1970’s Perth band The Victims were pioneers of punk music not only here but nationally and eventually around the world. Original members Dave Faulkner and James Baker are teaming up with Hard-Ons bassist, Ray Ahn, as Television Addict (the band’s best-known track), to perform the songs of The Victims at the Rosemount Hotel on Saturday, August 9, with guests The Homicides, Helter Skelter and Legs Electric. BOB GORDON sat down with Faulkner and Baker to talk about those times. Here is the first installment.
In 1975 through ‘76 Perth drummer James Baker went overseas on a trip that took him to London and New York.
He arrived at these places at a time when punk rock was emerging as a voice for disenfranchised youth. It was also simply fun to play loud and smash shit up (let’s not get academic). By being in these places at these times he was in close proximity to the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash, The Heartbreakers and The Ramones.
Then he came home to sleepy Perth, with work to be done. Bands such as The Cheap Nasties and The Geeks were in existence, but gigs were few – and fewer in between – and any notion of a ‘scene’ was less than nascent. He formed The Victims with vocalist/guitarist, Dave ‘Flick’ Faulkner (later of The Hoodoo Gurus) and Rudolph V (aka Dave Cardwell).
“There wasn’t any original bands in Perth in 1977,” Baker recalls over a beer at the Rosemount Hotel. “Dave Warner… and The Cheap Nasties perhaps, so there was no alternative scene, whatsoever. Only what was created by us and The Cheap Nasties. Some other bands started in that period but none were really serious. None of them ever made records or got past doing the odd gig, really.”
“Even The Victims were lucky to put a record out, to be honest,” adds Faulkner. “It’s just that we had a fan whose parents had a bit of money!”
Crowd-funding at its earliest, then?
“It was indeed,” Faulkner laughs. “If only we’d kept doing it since!”
In typical punk fashion, the members of The Victims were railing against normality. Equally, it seems, they were rallying towards the music.
“The main thing was that we were all reading about this music, then finally getting to hear it, but it was always months after the event because you had to wait until the magazines arrived via ship,” Faulkner recalls.
“And the same with the albums; the earliest you’d get it was like about eight weeks after a record came out. On top of that feeling of being isolated just physically, you were literally isolated because you were out of synch a couple of months with anything you wanted to hear; and knowing there was no other way of finding out because no on else in Australia was paying the least bit of interest in it.
“Nothing was in the newspapers. Countdown had the music you watched, but they only had the Pistols on once and Molly was laughing about them.
“It was a secret society, in a funny way, because no on else cared. We were forced to be a secret.”
“And we also didn’t like any of the other bands,” Baker notes. “We were rebelling against them as well… against what we thought was mediocrity.”
The cover band scene of the time was lucrative enough, but uninspiring to an emerging generation of punks.
“If you wanted to make money you didn’t play punk rock,” Faulkner notes, “that was the last thing you’d do. But making money was the last thing we were thinking about.”
Besides that, the clothes were awful.
“We just felt like aliens at the time,” Faulkner says. Lepers (laughs). We were listening to music that other people felt made no sense to them or that it was stupid, or horrible, or whatever. The way you looked was insulting to them, cause you didn’t wear Hawaiian shorts or pastel colours.
“We stuck in their craw, so to speak. And we tried to. We actually revelled in it. We felt superior, I guess. We were snotty about it – we knew what was good and what was cool and they didn’t.”
The Victims would eventually find a home of sorts at the infamous Hernando’s Hideaway in East Perth, as well as the Governor Broome Hotel, plus other simpatico shows in halls and various odd venues. An early show at the Kewdale Hotel resulted in a media splash that Faulkner, echoing The Sex Pistols’ infamous BBC talk show scandal, remembers as The Victims own ‘Grundy event’.
“After the first two songs the guy turned the PA off,” Baker says. “We kept on playing, because for some reason the stage power was still on. There was all these truckers there walking out giving us the finger. I remember going home and phoning up (Perth music journalist) Ray Purvis and telling him that they’d kicked us out of the Kewdale Hotel. He managed to get that in the Sunday Independent.
“It was exactly what we wanted – Punk Band Kicked Out Of Kewdale Hotel (laughs). It was perfect.”
To be continued…