It was late 1975, I was at Thornlie High School, and “different” types of music were starting to emerge. At Thornlie High I met Ian Sharples, who was to go on and gain some notoriety in the Perth music scene, and he turned me on to David Bowie. Other English lads were getting into Slade and the whole skinhead thing.
Late in 1976, I ran into another Thornlie boy – Andrew Pepper – who was Ian’s best mate. They had been travelling in Europe and in the UK had witnessed the birth of the early punk movement. Andrew had The Ramones’ first album, which of course blew me away. The music mags were full of the Sex Pistols; I got a copy of Anarchy in the UK and that was it – I was hooked.
I think Andrew told me about The Victims (his sister was going out with James Baker)* and I started going to the gigs at Hernando’s Hideaway around late 1977. These gigs were fantastic – the speed, raw power, tight playing and image of The Victims combined to emerge as a breathtaking full frontal assault when they hit the stage. Dave Flick was the archetypal punk, with dog collar, spiky hair and cranking guitar riffs. Rudolph V looked like he was playing for his life just trying to keep up. And behind it all, a mop top of wild fringe flayed as James Baker smashed his drums into submission. The punters were a mix of punks trying to look “cool”, a few skins and others who were pogoing madly from the first crunching chord.
There were various support bands, but they seemed to be thrown together, very loose and unrehearsed – which is, of course, what the whole punk scene was about. These support bands were all applauded with great enthusiasm, but only served to underline what a tight, fast and hard unit The Victims were.
I seem to remember that Hernando’s Hideaway had a menacing air, with the threat of violence in the atmosphere. If you were with the punk “in crowd” you were ok, but if you weren’t – look out. I obviously wasn’t, because one night I was king hit from behind by someone who had obviously taken a dislike to me. But it didn’t turn me off, and I continued seeing The Victims until they finished their run of gigs, and broke up not long after. I still have both The Victims EPs and a picture of the band.
I don’t recall catching any of the other “first wave” bands until The Manikins in mid-1978. By this time I was at Uni and living in a student house in Subiaco. We’d get pissed up at the Cock’n’Bull, then head down to the Broadway Tavern to catch The Manikins. The full-on punk scene was by now on the wane and the Manikins were a more melodic, pop/rock outfit. Many of the original Hernando’s crew were there and a real following had developed around the band. The Manikins were a very polished outfit live, and they too had the crowd up on the dance floor, week after week. I bought a cassette of their songs and the single, just for posterity.
The whole punk thing was a fantastic period of creativity – I even got into a band through people I met at the Manikins gigs. We called ourselves The Coits and played one gig at a UWA Science Union show, where we were very poorly received – punk was not a widely accepted phenomenon in Perth in those days. I turned 21 in June 1979, and Andrew Pepper brought James Baker along to my party. James gave me two copies of the Scientists’ single Frantic Romantic for my birthday, and he then proceeded to launch a serious attack on the alcohol supplies at the party. I put the single on, and I remember James jumping up on an armchair in the lounge, a “king brown” of Swan in each hand, dancing to his record. Those were the days!
I caught a Scientists gig in Fremantle on New Years Eve in 1979, and that was basically the end of my punk days in Perth, until I formed a punk tribute band in 1990. We were called The Bollocks Brothers and we packed out the Chelsea Alehouse for one gig only, doing a couple of originals plus covers of the Victims, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Damned and Buzzcocks, among others. We were ably supported by a band called Elf and the Goon Gut Babies.
To this day I’ve still got the memorabilia and the albums, and would agree that musically it was an incredibly exciting time – whether you were in a band or watching one.
(Note: The above is to the best of my recollection. Please excuse any historical or factual inaccuracies – it was a long time and many beers ago. I am happy for any readers to make any corrections or comments.)