DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM: The Untold Story Of Radio Birdman Takes The Show On The Road

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DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM: The Untold Story Of Radio Birdman Takes The Show On The Road

When a group of uni students and other youths form a proto-punk rock band in 1970s Sydney - unwilling to compromise in the desire to create their art - they do more than produce songs; they generate a music scene. It is the influence of that scene, as well as the band's recordings that change the face of Australian music, even as it exacts a harsh toll at times on the group, a band truly the sum of its parts: RADIO BIRDMAN .

The future is born in 1972 in Sydney, Australia, as med student, DENIZ TEK moves into 'the cupboard under the stairs' in a student share-house with the drummer, RON KEELEY. When Deniz is kicked out of his rock band, TV Jones for 'not being commercial enough' he combines with the remnants of Keeley's and singer ROB YOUNGER's recent band The Rats. With keyboardist PIP HOYLE, and CARL RORKE on bass, they form RADIO BIRDMAN, forever determined to control their art.

Birdman are 'tasteless and loud'- they are turned off, shut down and booted out of venue after venue. Their determination to do things their own way, against the industry, is unwavering, and they slowly accumulate a gang of incredibly loyal fans.

Progress comes with harsh personal decisions as illustrator WARWICK GILBERT replaces Carl Rorke 'for the good of the band'. Months later, 17-year-old prodigy CHRIS MASUAK joins and the 'twin guitar attack' rock'n'roll that redefines Australian music is crystallised. The group becomes a family as much as a team. Even if members of a family aren't always happy with each other...

A new, precarious plateau is reached when The 'New Race' of disaffected Birdman fans find a sacred ground to accompany their rallying cause when Birdman solves part of the problem of securing gigs by starting their own Sydney venue, 'The Funhouse'. Gilbert refines the band's logo, created by Tek - a bizarre, Bat-Signal like symbol - and creates their unique propaganda-style posters. Radio Birdman's live Blitzkrieg makes it to vinyl with the DIY release of their records through independent label Trafalgar. Devotion from fans is cult-like. They are doing what they wanted to do in spite of an industry that seems to revile them.

At this artistic peak, they are nonetheless battered by alternate waves of failure and acclaim. They are derided by rival bands for their intense attitude and fascistic imagery, but Ramones US label owner, Seymour Stein signs them on the spot. The intensity that drives Radio Birdman exacerbates the stresses in this art-before- all-else combo, driving wedges between the members, threatening success. A long tour of England accompanied by great personal enmity, squeezed into a 'Van of Hate' touring Kombi is a nightmare. They break up.

But they've created a scene that now sustains itself without them. Australian music booms; Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, The Hoodoo Gurus and indie record labels surf the wave Radio Birdman have created.

And there is a surprise resurrection, the metaphorical patient emerges from his coma: In 1996 Birdman are asked to re-form for the Big Day Out festival, and it is an astoundingly, unexpectedly successful rebirth, a vindication of vision. Realising that the intensity still exists, the band opts to continue.

But the next two decades of this now global phenomenon are to be as challenging as the previous ones, despite recognition from the industry that spurned them, including the ARIA Australian Music Hall of Fame. Internal conflicts have not been tamed, and 'the good of the band' always supplants the needs of the individual members.

They go on, still far more than the sum of their parts; still RADIO BIRDMAN. As one of the pioneers of the high energy rock 'n' roll scene, Radio Birdman will return to Europe with 21 shows in as many days. With three of the six personnel being original members, these shows will be another unique opportunity to catch this legendary Australian underground band whose flame has influenced a multitude of current contenders under the banner of 'garage rock'.


The Dirty Water Club started in October 1996 in the Tufnell Park neighbourhood of north London, at a venue called The Boston. The club's name is derived from The Standells' 1966 hit 'Dirty Water' which glorifies the US city of Boston, Massachusetts.

Past performers have included The White Stripes (voted by Q Magazine as one of the top 10 gigs of all time, Mojo one of the top 30 and Kerrang one of the top 100!), The Gories, Country Teasers, Black Lips, NOBUNNY, Kid Congo Powers, The Fleshtones, Billy Childish, Radio Birdman, The Dirtbombs, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, The's, The Horrors and The Brian Jonestown Massacre to name just a few. The club has also seen some original '60s performers, such as The Monks, ? and the Mysterians, Kim Fowley, Sky Saxon, GONN, Michael Davis of the MC5 and more grace its stage.

Their in-house record label, Dirty Water Records, is one of the leading garage/beat/(real) R&B labels in the world.

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