WHEN THE BIRDMEN FLEW (REDUX): Radio Birdman

Radio Birdman

A story from the editor’s archives on the Aussie punk legends.

BY FRED MILLS

We Australian punk and rock fans living here in the States can be a long-suffering lot, given that the chances of seeing most of our heroes live are frequently next to nil, and the cost of mail-ordering Australian-only records can be equal to a couple month’s rent. Indeed, yours truly’s latest heart d’sire is Radio Birdman (Citadel Australia), a 7CD/DVD box set comprising all three of the group’s original studio albums (Radios Appear, both the Aussie and the American versions; Living Eyes) plus accompanying bonus discs of rare and unreleased material, a seventh disc featuring a 1977 live concert and a DVD of live material. According to the label, “The studio albums will also be re-issued on vinyl. Each release will be 140g audiophile quality and where possible all artwork has been reconstructed from original photographs. The 19-track Live At Paddington Town Hall Dec 12th 1977 will see life as a double LP in a gatefold sleeve.”

What’s a Birdman acolyte to do? Why, revisit past glories while saving up the paychecks, of course! Read on…. (Below: the band in 1977)

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In 2001 Sub Pop issued The Essential Radio Birdman anthology, which at the time was the first legit Birdman artifact to see US release in nearly a quarter century. While over the years aficionados of Australian rock ‘n’ roll could lay their paws on selected reissues and bootlegs via import mail order sources, it almost goes without saying that the term “long suffering fan” was tailor made for them. Subsequent to that, against all odds, the band got back together (they had done likewise in 1995, appearing in ‘96 and ’97 at the annual “Big Day Out” festival), and the reunion eventually extended well into the decade: 2006 saw the release of a new studio album, Zeno Beach, and this led to a U.S. tour and the 2010 concert album Live In Texas.

Yours truly didn’t get to see the band on the tour, but thanks to a generous colleague I scored a tour teeshirt which I wear proudly to this day.

Why does the Radio Birdman legacy loom so large? Well, while these “legacy” issues are often a matter of perspective (and let’s face it, fanboys like me have none), to say that Radio Birdman was just another Aussie hard rock band would be akin to claiming that the Stooges was just another Detroit garage combo or that Blue Oyster Cult was just another Long Island boogie outfit. Hell, it’s no coincidence that Birdman took both its name and its debut album title from Stooges and BOC song lyrics! Emerging from the ashes of two Sydney garage bands, TV Jones and The Rats, and going on to release but one album during its attenuated ’74 – ’78 lifespan – 1977’s Radios Appear — Radio Birdman did fire one of those proverbial shots heard ‘round the nascent punk world.

In particular, that salvo was heard in the band’s native Oz. Musicians by the score were inspired by the Birdmen’s fierce rock ethic; audiences would chant the signature Birdman tag line, “Yeah, hup!” (from the anthemic “New Race”) en masse just as fervently as Americans shouted “Hey-ho, let’s go!” at Ramones gigs. According to author Vivien Johnson, in the exhaustive, excellent 1990 bio/oral history Radio Birdman (Sheldon Booth Publishers, Australia), “Radio Birdman were not typical – they were proto-typical. The energy of the response they generated in their audiences and their utterly uncompromising attitude towards any and every attempt to limit their music inspired in their wake an explosion of punk bands coming out of their old dancing grounds in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.”

Nowadays Radios Appear is ranked alongside the likes of Raw Power, Horses and Kick Out The Jams as a go-out-and-form-a-band timeless classic. It clearly benefited from being caught up in Sire Records’ mid-‘70s punk/new wave signing frenzy that included the Ramones, Talking Heads, Richard Hell, Dead Boys and Saints. But it has stood the test of time, too, its eclectic musical blend of garage, psych and surf marking it as a proto-punk artifact, its creators – vocalist Rob Younger, guitarists Chris Masuak and American-born Deniz Tek, keyboardist Pip Hoyle, bassist Warwick Gilbert, drummer Ron Keeley — the most charismatic rock ‘n’ roll thugs since the Pretty Things terrorized London a decade earlier.

The band split prematurely, in the summer of ’78, on the eve of what would have been their first US tour, supporting the Ramones. They’d decamped to the UK to record their second album, Living Eyes (which sat in the vaults for three years before seeing posthumous Oz release) and were touring with labelmates the Flamin’ Groovies when Sire dropped them. Disillusioned, disorganized and rather disheartened by a less-than-warm embrace from the London punk contingent, the Birdmen called it a day.

Radio Birdman reunited for a brief memorial tour in ’95 to celebrate the Australian CD reissues of the two albums ; a superb live CD, Ritualism, resulted. Over the years Younger and Tek have been the most musically active, teaming up in ’81 with Gilbert, Stooges’ Ron Asheton and MC5’s Dennis Thompson to form New Race. Younger went on to front the still-extant New Christs (a new CD is due soon on Man’s Ruin), while the Montana-based Tek concurrently works with the Deniz Tek Group and Deep Reduction — whose second album, featuring Younger on guest vocals, is just out on Get Hip – and he collaborated in ’96 with Wayne Kramer and Scott Morgan as Dodge Main.

The 22-song retrospective The Essential Radio Birdman presented the choicest of the choice, from Radios Appear’s Dick Dale-meets-Blue Oyster Cult “Hand of Law” and dance anthem/Iggy tribute “Do The Pop” to Living Eyes’ throbbingly psychedelic “I-94” and garage cruncher “Burn My Eye ’78,” plus a handful of, ahem, essential tracks from the rare EPs Burn My Eye and the live-in-‘77 More Fun.

I was lucky enough to hook up with both Younger and Tek for separate interviews on all matters Birdman, along with some updating of each man’s file, around the time of the release of the 2001 Sub Pop collection. I’d previously talked at length with Younger several years back while putting together historical liner notes for the 1995 New Christs anthology, Born Out of Time, that Canada’s Lance Rock Records issued. At the time I took note of the balance he seemed to strike between humility (at having been “just” a singer despite posterity’s judging him a respected rock pioneer), cynicism (at having been subjected to the horrors of the music biz) and pride (at having embarked upon a mission and accomplished it despite massive odds). To this day, those traits remain, as you’ll no doubt glean from his comments. Tek, too, while demonstrating a different sort of demeanor (a no-nonsense kind of guy blessed with a dry wit and a subtle romantic streak) has the kind of serene perspective that’s the mark of a rock ‘n’ roll survivor – all the better, given that his interviewer was precisely the kind of perspective-challenged, Birdman-loving fanboy mentioned above!

Younger himself suggests a key personality demarcation between the two Birdman founders, leading one to surmise a source of that ever-important “creative tension” that has helped fuel the great rock ‘n’ roll partnerships through time: “Between Deniz and myself we should be able to set things straight about the band for your article, Fred. Deniz is an ace at maintaining mystique; I, on the other hand, excel at demystification. I know who I’d prefer to listen to!”

Below you can read what both men told me about all this, and more, some dozen years ago, so note that the comments at the end about reunions and such were clearly, ahem, premature. Yeah, hup!

First off, is the set remastered from the original tapes? Any outright remixing done in addition? I have the ’95 CD reissues of Radios Appear and Living Eyes that Red Eye issued in Australia, and at the time you remixed the latter because, as I understand it, you were never happy with the mix on the LP.

YOUNGER: I think the Radios Appear/Burned My Eye-era tracks are the remastered versions from the Red Eye reissued stuff, and the Living Eyes material is the re-mixed gear from that period also. The remixed versions of certain Australian-version Radios Appear songs used also for the “White Album” version of Radios Appear are the ones likely to be used again I’d imagine, but I’m unsure, and those were remastered for the Red Eye release. In the case of re-recorded versions, like “New Race,” “Anglo Girl Desire,” I think we’re using the later ones. Is this confusing to you as well. Deniz’s call on this would be the definitive one.

DENIZ TEK: There was no new remix this time. It was mastered from the Red Eye reference masters [used for the CD reissues]. In 1995 Rob and I remixed the entire Living Eyes from the original 2”, 24-track tapes, with the help of Chris Masuak and Phil Punch. Phil engineered those sessions for Red Eye at Electric Avenue – the old Trafalgar Studios – which is the same place where Radios Appear was recorded in the mid ‘70s.

What was the selection process for the Sub Pop compilation’s 22 songs? Was it just you two or were the other members involved? Any particular thoughts or emotions you experienced during the compiling that, upon reflection, made you say, “Hey, this was a pretty good/this was a pretty excruciating moment?”

TEK: No really excruciating moments but some of the original Burn My Eye EP makes me cringe a bit. There were many good moments. I don’t usually ever listen to this stuff unless I’m at someone’s house and they happen to put it on. I’m usually surprised by the quality… and I get to wondering if I can still play that well! I can and more, but what I’m hearing is a group spirit in RB that exceeded the technical limits of the individuals involved. I think the live tracks are exceptional and contain energy that was difficult to achieve in the studio format. There were concessions made all around, since not everyone has the same appreciation for particular songs.

YOUNGER: Just Deniz and Andy at Sub Pop, I forget, selected the songs if I recall. I was asked what I thought and it looked alright to me. I don’t know if anyone other band members were asked, but that would’ve complicated matters because how many bands agree wholeheartedly on anything? We had 6 members!

The real “excruciating moments,” for me, relate to listening to playbacks of my singing. TheRadios Appear/Burn My Eye sessions are a bit of a blur now. It was all new to me at the time; surely I had fun, and overall it was quite painless. A lot of stuff went down live in the studio. Certainly, quite a few vocals, such as that for “TV Eye,” were taken while the band played it, and the rest, for better or worse, would be first or second takes. And Deniz has always entrusted me with the “responsibility” of choosing which solo of his to use. Initially, we did have a minor shitfight with the producers about whether we could to be told how to sound, matters of “direction,” etc., but that was sorted out pretty fast. After some argument it looked as though the whole session would fall flat on its arse, but they said, well, go in there and play something anyway. We did, and they were still interested. Nobody else had been too thrilled up to that point. We’d talked, and sometimes played, to other producers, having been feted by an editor of our big rock mag at the time, RAM, but these meetings didn’t work out for us because we were so unbending on everything. We probably looked like trouble. I hope so.

In that vein, were there songs necessarily left off the Sub Pop disc that either of you would have wanted? I know from my conversations with Rob several years ago when we brainstormed the sleeve notes for the New Christs anthology that he can be intensely self-critical of his own performances, so I wonder was either of you also dead set against certain cuts as well?

TEK: I would have left off “Snake” since it was really more of a TV Jones song in my mind than a Radio Birdman song, same for “I 94.” But Andy at Sub Pop had to have those. “Monday Morning Gunk” was another TV Jones era tune that I nixed. I could have included “Hit Them Again,” which Rob dislikes, “Iskender Time” and “455 SD” but they didn’t make the cut. Remember you can only get 74 minutes on a CD and that’s pushing it.

YOUNGER: I didn’t have to say which songs I didn’t want on there; Deniz knows which ones they are. There are a few I like that didn’t make it. Things like “Time To Fall,” “Iskender Time,” didn’t made the cut. Overall though, it’s quite comprehensive; it’s us.

What about rarities and unreleased material? While the More Fun and Burn My Eye EP material was nice to include, was there stuff in the vault that you considered releasing? Or would there be a rarities collection perhaps in the future?

YOUNGER: That topic never came up, but I don’t know of anything that’s never been released that I’d particularly want released now. There’s talk of live-to-air radio stuff being put out in the future. We tend to disagree rather strongly on the quality of that material. Personally, I think the sound and atmosphere on “Dark Surprise” and “More Fun” — both live recordings included on this new release — are way superior to anything else we did. Alan Thorne’s engineering had a lot to do with those aspects I believe, and the general ambience of the Paddington Town Hall. [The live song originally on the More Fun EP were recorded live in Sydney on 12/12/77.] They were mixed long after the band had split up. Seymour Stein of Sire Records, apart from peripheral reasons too delicate to recount in detail here, wanted to sign us on the basis of our live version of “More Fun” which he heard us play live once or twice in Sydney.

TEK: There are studio outtakes in the archives, mostly covers and at least one original that I know of, from Radios Appear sessions, that have never seen the light of day…for fair reasons! Even the bootleggers don’t have those! But you don’t have to release the last dregs, even though many bands do. So there won’t be any more studio rarities coming out. However I would like to see a live album from the Paddington Town Hall show, which was a very good night, well-recorded on 16-track mobile.

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Speaking of bootlegs, not long ago when Deniz was in Arizona visiting his brother he encountered a Birdman bootleg, Murder City Nights, which was a live broadcast circa ’76 in Sydney, in the record store where I work and was quite displeased. This led to an email exchange about the possibility of a Birdman archive being set up where live material was made available officially, so I’m wondering about each of your thoughts in that regard, as well as your opinions on bootlegs. A number of artists do their own archive releases — the Dead, Pete Townshend, etc. — and this serves both artist, in terms of “beating the boots,” and the gotta-have-it-all fans as well.

TEK: A lot of tapes now in circulation are sonically bad, and I don’t think that inferior material warrants the effort in setting up and administering an official archive. There is already an effective underground network that handles that stuff well enough. But I would really like to see the best live material mixed and mastered well, and made available on record. I don’t have anything against fans and collectors keeping and trading any old live tapes for their own enjoyment, but I can’t accept the idea of profiteers generating substantial income from material they have stolen from artists.

YOUNGER: I’m of the view that it’s senseless bothering to worry about it. I didn’t always think that way. I used to refuse to autograph bootlegs, which was pretty churlish. I’ve never heard a bootleg recording by hardly anybody that I thought was essential listening, let alone our’s. If “officially” releasing these recordings helps in some way, makes money for a friend, I won’t block them, but really, most of what I’ve heard, which isn’t a lot I suppose, isn’t to my liking, and I’d say it’ll compromise us rather than flatter. Guys like Pete Townshend are already wealthy from their hit records. They were bootlegged because they were big time. At our level, the bootlegs can just compromise you, especially when they are studio recordings released almost simultaneously with the official ones. How do they do that? It happened in Italy to my band The New Christs apparently. Pricks.

A couple of Sydney newspaper clips from the Jan. 13 1995 show at Selinas offered contrasting views of your ’95 reunion. One was ecstatic (“there will always be a place for them should they wish to come back in another 20 years”) while the other one was, shall we say, less than thrilled (“their importance has never been greatly related to their musical worth”). Any reactions?

TEK: The Selinas show was a great one. I think it rivals anything we ever did in the old days. However this music isn’t for everyone, obviously. Whether in 1976 or 1996, some journalists just wont get it. But they have to write something, since it’s their job.

YOUNGER: A long answer to this kind of question probably comes off as being defensive, and sensitive to criticism, but it brings up the subject of our context and relevance to a time and a scene. I hope I can make sense here.

Some critics loved us and some didn’t. It’s just opinion. I won’t contest the first quote — it’s favorable. That second quote is worth commenting on. Our influence, in retrospect, had at least as much to do with our attitude to our audience and to the music scene generally at the time as with any musical influence, but there was nothing like us around these parts, musically, at the time as far as I could tell, and rock hasn’t moved so far beyond what we were doing as to render us irrelevant after the fact, so I think that critic’s view is rather facile – probably, it was somebody who wasn’t born or out of knee pants by 1974. Our musical worth relates to the virtue of being different to other bands during our time. I’m not saying our music is or was totally original stylistically; I’m comparing us to other bands in a certain context, mainly a temporal one.

I wouldn’t be too eager to separate our attitude from our music – those elements were married. It’s easy to have a certain critical perspective in 1995, if you weren’t there in ’74 to actually check it out. Our material was musically varied, unlike most other band’s who think variation is a matter of fast or slow; it was played like there was no tomorrow –even the slow stuff, and it was basic. A huge proportion of groups in those days were just cranking out solemn shit like Free covers, and lots of 12 bar blues stuff. The big bands of the day — Sherbet, Skyhooks were the big socially relevant bands at the time we started out — were tepid fucking affairs and people tend to appraise them now in nothing more than affectionately nostalgic terms. It’s all a bit of a giggle now. People apologize for having liked them. With us, people today get a tattoo done of our symbol!

When we played we put on a show and that show wasn’t choreographed to the hilt, and we didn’t ever consciously use the same set list twice. If I spat sheep’s brains at the audience, it was intended just that once – we didn’t plan it to happen in the same chorus of the same song every time. We got banned from venues left right and center for being ourselves, which says a lot because these days anything obnoxious is simply co-opted by the record companies, a marketing angle is contrived to accommodate the so-called outrage. After punk hit, it was expected of bands to be obnoxious, profane, whatever. Most punk bands acted the way they were expected to, and were posers in the extreme.

In early days, bands down the rehearsal rooms used to sneer at us. At first, our original music, which consisted entirely of Deniz’s songs, and he was just starting out as a songwriter, doesn’t necessarily sound so unusual today after all the rock that’s gone down since, but it doesn’t sound dated either. Bands, in fact, still imitate us; some just bear some similarities, but many in the past have set out to copy us. I don’t care though.

For what it’s worth, the particular Selinas show the critic referred to, was, to my mind, the best gig the band ever played outside the Funhouse, where, in those earlier days, we were a different style almost – more experimental, erratic, and at least to me, more interesting. Still, I’m ashamed to say I like the idea of 3000 people screaming for another song.

I should’ve just said “fuck the critics, period” – sorry about the rant, Fred!

Speaking of live, you were able to tour the UK with the Flamin’ Groovies in the spring of ‘78 but didn’t make it to the U.S. Why did the band fail in that respect? Do you think the career would have been different if you’d made it to the US where your fanbase was definitely growing thanks to Sire issuing Radios Appear in the States?

TEK: Our U.S. tour with the Ramones was scheduled for summer of 1978 but was cancelled when Sire dropped the band from the label at the start of our UK tour, which was then funded temporarily by the distributor Polygram. It would have been impossible to do the American tour without label support. As it turned out, the band died a natural death anyway. On the skids both financially and emotionally, sick, exhausted, broke, no label and no support, there wasn’t enough critical mass of motivation to try to get it revved up again. People moved on.

YOUNGER: It’s pretty hard to speculate on might have been in terms of success. The interpersonal politics of the band were in a shambles when we were in the UK in ’78, so I doubt we’d have been able to stomach each other for longer than we did. But if I recall, it was apparent quite early in the piece that the US tour was never going to happen because Sire had pulled the plug on several bands on their label around the time we first got to England. It was through the kind support of people at Phonogram in London, who owed us nothing, that we managed to stay afloat for the five months or so we were there. I didn’t know the half of it.

Personally, I doubt we’d have made much of an impression in the States generally. To make a more lasting impression, it might have been good to have played there and be hated, like in Australia mostly. Maybe we could’ve been appreciated somewhere seemingly receptive – perhaps – like CBGBs, I don’t know. But the punk thing, which we were lumped into, wasn’t too widespread in the States in 1978, so there’s every chance we’d not have got a gig outside New York and LA, whatever the punk capitals were. Cleveland? You never know though. I stayed at these people’s place in LA – after the end of that tour – and they asked to hear my copy of Radios Appear. Honestly, I didn’t force it on them. They listened to all of it, up loud, and from that point on they treated me like someone with two heads. It’s never occurred to me until now, telling you this, that they might have been impressed, or better still: scared.

TEK: I’ve always thought the band might have done OK in America, where perhaps the fashion side of punk wasn’t quite so important — outside of NY and LA anyhow. In the heartland, we might have been taken at face value, i.e., as a good rock and roll band.

Fair enough. Okay, here’s where I lapse into a couple of my favorite cliché questions: What were the band’s greatest achievements/successes?

TEK: On a good night, it rocked really hard.

YOUNGER: I don’t really want to get into that “legacy thing.” Speculating on what we might have paved the way for; kicked down barriers, etc, etc. I get that from time to time. In terms of the ‘music industry’ we changed nothing much that I can see. We entertained a few people for a while; left a couple of records. Some who saw and heard us were left feeling something important had happened to them; so a lot of people tell me. Some bands – mostly ones I can’t stand, like The Angels, various others – ripped off parts of our routine, certain images we used, or took vague, half-arsed stabs at emulating our performing style, perceived stance, whatever, and did alright for themselves with it. Of course, I’d never ape someone’s performing style, or their clothes…..heaven forbid.

What I am certain of is that if I hadn’t been in Radio Birdman I wouldn’t have got as many fucks as I did, and probably less opportunity later on in terms of getting to tour Europe at least partially on the back of that band’s reputation. And, all the shit we stirred up got us noticed, and the confrontational aspect stuck to us: we’re bad boys, which is better than the other kind. These things must represent some kind of achievement.

Then what were its greatest weaknesses or biggest pitfalls?

TEK: No management or advanced leadership skills that might have allowed it to continue.

YOUNGER: In terms of pitfalls, they’re more related to my subsequent activities with The New Christs line-ups. Some people seem to think I long for these “halcyon days,” and they wear that sickeningly condescending expression — you know, poor guy’s deluding himself, playing the ingénue — when I say I’m far more interested in what I’m doing now. Jerks. And, naturally, there are still those who can’t accept that we don’t play Radio Birdman songs – but not as many now. They’re jerks too. It’s an insult to the people I play with who weren’t in RB. After all, I’m writing songs now, whereas back then I wasn’t, apart from words for “Aloha Steve and Danno.” These would be the same people who would’ve walked out when they got the sheep brains spattered all over them, or had their drinks knocked over while hoping to enjoy a nice night’s entertainment.

Was there ever a sense while you were in the thick of things in Australia that yeah, we got a great band here, one that people will be talking about a quarter-century later?

YOUNGER: I never considered we would have a lasting influence – no reason to. I did feel, early on in the piece, that we were going to have an impact on the local rock scene because I just felt that our activities were intense and somehow had meaning beyond simply playing a gig. Quite early on we saw our work as being experimental. We thought of our shows as “events.” I suppose I didn’t recognize in other bands any attitude, or any contempt for the pandering bullshit that permeated the band scene, or the passion to match Deniz’s and mine. Sorry, it sounds egotistical, but it’s true for me. I say “Deniz and I” a fair bit because the essence of the band, which we two started, was a merging of complementary attitudes to a greater effect; is this symbiosis? Sounds pompous, but maybe that’s just the way it looks when it’s written down. We had a mutual interest — maybe a craving even — for the upheaval that comes with willful, uncooperative behavior. I remember deriving a lot of satisfaction from us being made pariahs.

TEK: We most definitely [were aware of the first part of the question] at the time, but as to the latter, no way. We would have done well to think in terms of six month blocks. But one week was about the extent of our horizon.

What would you have done differently, if anything?

TEK: For one thing, I would have never worn those bloody leather trousers I got from Ron Asheton!

YOUNGER: I would’ve done lots of things differently, and I’d probably say I’d do those things differently too, 20 years later. If I had the chance again I’d have tried writing songs like Deniz encouraged me to.

And I wouldn’t have cut my hair before we went to England. Waist length hair would’ve enraged those punks in 1978!

Are you in touch with the other guys from the band? What are they doing musically these days?

TEK: I’m in touch with everyone except Warwick Gilbert. Chris has a new hard rock band the Klondike Solution. The Raouls — surf instrumentals — might have started up again as well, featuring Chris on drums and Warwick on guitar. Pip’s in my band, the Deniz Tek Group. And Ron has a pub rock band in England called the Suspects.

YOUNGER: Pip Hoyle, it seems, only plays when Deniz is in town. That’s pretty much what he’s always done. Even back in pre-Birdman days, say, with TV Jones, Pip would get up and play with Den, but never sat in with any other crowd, or joined a band. Great guy Pip, though I hardly ever see him. Chris Masuak does occasional playing, I think in a more country vein; not sure because I never see him around. Warwick Gilbert plays guitar for his wife Julie, who’s a singer, formerly Julie Mostyn of Sydney group The Flaming Hands. I think they’re into R & B and jazz. He’s also, fairly recently, done surf music with various people and he and Chris released a rather good 45rpm surf instrumental a few years ago on Munster, the Spanish label. Don’t see him around much either. Ron Keeley lives in England. I think the Radio Birdman reunion tour was his last gig. Before he did that tour he hadn’t played for 16 years.

Could you fill us in on the upcoming Deep Reduction album?

TEK: The new one has a different bass player and fashion consultant, Jonathan Sipes, who played guitar in the Omega Men. And Rob Younger does the vocals. The album is more coherent and unified than the last one, and is pretty much just rock in direction. Songwriting is shared between me, Jack Chiara and Rob. The art work is cool.

YOUNGER: It’s got some cool stuff on there; it rocks out. There’s a surf instrumental on there – “Maui Confidential” — a couple of flat-stick rockers, a Pink Fairies cover called “City Kids,” a blues workout with some very cool harmonica, and a few songs some might describe as in a vaguely 60s style. I put words and tunes — yes, tunes — to a few tracks, and they seemed to work alright at the time. There are a few writers in the band so there’s enough variation to intrigue the easily-bored, yet a consistency of style that’s sure to satisfy those who abhor the wildly eclectic. I’m of the latter persuasion myself. It was done in a bit of a hurry so if I have any reservations they’re to do with me wanting to fix a few bits of singing — de rigueur as they say. When my copy arrives I’m hoping for a pleasant surprise, having been removed from proceedings for some time. I got along great with the D.R. guys whom I’d never met before. They consider me part of the band. It was interesting how they trusted a stranger to contribute musically in the way they did. I wouldn’t have!

Deniz, what about your own group? By the way. what do you do in your spare time back home in Montana in between slicing up patients?

TEK: I don’t slice them up. I put them back together!

The Deniz Tek Group did some gigs in Australia over the Christmas period with Jim Dickson, Nik Rieth and Pip Hoyle, and I just got back from a European tour with Scott Morgan. I’ll be spending the summer finishing up some studio projects including a new Angie Pepper recording, and a Deniz Tek Group effort with Art and Steve Godoy. Hopefully by autumn we’ll do a second Glass Insects album also…and, I try to spend time with my wife and two teenage kids.

And Rob, how about the New Christs?

YOUNGER: The New Christs aren’t doing much right now. We’ve got an album coming out sometime on Man’s Ruin, but no release date has been set. there’ll be a CD and a vinyl one. We have magnificent new 7″ single called “On Top Of Me” b/w “Groovy Times” out now on Munster Records, the Spanish outfit. If it’s not on vinyl, it’s not really out yet. We were hoping to tour Europe this year but that won’t be happening.

Lastly, the inevitable question is, will there be a Birdman reunion to promote the Sub Pop CD?

TEK: There won’t be any more Radio Birdman shows…least of all, for promotion or marketing reasons.

[Ed. note: famous last words, Deniz… photo by Tony Mott]

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