Event – Aussie punks’ half-century tour

Friday, 28th June – 29th June | The Triffid, Brisbane QLD (w/ Hits)– Tickets | By Rob Mellett

Formed in 1974, Sydney’s Radio Birdman were, along with Brisbane’s The Saints, the nation’s foremost exponents of punk.

Founded by US expat Deniz Tek and vocalist Rob Younger, Radio Birdman’s sound was steeped in the high-energy guitar swagger of protopunks The Stooges and MC5.

Now, 50 years after their explosive beginning, the band are gearing up for what might be their final tour.

Michigan-born guitarist Tek’s arrival to Australian shores in 1967 began his love affair with this country and, after a brief spell back in the States, he returned here in 1972.

Tek spoke to Village Voice via Zoom from his home in Hawaii where he and wife Ann run a coffee farm.

He says it’s hard to quantify what success means to Radio Birdman.

“We never sold very many records or even had a hit,” Tek says.

“I guess we’ve been successful up to a point because we are now able to sell out shows and actually get paid.”

Tek still plays with a guitar he bought in ’73 off Fred “Sonic” Smith of MC5.

“MC5 split because guitarist Wayne Kramer went to prison and the band sold off a bunch of their gear; I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Tek says.

“I’ve played that guitar on and off ever since although it has had some mishaps; the neck has broken off three times and it’s done some high mileage but it still sounds great and looks cool.”

Radio Birdman return to Brisbane this June after five years’ absence.

“The first time I came to Brisbane was in 1973,” he says.

“I was following the Rolling Stones around the country and going to every show.

“Eventually, I got myself into their hotel, sold Keith a guitar, and became part of the band’s inner circle.

“I saw the Stones at a tennis courts up there, and I remember it as a sleepy country town back then; but, look at it now, it is a vibrant, happening Asian city.

“We are excited to get back because we had an amazing time playing there with Died Pretty.

“Our tours now are like a big friends and family reunion, and it is great terrific to have multigenerational audiences; 18-year-olds wearing ripped-up T-shirts given to them by their grandfathers.

“How super-cool to have cut through the generations.”

Friday, 28th June – 29th June | The Triffid, Brisbane QLD (w/ Hits)– Tickets

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