Ross Buncle i94 Bar Interview

Ross Buncle i94 Bar Interview

The following interview was published on the i-94 Bar site on April 12, 2006. It is a good summary of content covered more expansively on the perthpunk site, so if you want the abridged version here it is. Or, you could head over to the article at the i-94 Bar: see here. But then you’d have to find your way back here – why make life more complicated than it already is?

i94 Bar header
The Geeks logo
It’s not quite the Great Train Robbery and the “swindle” appears more inadvertent than malicious, but it nevertheless qualifies as an intriguing tale of Australian underground music that deserved to be told. It begins with a little-known band called The Geeks, who could have been Perth’s first punk outfit to play live, had the cards fallen differently. That title was claimed by The Cheap Nasties, whose ranks inittially included Kim Salmon and later Dave Faulkner, both of whom, of course, went on to greater things. A footnote they may have been, but The Geeks still had a small and important role to play in Perth’s seminal punk scene.

It’s true that they never made it out of the garage but The Geeks briefly hosted the mercurial talents of James Baker (pictured in the T-shirt design above), himself a legendary figure among drummers (and drinkers) and a future member of the Scientists, the Hoodoo Gurus, the Beasts of Bourbon and the Dubrovniks. Baker graduated to a new Dave Faulkner-led band, The Victims, and that’s where the historical record took a slight deviation. It was apparent to Geeks guitarist Ross Buncle and singer Lloyd that some of the by their then-defunct band’s best songs had gone with Baker, which in itself was a galling blow. It was compounded when The Victims recorded them – and the involvement of Buncle as co-writer went unacknowledged, with Faulkner’s name appearing in the writing credits.

And so it could have remained had Buncle not set out to correct the record, many years later. For once, justice was swift when both Dave Faulkner and James Baker acknowledged the error. More importantly for the rest of us, however, the spotlight was thrown onto The Geeks, as well as two other Perth bands that followed, The Hitler Youth and The Orphans. Three CDs worth of rehearsal tapes and live recordings were unearthed and have been released, and a website,, has been established to chronicle the early West Australian scene.

Perthpunk is a fascinating and hopefully expanding exploration of the roles of all of the aforementioned figures. You can also score copies of both of Buncle’s CD releases, “Burned” (The Geeks/The Hitler Youth) and “Exposed” (The Orphans), which show the small, fertile and important Perth scene of the late ’70s had more pockets of fermentation than the history books to date have reflected to date. THE BARMAN thought it high time to ask Ross Buncle to expand on what happened and what might have been. He did so in March 2006. Here’s his story.

OK, Ross, for the record, who rehearsed first? The Geeks or The Cheap Nasties?

If you’d asked me that question before I embarked on the project, I would have declared, with unflappable conviction, that The Geeks started rehearsing first – in ’76, I would have said, within weeks or at longest months of the release of the first Ramones album. I can now state – categorically, and with the benefit of exhaustive research I undertook in writing up the histories on the perthpunk website – that The Geeks, in their earliest formation (pre-James Baker), started rehearsing punk covers of Ramones, Modern Lovers and Stooges songs in early January 1977. The Geeks as such didn’t start until James Baker replaced the first drummer, having answered my ad in The Sunday Times of March 27, 1977 – it would have been the following Saturday that James rolled up, so that’s when The Geeks date from. This is substantiated fact.

I cannot tell you with any certainty when the Cheap Nasties first started rehearsing, and I don’t know what type of stuff they were doing initially. Remember, neither band knew of the other’s existence until the Nasties’ debut gig at the Rivervale Hotel in mid-’77. I’ve looked up every interview with Kim Salmon I could find, and his recollections on the Nasties’ chronology as recorded in these interviews vary. I know now from my own experience in thoroughly researching the chronology of The Geeks and my other bands of the time during the perthpunk website project that memory can play tricks, especially going back almost 30 years to a time of great intensity and, erm, youthful excess – no matter how strong your belief that you have things right. Anyway, back to your question: if Kim’s recollected chronology is correct, and The Cheap Nasties did start rehearsing some time in 76, they were first. But were they punk?

Based on their public showings, James Baker doesn’t think so. Neither does Rod Radalj. They classify the Nasties as a rocknroll band. And I thought they were way too tame musically for a bona fide punk band, although they looked the part. Lloyd reckons they were “more punk than anything else”, but still showing the influences of flabby 70s rock bores like Bad Company, and that’s probably the most accurate summation. The issue is not important, anyway, except in the context of a discussion on which band was the first punk band in Perth. Posterity will not judge Kim Salmon’s long and acclaimed career on the Nasties’ stuff.

Did anyone in Perth actually use the label ‘punk’ at the time?

Yes, certainly. The rock bible of the time, the NME, was throwing that label around by 76 in reference to the CBGBs bands and the Pistols, maybe earlier. Also, Legs McNeil, who claims to have coined the term “punk” as a generic music descriptor, co-founded Punk magazine in 75. And the ad I placed in The Sunday Times in March 77 that James Baker answered read: “SINGER wanted for blasting band. Must love punk – Ramones, Iggy. Exp not nec.”

Lloyd and I had been avidly following developments at CBGBs via articles in the NME by Charles Shaar Murray going back as early as 1975 and, I think, Nick Kent. Although at that time we hadn’t actually heard any of the CBGBs bands, we had a pretty fair idea of what punk was, because in attempting to locate the CBGBs bands musically and ideologically, these journos would allude to bands like the Velvet Underground, Stooges, New York Dolls and Dictators – we sure as hell knew what they were about, even if no one else we knew did. Patti Smith’s “Horses” came out in 75 and the punk attitude that breathed through it was immediately apparent. I recall Lloyd commenting at the time that Patti “really cuts Lou Reed down to size”. It has to be said yet again, though, that punk’s defining moment came with the release of the first Ramones album in mid-76. After that, there was no mistaking what punk was about, and the term ‘punk’ was in increasing circulation from that point on.

Why didn’t The Geeks play out live? Did the band actually have a name when in rehearsals? How many practices did you have?
Geeks 'Burned' CD cover from i94Bar
At that time, as far as we knew there were NO other punk bands, or even punk fans, in Perth. We were acutely conscious of our stylistic marginalisation as a band. And we were as green as it gets. This was our first band, except for James, who had been in a couple of short-lived glam bands, Black Sun and The Slick City Boys, one of which never played live, the other’s only gig being at a school function at which they played “Louie Louie” over and over until they had the power pulled on them. Gigging wasn’t any more than a vague future possibility for The Geeks at first. When we started, the only aim we had was to play, belting out this music we loved. We were brothers in arms, if you like, lone frontliners in a new movement, committed to the belief that we had it right and the cover band bores and disco fops that comprised the rest of the Perth music scene had it wrong – or that’s how it felt. Once we started writing our own songs, that in itself was more than ample reward for our efforts. We didn’t think much further ahead than the next rehearsal, the next new song.

Even the transformation from punk cover band to original outfit was never planned for or anticipated…it just happened in a moment. During a break at our second or third rehearsal, James produced a crumpled piece of paper with a scrawled set of lyrics for a song entitled “I Like Iggy Pop” (notable in that it featured the term “disco junkies”, later to become the name of one of the best Geeks songs, subsequently played by The Victims, with the term recycled by Dave Faulkner and the Hoodoo Gurus in “Miss Free Love” many years later).

After that first original, there was no going back. We retained our favourite covers, but focused almost entirely on originals. But there was no plan at all. I suppose we did have an underlying ambition to play live, but there were no bands of any sort doing mostly originals in our fair city at that time, let alone punk originals, and I suspect we thought it was going to be hard – if not impossible – to break into the live gig scene. Thus, playing live wasn’t to the foremost of our agenda as a band. Gigging amounted to a Columbus-like foray into the unknown. That sounds unbelievable now, but that’s how it really was then.

We had a full set of improbably great originals by May or so – it was an incredibly intense, exciting and creatively bountiful time – and received an offer out of the blue via a follower of the band to play at The Orient Hotel in Fremantle (as it transpired, three weeks before the Cheap Nasties played their debut gig at the Rivervale). James was raring to go, Lloyd was willing and Dave Cardwell would have gone along with them. I was the party pooper.

I was really proud of our originals, afflicted with a very un-punk perfectionism, and wanted to get tighter before we showcased the songs publicly. Also, I thought the Orient was a poor proposition for a first gig. In those days, Fremantle was a dive and the Orient was a bloodhouse patronised mostly by drunken seamen and tattooed monsters whom, I feared, would have relished exercising their collective and probably well-developed glass hurling prowess with Perth’s First Punk Band as target. I would have preferred that to watching the Nasties steal our anticipated thunder three weeks later, though. The benefit of hindsight. Another gigging opportunity didn’t come up after that, and a month or two later James spirited Dave Cardwell away to form The Victims with Dave Faulkner. By that time, we had developed a resolve verging on the desperate to play live to show the Nasties a thing or two about energy and true punk cred, but all too late – James had a brand new plan! And for The Geeks, that was all folks!

Did the band actually have a name in rehearsals?

We had a heap of names! That was the trouble – paralysed by choice! Every week, we’d come up with a grab bag of new name possibilities: The Geeks, The Victims, The Cancer Victims, Hospital, The Hitler Youth, The Dresden Whores, The Lesbians (thanks to Rod Radalj for remembering that one – I have no recollection of it), The Homosexuals (no thanks to Lloyd for that one which, I hasten to add, was in no way representative of any of the band members’ orientation) – these are a few that spring immediately to mind. But none of them stuck until after the band’s demise, when James started referring to us as the Geeks, and sometimes Beheaded (which I cannot remember ever being put forward as a name possibility!).

I don’t know how many practices we had. We had a good deafening beltout as a full band every Saturday at a boy scout hall in Wembley, and sometimes on Sunday. James would arrive at my place with lyrics and ideas for new songs an hour or so before the rest of the band arrived, and we’d work on them together so that by the time the other guys arrived, we’d have at least one new song virtually complete for the band to work on that day, sometimes more. James and I had songwriting sessions in my bedroom on some evenings mid-week, also. But I can state that short though The Geeks’ life was, we were a well-developed and unique entity as a band, ‘punk’ undoubtedly, but with a personality all our own. Although we ended up never playing a public gig, we were not just some half-arsed garage band messing around with semi-formed originals. And that assertion is supported by the fact that The Victims’ core repertoire – widely acclaimed at the time – comprised Geeks songs pretty much unaltered from the original versions.

Tell us about James Baker in the early days. He has a rep as a colourful character, to say the least. How did you guys hook up?

My first meeting with James came about as a result of an ad I placed in the good ol’ Sunday Times musical classifieds in January 76, ambitiously seeking a copy of the MC5’s Back In The USA. This album was legendary and unattainable at that time, having been deleted by Atlantic, and had assumed mythic proportions for Lloyd and I – the only two Detroit rock fans in Australia at the time, it seemed. I was not expecting a response to my ad, and for the first two weeks, I received none. I placed the ad for a third and final week, and was ecstatic to receive a call from a guy who had a copy he had picked up from the $2 bargain bin at 78 Records some time back; he pronounced it “the greatest rock ‘n’ roll record ever made”. He would not sell it at any price, but offered to tape it for me. Of course, I accepted, and went out to his parents’ home in Kenwick to pick up my prize. The Brian Jones-style helmet of hair with the overgrown fringe that greeted me at the front door belonged to Mr James Baker!
MC5 newspaper ad i94 Bar
During the meeting that followed, he told me he was planning a trip to the States to check out “a whole lot of little MC5s” that he’d heard were springing up over there. Turns out he was referring to the CBGBs scene.

My next contact with James was again through the Sunday Times musical classifieds, this time a little over a year later, in March ’77, in response to my ad for a singer for our fledgling punk band. I think we’d already run the ad for a week or two and had gotten nowhere. Then the phone rang and I thought I recognised the voice as James’. His arrival on my Scarborough doorstep confirmed that it was, indeed, the same guy, just returned from the rocknroll sojourn he had mentioned in our previous meeting a year or so before.

His look had not changed, and it remained pretty well the same throughout the early punk era and beyond: the fringe overhanging his eyes, winkle-picker black shoes and a white long-sleeved T-shirt with thick, horizontal black stripes a la early Jagger (or Alex Harvey on the great “Next” album). Style was important to him, and he had his own. In that way he was different from Lloyd and I – we were anti-cool, and made no effort with our personal presentation – but otherwise the three of us were kindred spirits at that time. As Lloyd recently observed, The Geeks were a happy band. We loved what we were doing and were all incredibly excited by what was developing, though we knew and cared not where we were headed. Anyway, back to James…

He always had his own vision of rock ‘n’ roll and all it should and shouldn’t be. So did Lloyd, and so did I, but we were not quite as tunnel-visioned and our ideas were maybe not as clearly delineated, as manifesto-like, as James’. The Stooges were the Holy of Holies for all of us, we loved The Ramones and first Modern Lovers album, and The Velvet Underground, and although James held the New York Dolls and the UK punk bands in generally higher regard than Lloyd or I, and didn’t share our rapture for The Saints’ “Stranded” album, or mine for Patti Smith, these were minor points of difference. We were on the same musical wavelength most of the time.

The uniqueness of James’ vision developed, or perhaps was revealed, through his lyrics and the songs that were born out of them. His songs had a naivete about them, were quirky and witty, sometimes even wistful, and displayed a unique take on the world – a long way from the venomous offerings spat out in anger by many of the UK bands (although James was fanatically into the Pistols). Musically, The Geeks delivered with enormous force and energy, if not finesse, and at times – such as in the often fearsome climax of “Disco Junkies” – entered a realm of chaos and mayhem that was pretty extraordinary, so let my words not be interpreted as suggesting that the songs that grew out of James’ lyrics in any way lacked punk punch – far from it!

James’ influence on the early Perth punk era that followed is well-documented, and needs no elucidation from me here. Suffice it to say that he was extremely charismatic, driven, obsessive in his pursuit of his singular rock ‘n’ roll ideal, and drew the rest of the Perth punks into his energy and vision. He was without doubt by far the most influential figure of the early Perth punk era, and espoused a sort of rock trash mythology that his bands and others were to draw on and borrow from for years afterwards.

Where did you and Lloyd procure what must have been, at the time in Perth, impossibly rare albums like “Back in the USA” and “Funhouse”?

I’ve already covered “Back In The USA” in my earlier ramblings. James was the only person we knew who actually had the record. We had to make do with taped cassette copies until the CD was reissued years down the track. From the early 70s, Lloyd was a compulsive record buyer and I would accompany him and watch on in awe as he would buy maybe five, six, seven or more records at a time, unheard. Then I’d get to hear them, and the ones I liked I’d then go and buy myself. It was a good system! Lloyd picked up “Kick Out The Jams” on one of his weekly raids on 78 Records, but it was a pretty rare find. It was deleted by Atlantic by the mid-70s, I think, and again I had to make do with a copied tape. I picked up High Times at 78 Records in the secondhand section. “Funhouse”, “The Stooges” and “Raw Power”, though, were all available at 78 Records and probably Dada, these stores being the only two record importers in Perth at the time. The Dolls’ records were easily attainable. We had no trouble getting most of this great stuff, because there was virtually no demand, and the few copies that were around would just stay sitting in 78s gathering dust, or would appear sooner or later in the secondhand bins courtesy of some misguided soul.

Ross Orphans 194 Bar

Ross Buncle in The Orphans c.1978

It seems as if the dispute over writing credits for those Geeks songs James took with him to The Victims has been more or less resolved amicably?

From my point of view, yes. I must again acknowledge Dave Faulkner and Kim Salmon for their prompt and decent responses to my request out of the blue so many years after the event that they have the APRA rights to the Geeks songs re-assigned to Baker/Buncle, as should have been the case from the outset. And I have to take responsibility for my part in the mess. I should have spoken up and brought the matter to a head at the time, instead of carrying a sense of injustice and resentment around for so long without expressing myself to those concerned.

I suppose the upside is that one of the primary motivations for embarking on the perthpunk website project was to publicly and finally address the perceived injustice. I am not sure how many share my view that the project that ensued was worthwhile, but it has been very satisfying for me, and the legacy is an expansive website history unlike any other I know of on the web that provides multiple, detailed personal perspectives on the very beginnings of a brief but fascinating period that was essentially a turning point in rock music history. The Perth scene was only a tiny corner of the punk world, to be sure, but I suppose it was to some extent a microcosm of what was happening elsewhere in the world, and as such, the stories of the folk who were there at the time must have some interest and relevance to anyone curious about the period. Whatever, I do feel that for me the songwriting credits chapter is now closed – and with a happy ending I was not anticipating.

However, without going into detail, James and Dave Faulkner are not at all happy with each other, and part of the acrimony is due to some of the claims made by Dave in his letter to me – published onsite with his permission – which place responsibility for the songwriting credit errors firmly with James. James is adamant that Dave’s version of events is not accurate. Realistically, this long after the event, neither party is likely to have recollected with absolute clarity and accuracy how or why my name was omitted from the credits and Faulkner’s included. As I said, as far as I’m concerned, it’s all now fully and fairly resolved, but I am sorry that the issue has resulted in yet more friction between James and Dave. I would like to see them waive their differences, at least to the point where they could co-operate to bring out another CD of Victims recordings, including the unreleased material that is out there, and maybe even a DVD of existing live footage. I know James is keen to do that, as is Dave Cardwell, but they need Dave Faulkner’s assent.

Talk about the musical environment in Perth in the days when The Geeks and The Victims were starting out…

It was dire. Really. You had a choice of pub cover bands, inevitably doing versions of “Stairway To Heaven”, “Cocaine”, Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running” or “Listen To The Music” – or probably both, and that fucking “Vehicle” song by The Ides of March. And a heap of other ’70s Top 40 sheisse. Or, there were a few blues and r&b bands who took themselves very seriously, like The Elks and The Beagle Boys. These guys attracted a more “sophisticated” crowd, and represented the rock establishment in Perth. Great musos, but they were a yawn as far as I was concerned. Or there were firmly entrenched cabaret bands that had been around unchanged for donkey’s years, doing tame versions of ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll. Or – worst of all – there was DISCO. That was my pet hate.

Sounds like hell!

It was occasionally possible to get some respite from the dross. There was a tribute band called Vambo, doing great loud covers of Sensational Alex Harvey Band songs. That was good. And there was an arty cover band called Free Emission that did some Pavlov’s Dog. That wasn’t bad for a change. But that was about it.

There were NO bands doing primarily originals, but some would chuck in a self-penned effort occasionally. You could tell. That was the completely forgettable one with whoosey lyrics that prompted a mass exit from the dance floor, that usually sounded like a pale imitation of something else, and that the band played with a sort of coy, hopeful enthusiasm before retreating with relief into the next thrashed-to-death cover.

The only real original was Dave Warner. He had had a band called Pus in the early ’70s, inspired by The Fugs, but they only played to friends, I believe. I never saw them, or saw them advertised. Dave Warner’s From The Suburbs started up just around the time punk hit Perth, and I did really like their shows – that admission would have dashed my cred with the punk clique, if I’d had any to start with!

They played at a place called Alberts Tavern in the city, and those early gigs were great. Unique shows, witty offensive lyrics, some admirable misbehaviour, and Warner’s rants were very funny. Most of the Perth punks despised Warner because he was rumoured to have sicced his suburban army onto a group of punks in UK identikit gear (leather jackets, badges etc) who came to one of his gigs at the Booragoon Hotel. I suspect Warner felt that his territory had been usurped by the punk movement. But as I pointed out onsite – and (writer) Mark Demetrius made the same observation – there is probably an argument for Pus being considered Perth’s first punk band.

Anyway, I digress. Overall, Perth was a desert for those few of us who craved the brand of high energy rock that James, Lloyd and I exalted as state of the art.

A big deal has been made of Perth’s isolation and the external influences on bands like the Victims and the Scientists. Could the Perth bands have sprung up anywhere else?

That’s a hard one. The Perth mainstream music scene was something to deride, surely, and it was fashionable amongst the punks to diss the place generally. So, in that rather negative sense, Perth provided inspiration and subject matter for songs like The Victims’ “Perth Is A Culture Shock” and The Exterminators’ immortal ode to the city, “Arsehole Of The Universe”.

Having lived in Sydney, travelled fairly extensively overseas and seen a bit of Melbourne, I am now well aware of Perth’s isolation and certain aspects of the cultural and natural environment that are unique to the west – both good things and bad. In the days of the early punk era, though, I didn’t have anywhere to compare Perth with, because I’d been nowhere else. I suspect it was the same for most others. So there was no conscious sense of isolation – we didn’t know anything different. James’ experience was otherwise. He’d recently returned from a year in the US – much of his time spent gloriously pissed under the tables at CBGBs, by all accounts – and London, and had witnessed the burgeoning of the punk scene at its most exciting phase. Perth must have seemed like a dreary, slow-motion nightmare to him. But musically, the influences were all imported.

The smallness of Perth probably meant that James’ influence was far more pervasive than it would have been in a bigger city like Sydney, or Melbourne, and indeed, he did significantly shape the punk mould in Perth. His musical influences had quite a profound effect not only on the bands in which he was involved, but on others. He was and is a New York Dolls FREAK, and I know he intended The Scientists, for example, to move away from punk towards a Dolls-inspired brand of rock and roll.

The Geeks’ originals were a product of the musical influences of all members. Lloyd and I were far more impressed by the American bands than their UK punk counterparts, and I think that shows in the songs and the way we performed them. James, too, was still very Stooges-influenced during The Geeks period.

By contrast, The Victims venture far closer to the UK punk sounds, and I think that may have been a reflection of James’ and Dave Faulkner’s tastes at the time. Certainly my other bands, The Hitler Youth and The Orphans, were full of US-style blast. The Manikins seemed to straddle the Atlantic, but were probably leaning a little more towards the UK side. All of which adds up to very little in attempting to address your question, except to affirm that international musical influences informed the Perth sound. The Saints were the only Australian band that had any musical influence in Perth in those early days, and I think it’s fair to say that that only extended to The Hitler Youth and The Orphans. Lloyd and I rated The Saints at the top of the pile, but we were just about alone in that as far as I know.

Finally, I think Perth’s relative affluence and easy lifestyle, and the boredom and blandness that can be a side-effect of that, was indirectly reflected in the generally apolitical and self-focused nature of the early punk song lyrics. Nothin’ much happening in lotus-eating land, so you look inside yourself for inspiration. James’ lyrics, whether in The Geeks, Victims or Scientists, are about girls, pickin’ ’em up, not pickin’ ’em up, wishin’ you could pick ’em up, or resenting some other slick bastard pickin’ ’em up. Or watching TV. Or looking for a way out of somewhere he doesn’t want to be. Or imagining himself back in London.

Lloyd’s songs are blackly comic sketches lyrically, gleefully designed to outrage or affront the sensibilities of the moral majority, and 98 percent of the remaining minority! Mine are mostly the dark fantasies of an outsider getting even with the society that he feels alienated from, or puerile vengeful rants about not gettin’ enough, or fanciful boasts about getting a lot, couched in a sort of tough pseudo-poetry. I don’t recall Kim Salmon’s or Neil Fernandes’ lyrics well enough to subject their songs to any meaningful analysis. But I think I can say, with confidence, that there were no Joe Strummers in Perth (thank God). No “God Save The Governors General”.

I’ve always been struck by the lack of political stuff in that first wave of Perth punk bands. Am I mistaken (you made a comment along those lines). Why was it so?
Orphans 'Exposed' CD cover i94 Bar
It’s true that the political content of the first-wave Perth punk bands was minimal, but a couple of points I’d make here. Firstly, politics in punk lyrics were rife in UK punk, but I don’t notice much evidence of politically-driven output from American punk bands of the time, and the only Australian punk band known to us outside Perth in 77-78, The Saints, are not inspired by political concerns, either, going by their classic “Stranded” album, even though from what you say the Brisbane punks were personally affected by overbearing police presence.

And where’s the political content in The Stooges’ stuff? The Velvets? The Dolls? The Dictators? The Ramones? The MC5 are the only US band amongst those that influenced us in ’77-78 that posture as “political”, and according to biographical accounts from band members, that was all bullshit, anyway, cooked up by their manager as a marketing strategy. Political content runs through a lot of the early UK punk because, I suppose, of the prevailing social and political environment there at the time. The NME in those days was peppered with sneering references to Thatcher. The consciousness that this was “Thatcher’s Britain” and that revolt should be the agenda for all right-minded folk of the left evidently permeated society over there – and the nasty old bitch wasn’t much fun, was she? Obviously, she was a natural focus for the invective and blood-letting of the disgruntled youth of the day.

Back to Perth. We had no such issues. Even if you were unemployed, life wasn’t too bad in the dumb sun of the lucky country way out west. We loved to complain, of course, but our dissatisfaction didn’t really amount to much. I think it is a fair call that we were generally pretty hedonistic, and self-focused. Perth is not so different now. There’s a mean-minded, selfish and petty mindset that operates en masse over here. You see it every day in the selfish attitude of drivers on the road, an attitude that is nowhere near as prevalent in Sydney and Melbourne, from what I’ve seen. They’ll never let you in, they speed up to stop you changing lanes in front of them, and take it personally if you pass them, often passing you back at earliest opportunity. It often seems that all any of the fuckers over here care about is property prices, their spoilt brats and making money. There’s probably more reason to express frustration with the place now than there was back in ’77.

Not to say that there weren’t disaffected people like me, who felt alienated, but back then, life was pretty easy, and our main concerns were those of the youth in any affluent society – getting rocked, getting pissed/stoned, and getting laid. Generally, only the order of those priorities would vary from person to person. At least, that’s how it was for me and those I knew. And quite simply, I think that is reflected in the generally self-focused and apolitical early punk stuff from Perth. Perhaps, though, frustration and contempt for the place and its people did express itself in the musical ferocity of the more extreme output – but more likely, this alluded to our musical models of the time.

I believe James’ earlier band The Slick City Boys was another that never got out of the rehearsal studio. If they had, how would they have been accepted?

Very badly, I imagine. Dressing up like the New York Dolls at that time in Perth was probably riskier to one’s state of health, or even mortality, than Richard Hell wearing his “Please kill me” Tshirt in New York City of the ’70s. I don’t know anything about the Slick City Boys’ musical repertoire, so I can’t comment on that aspect.

I know you had a great deal of antipathy towards The Victims when they first started out. With the benefit of hindsight, what do you think of them now?

They were certainly the most influential and significant punk band in Perth, thanks in no small part to the Geeks songs that launched them so quickly from start-up and helped pave the way for their rapid progression to the focal centre of the developing Perth punk scene. I don’t mean to be bitchy in saying that – it’s simply true.

But it was they who did it, and they worked their arses off to make it happen, practising night and day for three weeks to ready themselves for their first gig, I believe, living together in the dilapidated old house in East Perth that James, I think, christened “Victim Manor”. They put punk on the map in the west, and helped to set a precedent for the original music scene that followed. Their move to create Perth’s own CBGBs out of the ailing cabaret club Hernando’s Hideaway was truly inspired and quite ingenious. Thursday nights at Hernando’s became huge. It started as a home for the punks, and degenerated into a weekly institution for the hip, the wannabe hip and every poseur in between, but those packed houses forced the music establishment in Perth to sit up and take notice. Something was happening, and Mr Jones suddenly wanted to know what it was.

Musically, The Victims had their own sound. They played fast and with a lot of energy, though sometimes came too close to mere din for my liking. James, as always, gave everything he had on drums. I never have seen anyone hit the drums as hard. He’s possessed with beat. I did not and still do not much like Faulkner’s guitar tone, but listening to “All Loud On The Western Front” now, he was better as a guitarist and vocalist in The Victims than I perceived him to be at the time. I think his guitar on “Disco Junkies” works particularly well. “Television Addict” is, in my opinion, their best song – a little beauty – closely followed by their version of The Geeks’ “Disco Junkies”. I think the best of the rest of their material came from The Geeks, and although they played themselves into a musical tightness The Geeks never accomplished, I don’t think they did any of those songs as well as The Geeks on a good day. All in all, though, they were a formidable force, and there is no denying that they are deserving of their place in Australian punk rock history.

Did Lloyd ever play in another band after the Hitler Youth? How shattering was that band’s first (and last show) for you?

No, The Hitler Youth was Lloyd’s last band. Who knows, though? The future’s uncertain and the end is always near…maybe a Geeks debut 30 years after formation? That scream of protest you hear is Lloyd’s…I can tell you that he has recently taken to writing songs again. His most recent ones are called “Halleluja” and “She’s A Cell Phone Girl”, and he has recovered another one written in the Hitler Youth days that we never got around to playing, called “The Weak Must Suffer”.

I wasn’t shattered by the one and only Hitler Youth gig – that’s too strong – but I did feel humiliated and horribly disappointed. The band had been around for some months developing our repertoire, but a week or two prior to the gig we parted company with our bass player and drummer. We had to find replacements fast, and as it happened we got lucky. Max was a great drummer, although without any gigging experience, and Phil was a truly brilliant bass player who had had a lot of experience on stage and had toured with his previous band, a group of glam rockers called Suicide Hotel. Our rhythm section was extraordinarily good.

Problem was, we only had time for one or two practices as a full band before the gig, the last one being in the afternoon of the gig. It went blazingly well. Just thrilling. I had mouthed off to some of the other punks that we were going to cause a riot, and I was a bit regretful that I had set up expectations like that, but after that afternoon hitout prior to the gig, I was confident we were going to slay ’em. Lloyd and I had a fairly strained relationship with the punk clique due to our aloofness, our less than kindly assessments of The Cheap Nasties that had gotten around, and a couple of unfortunate incidents that were not entirely our fault. So, it was vital that we put up or shut up.

None of us had been on stage before apart from Phil, and we didn’t understand the importance of foldback, or even what it was! We also didn’t understand that the band sound you hear on stage is not anything like the front-of-house sound. When we got up there and slammed into our opening, all the energy seemed to be sucked out of us and the sound was wimpy up there. Far from the deafening volume we were used to in the rehearsal room, from the stage we sounded anaemic. I turned my amp up full, but it made no difference, apart from muddying the tone even more than was usual with the distortion effect pedal turned up to maximum.

None of us could hear each other and we were playing out of time. The harder we tried, the worse it seemed to get. It was weird up there, like being stoned on some enervating drug. I wanted to just disappear, and when a catcall came from the punks at one side of the stage enquiring “what happened to the riot?”, my humiliation was complete. I knew we had been just incendiary in our pre-gig rehearsal, but no one would have believed it on the public evidence that night. I was extremely disappointed, because I knew we were so much better than we had been up there. It’s a shit feeling to let yourself down like that, isn’t it? Actually, I suppose I was shattered at the time, come to think about it! As you know from the website, none of the band members contacted each other again post-gig, and that was the end of the Hitler Youth!

The songs that have survived are played at breakneck speed. Was the rest of the set like that?

Even more so. The fastest song was almost impossible to play. It was called “Wet My Bed” and was, of course, Lloyd’s! I think we played it reasonably tightly only once or twice. It was just too fast for any drummer to keep up with for longer than a few seconds. It only lasted about 15 to 20 seconds, but that was as strength-sapping as a bloody marathon at that pace. Ridiculous, really, but we did break through some sort of barrier with that one!

You and Lloyd had a difference philosophy on the band name and lyrics? Tell us about some of the more extreme songs.

Lloyd and I did have our differences. I maintain that he was the driving force behind the Hitler Youth, and that the songs were a product of his extreme vision for the band. He disputes this. He doesn’t like words like “vision” and insists he had none at all. He also reckons I was there every step of the way, pushing the thing to ever greater extremities with him. That is true to an extent, but the extreme speed of the songs was something that came from Lloyd initially and that I went along with and contributed to with one song – “Charles Beamish”. I always had a niggling sense, though, that I wasn’t quite comfortable with the extremity for extremity’s sake ethic. Lloyd rejoiced in it all. His lyrics were wilfully puerile all the time, or calculated to offend the masses with tasteless offerings that determinedly pushed tastelessness way too far.

As I’ve been very concerned to make clear in the website history, despite the name, the band was in no way political or associated with skins etc, but really, how do you get that across? If we’d done more gigs and gotten close to the cataclysmic stage event we wanted and aimed to be, surely we would have come across as threatening and scary, not as some band of snickering pisstakers getting off on pushing our brand of juvenile irony on to an unsuspecting public? In essence, I was worried that no one outside the band would recognise that we were pisstaking. I was not racist or anti-Semitic, and politically I leaned left. The image of the Hitler Youth didn’t sit comfortably with me, then! Lloyd, by contrast, couldn’t have been happier at the prospect of being taken the wrong way by a confused and offended public – theoretically, at least. He was anything but confrontational or provocative in his onstage delivery during the Hitler Youth gig, though. I really thought self-immolation wasn’t out of the question for Lloyd that night, godammit!

When did you guys first become aware that there were punk bands on the East Coast?

With the release of The Saints’ “Stranded” album. That was it. No one in Perth had heard of Radio Birdman at that time, and we didn’t know of any other punk-style bands on the East Coast until way later. It seems incredible now, but without electronic communication networks shrinking the continent – or the world – to the easily manageable size it is today, we had no way of knowing what was going on over the Nullarbor until the first records were released, apart from actually going there. The first wave of the punk movement was over in Perth before anyone had heard of any Eastern States punk-style bands other than The Saints. I don’t count The Teenage Radio Stars, who appeared on Countdown with their Vibrators rip-off, “Wanna Be Your Baby”. The Perth punks were, understandably, in contempt of that crap.

Bands in Brisbane had a hellish time trying to play with massive levels of police harassment. Were you guys ever subjected to anything similar? How cohesive was the scene that sprang up around Hernado’s Hideaway back then?

Brisbane was in the grip of Bjelke-Petersen’s redneck regime at that time – bless the old bastard – and from all accounts the place was subjected to all sorts of oppression, including police overkill. I believe The Stranglers were inspired to write a song about their experiences there in the ’80s! Perth was nothing like that.

There was no cop presence at the Perth punk gigs at all during that early era, at least as far as I know – and I went to most of the gigs. It was all very civilised, actually. Exuberant pogo-ing and lots of drinking, but no violence. Truth to tell, generally speaking, the Perth punks came from comfortable middle-class backgrounds. Rod Radalj mentioned to me a few weeks back that the Nasties and Manikins, and Dave Faulkner, had private school backgrounds.

I was speaking not long ago to one of the female punks who was there from the beginning, Yvonne Walsh, and she remarked on the affluent family backgrounds of most of the Perth punks, and observed that she and her sister Julie were the only folk from those early punk days from “working class” backgrounds. I must hastily and pettily add here that The Geeks, HY and Orphans members did not go to private schools – with one exception who shall remain unnamed. And it should be noted that he despised his private school and all it stood for.

The scene at Hernando’s was small to begin with, and pretty cohesive at that time, although I am not the best person to ask about that. I’ve always been more of an outsider and was not part of the clique. As the crowds swelled, the bona fide punks were greatly outnumbered, and the cohesiveness probably diminished. The scene, as such, had begun to dissipate by the time The Orphans took up residence at Hernando’s, which was just after The Victims split.

The Orphans 1978 i94 Bar

The Orphans in 1978

Who were the stand-outs on the Perth live scene for you?

If you’re referring to the live punk scene in the early era, mindful that it would not be appropriate to include my bands, I’d have to rate The Victims at the top by a long way, my resentment of them at the time notwithstanding. And I have to say, too, that critical though I might have been of the Nasties, I far preferred watching them, and any of the punk bands for that matter, to yawning through yet another night of covers courtesy of any number of pro cover bands in the rock barns of the time.

The Manikins I respected, because they stuck at it through thick and thin, grew out of the punk mould and crossed over to bigger venues, such as the Shenton Park Hotel. I wasn’t thrilled by their music, but it was a damned sight better than the alternatives in Perth outside the punk scene. It was always enjoyable witnessing hastily thrown-together punk bands late in the night at Hernando’s in the early days. They frequently did The Modern Lovers’ “Pablo Picasso” because it was so easy to play – it was a Perth punk standard!

I liked the atmosphere at the Governor Broome Hotel, where The Victims debuted. The bill was always The Victims and the Nasties, later called The Veneers, who became The Manikins. There was a sense of a gathering of tribes, a momentum, which I found exciting, even if I removed myself from the possibility of being one of the growing punk clique.

By the time The Orphans broke up, there was no real punk scene as such any more, and I felt pretty empty and disillusioned with it all. I saw The Scientists a couple of times and wasn’t impressed, but to be fair, this was very early on, so my opinion doesn’t count for much. I poked my nose into the Herdsman Hotel one night to have a look at The Dugites – thought they were shite. Johnno, one of the core members of the early punk clique, got a rockabilly band together called The Bop Cats – they were different and I enjoyed a couple of their gigs. I checked out Quick And The Dead at the Como Hotel in the early 80s and hated them. There were skins all over the dance floor acting like wankers, and the band were fast and loud and noisy, but had none of the melodic quality or originality of any of the early Perth punk bands. It was miserable in comparison.

Outside the punk scene, as stated, I did really enjoy Dave Warner’s From The Suburbs, for the reasons already mentioned. And that was about it.

How big a leap was it from the Hitler Youth to The Orphans? How many shows did the band play in its lifespan and did you ever try to tour outside Perth?
Billy Orphan and Colin i94 Bar
I’m not sure it was a leap at all, except personally. It was quite a big move for me to get my own band together, away from Lloyd’s influence. He and I had been partners in punk crime from the beginning, and as I wrote on the website, he was my rock music mentor, in a sense. I almost felt disloyal, taking an independent path like that, but I had to do it, and it was right to go it alone at that point. I was always more a songwriter than a performer, and had been building up a store of fully-developed songs of my own that I knew would not fit into the Hitler Youth, or any band that Lloyd was a part of. There were love songs amongst them, ferchrissake! And my stuff tended to be more complex musically than Lloyd’s. I liked minor chords, and bridges, and experimenting with different rhythms and time signatures, and secretly took my lyrics slightly seriously. I liked the beat that came from a slightly more moderate tempo than Lloyd’s typically breakneck approach. So, a band of my own was an inevitable development, and The Orphans were that band.

After the disappointment of the Hitler Youth gig, I was driven to vindicate myself publicly, and this drive infused The Orphans with an early momentum and determination to succeed and quickly. The band came together pretty smoothly, and we rehearsed with discipline and purpose from the beginning. That was a much more positive beginning and approach than the Hitler Youth’s. The Orphans were far more a real band than the Hitler Youth, which was dogged by member changes and combinations of people that didn’t really work – until the final lineup, which was only together a week or two. Without retracing ground I’ve already traversed in novelistic detail on the website history, The Orphans did have a fantastic debut at the Leederville Punk Festival. So that laid the Hitler Youth ghost to rest.

After that, we continued to develop as a band, as did I as a songwriter, I think. Other than “Oh Baby”, which I wrote back in the Hitler Youth days, I think the last Orphans songs were probably the best – “Teenage Lust”, “It’s Over” and “Cool Bodies”. But by that stage, the band was running on empty. We had lost our enthusiasm for gigging. Our audiences were not building, and we never recaptured the crowd energy and excitement of that debut gig, partly because the punk scene started to collapse after the demise of The Victims, leaving The Orphans struggling for breath in the vacuum they left behind at Hernando’s.

I’m not sure how many shows we played. We were resident at Hernando’s for some months, but didn’t play every week. We played one other venue in Fremantle, and that was about it. The band was together about five or six months, just a bit longer than The Geeks, so by today’s standards we didn’t last long at all.

You should be aware, though, that The Victims were only together for eight or nine months – the early punk bands in Perth were never in danger of rusting. They always burnt out, and pretty fast most of the time, The Manikins being the only exception. And no, The Orphans never considered touring outside Perth. It was hard enough getting a decent audience at Hernando’s, and I don’t think we ever had the confidence to imagine we might go down alright anywhere else, or the finances to back such a notion.

Was putting out a proper studio release an option at the time? What’s the history of the studio tape and rehearsals that you’ve released.

A “proper studio release” seemed like an impossible dream at the time. Cutting a record was expensive, and as I’ve just suggested, none of us were very financial. We made nothing from our gigs – in fact, we had to pay for the PA and mixer, and every night we played we ended up in the red. Even beer riders were unheard of. The studio tape we recorded was done at Purvisonic Studios, which was a pretty basic setup owned, I believe, by Ray Purvis, Perth’s local self-appointed punk afficionado journo at the time. We recorded all the songs live, no overdubs, no nothin’ apart from a shitload of compression or something that the sound engineer added to the mix – it made the band sound thin and distant. I was not happy with the results of that recording session at all. Still, the poor guy knew nothing about punk and the sound we were after, and did give his day for free. It must have been a bit of a trial for him. He was a contact of our drummer, Max, I think.

The rehearsal tapes I didn’t know existed until late in the writing up of the website, when I tracked down Yvonne and Julie, The Orphans’ two most loyal fans, who would frequently rock up to our practices. Julie had taped some of our later rehearsals, with Dave Cardwell having replaced Colin Dowson on bass by that time. She had used a portable cassette player and just hit the inbuilt mike button, so the sound is not great. However, until Julie’s tapes materialised, I had no authentic Orphans recordings of “Face At The Window”, “Teenage Lust” or “Cool Bodies”. Now there’s an authentic recorded version of all the Orphans originals, so from my tiny completist perspective, I’m indebted to Julie for keeping her tapes all this time and making them available to me. I hadn’t been in contact with her or Yvonne for 27 years!

By the way, not all the Orphans live stuff on “Exposed” came from the studio or rehearsals recordings. The CD opens with recordings of our final gig, taped from the mixing desk at Hernando’s.

An interesting historical footnote – at the end of the song “Fire”, Billy Orphan announces that The Scientists will be playing at Hernando’s the following week. That was the first public gig The Scientists played, if my memory is correct, apart from parties. I was at the party at which they played their first ever. The fibro walls of the place were kicked in by the time the night ended. The place was all but demolished in some areas – nothing to do with the band. Pity the poor bastard who was renting the house.

How’s the reaction been to the two albums you’ve released? Has the website turned up any other recordings?

Those who have bought the CDs have been very positive in their responses. I’ve had great feedback about the site in general, actually. James Baker tells me that young punks and rock fans keep coming up to him in pubs and referring to the website. Apparently they’re fascinated by the stories, especially about James in his early days. The hit rate isn’t outstanding, however, and I’m not sure what else I can do to promote the site. I guess the interested audience is not huge. It all happened a long time ago, and no none knows me from a piece of sh…ark.

Something almost unbelievable to have emerged, however, is a distribution deal! There will be a single compilation CD comprising all the Geeks stuff, remastered yet again from the original tapes, and including the best of the Hitler Youth and Orphans. It will be professionally pressed, with offset printing for the sleeve and a multi-page booklet with song lyrics and photos! 30 years on, and The Geeks, Hitler Youth and Orphans sell out! YES! The CD will be released later this year on the Memorandum label through Reverberation. More news about this will be posted on the perthpunk site as it comes to hand.

The icing on the cake would be if the missing Geeks songs turned up on one of a few cassette tape copies I made for the rest of the band, but so far, there is no sign of this little miracle. I have been hoping against hope. I thought maybe one of The Victims members might one day uncover a dusty little cassette tape in some forgotten place – James and Rudolph (aka Dave Cardwell) do remember learning the Geeks songs off a tape I made for James. I thought maybe even Dave Faulkner might discover it sitting around at the bottom of a cache of forgotten tapes from yesteryear, but it ain’t happened so far. I even thought maybe the guy who in 1979 bought the Teac 4-track tape recorder we used to record all the Geeks songs might miraculously appear brandishing the unwiped reel of tape that I stupidly sold with the recorder. But alas, I fear it ain’t to be.

Can I take this opportunity to put out a call to Billy Orphan? Hey Billy, if you’re out there, send me an email via the site, would ya?

One of the best things to come out of this whole project has been re-connecting with the folk I knew from the early punk era in Perth. The synchronicity has been jaw-dropping at times. I hadn’t heard from Dave Cardwell in 27 years, and as I was nearing the end of the mammoth task of writing up the website and completing the design aspects, he phoned up from Queensland out of the blue. Same with Colin Dowson, the bass player in the original Orphans lineup. Apparently he’d had an unaccountable urge to get in touch with me, and phoned all the numbers under my surname in the phone book (I have a silent number), and was about to give up when he spoke to someone who had my number. I don’t know who it was. He called me just as I was about to publish the website.

The only band members who have not contacted me now are Phil North, the Hitler Youth bass player, and Billy. Also, I’ve met up with Roddy Radalj, whom I hadn’t seen since 1978, and thoroughly enjoy his company – great guy. James Baker, too, I have had much more contact with, and that’s been great. And I’ve developed a strong friendship with Matt Weiland, aka Stumblefuck from ’80s Perth extreme hardcore misfits, Rupture. Matt worked on the CD cover and T-shirt designs with me every step of the way, and put incredible effort into digitally remastering the old recordings and creating the CDs. In fact, he’s to blame for the entire project! If it wasn’t for his irrepressible enthusiasm and insisting that the project was worthwhile, and that people out there would be interested in the stories and CDs, I wouldn’t have embarked on this ubermarathon at all, much less finished it. It’s been a huge undertaking, and I’ve had well enough of living with the ghost of my younger self for the past year-and-a-half, but the project has given me a lot back for my effort, in all sorts of unexpected ways. Be assured that I am not speaking in a financial context, by the way! This has been very much a labour of love.

Tell me about the re-recorded Orphans songs. What inspired you to record and who played on the songs?

Most of the inspiration came from Matt Weiland. He and his friend, Jenny-Anne, are self-proclaimed World Number One Fans of The Geeks, and Matt holds that title for The Orphans, also. I had already recorded most of the Orphans songs on a Tascam four-track in the early ’90s, and had spent bloody ages trying to get them as authentic and live-sounding as possible. I referred back constantly to Max’s drumming on the exisiting Orphans recordings, and tried to program my Alesis HR16 drum machine to exactly simulate his style and drum kit sound. The Alesis has a very natural set of sampled drum sounds, and I messed around for ages with the levels of individual drums and beats within the songs to get a live feel, and to avoid that perfect, relentless beat and ultimately unreal sense you end up with with most programmed drums. I used the same distortion pedal as I had used in The Orphans, and kept post-mix effects to an absolute minimum, to keep the sound as “live” as possible. I’m pleased to say that quite a few people have asked me who played on the recordings, and James Baker even asked me who the drummer was! So I hope that indicates that I was successful in keeping the sound rough and “live”.

I didn’t bother with bass tracks for most of the songs when I did them in the 90s. When I started work on the perthpunk website in late 2004, I wasn’t intending to offer CDs of any of the bands, but Matt started working on me, transferred the Geeks tape to CD and sent it to me, and around then I started thinking it might be worth transferring the other bands to CD, also.

That’s how it started. A year later, the completist in me started gnawing my inner ear off about re-recording the whole Orphans repertoire. So I put bass parts to the recordings I had done in the 90s, using hard disk recording software and my trusty Ibanez Roadster 2. There were 4 Orphans songs I hadn’t re-recorded in the ’90s, and another I didn’t like. I lost the argument I was having with my rational self and decided to bite the bullet and record them. They are probably among the best songs on the “Orphans Revisited” CD: “Face At The Window”, “Teenage Lust”, “Cool Bodies” and “Sister Claire”. I used the same instruments and distortion pedal as before, and got Lloyd in to sing “Face” and the verse lines in “Cool Bodies”.

Why did I bother? Well, apart from being caught up in Matt’s enthusiasm, I have to admit that I am proud of the Orphans songs, and I felt that I wanted to present them with better production values on the CD containing the original versions. It ended up that I had to include them in the Exposed package as a bonus CD – I couldn’t fit everything on to one CD. And I now do have the sense that the final chapter in my retrospective Perth punk history has been written at last. Time to move on!

Ross Buncle with beer, April 2006

Post-punk Buncle with beer

What was your own musical history post The Orphans?

I never imagined anyone would be interested enough to ask me that! So thanks!

I was so disillusioned post-Orphans with the Perth scene and the way punk degenerated generally that after a short-lived punk(ish) band called The Mozarts, I sold my wonderful Gibson SG and Twin Reverb (REGRET IT!), did a year at uni then went travelling overseas for a couple of years. I was writing songs in my head as I hitch-hiked my way around the UK and Europe, and did a couple of solo recordings in Sydney when I returned to Australia.

I got the band itch back after returning to Perth, changed from guitar to bass, and in 1989 got together a band called Cat In The Hat. Some good songs, but a crap band. We played a gig at the Fly By Night Club in Fremantle, and another one somewhere in the city, then split.

Out of the ruins came my next band, The Deadly Nightshades. Not the Sydney band by the same name – I first heard of them after we split. Two of the members of the Sydney namesakes are ex-Perthites. I have no doubt they ripped off our name. But who cares? We were dead by then.

We played a few good gigs and a few not so good, and had some great songs, but I guess they’re never going to see the light of day. I have a couple of live tapes of us rehearsing. Not that the band itself worked brilliantly – it didn’t. Some of the members were wrong together. I had a brief stint with James Baker in the 90s in another band that also didn’t work very well. And in between my unremarkable band projects, I have recorded the songs I consider my best, with a little help from my partner, Janis, who has a sweet, true voice, and the Deadly Nightshades guitarist, my good mate Ian Young. I have remastered the recordings, which were done on analogue four-track, to CD. I rate some of those songs as my best. There’s a couple of punk numbers, some hard rockers, and an otherwise stylistically eclectic mix.

If any current bands are looking for some songs to bring them fame and fortune, don’t delay – contact me now!

Did you see the Stooges when they came through Perth in February?

No, unfortunately. I would have loved to have seen them, but the Big Day Out is a trial of endurance I am committed to avoiding for all time. Even The Stooges couldn’t get me there. That was partly because I hate the idea of reformed bands whose glory days are long past – although, there is talk of a Geeks debut gig (30 years after formation, haha) which, hypocritically, I’d love to do if all members were in the same city at the same time, and all were willing, and I know three of the four of us are.

But back to the BDO. Rock and roll has always been about intensity for me. I find the mere thought exhausting of wandering about in the blazing summer heat watching band after band strut their stuff. 2 hours of live rock is my absolute limit. I want the experience to be intense, or forget it, and if the band’s any good and going full on, even 40 minutes is enough for me. James Baker shares this view, incidentally. He wasn’t going to go to the BDO either, but ended up scoring free tickets for he and his daughters. He said The Stooges were brilliant, but that he couldn’t get anywhere near the stage.

I must admit, after hearing his report I wished I had made the effort to find out when they were scheduled to go on, and rolled up 30 minutes beforehand. Mark Demetrius saw them in the UK recently, and made the observation that they had re-formed but were not reformed. That should have been enough to prompt me to make the effort. I did see Iggy and his band of the time in Perth in 1989, and he was in his 40s then – fucking dangerous, even so! I thought it was too much to expect that he would be going off like that this much further down the track. I was wrong, by all accounts, damn it! Whatever did Mrs Pop put in young James Jewel’s water?

Since we’re in a Bar, what are you drinking?

Some of that there Pop juice? No? OK, if you’re paying, a Paulaner. If not, whatever comes from the tap, as long as it’s very cold, long and with a good head. Cheers!

One thought on “Ross Buncle i94 Bar Interview

  1. Zeeman

    Given the current restrictions on social gatherings, there is a certain irony in the story of The Victims first gig in Perth in early 1977. Perth, by some calculations, the most isolated capital city in the world, didn t have a big punk rock scene. After all, this was the era of bland commercial radio, flaccid cover bands and conservative social attitudes.


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