The Fun Things were a high school band. Fun Things member John Hartley coerced his
parents into buying him a bass guitar for his birthday, and he got a grip on that
fairly rapidly. We used to practice Zeppelin and Sabbath and Deep Purple songs in
his rumpus room, or at my place. I lived at The Gap, which is western suburbs of
Brisbane. He lived at Tarragindi, which is south. We were 14 at the time so we'd
get our mothers to drive us to each other's place and practice on a Sunday afternoon.
And we did that for a couple of years until I started reading in RAM (Rock Australia
Magazine) about Radio Birdman.
It was just wondrous. There was a column that they used to have, kinda undiscovered
bands, unsigned bands that they had in the back of RAM. And there'd be some silly
group, and they had this picture of this band, "Radio Birdman". In this picture,
the singer had white hair down to his arse, black makeup running down his face and
elbow length lurex gloves and, like a snakeskin shirt! It was just the greatest
thing I'd ever seen, especially from an Australian band. I loved that kind of trashy
rock and roll sort of thing that Alice Cooper had. Take a look at Glen Buxton —
that was what a rock star needs to look like! But here were these guys in our own
backyard. Deniz, playing a guitar I'd never seen before, at a time when unless you
had a Les Paul or a Strat, you weren't a proper guitar player! And this guy's got
this amazing looking guitar, he's got mirrored shades and leather pants! It just
blew my mind. The story listed the sort of stuff that they were influenced by. And
it was a whole new world to me. They were namechecking songs they covered: "Career
of Evil" by the Blue Oyster Cult. This was like, sacred information, to a 15-year-old.
It was inconceivable what that was. And it really tapped into that fan mentality
where you've discovered something new and wondrous and you have to investigate it
And around about the same time, of course, I was watching Countdown. Ian
Meldrum comes on to do Humdrum: "I think it's about the end of the world. Get a
load of the hottest new thing in England at the moment. It's not for the faint-hearted.
They're called, would you believe, the SEX PISTOLS, and this is a song that's storming
up the charts called 'Anarchy in the UK'". And this taps into EVERYTHING that you've
got going as a teenager! And there they were, that great clip of them, with Paul
Cook, the drummer, up the front, and the singer in the back, kinda hunched over
like a cripple. With ripped clothes and like this, raucous bloody racket! And I
said: 'Brother, that's for me'.
Gig-wise in Brisbane, you were restricted to what you booked yourself, and I think
that plays up a lot about being a teenager in Brisbane in the '70s. Probably had
an enormous effect on me and why I'm so obsessed with rock. It was just one enormous
suburb. When people say about Brisbane being a big country town, it was more so
than ever at that time.
There wasn't much difference between Brisbane and Mackay (to the north), really.
They were just big, sleepy old towns. Nothing happening. Oppression from (State
Premier) Joh Bjelke-Petersen's coppers, hassling you every time you went into town.
So this music thing I was discovering was an amazing world beyond that.
I'm surprised I got no wind at all about the Saints around that time. I was really
into music. I used to listen to Triple Z in Brisbane a lot and go to the Joint
Efforts at the University there, big shows, and I was completely unaware of the
Saints. They were pretty insular. That's fairly apparent. But even though they'd
blown town, it was kinda cool to discover that there were these rock landmarks
in your own crummy home town.
I heard from Mark Callaghan (Riptides guitarist) one day, where the squat was, Petrie
Terrace (where the band used to live and play) and I have a photo of me standing
in front of the fireplace as a 16 or 17-year-old with the "I'm Stranded" (slogan)
over the fireplace. I have another great photo of my brother, who was nine years
old at the time with an Iggy Pop circa "The Idiot" rock mullet and a Ramones T-shirt
on and skin tight jeans and sneakers — this nine-year-old punk standing in
front of the "I'm Stranded" fireplace!
The Leftovers were another Brisbane band and were always highly entertaining. They
were a great band, the Leftovers. I only managed to see them a couple of times.
The only time I've ever been arrested in my entire life was at a Leftovers show.
I didn't get to see them that night, because I'd been chucked in the paddy wagon
at a place called the Hamilton Hall, in the suburb of Hamilton, a local community
And there was a band called Razar, on at the time. They were band that very much
moulded themselves on the English punk thing and were extremely anti-social. But
they were just suburban kids from Mount Gravatt. They were really good.
It really amazed me. Razar looked like such punks, and behaved like such punks,
but they always had enough money to have really great equipment. I remember being
in awe — they went down to Sydney to do a couple of shows, and when they came
back they had shitloads of really expensive Marshall equipment. I remember thinking:
'Jeez, that Sydney tour must have done really well'.
But Razar were on first, and I had the obligatory leather jacket on, and it was
too hot so I thought: 'I'll just take it off and chuck it in my car'. I'd just got
my license. I was 17 years old, driving my mum's car. And a copper put me in a headlock
for something bogus. He said I was swearing in public or something preposterous.
I'd just walked from the venue, put my jacket in the car, went back in and he put
me in a headlock and chucked me in the paddy wagon.
So I never got to see the Leftovers that night. It was shaping up to be a pretty
good show. But I did get to see them a bunch of times. And lovely chaps too.
Glenn Smith, the bass player, turned me on to a lot of music. At the time, I was
pretty naive. I went out to his place 'cos he was selling off his record collection,
I didn't quite understand why. Like he was such a music fan, and here he was selling
off his music collection. He was selling it for junk, and it was probably someone
else's record collection he was selling for junk. But always a lovely chap. They
were all lovely chaps.
And I feel very privileged for having seen the Leftovers play, because they were
the real shit. A great, great band with a musical depth even though they were rough
as guts live doing Velvet Underground songs in Brisbane in '77. Velvet Underground
songs probably weren't even figuring in the Sex Pistols' or Clash's record collection
at the time. These guys were serious music fans.
The Fun Things EP came about because we just HAD to do a record. It was just part
of the punk process. It was something you wanted to do. We felt were had a couple
of decent songs. We were still all in school at the time. I borrowed 400 bucks from
my parents in order to make the thing happen.
In 1980, I went to England and was appalled to discover there was no rock and roll
around at all and everything had turned ska. Madness and the Selecter, the Specials
— this was the thing that was happening. I was only there a couple of months.
I only saw two bands. They were both great shows at either end of the spectrum;
one was The Clash at the Hammersmith Palais and the other was Doll by Doll at the
local Herne Hill Hotel, who were fantastic.
So I only saw two rock shows in England in the eight weeks that I was there. And
the thing that brought me back — it really shit me really — because
I went to England to immerse myself in punk rock, and I'm on the phone to my brother
after about six weeks and he says: "Guess who playing at Festival Hall on the 19th
of June? The Ramones". Fuck that! Fuck England! I'm coming home! I went all the
way to England and the Ramones are lobbing up in my backyard. So I came back to
— Brad Shepherd
The above originally appeared on the 1-94 Virtual Bar. Interview condensed and edited for BMF.
CONTACT: Break My Face