Studying music in his final year of high school, Josh Terlick was in a class of three. Given how teachers constantly bang on about the benefits of small class sizes you’d think that would have been a boon for the budding muso, and it probably was in the main. But, as Terlick reflects on the experience, with mid-life beckoning and his career in the biz taking off, it had its drawbacks, too.
“I was a bass player in a class with two flautists,” said Terlick. “It made for some interesting music when we played as an ensemble.”
As we spoke, Terlick was juggling calls, searching for a bigger venue for Voyager’s next Perth show, the beginning of what turned out to be a sell-out national tour.
Terlick, with his beautifully coiffed greying hair and spade beard, could be an imposing figure if it weren’t for his gentle presence and understated way with words. Being a sometime seeker of the arcane and unlistenable, I immediately wanted to know what he and his two classmates’ performances sounded like. Whereas Terlick expressed mild frustration at the limitations of the available instrumentation. In the end, it didn’t matter, he made it through. I’ve got no idea what the flautists went on to do, but Terlick hung in there rolling with every peculiar challenge that the music biz threw at him until he became an overnight success.
Look him up on LinkedIn and you’ll find that Terlick has been General Manager of Cut Above Collective since October 2022. Cut Above Collective works in partnership with Mellen Events and Live Nation Australia, two of the nation’s most successful music and event promoters. They provide artist management and booking services and have a national and, ultimately, international focus. And they also have that name — Cut Above… For a man who is so understated, in a city that assiduously avoids any outward pretention that its local musos should aspire to any sort of success, this is significant.
If you take Terlick at his word, Cut Above Collective came about as a result of a “chance meeting” with Brad Mellen, Managing Director of Mellen Events. Terlick wanted to have it that it all came about by accident, one of those right place, right time things. It took a while to get him to lay out the backstory that made him ready when his moment came.
“I’ve always played in bands,” Terlick said, “but I was always the least competent musically, so I would go about organising things to make myself useful as a way of holding my place, making up for my musical deficits. I didn’t realise it, but what I was doing was learning how to be a manager and booking agent.”
Self-deprecation. Terlick is a more than competent musician, best known for holding down bass with the now defunct Brow Horn Orchestra and currently with Alter Boy. His love for metal never getting in the way of him joining some of the most pioneering outfits in the land. Perhaps it’s his ability to be eclectic that helps when it comes to the role of booking agent.
“My first love has always been metal and I’m sure it always will be,” said Terlick, “but I like to think I have an ear for what’s good across genres. As for the bands I’ve played in, it’s always been kind of a right place, right time thing. Like when Molly (Priest) contacted me when she was putting together what became Alter Boy, she was calling to ask if I knew any bass players who might be interested. ‘Why I certainly do,’ I thought.”
At least he had the gumption to put himself forward, although I rather think Priest’s call would have been an oblique way of asking if he was interested. Another muso once told me that asking someone to be in your band is akin to asking them out on a date, fraught with the risk of rejection. Anyway, we digress.
“Outside of bands, I was working in the industry, on the event production side of things. It was a good place to be, I learned a lot, but I couldn’t see it really going anywhere, so when I got an opportunity to join Champion Music and begin working as a booking agent, I took it.”
Champion Music is one of WA’s most prominent booking agencies and it proved to be a pivotal opportunity for Terlick. During his time there he established Beardfoot agency under the wing of Champion’s owner, local music mogul Frank Gugliotta. He also brought into the fold a band that, at the time, was one of WA’s best kept secrets, Voyager.
Reflecting on Voyager’s spectacular run at this year’s Eurovision, Terlick was characteristically understated. “Eurovision was a bit of good fortune for them,” Terlick said, at which point I stopped him with a ‘you can’t be serious!’. “Well, yes,” Terlick said, “Voyager’s appearance at Eurovision this year came off the back of years of hard work and putting themselves up for the contest multiple times. And they really nailed their performances. It’s not easy performing to that level in that environment. So, yes, it was more than good fortune. They deserved it. They worked hard for it.”
As we spoke, Terlick was juggling calls, searching for a bigger venue for Voyager’s next Perth show, the beginning of what turned out to be a sell-out national tour. Voyager are now with Cut Above Collective, enabling Terlick to continue his relationship with Australia’s latest overnight sensation, his own hard work over many years also paying off.
So, back to that name, Cut Above Collective. For all his understatement and self-deprecation, Josh Terlick is someone who knows how to seize opportunities. But he also knows that it takes years of hard work to be in the position to take them when they come. Chance meetings and good fortune play a role, they’re part of the magic that attracts so many to the music biz. But nothing beats talent, of which Terlick has plenty, and nothing backs up talent like hard work, of which Terlick has now done the obligatory 10-plus years. So, when he chooses to work under a moniker like Cut Above, you can be sure that this is a statement of intent on Terlick’s part.
He’s done his apprenticeship and he’s now ready to step things up, make some changes and do what most in the local industry are afraid to do — openly court success, for himself and for the artists and bands he works with. This can only be a good thing.
As we talked, I asked Terlick what’s changed since he started Cut Above Collective. His response was swift and telling.
“People reply to my emails now.”