Radio Birdman did it first, did it harder, and broke up sooner than any other Australian band. Deniz Tek and Rob Younger formed the band in Sydney in mid 1974, creating a raw sound equally influenced by The Stooges, MC5, 1960's garage punk and surf instrumental groups.
They recorded the raw E.P. “Burned My Eye” in 1976 and an album “Radios Appear” in 1977, both low budget recordings made at the 24 track Trafalgar Studios. The band and the studio created their own label and the records were self distributed, at a low price, cutting out the middle men.
After The Saints were signed, the president of their US record label Sire (then also home to the Ramones) Seymour Stein went to Australia in search of new talent. Sire licensed Radios Appear from Trafalgar and signed the band to a recording contract. Radios Appear was reissued with some of the original songs left intact and some re-recorded, plus a chunk of new material, including the phenomenal "Aloha Steve & Danno" (an unapologetic Hawaii Five-O swipe coupled with a go-nowhere-life-in-front-of-the-TV narrative by Younger) which is posted here.
The band were infamous for their extremely hard playing live shows, which were considered a visual art form and a theatrical as much as musical performance. But the band were also infamous for their volatile personalities and for the long slide into madness suffered by certain members. As hot as the band glowed, it was inevitable that it would burn out.
Radio Birdman toured Europe and England and recorded a second album, Living Eyes, in Wales in 1978. But they disbanded one tour after the LP's completion, scattering musicians around Australia and augmenting the country's already thriving music underground.
Deniz Tek formed New Race with Younger and Gilbert, ex-Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, and ex-MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson. He had also completed his medical degree during this time and would soon return home to the states and became a fighter pilot for nine years, after which time he formed the Deniz Tek Band.
Rob Younger went on to play in New Race and to form evolving super group New Christs. Chris Masuak went on to the Screaming Tribesmen and Warwick Gilbert joined the Lime Spiders.
Most of the band members got back together in 1995 to remix the two albums and the band reformed for the Big Day Out 1996 tour. During the pre-tour rehearsal time a session was recorded at Seed Studios in South Melbourne for Radio Triple R’s "Caught In The Act" live music feature. On a day off between Melbourne shows, and attended by a small but lively audience, they played ten Radio Birdman tracks and two new songs. This session was released as the Ritualism album.
Radio Birdman are still touring today, and they have recently been playing new songs for an album which should be released later this year.
Radio Birdman - Aloha Steve And Danno