: Articles: Steven Cummings' sporting life

by Toby Creswell

7 October 1982 - Rolling Stone (Australia), issue 358

It's been less than a year since Steve Cummings' group, the Sports, split up and he's already back in the music industry. Well, sort of. Not wanting to go full-time again but not wanting to waste his songs, he and his new manager, Paul Worstead, have landed a four single deal with Regular Records and for the first time in years he has a completely open-ended career.

"Basically once I got out of all my contracts, I didn't want to have anything to do with the music business," he explains. "We all went completely to the other end, paranoid - just didn't want to know. I'd always kept writing songs though, because it's one of the things I do and I was making a lot of tapes on a little four track. This way I might be able to do something without having to get involved."

Cummings' first single is called "We All Make Mistakes"/"Accordian To Mao" and will appear on Phantom/Regular Records. During the Sondra tour when the band had already decided to knock things on the head, Cummings approached Dare Jennings, who runs the independent Phantom Label, with a view to future recording. When he delivered the tapes of "We All Make Mistakes," Jennings thought the single deserved better distribution; at this point Worstead stepped in and negotiated a deal with Regular.

"I'll just do probably four singles or something and they'll only come out once every three months. It's not really a big effort; I don't have to play live or anything. We can pretty much do what we want and each one will be different. I do it and Martin (Armiger) produces.

"The next record has got a big string arrangement, stuff like that with a full pop sound. The music that I like to make I couldn't afford to do on just a little label because it tends to be bigger productions." The current single will surprise many old Sports fans with its big disco sound staking Cummings' claim as the "white Ray Parker Jr."

"As soon as we stopped playing," he says of the Sports last year, "it sort of dawned. I thought, 'Where have I been for the last three years?' We were so busy doing stuff, that I hadn't realised it had caught up with us. We decided to do the last album and see it through and I was still enjoying myself on stage, but it was time to stop. Then we got the idea to do the Dylan record.

"Music has become more like just another sort of activity and you've got to keep things in the right balance. When I play records now they're not things I want to pay attention to. The main thing I play music for is background for when I read. Before I liked records I liked books and it's sort of gone the other way. They say that money is the long hair of the Eighties and people are more into good clothes and food and buying land."

There seems a general dissatisfaction with the mechanics of the rock business and the whole grind of forming a band, touring extensively and being tied to long term contracts. With the development of better home facilities it's easier now for songwriters to do it themselves. "I reckon it's definitely becoming a more individual thing," he continues, "and groups as such won't happen again. That's why I never said we'd broken up or anything. To say that is like continuing on with the idea of a group."

Now that he's quit his part-time job on the Sale of the Century, Cummings is concentrating on his writing, his songs and making his film clips. "I don't have any regrets really," he laughs, "I'm just amazed at the things I took seriously for all those years."

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