Motor Ace

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Motor Ace
OriginMelbourne, Australia
GenresAlternative rock
Years active1998–2005, 2018–present
LabelsSputnik/Festival Mushroom
MembersPatrick ('Patch') Robertson
Dave Ong
Damian Costin
Matt Balfe
Alexander Reid

Motor Ace are an Australian alternative rock band. Formed in Melbourne around 1998 out of the remains of another band named Snowblind, their members are Patrick ('Patch') Robertson (vocals/guitar), Damian Birchall Costin (drums), Matt Balfe (bass), and Dave Ong (guitar).


Early history[edit]

The band began recording their debut release, a self-titled EP, during April 1999. They worked with producer Paul McKercher, who had previously worked with bands such as You Am I and The Cruel Sea. Along with 28 Days, Machine Gun Fellatio, and NoKTuRNL, they were part of a collection of young Australian acts signed to Festival Mushroom Records' development label Sputnik, which launched in 1999. The eventual track listing of their self-titled release included "Chairman of the Board", "Chromakey", "Criminal Past", "Lowrider", and "Fluke". Triple J gave the band heavy airplay, assisting the band on their touring schedule. Afterwards, the singles "Death Defy" (which was later used as the title theme for TV show The Secret Life of Us), "American Shoes", and "Hey Driver" were released throughout the course of 2000. Some of them charted in the top 100 of the ARIAnet singles chart, while also gaining popularity on Triple J.[1]

Five Star Laundry[edit]

Motor Ace's debut album, Five Star Laundry, was released in March 2001. It was produced and engineered by Craig Harnath and Chris Dickie in February 2000 at Melbourne's Sing Sing Studios. Due to a heatwave at the time, the nearby power stations had been shut down, and the band were forced to record across the four-week period without air conditioning. During this time, Robertson also lost his voice. According to the band, vocals for the album were completed at 2am on the day both Robertson and Costin were due to fly to London to mix the album with Chris Sheldon, who had previously worked with the Foo Fighters and Therapy?.[2] The album entered the Australian ARIAnet albums chart at number 4. This was followed by more touring throughout Australia, as well as the release of a partly-animated video for the title track. The song was released as a single, as was the track "Lorenzo."

Shoot This[edit]

Shoot This was released in July 2002, and gained even more commercial success than its predecessor. The album debuted at number 1 that year and eventually went gold. The two lead singles ("Carry On" and "Keeping Secrets") reached the top 30 in the ARIAnet singles chart, with "Carry On" peaking within the top 20. "Carry On" would also be used in a commercial for The Australian that year. The track "Pieces" was also released as a radio-only single with an accompanying video.

Motor Ace were put on hold after their 2003 Japanese shows for Shoot This, after the pressuring touring and work schedule was beginning to take its toll on the band - particularly Robertson, who suffers from Crohn's disease. During this period, Costin started a music management group, Fat Guy Management (FGM), while Robertson retreated to his home in Fitzroy and began to develop his songwriting and production techniques. Ong, meanwhile, put together a country-influenced solo album under the name Joni Lightning. Towards the end of this hiatus, the band's management denied that they had split up.

Animal and break-up[edit]

Preceded by first single "Tomorrow's Gone" in May 2005, the band's third album Animal was released the following August. A second single, "A Little Closer", followed on 12 September. Although well-received critically, Animal did not reach the commercial heights of its predecessors. It dropped out of the ARIA Top 40 after only three weeks, and received little support from radio. In September 2005, Motor Ace announced that they would officially disband by the year's end, playing farewell shows in Melbourne and Perth during December.[3]

The individual members remained on amicable terms in the following years. Robertson worked professionally scoring for film and television, and also began working with Aesop. Ong still occasionally performed around Melbourne with his Joni Lightning project, before picking up work on an oil rig. Costin continued to work in the music industry, eventually founding the company 123 Agency. Balfe went on to play guitar in Melbourne band Five Mile Sniper, and also works for Yarra Valley Water.[4] Both Robertson and Costin were also a part of the band Nighthawk, which formed in 2016.


In August 2018, it was announced that Robertson, Ong, Costin and Balfe would reunite as Motor Ace for a headlining tour in March and April 2019.[5] The band also announced the release of both Five Star Laundry and Shoot This on vinyl, as well as releasing a compilation entitled B-Sides & Demos online.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
2001 Five Star Laundry
  • Released: March 2001
  • Label: Sputnik Records (333402)
4 -
2002 Shoot This
  • Released: August 2002
  • Label: Sputnik Records (335542)
1 40 AUS: Gold[8]
2005 'Animal 21 -


Year Album details
2019 Demos and B Sides
  • Released: 6 March 2019[9]
  • Label: Motor Ace

Extended Plays[edit]

Year Album details
1999 Motor Ace
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: Sputnik Records (SPUT00002)


List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Year Peak
"American Shoes" 2000 66 Five Star Laundry
"Death Defy" 66
"Hey Driver" 2001 53
"Carry On" 2002 13 Shoot This
"Keeping Secrets" 30
"Tomorrow's Gone" 2005 41 Animal
"A Little Closer" 99


A DVD of Motor Ace's final show called "The Time The Place" was released by Liberation Music and Daybreak Films on 19 March 2010.[10] Filmed at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne on 23 December 2005, it also incorporates some candid footage of the band from when they were in the US and Japan, and also footage from the making of the "Carry On" video clip.


  1. ^ Ace's High
  2. ^ Motor ace program RAGE
  3. ^ Songwriters: Motor Ace Archived 22 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "MOTOR ACE". Factory Theatre. Century Venues.
  5. ^ Mack, Emmy. "Aussie Rockers Motor Ace Announce 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour". Music Feeds. Evolve Media. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b Peaks in Australia:Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  7. ^ "NZ Charts".
  8. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  9. ^ "Demos and B Sides". Apple Music (iTunes Australia). Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  10. ^ The Time, The Place Archived 6 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine Liberation Music

External links[edit]