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Two Ultimate Band T-Shirt Collectors Discuss The Impact Of Ausmusic T-Shirt Day

28 November 2023 | 10:20 am | Mary VarvarisEllie Robinson

Support Act's Katja Krstic and supporter Cheryl Crabtree are sharing their support for this year’s Ausmusic T-Shirt Day, which takes place on Thursday, 30 November.

Katja Krstic's Ausmusic T-Shirt Day collection

Katja Krstic's Ausmusic T-Shirt Day collection (Courtesy of Katja Krstic)

While now being one of Support Act’s full-time staff, Katja Krstic began as an intern in 2020.

Before realising a career in music wasn’t limited to those with musical talent, she spent many years consuming it in any and all forms possible - online, records, live, merchandise, etc. Between 2017 and 2019, she attended over 360 gigs - with a maximum record of 150 in the year (list available).

Today, she teams up with Cheryl Crabtree (part of the Adelaide Debonairs who raise money for Support Act), who creates a video each year for Ausmusic T-Shirt Day – you can watch this year’s video below.

Cheryl and her husband have raised five children in the CBD of Adelaide. As the children became more independent, Cheryl rediscovered her love of music and uncovered a previously unknown passion for radio. Cheryl loves music, particularly Australian music and loves talking to people, and has managed to blend the two loves together. You can check out Cheryl’s website here.

Katja and Cheryl are sharing their support for this year’s Ausmusic T-Shirt Day, which takes place on Thursday, 30 November. All money raised from Ausmusic T-Shirt Day will go to Support Act, helping fund their efforts to support musicians, managers, crew and music workers through crisis relief support, mental health and wellbeing programs, a bespoke hotline, and dedicated support for First Nations peoples.

So y’all have one hell of an Aussie music T-shirt collection. When did you start collecting?

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Katja: If I'm honest, I've never really looked at it as collecting band tees. It was just a way to support artists I love directly and be able to represent them day to day, and it still is really at the core of it. It wasn't until other people started to notice and bring it up that I recognised it wasn't a (so-called) normal experience. I think then I was like, hey, maybe this is my new one and only personality trait. 

Cheryl: I was a mad Cold Chisel/Jimmy Barnes and Angels fan in my younger years, but it wasn’t until we raised our five children, got a bit of our independence back and had more disposable income that I always tried to buy a tour t-shirt when I went to a concert or gig.

Do you remember the very first band shirt you ever bought? If so, what’s the story behind it?

Katja: I couldn't tell you the first band tee I bought, but the first one I owned was a blue Architecture In Helsinki shirt that my brother gave me. He was really into music, and I was the classic younger sister who wanted to be cool like my big brother. Looking back, that was probably what started it all!

Cheryl: One of the earliest I remember buying was an Australian Made Tour t-shirt in 86/87 with Mentals, Saints, INXS, Jimmy Barnes, and Divinyls. It was soooo hot that day, and I was burnt to a crisp in the tour tank top. In a mad fit of cleaning up about 20 years ago, I threw it out because it was so worn out. I’ve regretted it ever since and have tried to track down another one without any luck. If anyone has an Australian Made Tour shirt, I’d love to buy it.

If you each had to pick three shirts to spotlight as your all-time favourites, which would they be?

Katja: For my top 3, I'm gonna go with: 

Sycco (world) - I chose this as my AMTD tee in 2022, and it’s still in high rotation today! 

Gang of Youths - You can usually tell my favourite tees from how tattered they look, and this tee is probably the roughest of the lot. I’m almost ashamed to include it, and yet I still always wear it.

Iseula - These guys are a neo-soul band from Naarm, and this one’s my favourite because I helped create the design. It was my first (and only) taste of being on the other side of the merch game, so it always feels pretty cool wearing it out and about.

Cheryl: The white Cold Chisel Forever Now tank top is the hero tank top of every Support Act Ausmusic Day T-shirt challenge, and I’m wearing it in my Working Class Man album and Last Stand album covers.

My new Screaming Jets Professional Misconduct album/tour shirt (#50) holds a special meaning since we lost bass player Paul Woseen just weeks before the release of the album and associated tour (that’s me wearing it after doing the hike to the top of Mt Lofty).

I also like the Red Hot Jimmy Barnes one, probably because I had a lovely photo taken with him at the gig with it on. My next favourite is the band t-shirt of the artist I’m zooming with at the time!!

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had buying a band shirt?

Katja: My most memorable shirt would have to be my Grogans tee. 

For context, I’ve got HUGE opinions on merch and fairly little self-restraint when it comes to sharing these opinions when the opportunity presents itself (as mentioned, it’s my one and only personality trait.)

But when the Grograns were dropping merch, they put a call out to their fans on what merch they were vibing. I was clearly so passionate about which design was my favourite that even though quite literally no one else agreed with me, they printed one single tee just for me.

Cheryl: The Jimmy Barnes/Mahalia Barnes shirt was signed by all the band while we had them trapped on an island with us in the Whitsundays, which was pretty special.

Which band or artist would you say consistently drops the coolest merch designs?

Katja: This one is tough because there are so many times where I've had to actively hold myself back from clearing out the entire merch desk.

I think my top three would be King Stingray, Ruby Fields and Lime Cordiale. I absolutely love all their merch; I reckon I have at least three+ from each of them. They all have such great cohesive designs that always fit so perfectly with their sound, it just makes sense. 

I’d also throw an honourable mention to Ball Park Music because great merch, is just the beginning.

Cheryl: The Screaming Jets definitely have the best designs, hands down!!

Why are you excited to be pledging your support for this year’s Ausmusic T-Shirt Day?

Katja: The world would fall off its axis if music was unavailable, even for a day. 

Yet it often seems like those who work in music are consistently undervalued and the first to be forgotten about, especially when it comes to the people behind the scenes working tirelessly to make it all possible. 

I’m so excited for AusMusic T-Shirt Day as a chance to make a difference and show the music community how endlessly grateful we all are for the hard, hard work that goes into making lives better.

Cheryl: We hold a fundraising lunch every single month in Adelaide to raise funds and awareness for the Support Act cause.

I’m the fundraising coordinator, which means coming up with 12 raffle prizes each month, and this is another fun way to raise money and get the SupportAct message out there.

If you’re interested, here is the record each year for the last five years:

You can buy a t-shirt, donate or sign up to fundraise for this year’s Ausmusic T-Shirt Day campaign here.