The Kryptonics formed in Perth, Western Australia, during August 1985. Early on The Kryptonics boasted a primitive Cramps-inspired edge to their garage-punk sound. The band adopted the black leather/guitar-grunge look of their Sydney forebears like The Lime Spiders and The Trilobites. By 1988, the band had evolved into a tough yet melodic power pop outfit. Over the course of seven years, Ian Underwood was the only constant member.
The Kryptonics issued the single `Baby'/`Plastic Imitation' on the local Cherry Top label (January 1986). By mid-1986, the band's line-up was Underwood, Cathy Webb, Peter Hartley (guitar; ex- Rockafellas, X-Offenders, Lavender Disaster) and Brett Ford (drums; ex-Exhibit A, Rockafellas, Kansas City Killers). The new line-up recorded the second single, `Land That Time Forgot'/`She's Got Germs' (on the Easter label, January 1987), and the flexi-single `Cyclops'/`Rock Me to Sleep' which came with issue #6 of Vortex fanzine
The Kryptonics fell apart in mid-1987, and Underwood assembled a new line-up comprising Greg Hitchcock (guitar; ex-Bamboos, Neptunes), Jeff Halley (bass; ex-Sunstones) and Russell Hopkinson (drums; ex-Vicious Circle, Cremator, Bamboos). That line-up recorded the mini-album 69, issued by Sydney-based label Waterfront in May 1989. Meanwhile, ex-members Hartley and Ford had joined Stuart Gray (aka Stu Spasm) in the first line-up of noise terrorists Lubricated Goat. Hopkinson and Hitchcock later joined forces again in You Am I.
By 1989, The Kryptonics line-up was Underwood, Halley, Tony Rushan (guitar, vocals; ex-Ritual) and Andrew Robinson (drums; ex-Ritual) who was soon replaced by Peter Kostic. The Underwood/Halley/Rushan/Kostic line-up toured and issued the single `When It's Over'/`Oedipus Complex' on Waterfront (September 1989). The next line-up of Underwood, Rushan, Kostic and Greg Brennan (bass) recorded a new single for the Seaside label, `Bad September'/`Another Girl Another Planet' (live), `Telephone Line' (live) which appeared in November 1990. Richard Corey replaced Brennan in July 1990, and the band re-located to Sydney in August. The Kryptonics issued a 12-inch EP, `Tonka Tuff', on the Zero Hour label in 1991 before parting company.
Rushan went on to form Sydney sludge rock band Harpoon. James McCann (vocals), Sabrina Collins (bass), Gavin Lewis (bass), Allan Miller (drums) and Tim Fagen (sax) completed the line-up. Harpoon created brooding, experimental soundscapes, with an ambient, industrial-strength edge pushed along by two bass players. The original line-up lasted about a year. Rushan left but was not replaced. Murray Shepherd (drums; ex-Fun Things, Screaming Tribesmen) and Dave Bullock (percussion) replaced Miller. That line-up of Harpoon issued the seven-track album Fork Tongued Pressed and Greasy in March 1996.
Meanwhile, Ian Underwood formed a new band Challenger 7 in 1994 with help from two other ex-Kryptonics, Peter Kostic and Richard Corey, who by then were also members of Front End Loader. Greg Hitchcock (by then in The Verys) completed the Challenger 7 line-up. The band recorded one CD EP, `Morris', before breaking up; the CD EP appeared in August 1995.
In 1998, Ian Underwood assembled the all-Australian tribute album to US band The Replacements, I’m in Love… With That Song. Issued in August 1999 (on the Tomboy label), it included contributions from the likes of You Am I, Michael Thomas and Nick Barker, Icecream Hands, The Celibate Rifles, The Onyas, DM Three, Brad Shepherd, Brother Brick, Bloodsucking Freaks, The Finkers and Underwood’s own band, Challenger 7 (‘Left of the Dial’).
Despite the earliest Challenger 7 line-up splitting in 1995, Underwood kept the band alive with new members. The 1998 line-up comprised Stewart Cunningham (vocals, guitar; ex-Proton Energy Pills, Asteroid B-612, Brother Brick), Daniel Bell (bass) and Marty Doo (drums). Since the release of the 1995 CD EP ‘Morris’, Challenger 7 has issued ‘The Great Slump Forward’ 7-inch EP (1997) and the Payola album (May 2000).
The band has also contributed its trashy power pop to three overseas compilations: ‘Wait a Lifetime’ (Pop on Top: Best of Australian Power Pop on US label Bomp!, 1997), a cover of The Screaming Tribesmen’s ‘Move a Little Closer’ (Storming the Citadel Volume 1 on French label Divine Rites, 1998) and ‘Big Hits on the Underground’ (the 1999 Japanese Saints tribute album Eternally Ours on 1+2 Records, 1999).
In the meantime, Cunningham has continued to work with his own band, Brother Brick. The 1998 line-up comprised Cunningham, Jay Curley (bass; on loan from Tumbleweed) and Craig Jackson (drums) who was replaced by Nick Rieth (also on loan from Tumbleweed). Brother Brick has issued three 7-inch singles: ‘Chokito Bar’/‘Feel Strung Out’ (1995, on the Dog Meat label), the split single ‘Rock Action’ (1995, with Asteroid B-612 on the flip) and ‘The Same’/‘Chip on My Shoulder’ (1999, on US label Rockin’ House). The band’s debut, full-length album, A Portable Altamont, came out in late 1999 on French label, Hellfire Club. Brother Brick contributed ‘Color Me Impressed’ to I’m in Love… With That Song.