Rod Radalj on The Geeks
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 two of many band names that were in contention, along with the one that stuck, 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)
The Exterminators 1977
The Invaders 1977-78
The Scientists !978-79
The Rockets 1979-80
Hoodoo Gurus 1981-82
The Johnnys 1982-84
Big Choir 1984
Love Rodeo 1984-85
The James Baker Experience 1985-86
The Adorable Ones 1987
The Dubrovniks 1988-89
The Punjabbers 1988
Roddy Rayda and the Surfin’ Caesars 1989
Roddy Radalj Band 1989
Bad Pussy ?
The Smokin’ Eldorados 2008
For more Rod Radalj YouTube vids, see here.