What did your Sydney sound like in 1978? The Professors did their best to define it for their own tight coterie of followers after Radio Birdman left for Europe to seek world domination, by sounding like this. Graduates of the infamous Oxford Funhouse, they took their lead from its most notable tenants bysetting up their own venue at The Royal Oak pub in Chippendale, They adopted their name from Chris Bailey's nickname for their singer - and the Saints repaid them with some namedropping in "KNow Your Product." The rest is history aka some photos and a caption in a Clinton Walker book
These two songs are from a demo tape that was exhumed by singer Stephen Vineberg and spruced up by engineer Barry McGuirk just a year ago. It’s been packaged in a gatefold cover by the folks at Buttercup and issued in a range of colours. Just as you’d expect.
Noise for Heroes Complete 1980-83 Vol 1Noise for Heroes Complete 1988-91 Vol 2Noise for Heroes Complete 1991-2004 Vol 3Edited by Steve H. Gardner
Imagine a decade like the 1980s without zines. For the uninitiated (because they weren’t born then) zines were self-produced magazines, often photocopied and sometimes hand-drawn, focused on subjects that the authors were passionate about. More often than not, the topic was music.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of zines in a pre-Internet world. Along with college radio, they powered the American underground music circuit. In Australia, they connected underground bands, and fans across a country of disparate cities and gave insights into scenes overseas in a way mainstream music papers could never reflect. In Europe, they were oxygen for a culture considered low brow that fought to find an audience.
Zines were lapped up by people into punk, high-energy and left-of-centre music that didn’t manage to gain exposure elsewhere. They were the epitome of DIY culture, making the passion of others tangible. You’re “consuming” the digital equivalent of one right now.
One of the best was “Noise for Heroes” from San Diego, USA. The very lanky Steve Gardner kicked it off with some like-minded friends in 1980. It initially had a focus on punk rock. In its second life, it moved onto the Aussie and Scandinavian underground scenes with Gardner its writer rather than editor. Steve drummed in bands, ran his own record label, NKVD, and had a mail order music business.
Sydney is in lockdown so local bar MoshPit and I-94 Bar are re-running last year's Monday Evenring Gunk series. Here's Episode 7 "Address to the Nation from Chris Masuak" that went to air on November 3. This episode saw Gunk going international with ARIA Hall of Famer and ex-Radio Birdman guitarist Chris Masuak joining by Zoom with Sydney Rock asnd Roll Mzarklets founder Tiffany Palmer and Bob Short (from Sydney’s first punk band Filth) co-hosting. Watch Chris and his Spanish band The Viveiro Wave Riders give us a face melting set of originals and classics from lockdown in Spain here.
The first thing you hear when the stylus drops on Radio Birdman’s “What Gives?”, “Aloha Steve & Danno”, ”Descent Into The Maelstrom”, “Do The Moving Change” or The Visitors’ “Hell Yes” are the drums.
Solid, to the point, perfectly simple, lots of swing and dead on the money, That drummer’s name is Ron Keeley, who also played with Radio Birdman precursor The Rats (with Warwick Gilbert and Rob Younger), The Other Side (with Rob Younger) , The Hitmen (with Chris Masuak and Warwick Gilbert) and Comrades of War.
I wanted to hear Ron’s story first-hand and have a beer or three with him in his adopted home of Woking, Surrey,l just outside of London. It's only a short, 17,000-mile trip from Sydney, Australia. We met in The Crown, a wonderful old-style “wet pub” (no food, no gambling, no TV - just drink, so what’s not to like?) in July 2023.
Read on at your own peril.
Dave Weyer circa 1969: Sought after Hollywood sound architect.
DATELINE 1999 - If you're a regular here at the I-94 Bar, chances are good that you have a more than passing interest in the music of Deniz Tek. Granted, the Radio Birdman mastermind's music has taken a markedly experimental turn over his last couple of albums -- one which hasn't found universal favor among fans of Birdman and his earlier solo work. But give the Iceman his due for hewing true to his uncompromising vision and never failing to make challenging, stimulating music.
Since the "Italian Tour" and "Bad Road" EPs and the "Le Bonne Route" album, a key element in the Deniz Tek sound has been one David Weyer, owner/operator of the studio in Laurel, Montana, which bears his name. As engineer and co-producer, Dave is the man who's helped realize Dr. Rock's prescriptions on tape and disc, and he has a fascinating story of his own to tell...
He's been a musician, inventor, a resident of L.A.'s Laurel Canyon during the frenetic '60s, amp technician to a host of guitar greats including Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix. Over a virtual beer or two, we talked about Dave's facinating past and his work with Deniz on projects past, present, and future.
Dave Weyer bellied up at the bar with me from his home in Laurel, Montana, on Sunday afternoon, October 3, 1999.
Time to get your skates on if you're cashed up and in need of a piece of Australian rock and roll history. Ex-Radio Birdman drummer Ron Keeley is parting with his infamous "Radios Disappear" drumface on eBay in the UKand it has only days to run.
Designed by bassist Warwick Gilbert, it was created but never used on the band's ill-fated tour of Europe in 1978 and has been in storage ever since.
This short film made the finals of Tropfest and was screened under the stars in Sydney last night. Hopefully, the soundtrack rocked some hipsters out of their stupor and made a few old music industry people squirm. Tropfest is the world's largest festival of short films and "Into The Maelstrom" was produced by John Meredith.
A full-length documentary by another film-maker is in the works. Stay tuned for more details.
Jeff Sullivan and Julie Mostyn. Steve Teece photo
The dictionary defines serendipity as “a pleasant surprise” and it's a term that scientists working in medical research are fond of using. It’s also at the heart of how the looming reformation of beloved Sydney band the Flaming Hands came about.
Singer Julie Mostyn is on the phone from the Coffs Harbour home she shares with husband Warwick Gilbert, onetime bassist and graphic artist for Radio Birdman. She clearly remembers serendipity’s intervention on that very same landline, late in 2016.
“It was one of those life-changing phone calls…one that shocks you out of something you’ve been trying to get out of for a while,” she recalls.
“It was a call from Peter Oxley of the Sunnyboys, and he said: ‘Would you consider reforming the Flaming Hands?’ And I thought for half a second and said: ‘Yeah, that’d be good’.”
Talk about timing. It was as good as any excuse for Julie to ditch her day job in a local bank and embark on what's not so much a career revival as a chance to revisit great times, renew old partnerships and - maybe - push the musical boat out just a little further.
More on that last point later. More immediately, it means Flaming Hands supporting the Sunnyboys at the Sydney show of their February Australian tour, with similarly reformed friends, Shy Impostors, opening the gig.
Flaming Hands were Sydney’s best soul and psych pop band, a potent and popular outfit based around Julie Mostyn’s passionate voice and guitarist Jeff Sullivan’s emotion-baring songs.
There will be a a special encore cinema screening of "Descent Into The Maelstrom" at the Sedition 2019 Festival in Sydney on September 21 - part of a three-film offering that will bring together some unlikely bedfellows. And we don't mean past and present Radio Birdman members...
To complement the screening of "Descent", producer Jonathan Sequeira is putting together some of the documentary's extra material for a short film about the Darlinghurst underground music scene and The Funhouse, called "Let the Kids Dance".
"This will be a ONE OFF SCREENING only. Some of the material might be in the extras, but the film itself is ALL NEW and will only show at Sedition!," Sequeira said.
Capping it off will be a screening "Murder Ballads", the story of the creation of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ album of the same name, featuring exclusive interviews with Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, among others. This could be the first and last time The Dark Lord Cave, The Budgie and the Birdmen appear on the same silver screen at the same time. The venue is the Palace Cinema at 17 Oxford Street, Paddington, and it runs from 7-11pm.
Feedback songstress Penny Ikinger is pulling together an all-star band for a special one-off show in Sydney on October 17 with special guest Masami Kawaguchi from Japan.
Billed as a “psychedelic machine gun guitarist” by Wire magazine, Tokyo-based Kawaguchi will open the show at Marrickville’s The Factory Floor with a solo spot before joining Penny’s headlining line-up comprising Deniz Tek and Jim Dickson (Radio Birdman) and drummer John Fenton (Crow.)
Kawaguchi has played with Japanese bands Miminokoto, LSD March and Broomdusters and is said to be a master of Blue Cheer-meets-Nuggets fuzz zone. He played guitar on Penny’s new album, recorded in Tokyo. He is touring Australia to promote the release of his own solo album: “The Mad Guitar Sings” on Black Petal Records.
Main support will be The Maladies whose notoriously wild live shows swing erratically from tender croon to demented howl. Expect to see something intense and abrasive!
This is a one-off, never-to-be-repeated event and tickets are on here.
Here’s the two-part hypothesis: (1.) No schtick in rock and roll works as well as premature death and; (2.) the Japanese have a particularly deep interest in musicians who have checked out early – especially those terminally doomed through their own vices.
The latter probably has a lot to do with the strict Japanese drug laws and the populace's deeply rooted respect for authority. Remember the Macca bust? Did you hear the one about the Australian band that wouldn't tour there because the singer liked his pot so much and was worried he wouldn't find a connection? I digress.
The laws of science say that any hypothesis should be disprovable. While you’re trying, I’m spinning this album.
"Jesus Loves My Heroin II" is a Japanese tribute to Nikki Sudden and Kevin Junior Now, I have familiarity with some of the works of the late Mr Sudden; I’m less up-to-speed with the output of the late Mr Junior.
FLASHBACK TO DATELINE 2002: A disclaimer first - I'm responsible for releasing the new Young Modern album "Live at...." on my reactivated Grown Up Wrong! label, so everything below should be taken with a grain of salt... Of course this is a band whose music turned my head in a big way back in '79, and who ultimately turned me onto the Flamin' Groovies and Big Star, so I do reckon you should pay some attention...
Young Modern existed between 1977-79. They formed in Adelaide, played their first gig supporting Radio Birdman, became a popular draw in their home town and moved to Sydney where they soon split, having been picked up by a powerful agency who had them working in the wrong venues. Along the way they cut a great self-released single with Steve Cummings of the Sports producing, and did some demos that came out after their split (with the single sides added) as the "Play Faster" album on the Local label - an album which also became the first release on Aztec when reissued on CD some years back.Named "the first powerpop from Down Under" in a news piece in the Jan '79 issue of Bomp! (written by legendary Birdman/Hitmen soundman Andy 'Mort' Bradley), they had killer tunes by the bucketload (mostly written by rhythm guitarist Vic Yates and singer John Dowler) and did great covers of things like 'Mr Tambourine Man', 'She Loves You' and 'Its All Over Now'.
In the early 1990s John Foy found himself in the eye of the storm enveloping the music industry.
Foy’s independent record label, Red Eye, had done a deal with Polydor, the Australian arm of multinational company Phonogram. A sold-out at show at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion in 1991, headlined by Ratcat and featuring English band Rideand Red Eye bands The Clouds and Falling Joys, had awakened major labels to the commercial potential of the independent music scene. Other Red Eye bands like The Cruel Sea would surf the independent wave into the late 1990s, even after Foy withdrew from industry machinations.
Thirty years later, Foy looks back on those heady days with fondness. But even as he trawled through his archive of posters, ticket stubs and memories for his “Snaps Crack Pop!” visual collection cum autobiography, he’s not dwelling on what he should have done back in the day. Foy has always lived in the moment, for better and for worse.
Chris Masuak is back on the road with his Anglo-French-Spanish band The Outside in France in February.
The Outside features Gregory J Bowen, expat Australian, on guitar, Juan Martinez El Kara on drums and French bassist Bruno Mondo. As the tour billing says, this will be the last time. Watch chrismasuak.netfor updates. FEB13 - L'Armony, Montreuil14 - Piano Bleu Saint Brieuc15 - Le Galion, Lorient17 - Mondo Bizarro, Rennes (with Supersuckers) 18 - - Nantes, La Cour
Chris Masuak has a new film clip to accompany his brand new CD album, “Brujita” and you’re watching its world debut. Produced by Jonathan Sequiera of Cheap Music Videos, “Niagara” is an ode to the Detroit diva, artist and singer of Destroy All Monsters and Dark Carnival fame, Niagara Detroit.
If you’re in Australia you can score a copy of the album at Redeye Records and Utopia in Sydney or Off The Hip in Melbourne. You can buy a physical copy and/or a download at Bandcamp. Don't be a Birdbrain. Do it now!
Hoodoo Guru Dave Faulkner adds his autograph to a copy of "Product 45" at the Sydney Spencer P Jones Benefit. Emmy Etie photo
It was a few weeks ago that a parcel was waiting for me on my veranda. This is not unusual as I often order my vinyl from overseas. I even get the odd review copy of a record. This package was much larger and there was much more weighty. It was the stunningly beautiful book “Product 45 Australian Punk/Post-Punk Single Record Covers”.
I sat down and carefully unwrapped the packaging, opening the first few pages, and my first impression was the high-weighted GSM quality silky paper. This was not the standard book that you would pick up at Dymocks. It had the sense of a limited edition, extremely high-standard production by people who had taken so much care and pride with their talent invested in the design.
BORED! THIS WAS GEELONG (Loco Mosquito)
Sometimes there are insufficient words of adequare to do justice to something and this is one of those times. Let’s be clear: If you’re a fan of underground Australian rock and roll from the 1980s and ‘90s, make it your life’s immediate priority to get a hold of this book.
It’s not an exaggeration to say it’s a watershed in Australian music publishing. All 678 pages of it. Don’t be deterred by its singling out of Geelong as its geographical focus. The city on the western flank of Melbourne is its anchor - but its coverage and spirit extends far past its boundaries.
“Bored!” is many things but first and foremost it’s an outpouring of love for rock and roll by its creator, principal author and driving force Maree Robertson.
Maree – “Rock and Roll Maree” from the Brother Brick song – was a dear friend of the late Dave Thomas of key Geelong band Bored! Besides documenting the band’s rise and its creation of a scene from their mutual hometown of Geelong, Maree wanted to generate profits from book sales to help Dave’s family.
The production veers towards the threadbare in parts but there's a lug-headed charm about this CD from a blokey band from Perth. "Lager Than Life" is the debut release for Squeeze The Pig.
At eight tracks long it's too short to be an album and too long to be an EP. Let's stick with the tried and tested label "Mini Album" for the time being.
As if you hadn't guessed from the cover art, "Lager Than Life" is all about fast cars, motorcyles, beer, smokes and rock and roll. It's meat and potatoes and doesn't try to be anything that it isn't.
Making an instrumental album is a brave step for someone best known for doom-laden tunes about living eyes, muscle cars and human reinvention under piles of ice and snow, but Deniz Tek's departure from the well-worn path really works.
From the scuzzy serrated intro of "Eddie Would Go" with its air of "Human Fly" Cramps crossing swords with Davie Allan to the clean and lean retake on Radio Birdman's "Zeno Beach", "Lost For Words" makes a voice-less statement about simpler times.
Back in the '60s, a pre-teen Tek cut his musical teeth on these sorts of songs. Surf music (and its variants) was a radio staple around the world. Tek told Perfect Sound Forever in 2001:
"The first rock and roll song I learned to play on the guitar in entirety was 'Walk Don’t Run.' I was 12-years-old. And their version of the Hawaii Five-0 theme was a great inspiration to me in the summer of 1969, the year I started driving fast cars. When it came on the radio, the ‘68 Charger went much faster!"
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