Any 70s teenager with even the slightest artiness loved David Bowie. "David Bowie" was the male answer to the question: "If you had to fuck a man who would it be?" But it was his freakiness we loved. We were all freaks and he was our Freak God.
The audience for his '78 concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground contained the members of most soon to be New Wave bands (and features in Richard Lowenstein's film of the era Dogs In Space). Bowie had introduced us to the touchstones for Punk Rock: the Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop and the Stooges. We couldn't aspire to sound like Bowie but the Velvets and Stooges relied on attitude more than technical ability. We could do attitude!
1978, Nov 18, Low/Heroes Tour
More than any other band Australia's own Saints influenced the Melbourne. We loved all the overseas Punk bands but The Saints brand of teenage angst served hard and fast with a 'fuck you' attitude resonated with all of us. In 1977 The Saints played Melbourne their first Melbourne at the Beverley Crest Hotel on Barkly Street, St Kilda. I went early with Nick Cave and Chris Walsh (Negatives, Moodists). Chris Bailey started the gig sitting on the side of stage behind the PA. We couldn't work out where he was. He finally wandered on stage at his leisure, entirely indifferent to the audience. I know Nick was impressed with his anti-singer attitude. He wasn't there to please us.
The Saints landmark (I'm) Stranded, 1976
Ashwood - early 1977
Mick Harvey's (Boys Next Door guitarist) father was a vicar or something and the Boys Next Door organised their first gig as a Punk band in Mick's dad's church hall in Ashwood (Ashburton), a suburb roughly in the middle of Melbourne's South Eastern suburban sprawl. I am not sure about the date but I know it was at least a couple of months before the Swinburne gig in August. It was the Negatives and the Boys Next Door, two bands that had taken to Punk quickly.
We (the Negatives) played 2 gigs. Probably the first Punk gig was out in Ashwood.
Garry turned up looking like Gene Simmons. I was quite shocked. He had make-up on. It was hilarious.
It's funny because everyone who was in the initial burst in Melbourne, Rob Wellington was there, Simon MacLean and all the Boys Next Door were there and a couple of the punters who were later very much part of the Punk Rock scene, the really early beginnings of it.
It was shocking, absolutely appalling. And we never did a good gig. We were better than our gigs. We always had trouble when we played live. Not having any knowledge about how to set up sound. Our rehearsals were much better! (laughs)
Sharpies turned up. They were a bit scared by Gary. They were freaked out...thought he was a complete psycho boy, which he was but...I remember yelling out "Riot!" (laughs) And they did, kind of. It kind of fizzled. I remember it being a fizzler, very disappointing.
Swinburne - 19th of August, 1977
Bruce Milne set up a gig at Swinburne in Hawthorn with Boys Next Door, The Reals (an incarnation of the Negatives with Ollie Olsen on guitar)...
Bruce Milne (Augogo Records, Pulp Fanzine, Fast Forward cassette magazine, Infidelity Records):
I was going to school with Rowland, we were probably at Swinburne College by that stage. I organised a gig at Swinburne college. I'd see the Boys Next Door. I think by that time the Saints might have come to Melbourne or Radio Birdman had come. That's when you start to meet other people.
When those 2 bands came and you realised it wasn't just the kids you knew. There actually was a whole bunch of people out there who were like-minded and so they were sort of gatherings of the clan.
It was that time when bands were rehearsing but not quite playing a gig, or playing one gig, even that Swinburne line up that was on the little handbill poster was different to the line up that played. The Obsessions split up before that gig
Punk Gunk - 31st of December, 1977
Gavin Quinn (Babeez/News):
I heard someone playing music so I wandered in and no one could hear me knocking so I opened the door and walked in and went up and they were right up the back in the sunroom and it was pre-Models, 'Spred' they were called then.
Yeah, I thought these guys are great. They were fantastic, actually they were pretty rough and they still couldn't tune their instruments in fact I think Jaryl gave them a few hints on how to get that side of things together. They were young and naïve but they had a lot of gumption, they were worded up. People like Olly, they knew they were going to do something or other. And they were lovely sweet boys, I mean you know, very naïve at the time, it was just fantastic and seeing them succeed so widely, I was really happy with that band.
They were going "Oh! Hello" and I was going "Ah, Hello. "I do this kind of thing. I said, "Oh, I just heard you playing outside do you mind if I come in and listen for a bit?" And then we all introduced ourselves and I told them we're organising some gig and they were saying, "Oh we're not really ready." And I said, "Don't worry about that." None of the bands were ready.
They were good times, people were prepared to have a crack at things.
I can't believe we got away with it. Just set up a PA on the street and everyone turned up and watched the bands play.
There was a nature strip and cars were just driving by so people were on the road, then a car would come along it was a bit like kids with a football you had to get off the road while a car went past. I'm sure the cops came past at some stage but I don't remember them shutting it down or anything like that.
And so News would have played at that and Spred played. There wasn't a hundred people at it but I think there was more than 50.
Sean Kelly (The Spred/Teenage Radios Stars, Models):
We were called The Spred and our first show was Punk Gunk. We got the gig simply because we were a Punk band. There weren't too many bands that fitted the bill.
It was the beginnings of Punk and we were just stupid enough to emulate the fashion from England. We were heavily influenced by the Sex Pistols. We particularly went for the Safety Pins.
James must have come across as a cross dressing Punk. More Sigue, Sigue, Sputnik than John Lydon.
But we were a pretty good band. There was an authentic Aussie Rock thing about us. And we had this great rhythm section who went on to become the La Femme rhythm section.
We met John Murphy there. He was playing with Babeez. He said (in voice), "Nah. Safety pins are out."
Denise Hilton (Primitive Calculators, Little Bands):
It was pre Calculators.
The Moths wanted to get up and play, wanted to use someone's equipment, and everyone told them to fuck off basically. Frank got really drunk. We were throwing sausages and Frank was throwing bottles. Everyone was really shocked that someone was smashing bottles on the road. And this was a Punk gig so that's how pathetic Punks were in Melbourne. We thought it would have been cool, that when you get angry and pissed you smash stuff, but it didn't go down well. That cemented us as being outsiders or...a bit of trouble.
Collingwood Town Hall - 10th of March, 1978
Dolores San Miguel:
I went to we went to see this band and was invited to a party where I met Johnny Crash, Roger Wells, Ash Wednesday...all those people. They had a gig the next day at Collingwood Town Hall. A huge gig of bands like Boys Next Door, JAB, Teenage Radio Stars, Keith Glass's Legends...or what ever they were called...
It was packed. There were all these Punks and some Rockers that were following Keith's band.
I found the whole thing really, really exciting and I thought the guys from JAB were just unbelievably kind of electric and looked good and sounded good. I met people like Sean Kelly and Nick Cave. It opened my eyes to what was going on.
I thought to myself, "I'd really like to get a venue happening." There was nothing going on for these young bands. They were playing a few things like Storey Hall for RMIT, Tiger Lounge but there was nothing else they were doing, maybe Croxton Park, Bombay Rock. But the agencies didn't want to give them a chance.
Pulp Benefit, Bernhardts - 30th of April, 1978
Bruce Milne and Clinton Walker had started a fanzine called Pulp. They brought out 3 issues in 1977 and were including a 'flexi-disk' - a one-sided vinyl single. Pulp wasn't really making money and Milne and Walker became side-tracked working Roadrunner magazine. News put together a Pulp benefit at Bernhardt's on 30th April, with News, Young Charlatans, Boys Next Door, Two Way Garden, Fiction, and Spivs. The show went well but Pulp never revived.
Bruce Milne's Pulp, however short-lived, and the gig NEWS set up to suppoort it was indicative of the Do-It-Yourself culture the Melbourne Punk scene had. DIY meant you could do things cheaply, without the need for investment from a record company. And that meant we could do whatever we liked: gigs in streets, art photocopied onto brown paper bag record covers at work, kitchen utensils for percussion, walking in ink and then over posters laid on the ground.
'Nick Cave, The Saints, The Tiger Room c.1977'
Courtesy © Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive
Check out this picture! Chris Bailey with the Saints mid-gig, Nick Cave at the front with Garry Gray (Negatives, Sacred Cowboys) on the right, our mate 'Dud' obscuring Phill Calvert on the left and I think it might be yours truly looking over Nick's shoulder.
The Tiger Room was a Richmond venue run by Laurie Richards. The Keith Glass Band (R&B and Country Rock) had a Tuesday night residency. Phill Calvert, Keith's hairdresser suggested a band when Keith mentioned he needed a support band. That Tuesday the Tiger Room was packed with young Punks. They were there to see the innocently named Boys Next Door. In a heartbeat Keith's band were pushed out of the night.
Radio Birdman, Tiger Room, 1977
Keith and Laurie weren't stupid. Keith imports Punk records for his Archie & Jugheads record store (soon to be renamed Missing Link) and Laurie starts booking Proto-Punk bands like Radio Birdman. But this was just the start.
Mark Seymour (Hunters & Collectors)
My brother (Nick) went to art school and he started seeing bands, a lot of the Missing Link groups that used to play at the Tiger Lounge in Richmond. Bohdan X / JAB, the Models, the Boys Next Door and the Teenage Radio Stars.
That got me started. I was getting more and more interested in this incredibly small scene of trendy little punk rockers from the Eastern suburbs.
No one from Melbourne Uni knew anything about it. It was completely counter cultural and exotic.
Nick Cave at the Tiger Room 1978
Photographer: don't sue us, we're looking for you!
Suicide's Lethal Weapons Punk compilation was the brain child of Barry Earl. He had been running around Melbourne signing Punk bands he liked to a new label he set up under Michael Gudinski's Mushroom Records. I remember him signing the Spred (to become Teenage Radio Stars) at their first gig (Punk Gunk). One gig and they had a recording deal!
Sean Kelly (The Spred/Teenage Radios Stars, Models):
This guy came up to us after that first Punk Gunk gig and said he wanted to manage us, that he represented Suicide Records, and that he could record us with Mushroom Records. So we scored a recording deal with our first gig.
The album featured Boys Next Door, JAB, X-Ray-Z and the Negatives. The Boys Next Door performed These Boots Are Made For Walking on the nation's Pop TV show, Countdown (average 6 million viewers). Lethal Weapons was a joke to most of us, at least that was the pose. I know I was impressed, especially with the imposing Planet On The Prowl by my friends the Negatives. Never the less the bands played collectively at regular 'Suicide' gigs at the Tiger Room and shared a rehearsal studio in North Melbourne.
Pierre Voltaire AKA 'Mr Pierre'
(JAB, Teenage Radios Stars, Models, Pierre's World, the Fabulous Marquises):
There was a lot of intense rivalry between all the bands. The Negatives thought they were the tough guys and the rest were all poofs. And James was furiously jealous of Nick because he was a taller rock star and charismatic even in those days. I think the Boys Next Door thought we were a bit of a joke. And X-Ray-Z were just horrible but it was their PA we played through so they were always on last.
Suddenly the social misfit punks had ambitions beyond just getting a gig. Lethal Weapons was quickly forgotten and, just as quickly, Punk degenerated into fashion and genre. Rotten sang "No uniforms!" and yet gigs were filling with spitting, pogo-ing, biker jackets and Mohawks. Melbourne's art school musos aspired to creating music that was more than Pop dressed in anger and safety pins. It was around then the term New Wave appeared and the Post-Punk sound began to evolve. Punk had done its job and torn up the rules. It was time to develop new sounds. And it was time for a new venue.
Crime & the City Solution
A special mention for the highly influential Simon Bonney who began Crime & the City Solution in Sydney in 1977. In late 1978 Bonney and McLennan relocated to Melbourne where they formed a new version of the band with Chris Astley on keyboards, Kim Beissel on saxophone (ex-→ ↑ →), Lindsay O'Meara on bass guitar (ex-Voigt/465) and Dan Wallace-Crabbe on guitar. In Melbourne Bonney became friends with the Boys Next Door which was strengthened when the Birthday Party and Crime made Berlin their home in the mid 80s.
Crime have undergone many line ups and have recently reformed with a new album out and an international tour. Much more here
London: Simon Bonney, Rowland S. Howard, Mick Harvey and Harry Howard
Unbeknownst to the tiny Punk scene young musicians all over Melbourne are listening to records like Television's Marquee Moon, tinkering with the first affordable synthesisers and Roland release the CR-78. Things were about to change!
the Roland CR-78 released 1978
Gavin Quinn (News /Babeez):
And then sometime in '79, I went into a milkbar to get myself something to drink cos it was hot and hanging on one of those rotating racks was a whole lot of Punk paraphernalia allegedly Punk, there were plastic silver coated razor blade earrings and necklaces... [laughs]
We read the New Musical Express religiously. Melody Maker too but for me Charles Shaar Murray, Tony Kent, Paul Morley, Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill raved so articulately about the Sex Pistols, Clash, Roxy Music, Joy Division, Gang Of Four, who ever was the band of the moment, the music sounded so important, the UK scene seemed so exciting. It made us strive to be much more. We needed to make sounds that weren't clichéd. We needed to present ourselves with thought as well as attitude.
Mark Seymour (Hunters & Collectors):
People were emulating something they'd misinterpreted from overseas - which was fantastically Australian. People were getting their copies of Melody Maker every week, or NME, and were aware of these new groups being coughed up by America or Britain and then trying to create some sort of equivalence here which is kind of what always goes on in Australia. But doing it in a way that that was quirky and, kind of, ham-fisted.
Garry Gray (Reals, Negatives, Sacred Cowboys):
I remember ordering New Musical Express. You'd wait a week for it. Discovering music then was like a quest. You'd go into the city and there were places like Pipe Imports, Archie and Jugheads...it was finding the music that you wanted to find.
Record Stores and Comics
Four record stores in the city fed the Proto-Punk and Punk appreciators appetite - imported albums from Europe and the States. Archie and Jugheads (renamed Missing Link), Gaslight, Pipe Imports and Batman (second hand).
Most were in the city and one, Space Age, was also a comic book store. Chris Walsh would get his Marvel comics and I'd grab the psychedelic and pornographic underground comics from San Francisco, work by Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and others.
My favourite record store was Pipe Imports because they turned me onto Kraut Rock in '74, with bands like Amon Düül II, Klaus Schulz and Tangerine Dream. I remember walking in about 1975. I think I had ordered John Cale's Slow Dazzle. Daniel, the store owner, thrust headphones at me. "You vill listen to this!" he commanded in his German accent. I obeyed. It was NEU!, an industrial psychedelia of pulsing drums with phased cymbals, modulated guitar riffs and mad chanting. Of course I bought it and came back to buy the other 2 NEU! albums as soon as I had the money.
Gavin Quinn (News/Babeez):
And then we went to a party, oddly enough at Bruce Milne's, and he'd got this fantastic record, cos he was always the guy with the money, so he had this record from America and Jaryl and I just pissed ourselves laughing. Jaryl and I had a lot of fun in those days.
I think we spent the rest of the party insisting they put the record back on and rolling around the floor laughing at it again. It was that first Ramone's album. Jaryl and I knocked our heads off it was so good. So then we went home and started writing some new songs. We started again, we just cleared everything out, threw the old notebooks away and started again.
When I take a look at the punk era I fail to see a common root. I acknowledge that rock music had become stodgy and deserved a good kicking...in my opinion the Punk era is more a testimony to fashion than music.
Chane Chane (La Femme):
(Brett) had a record no one else had. Anarchy in the UK and the other side was No Fun. I played that and thought, "Wow! I have never heard anything like this. This is what I love. This is great. This is...I know I could do this."
These bands aren't particularly St Kilda bands but were the first that came to mind as contributors to the impetus for the scene. For more check out Punk - a Photographic Journal.
Negatives (and Reals)
Garry Gray and Chris Walsh started their first band, Judas Iscariot and the Traitors, in 1974. The pair formed Reals in 1975 with Ian 'Ollie' Olsen and Peter Cave. They played 2 seminal Punk gigs, Ashwood and Swinburne. Ollie left to form Young Charlatans with Rowland S. Howard and the band recruited Michael Holmes on guitar to form Negatives in 1977.
The Negatives contributed the chilling track Planet on the Prowl to Lethal Weapons (1978). Dumbworld (Shock 2008) with tracks from all three bands can be heard here: listen here
The Negatives split up early in 1979. Holmes joined Paul Kelly and the Dots, Walsh eventually joined The Moodists, and Gray went on to form the Sacred Cowboys.
Reals: Garry Gray - vocals, Ian 'Ollie' Olsen - guitar, Chris Walsh - bass, Peter Cave - drums
Negatives: Michael Holmes replaces Ollie on guitar
News / Babeez
Babeez had a lot of energy and fight to get heard. They sprayed their name all over Melbourne and, before any venues would have a Punk band, created their own gigs. In 1976 they had the first Melbourne Punk single. Their November '77 EP came in brown paper bags printed with the image of an aborted foetus.
L-R: John Smith from the Suburbs (John Murphy), Adam Five (Gavin Quinn), Joy Relentless (Julie Jordan), Jarryl Circus (Jarryl Wirth)
What we were enjoying was writing these fairly straight forward elementary songs, elemental songs perhaps. Like trying to saying things very simply and very straight forwardly which as you were saying before these other guys were wanking on about basically nothing, we wanted to actually say something that someone might go "oh yeah, good idea".
So then we started writing again and we wrote a whole string of about 20 songs, which then defined the forms from then on. As far as we're concerned we invented punk and we didn't, when we heard a few months later that the Sex Pistols were the worlds leading Punk band we were quite surprised to hear this, cos neither of us had any money, and we couldn't afford to keep up to date with the latest whatever.
So we'd hear it on 3CR was around at the time, no RRR wasn't around then, no PBS. So unless your friends played your record. Or we'd be buying second hands out of a second hand den. So when that stuff came through we were a bit shocked. Because of the decisions we'd made musically and because of the structure of the songs we were inventing it was similar class to the Ramones who were called Punk. We found the Sex Pistols idea quite odd because it was just straight-forward R&B songs, bridges included. I mean for god sake, bridges! [laughs]
The 'don't give a fuck' presentation but then a little bit later there were a whole bunch of English bands who we thought were much more like what we were on about and that's when we decided we were part of the worldwide movement, worldwide breakthrough.
By the end of 1977 the band had changed their name to News and kept recording, picked up by Augogo but fell apart in 1980.
Babeez were: Adam Five (Gavin Quinn) - vocals , Jarryl Circus (Jarryl Wirth) - guitar, Joy Relentless (Julie Jordan) - Bass, Greg Perano and Paul Makeshift - drums
News: Adam Five (Gavin Quinn) - vocals, Jarryl Circus - guitar, Joy Relentless - bass, John Smith (John Murphy) from the Suburbs - drums
Rowland S. Howard and Ian 'Ollie' Olsen met at Bruce Milne's Swinburne 'concert' and dissatisfied with their current bands (The Obsessions and Reals) began writing with each other. They recorded Shivers on an unreleased demo in 1978, made by Bruce Milne for a future single on his Au Go-Go label. Some recordings here.
Young Charlatans circa 1977-78.
Photo by Philip Morland
More Young Charlatans photos here at the excellent rowland-s-howard.com.
After about 13 shows, Ollie quit or was sacked, depending on who you ask, and the band dissolved. Rowland quickly joined The Boys Next Door and Olsen formed the influential Whirlywird. Jeff Wegener went on to join Laughing Clowns and the late Janine Hall joined Chris Bailey's Saints.
Rowland S. Howard - guitar/vocals, Ian 'Ollie' Olsen guitar/vocals, Jeff Wegener - drums, Janine Hall - bass
Rowland S. Howard:
I was playing in the Obsessions, a band fraught with neuroses. It was obvious there wasn't a whole lot of ambition.
Rowland and I really connected. We had a lot of shared interests in music and we became very firm friends very quickly...well as firm as you can be at that stage. (laughs)
We started writing songs together and hanging out and this evolved into the Young Charlatans.
Rowland Howard :
Ollie was the first person who took it all seriously and could walk the walk.
It was obvious that he was very smart and talented. He had no qualms about telling people what a genius he was. And people would believe him. It was ironic - he'd tell you he was going to be famous but then continually shoot himself in the foot.
Punk Rock had come along but it was obvious there was going to be more. The whole point of punk rock was that it gave you unfettered freedom to do anything.
Ollie was really interested in groups like Can, people like Eno. We wanted to harness the energy of Punk but make it something greater than that and just as surprising.
Anyway we made this decision at the Swinburne gig that we were going to form this band together.
We met Jeff Wegener through the Saints, he'd become good friends with Chris Bailey and Chris recommended this drummer called Barking Lord Jeff.
Jeff came down to Melbourne and convinced us that there was this amazing luxurious situation in Sydney, this rehearsal studio, so we moved up there and basically it was a dump, a squat without a front door, cockroaches everywhere and junkies living there. It was pretty bad. It was fun for about a second.
It was called Saintsville. The Saints lived there.
We went to Sydney and found Janine Hall who couldn't play the bass terribly well but it was easier to find some one we liked and teach them than audition hundreds of horrible musos.
We were staying in this squat full of equipment and we rehearsed every day for a couple of months. Then Ollie's girlfriend came up from Melbourne and, almost immediately, he left the band and went back to Melbourne.
Jeff and Janine eventually came back to Melbourne and we started rehearsing again.
Ollie rejoining the band meant him standing there at rehearsal refusing to speak to anyone or cooperate in any way whatsoever. It was really fantastic. (laughs)
So we were up in Sydney for a couple of months and it was just horrible and we came back to Melbourne and rehearsed and pulled together this band and did a couple of gigs. Maybe 5 or 6, it wasn't many.
We played at Bernhardts a lot. Maybe fifty people there, mostly from other bands.
It was an odd little group but the songs were fantastic. An odd mixture of pop and more avant-garde, Television-y, David Bowie's Low type of things.
Ollie changed from being Joe Strummer to David Bowie overnight which seemed to reflect a lack of sincerity. (laughs) But by the time we did our last gig at Melbourne Uni we were headlining with the Boys Nest Door supporting. Things happened quite quickly.
We were offered a contract by Suicide and turned it down. Thank God!
That was the funny band. It's funny because everyone raves about the Young Charlatans and really... I can't. (laughs)
I think the best thing about the Young Charlatans was that Rowland knew how to write songs. I didn't have a fucking clue. I learnt how to write songs when I was in the Young Charlatans and writing songs with Rowland it taught me the idea of writing songs. I'd never written songs before.
They were all these pastiches of things I'd been listening too. It was very early beginnings of me learning how to write music. I look back as that and it was fantastic.
Not so long ago Alan Bamford gave me a DAT of an old recording and I couldn't listen to it. I thought Rowland's songs were alright but my stuff were just appalling, just so bad. I was embarrassed. Normally I'm alright about listening to old stuff but that stuff was really horrible.
But it was fair enough, I was learning how to do it. Rowland was already an accomplished as a song writer. He wrote that Shivers song at the time and we played that which ended up being quite a legendary song of that era.
There was a 4-track but Bruce Milne, our manager, took it home and didn't like it so he wiped it! Without even playing it to us! He obviously thought we were going to be around for a long time. But it was a week later that Ollie insisted on being sacked.
We arranged to have a meeting with him. He refused to speak to Janine or Jeff. "You two just shut up. I only want to talk to Rowland."
He said, "Are you going to sack me?" and I said, "Why? Do you want to leave the band?" and he said, "Are you going to sack me?" and this went back and forth and eventually I gave up and said, "OK. You're sacked." And that was the end of that.
All I know is I left the band. I probably just wanted to leave it. It really felt like it was making little Pop songs. It wasn't enough.
I got frustrated very quickly. My head was drawn back to electronic music and I was sick of playing guitar. I just wanted to play synthesisers again. (laughs)
My ideas in music were always bigger than what I could do. I needed to keep moving.
At that time electronic music was starting to rear its head in the punk world and that was really getting exciting. I really wanted to get back into that. That was were I came from.
And then I ran into John Murphy and he wanted to do the same thing. He was playing in News or Babeez at the time and then News and had enough of playing in a band that sounded like the Ramones and that's when we decided to do Whirlywirld and I left the Young Charlatans amidst much acrimony.
The Fiction started gigging in early 1978, formed from the remnants of the Obsessions and Subway. They had already begun to record and play sporadically, showcasing the song-writing talents of Rob Wellington and Rob Griffiths. Ex-Subway members Ken Hamilton on bass and Vic Bolgarow on drums.
The Fiction live at Bernhardts, Pulp Benefit
We were looking for a bass player. Bruce Milne told me about Rob Wellington, that he was playing bass in the Obsessions.
He didn't think much of us. But then we saw him again at the Tiger Lounge pogo-ing to Radio Birdman. Rob Younger was jumping off stage and grabbing people.
Anyway he decided he should play guitar and I had to give up the guitar because he said, "Singers shouldn't play guitar."
We found Ken who was a guitarist but made a great bass player. He just played melodies.
And our first gig was Bernhardts about May '78.
Rob and the boys had come around to Chris and Garry's place looking for a bass player and they dobbed me in. I think they thought it was about time I stopped lazing about and made some music.
They had songs but they didn't sound Punk to me. I could hear that they had had guitar lessons. Rob and Chris were strumming up and down and playing what I called 'folk' chords. I could only play bar chords.
So I said I'd join if I could play guitar by myself which basically sacked Chris, though he may have already left at this stage. I just thrashed my way through the songs at a million miles an hour and we sounded like a Punk band.
Rob Griffiths became sick and, impatiently, Rob Wellington started a new band - International Exiles. Rob Griffiths used the recordings they had done to start Little Murders whose 60s Pop roots developed a large Mod following in the Ballroom era.
Rob Griffiths - vocals, Rob Wellington - guitar, Vic Bolgarow - drums, Graham Pitt (briefly) & Ken Hamilton - bass
Chane Chane, an ex-Sharpie/Bowie/Skinhead, teamed up with guitarist Brett Walker, and their solid rhythm section of Peter Kidd and Graham Schiavello (ex-The Spred). Bruce Milne has said La Femme had a strong rapport with audiences, and for that reason was readily accepted on the suburban pub circuit where many other bands of the day would have been despised. They had much more of a Pub Rock leaning.
Chane Chane (La Femme):
Our guitarist was still coming to grips with the punk thing. He was a bit of a heavy metal guy and the other three of us were just punk to the core because being ex skin heads the next move was to be a punk because logically we were all punks any way in the old term of the word.
So it seemed perfect but our guitarist actually got up on one of the tables out in the audience and pulled out a violin bow and was going to strike his guitar with it ala Jimmy Page. So I quickly ran off stage and kicked the table out from underneath him. He broke the neck of his guitar and hurt himself pretty badly. We said “Don't ever fucking do that again” and from then on he really got the idea. He said “Yeah right, I get it.” And we were Punk from then on.
La Femme signed to Keith Glass's Missing Link label and issued the single 'Chelsea Kids/'I Wanna Be Your Man'(June 1979), 'I Don't Want to Go Home'/'All Day and All Night' (1980), and the album 'La Femme' (1980).
Proles played original material in the vein of Ramones, adopting the leather jackets. In 1978 Proles recorded their one and only single featuring Police and Under-aged but didn't release it until the end of '79.
After the bands break up in 1979 Darren Smith went on to form Zorros with Nic Chancellor and Paul, adopting the name 'Prole', formed Article.
Proles: brothers Darren Smith - guitar, Wayne Smith - drums, Mark Chrisfield - vocals, Paul Gruyters/Prole - bass
Two Way Garden
I only remember them playing at parties and the Pulp benefit but they also played the Ballroom. Bruce Milne was a friend and recorded them, Augogo releasing Overnight in '79. They were a clever Pop group and I think the only reason they didn't do more was that one of them got very sick. Please contact me if you have more details.
Stephen Rea - bass/vocals, David Bowler - drums, Philip Riley - guitar/vocals
Johnny Crash, Ash Wednesday and Bohdan X arrived from South Australia with Bobby Stoppa. They had formed in 1976, reached their limits quickly in Adelaide and moved to Melbourne in '77. In '78 they became a Suicide stable mate. While their song writing was laboured their on stage presence was magnetic and Ash Wednesday's use of the relatively u known synthesiser was inspiring. When Bohdan left Johnny and Ash formed Models with their new bass player Pierre Voltaire and Sean Kelly (both sacked from Teenage Radio Stars).
Bobby, Johnny, Ash and Bohdan
Teenage Radios Stars
Sean Kelly (The Spred/Teenage Radios Stars, Models):
James (Freud) got into Punk heavily. He advertised for a bass player and drummer and talked me into being the guitarist and I got my hair cut spiky.
I was very much a 'Johnny come lately'. I thought the Punk scene was wonderful but foreign. I had been a cheesecloth wearing hippy into Pink Floyd and Neil Young.
I was obsessed with guitar playing and had been taught all this Jimmy Page. So it was like an exercise to me. Turn up the distortion, turn up really loud and do lots of really fast down strokes. I could do it.
LtoR: Dave Osborne, Pierre Voltaire,
James Freud and Sean Kelly
The Spred were signed by Suicide's Barry Earl at their first gig. Under Barry's management the band lost members and revolved around James Freud's Pop aspirations.
It was the wisdom of our new manager, Barry Earl, and James Freud that decided that they weren't the right rhythm section for us. Eventually I wasn't appropriate for the group which became James Freud's Radio Stars and I got the arse. I wasn't happy. We'd started together as kids and then his management's saying, "You as the focal point." And James saying (imitates), "Yeah! That sounds good!" (laughs)
The Boys Next Door
The Boys Next Door had been playing together in various forms since high school. By 1976 they had turned from influences like Roxy Music and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, to a quirky Punk Pop. 'Quirky' was replaced by 'edgey' when Rowland S. Howard joined (Young Charlatans).
Nick's unique vocal style, presence and the strength of the band's musicianship made them immediately popular with the infant Punk scene and the band grew from strength to strength supporting local indy bands and soon headlining at Punk gigs. And they were one of the early Punk bands picked up for Suicide's Lethal Weapons Melbourne Punk compilation
Nick Cave - vocals, Mick Harvey - guitar, Phill Calvert - drums, Tracey Pew - bass and in '79: Rowland S. Howard - guitar
Rowland S. Howard's Shivers performed with the Boys Next Door could be considered the song that marked the turning point that marked the transition from Punk to New Wave and Post Punk.
Rowland S. Howard
I'd been hanging around a lot with the Boys Next Door. Nick had a lot of the same concerns. He came from a similar art school background.
Nick was trying to get the group to progress from a Pop-Rock group to something far more unusual, that had some relevance to his overall vision of art, the same aesthetic he applied to his painting he wanted to apply to his music.
His paintings were very Brett Whitley-ish, very grotesque self-portraits and stuff like that.
Mick and Tracey were very quick to jump on any pretentiousness and I think he saw me as an instrument to achieve those ambitions.