As a kid growing up in Fremantle
(WA), and needing pinball money, I used to clean up the local drive-in movie
theatre. I think it was called the "Starlite". I was helping an old jazz drummer
with a wooden leg. He'd been a pilot in the RAF and had been shot down over the
Channel in WWII, thus losing his limb. He convinced me to learn an instrument to
make more pinball money. So I chose the saxophone, since I was a big fan of
Bobby Keys, who I'd seen live with Joe Cocker. He'd also played with the Stones
on Exile on Main Street - which was constantly on my turntable at home.
After driving the neighbours nuts and receiving numerous death threats, some of
which came from family members, I knew I was ready. I started auditioning,
trying to get a gig. This was a lot like the Bugs Bunny cartoon about the
Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf playing the trumpet - if you missed this
cartoon, in a nut-shell, he was shown the door on numerous occasions. As was moi.
But being a never-quit-type-of-guy, I kept looking out for an opportunity.
Then one day, in the local Perth newspaper, I saw an ad: "Punk Rock Singer -
Wanted". I'd just heard of Punk Rock and I liked it. So I rang and said I'd like
to try out. I said I also played the saxophone, could I bring it along, and the
guy said OK. They rehearsed every Saturday in a hall up in Perth. This became my
first introduction to "The Hitler Youth / The Lesbians".
[Ed note: Rod is
referring to The Geeks]
We broke up before we ever played live so we didn't have to pick between the
names. But more importantly, it was my first encounter with James Baker, Rudolph
V, Ross Buncle and Lloyd Thingy - I was only 16. On arrival, I was given a tape
and instructed to learn a song by The Ramones called I Wanna Be Your
Boyfriend. (This impressed me to no end, as it only had four lines and I had a
week to learn it ). I was to come back next week and sing it. As I was the only
one who answered the ad, there was time for the opportunity to play them my
saxophone. So I went for it in my usual bull-at-a-gate style, thinking they'd
stop me any second, and they did look dumb-founded, but they didn't stop me.
They were impressed. Apparently I sounded just like Steven MacKay from the
Stooges' Funhouse album. And you know what? After rehearsal, we went back to
Ross's and played the album and I did sound just like him. Well, I'd finally
found musos on the same page as me.
As it happened, I didn't actually become a playing member of the band, because
they decided to stay with the singer they had, Lloyd, and felt that there was no
place for sax in the band at that time. But I never missed a rehearsal from that
point on, and became good friends with James Baker, in particular.
The band rehearsed for quite a while since we couldn't get a gig, as everyone
thought "punk" was a joke and wouldn't last. The band auditioned a second
guitarist - a friend of mine called Kerri (?) tried out, but didn't fit. He was
too much into his Jeff Beck. (By the way, Kerri worked in a guitar shop under
Myers in Fremantle, and years later I caught up with him - he was playing in
Renée Geyer's band).
One day I arrived at rehearsal and saw a guy with a leather jacket and spiky
hair - this was Dave "Flick" Faulkner. I thought he was auditioning, but he
popped up later in The Victims. The same could be said of Kim Salmon and Neil
Fernandez from The Cheap Nasties. The Nasties seemed to have no problem getting
gigs, and me and Boris Sujduvic went to most of them. In some cases, we were the
only audience along with James Baker - it was a great time.
Shortly afterwards, I formed The Exterminators, and Jim (Baker) and Rudolph went
on to form The Victims - the rest is well documented.
Rod Radalj (aka RODDY RAY'DA), November, 2005