Dave Cardwell on The Geeks
I don’t remember the year, but I do remember reading an advertisement advertising for a “bass player, no exp needed” [Ed note: the year was 1977].
Back then, New Wave/punk music was not a real listening issue for me. I had heard about The Sex Pistols, but overall I had no idea as to what was about to unfold.
I phoned in response to the ad and spoke to a chatty guy named Ross. He made me feel a little insignificant and that maybe I wouldn’t fit into his project, but I went around to his house for my first rehearsal. This rehearsal was to be the beginning of my path to a new music. What no one understood back then was, we were all contributing to history in the city of Perth, even if we were only part of a very small group of people doing what we were doing.
So The Geeks were born. I was suddenly listening to masses of records introduced by Ross and the other members of The Geeks, James Baker and Lloyd P – bands like The Saints, Ramones, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Stooges and many more.
I can’t remember every cover we did, but I do remember that The Ramones featured strongly. The finer points of band life were introduced to me by the other band members – like drinking massive volumes of beer, smoking pot then eating masses of KFC, then spending the afternoon throwing up and watching the clouds talk to each other. This was the life for me! I wanted more!
James Baker was to me, even back then, a walking legend. He had a wealth of knowledge of the new music scene, having recently spent time in America and Britain – he even had a beer purchased for him by Sid Vicious in London and had auditioned in the raw lineup of The Clash.
The Geeks rehearsed hard and even recorded a rehearsal tape, but the thing that the band lacked was vision to play live. The view that James and I shared was that refinement of songs would come by live work.
The Geeks began early in its creation to write original songs – songs subsequently taken by The Victims, who recorded them but never gave copyright credit where it was due – songs like High School Girls, TV Freak and others. I can say with conviction, even though my memory is sketchy with some things, that The Geeks were instrumental to the initial success of The Victims, because songs that were written and played by The Geeks were taken across to The Victims’ rehearsals.
The Geeks opened the door to me to uncontrived presentation of music, from Ross’s slashing cut-throat guitar to James’ flawless beats and Lloyd’s guttural snarling vocals…and me keeping up with everyone on bass and having a total ball.
It was one Sunday avo at a Geeks rehearsal in a scout hall that David Faulkner arrived. James introduced me to him and from that time Faulkner assured James and I that he wanted a working project. This excited me, as this is all I wanted with The Geeks, and thus The Victims were born.
At this point I am refraining from saying what I really want to say about The Victims due to copyright issues, but I will say that The Victims did achieve a great deal in such a short time.
The Geeks went through their own story after James and I left, but it was some time later Ross formed The Orphans.
Wow – now music began to take a new path for me. The Victims had spit the dummy, and I’d put together an up-ya-nose band to piss Faulkner off 10 days after The Victims had split up. Of course, it was no good, but it served its purpose.
Eventually, when the original bass player left, I joined The Orphans, and the thing I still love about this band is its music. To me, The Orphans opened the door to the real sound, the real punch delivery that Perth punk bands had looked for, but most failed to achieve.
Ross, in such a short time, had become – and I think still is – one of Australia’s best songwriters.
It wasn’t until The Orphans that I could see Ross was more confident in playing live. Without doubt, he is a perfectionist, but he learnt that even if he, or any other member, did make an error live, it could be worth a million at the end of the day, plus the punters and the band were half-pissed so who would give a fuck anyway. People pay for live music, they love imperfection and we were never perfect.
Dave (‘Rudolph V’) Cardwell: Short Musical Bio
Instruments: Bass, guitar
Bands: The Geeks, The Victims, The Orphans (for the last few weeks of the band’s life), Love Assassins.
Currently: Was actively involved in creating music and was a songwriter in his own right until taking off for rural pursuits in around 2011 – current situation and whereabouts unknown. Produced several independently recorded CDs of his music.