During the late 1970s/early 1980s, the small Sussex Hotel in downtown Sydney was home to that city's mod scene. When the Bluebeat/2 Tone movement erupted in Britain (Madness, The Specials, Selector), it was only natural that ska too would end up there. One of Australia's first ska bands, Allniters got their start at the Sussex in 1980.
The band began as a loose-knit aggregation around guitarist Martin Fabok. The band's only ambition at that stage was to have fun, although early gigs were often marred by fights between skinheads, mods, rude boys and surfers. Allniters' first two independent singles, `She Made a Monkey Out Of Me'/`Allniters Are Alrighters' (August 1981) and `You Shouldn't Stay Out Late'/`What Gives You the Right?' (1982) for the GREEN label made only a marginal impression. At the same time, Fabok, Crysell, Taylor plus a host of other musicians formed an occasional studio band called The Igniters to play dub reggae. The band's only release was a 1982 four-track EP, Igniters.
By the time Allniters signed to Powderworks/ RCA in 1983, the band's live reputation was formidable. The singles `Hold On'/`Mr Unioshi-Yunioshi' (May 1983), Bobby Bloom's `Montego Bay'/`Get It Together' (September) and `Love and Affection'/`Juliette' (November), plus the album D-D-D-Dance (October) were national Top 40 hits (`Montego Bay' reached #16). On the Sydney chart, `Hold On' peaked at #15, `Montego Bay' at #10 and `Love and Affection' at #21. The album's unique fusion of ska, dub and good-time pop garnered favourable reviews. By that time the line-up comprised Hill-Travis, Pattinson, Ayers, Fabok, Taylor, Crysell, plus Julie Conway (vocals), Stephen Luke (trombone), Perry Andronos (bass) and Dave Lennon (drums).
1983 to 1984 was to be the band's peak period. Following two more singles, `Screaming Dreaming'/`Allniters Are Alrighters' (August 1984) and `I Saw You First'/`Mexico' (December), the band split in January 1985. Crysell, Ayers and Taylor formed Castles in Spain with Nicholas Conroy (vocals), Cameron Giles (bass; ex-Mindsweepers) and John MacKay (drums; ex-Seamonsters, Vulgar -Beatmen).
Then, in July 1985, Conway, Pattinson, Hill-Travis, Fabok and Luke revived Allniters with new members Mark Tanner (guitar), Peter Bolke (bass; ex-Honeydrippers), Dale Pandit (drums; ex-Leftovers), Mark Fuccilli (sax; ex-Chinless Elite) and Ralph Franke (sax; ex-Strange Tenants). By February 1986, the line-up comprised Conway, Pattinson, Hill-Travis and Franke, plus newcomers Michael Allen (keyboards), Mickey Marnie (guitar, ex-Treble Clefs), Troy Duncomb (bass) and Simon Knapman (drums, ex-Kam Sha). The new line-up recorded the Martin Plaza-produced `All That Easy'/`The Party' single (July 1987) for Mushroom, but by that stage the band had run its course.
Allniters were back together during 1999 to tour and record. With the worldwide resurgence of ska and reggae based music in general, the success of overseas bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish, the reformation of Madness and the rise in Australia of Area 7, it seemed a good time for the Allniters to return with their buoyant ska-pop. Joined by new lead singer, 21-year-old Miss Velvet Vlass, the band recorded a new single, ‘Nowhere Fast’, which came out on the Sound System label in October. Miss Velvet Vlass also appeared on the single ‘Time for Swingin’’ (November 1999), by the big band-styled The Louisville Sluggers.