Sydney’s Radio Birdman, one of our pioneering punk rock bands, are about to go on a national tour! Tomatrax caught up with Deniz Tek from the band to talk about why they got back together, their musical influences and what you can expect from their upcoming shows. The legends have returned.
TRAX: What inspired Radio Birdman to get back together again?
RB: Money. They offered us a suitcase full of cash.
TRAX: You will be touring around Australia in November, what can fans expect from your show?
RB: They can expect an hour and fifteen minutes of loose tightness. It will be loud, fast and sweaty. We’ll play the hits, also some lesser known stuff. Each album will be featured. Watch out for amazing drumming from Nik Rieth. And there will be a new guy on guitar, Dave Kettley, replacing Chris Masuak. It wont be the same as before. Hopefully better.
TRAX: What is it like to reunite after the band has spent years apart?
RB: Like Gunnar Hansen said when he picked up the chainsaw: “Feels good!”
TRAX: You played in a number of bands following Radio Birdman, how did these compare with being in Radio Birdman?
RB: Not that different. On stage and in the studio I do pretty much the same thing regardless of context. But in Radio Birdman I don’t have to haul my own amps in and out of the truck.
TRAX: You’ve also put out a number of solo releases, how does working solo compare to being in a band?
RB: It’s easier. I dont have to negotiate anything or work to anyone elses schedule. I make the calls, and take full responsibility, however it turns out.
TRAX: You’ve been working as an ER doctor, how does his compare to being a musician?
RB: Onstage, or in the recording studio, it’s rare to get one’s clothing soaked in blood, vomit or worse, so music is better. But laundry can be a huge issue on the road too. Seriously, music is an expensive holiday compared to medicine.
TRAX: Have any of your experiences as an ER doctor influenced your lyrics?
RB: No. I keep the two areas in separate boxes.
TRAX: Many bands have listed you as an influence, what’s it like to hear newer bands that were influenced by your work?
RB: Usually disappointing. I would like it if they took that influence and went on to create something different. Occasionally there is a bright spark.
TRAX: What were your main musical influences?
RB: Old country blues, Muddy, Howlin Wolf, Surf, Motown, Memphis soul, British Invasion (Stones, Beatles, Kinks, Who), 60’s garage music, Velvets, The Doors, other west coast stuff, MC5/Stooges, Brazilian jazz, most Blue Note artists, some off the wall stuff like Beefheart, early BOC. We loved some of our contemporaries too, the Flaming Groovies, NY Dolls, Ramones, Dead Boys, Vibrators, Pistols, etc, etc. The list could go on for ages and pages.
TRAX: You’re about to release a box set including some previously unreleased bonus material, can you shed some light on what the bonus material will include?
RB: There is a great concert recording from 1977, which was recorded on 16 track tape via a mobile recording truck. Also many studio outtakes, alternate versions of well known songs, and some weird songs that never saw the light of day.
Mostly I think deep fans or collectors will be keen. There are reasons why this stuff was rejected in the first place. A lot of it, I don’t even recall doing. I found them to be interesting. Only archived stuff up to early 1978 is included, not later recordings.
TRAX: Is a new Radio Birdman studio album planned?
TRAX: Do you ever listen to your own music?
RB: Usually only when relearning how the songs go, to figure out how to play them on tour. Typically when I hear the music again after a long while I am surprised at how good it sounds, and how it has stood the test of time.
TRAX: What (other) music do you listen to?
RB: Old stuff. I trawl through vinyl bins in thrift shops, find weird and cool old stuff to check out. I still listen to all the stuff listed in “influences”. I check out JJJ Unearthed regularly. There’s not a lot of modern pop music that I would listen to twice, but I like Lady Gaga. That girl can write a good song, and she doesn’t need pitch leveling.
TRAX: What do you plan on doing after this tour?
RB: I’ll probably watch TV and drink expensive wine. At least for a couple of days.
Radio Birdman’s national tour dates are below:
Friday, 31st October – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW – Tickets: Bigtix
Saturday, 1st November – Manning Bar, Sydney – Tickets: Oztix
Sunday, 2nd November – Corner Hotel, Melbourne – Tickets: Ticketscout
Monday, 3rd November – Corner Hotel, Melbourne – Tickets: Ticketscout
Friday, 7th November – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane -Tickets: The Hi-Fi
Saturday, 8th November – The Gov, Adelaide -Tickets: Oztix
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