Posts Tagged ‘Screaming Tribesmen’

On the 1980s and early 1990′ s I was a massive fan of Sydney’s rock ‘n’ roll wresters, The Psychotic Turnbuckles. Exponents of 60’s garage punk, with lime green wigs and a keen sense of the ridiculous – how could you not love em?  I saw them countless times and they always entertained and delivered. As its approaching Christams, and my mind is turning to Christmas tunes (other than Wizzard), I recalled ‘Psychotic Christmas. This song originally appeared on the Timbeyard Records compilation from 1990 called “Rockin’ Bethlehem”, that  also featured the Screaming Tribesmen , Ed Kuepper , Rob Craw (Huxton Creepers) Hellmenn, Celibate Rifles etc . The track also appeared on the Psychotic Turnbuckles CD mini album – She’s Afraid To Love Me. Note backing vocals by Johnny Kannis.


Tribesmen circa 1989

Who: Screaming Tribesmen  When: Britannia Hotel, Sydney, May 20, 1995

In the 1980’s when independent rock was just that, the Tribesmen could have commanded a gig anywhere in Sydney. However in 1995 they’re apparently not ‘alternative’ enough to get a gig at the Annandale, Feedback or the like – having to settle for venues like Springfield’s or the Britannia. That’s fine by me – cause as long as I can still see this rockin’ institution perform – I’m not really fussed where they play, and I always look forward to it. A leading light in the ’80’s as one of  Australia’s premier guitar based outfits, the Screaming Tribesmen have now taken a heavier approach to their songs in the ’90’s. At times they come across sounding like a full-on metal band, yet at the same time it’s melodic enough to groove to. The current line-up features main man Mick Medew on vocals and guitar, long time bass player Jeff Silver, and ex-Candy Harlots Tony Cardinal and Marc Lee De’ Hugar on drums and lead guitar respectively. The stage tonight is illuminated by burning candles, an effect that adds a  haunting feel to the set opener, long time favourite ‘Date With A Vampyre’ – surely one of the best songs ever penned. The majority of tonight’s show is comprised of tunes from the band’s last offering – 1993’s ‘Formaldehyde’. I’m still floored by the songwriting strength of Jeff Silver who wrote ‘Fatal Fascination’, ‘Day We Said Goodbye’ and ‘I Can Fly’ – three of the strongest tracks from this album, that are delivered this evening with white hot intensity. Lead guitarist Marc Lee De’ Hugar must be one of the fastest players around and is filling some big shoes before him (Chris ‘Klondike’ Masuak, Glen Morris and Brian Mann amongst others). He seems right at home with the Tribesmen, as does his old ‘Candys’ band mate Tony Cardinal, who thumps out the intro to ‘Ayla’. This tale of a wild blond cave lion girl coulda been a monster hit. If only….The groovy ‘Get To Know You’ is quickly followed by ‘Ice’ – a Tribesmen classic that still sounds great today. Mick Medew is as cool as ever, screaming in his unique style and churning out his beloved guitar-driven rock amidst a flurry of coloured flashing lights. In a climate that’s seen many from his era fall by the wayside, this man is a true survivor. A full house tonight convinces me of this very fact. They end  a scorching set with ‘Igloo’ – another Tribesmen mainstay, before encoring with the raucous Blue Oyster Cult number ‘Red And The Black’. The set is over and I’m left in a daze. A truly memorable display from the survivors of marsupial rock – the leaders still – of great Australian guitar etched rock n roll ! Nobody does it better. (originally published in Vicious Kitten fanzine in 1995)

Below is another re-print of an old interview – this time with Radio Birdman’s Chris ‘Klondike’ Masuak. This interview was conducted with Klondike in 1995 and was originally published that year. Since that time, Klondike has continued gigging and recording, most notable with Birdman and a re-formed Hitmen. He is soon to depart Australia and is becoming a resident of France.

Chris ‘Klondike’ Masuak needs no introduction. Over the last two decades he has been a crucial member of some of the coolest, most rockin’ bands this country has ever produced. Radio Birdman, The Hitmen, The New Christs, The Screaming Tribesmen, The Juke Savages. Guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer. Australian rock n roll owes a large debt to Chris Masuak. This issue, Vicious Kitten speaks to the man himself, and gets the lowdown on everything from the recent re-flight of Radio Birdman, his views on today’s music scene and also his forthcoming plans…… on cats ! (interview conducted July, 1996)


Rockbrat: Klondike, let’s talk about the recent Radio Birdman reformation.  How did that all come about ?
Chris Masuak: Radio Birdman used to kick out major horsepower. That kind of energy is hard to contain, and when it spilled into our personal lives we didn’t have the skills to deal with it. Subsequently, it’s taken a lot of years to recover from the fallout and for some of us to even talk to each other. When we found ourselves in a recording studio remixing the old albums the feeling was generous, familiar, and comfortable. Then when I was visiting Deniz in the USA last year, a fax from the Big Day Out boys came through. We kind of looked at each other in a vague inquiring way and I guess decided then and there that if it was OK with the other guys it was fine with us. When Ron jammed with Deniz on one of Deniz’ European tours the die was cast. We all had different reasons for wanting the thing to work. I felt that it was a rare opportunity to repair an ugly ending and make the ‘family’ live happily ever after. 

RB: From a fan’s perspective it appeared that the old ‘magic’ was still there. How did it feel to play as a unit after such a long time ? Was the old ‘magic’ still there ?
CM: It was awkward at first. The unreality of the situation was overwhelming ! I had to relearn the songs in some cases but it didn’t really seem to gel. Then one day in rehearsal I remembered the feeling, the posture. Genetic memory kicked in and we were back as far as I was concerned. I’m greatly relieved that we were so appreciated. I guess it means the ‘juju’ is still with us. 

RB: Do you have a favourite show from that re-union tour? You looked particularly floored by the raucous response from the Selina’s crowd.
CM: It was typical Birdman; erratic, unpredictable, but always a trip. Yeah, sometimes the response surprised me. It was a case of being shocked out of concentration by the unbelievable support of the fans. I loved playing outdoors. There’s something about the sound and feel of megawatts. 

RB: It must have been a thrill to have Wayne Kramer fly out and open the shows. 
CM: Wayne is a huge influence and a magnificent artist. It was an honour to share the same bill with him, Brock and Paul. 

RB: Did any special moments/funny incidents occur during the re-union tour ?
CM: The most hilarious thing is that on any given night there were six old farts up on stage and no one got egged. The sight of Ron sitting behind the kit, like a cross between Buddha and Winnie the Pooh was worth the price of admission. 

RB: Will Birdman be releasing any new product ?
CM: It’s possible. 

RB: Was the reformation tour a one off ? There are a few rumours of a European tour ?
CM: We’ve all got our own projects and obligations, and we live all over the planet. The last tour was a logistical nightmare and it’s success was testament to John Needham, our manager’s courage and patience. I didn’t believe anything about the last tour until I had the proof in my hands, so who knows. 

RB: The last re-incarnation of The Hitmen spawned the wonderful ‘Moronic Inferno’ LP. Your playing on that record is just so fluent. Were you disappointed with the lack of response it received from the music press and the record buying public in general ?
CM: Yeah, The Hitmen kinda fizzled out. We never did get much support from the industry here, and in fact even Triple J usually reject any of my stuff as “not the kind of music they play on this station”. Still, I can’t complain. I got more second chances in twenty odd years of rockin’ than most people dream of. 

RB: Whilst on The Hitmen, I find it hard to believe that the indestructible Johnny Kannis is not on a stage somewhere. What is Zeus up to nowadays ?
CM: Johnny’s up north where it’s warm doing entrepreneurial stuff. His injuries really do keep him from doing much, which I know is a frustration. 

RB: Let’s talk about your time with The Screaming Tribesmen – in particular the US tour of 1987. How did that go, and was the band well received ?
CM: We had support up the yinyang but basically fell apart at the seams. The performances were too erratic for me to accept and we all had personal problems to deal with and the band blew it. It’s always seemed a shame that Mick didn’t take advantage of all the resources and keep going in that direction. He had it all on a plate at that time – despite the problems and with his talent and a bit of vision, may have kept the hits coming. The fans were certainly there for it. 

RB: Johnny Kannis and yourself received a ‘thankyou’ on the Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom album ‘…And You ?’, whilst the latter day Hitmen used to open up with ‘The Party Starts Now’. What is the connection there ?
CM: We met the Handsome One in New York, and he came onstage for a Dictators encore at The Cat Club. The next thing you know Andy Shernoff has invited me to play on ‘The Party Starts Now’. There’s this guy in the studio and Andy says “Chris, meet Ross”. Dumb fuck that I am, I go “The Boss ??!!”. I spent much of my career ripping him off. Perhaps the style was too close to the bone ’cause they didn’t end up using my leadbreak (which I consider superior). Kannis and I hung out with them for a while and it was a pleasant surprise to be acknowledged on their album. 

RB: What have you been up to of late ? You have a new band – The Raouls, is that correct ?
CM: I live, study and work in Sydney and am preparing for fatherhood. I drum in The Raouls which is primarily Warwick Gilbert’s baby and an outlet for his formidable guitar lust. We have recorded songs for a Spanish label and are putting together a CD for release here. We seem to play regularly so I guess there are a few people left in Sydney who don’t have their heads stuck up their ass too far to have fun. 

RB: Are The Juke Savages on hold ? What’s in the pipeline ?
CM: The Juke Savages still exist, with a new drummer, Tubby Wadsworth, who despite the stigma of playing with the Candy Harlots (actually, a good bunch of guys) has given us a shot in the arm. We’re recording for a European release and, hopefully, a tour early next year. We don’t play around much; we’re too rocky for the blues fraternity and too bluesy for the hip venues. Too loud, too old, whatever. We’re patient. 

RB: What’s your opinion on today’s scene, with the likes of Oasis fairly dominant ? Doesn’t seem to be too much rock-action out there, you really have to search for it nowadays.
CM: I wouldn’t know what’s out there, particularly. There does seem to be a trend toward pop and cohesive arrangements, which would be great if the new artists would come up with some ideas of their own from time to time. 

RB: What excites you musically these days ?
CM: Listening to The Raouls, Juke Savages, Wayne Kramer, Coltrane, Parker. Playing the drums and giving up trying to play guitar at a respectable volume. 

RB: How did you get into rock n roll ?
CM: My Dad gave me a guitar at 13. 

RB: What was the first record you ever bought ?
CM: My brother and I bought Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

RB: What was the first concert you attended ?
CM: I can’t remember if it was T.Rex or B.B King. T.Rex was crap on every level and I was naive enough to believe that B.B was really collapsing from exertion on stage. I used to go and see these big concerts and heckle bands like Blackfeather, Finch and Hush. Utter crap but no alternative. When I started going to Birdman gigs my academic career was shot to shit and my destiny forged, for better or worse. 

RB: Name your five ‘desert island discs’ ?
CM: ‘Cha Cha Cha’ by Bobby Rydell, ‘Linda Sue Dixon’ by Mitch Ryder, ‘Strange Pleasure’ by Jimmie Vaughan, ‘Giant Steps’ by John Coltrane and ‘The Hard Stuff’ by Wayne Kramer. 

RB: A message for the Vicious Kitten readers/Klondike fans out there……..
CM: We are all here for a purpose, which I don’t pretend to know. I do know that once we get off our asses and do things, anything, anytime, and lots of it, life gets really weird and interesting and I suspect we get closer to finding out what that purpose may be. Work hard. Play hard. Have fun for cryin’ out loud !

Kardomah flier and match book

The Kardomah, the KD . In the late 80’s, this was THE rock place to be at. It was where all the wannabes and posers strutted around, thinking they were Sunset Strip material (when in all likelihood they were just suburban boys, as Dave Warner once wrote). I suppose it was the closest thing that Sydney had to LA’s Cathouse, NYC’s Limelight or London’s Marquee. Indeed, any Sydney muso worth his salt just had to be seen at the KD, and many punters invariably ended up at 22 Bayswater Road after seeing a gig earlier that evening somewhere else in the city or suburbs. That’s right, it was one of those venues where the headliner came on fashionably late, ie: 3 am. So it was that the Rockbrat saw many a Kings Cross sunrise after ending up back at the KD. The Kardomah was without a doubt the spiritual home of Sydney’s Candy Harlots, and we saw the band there many a time. I remember that the venue was always way too dark, which I suppose was fashionably cool at that time, and I could ! never bloody see where I was going. I can’t remember every band I saw, but I do remember seeing the Candy Harlots, Screaming Tribesmen, The Bombers, Rum Babas, Mudhoney, Hitmen DTK and the Flying Tigers. I certainly recall seeing Mark Easton’s last show here with the Candy Harlots in 1991. (There is a video of this performance and you can see the Rockbrat jump up on stage with Easton). Anyway, here is an old flyer an matchbook from the Kardomah. I noticed a few years ago that this venue was trading under the name of ‘Candies Apartment’. The irony of that may have been lost on others, but not the Rockbrat. Great days my friends.

In the late 80’s, the Sydney music scene was being whipped into a frenzy by a notorious bunch of brats calling themselves The Candy Harlots. This article is focusing only on the period of time, when the band were once tagged ‘Sydney’s biggest live secret’, and in the process cut two burning singles. Forming in mid ’87, the band were led by Mark Easton (ex-Suicide Squad, Kelpies, Soggy Porridge) one of the most charismatic, flamboyant and visually exciting performers to ever grace a stage. Pounding the skins was Mark’s old Soggy Porridge band mate – Tony Cardinal. Rhythm guitarist Ron Barrett joined via The Glam Savages, and the lead guitarist was a young guitar maestro – Marc Lee De Hugar. Solid bass player Leeno Dee (ex-Roxx) completed this explosive line-up, joining in August of 1988. Although The Kardomah Cafe in Kings Cross was their regular haunt, they trekked all over the city, emerging from a haze of dry ice and pyro, decked out in leather, cowboy boots and jewellery, and unleashing their unique style of sleaze rock onto unsuspecting audiences. The girls loved ’em though most of their jealous boyfriends didn’t. The front rows of their audiences were made up of scantily clad, adoring women, who fondled their beloved blonde front man, and were in turn, handed roses and lollipops during the show. They boasted a stage show that complimented their pulsating set, and was relished by the inner city crowds, but a real eye opener for those North and West of the Harbour Bridge ! These bad boys of Australian rock broke a lot of new ground, hurling forth their sexually orientated melodic tones to an ever growing audience. With Easton’s often outrageous stage antics, some venues weren’t too keen to have the Candy’s back in a hurry, and the boys were even hauled off stage one night at the Caringbah Inn by the local constabulary. Love ’em or hate ’em – you couldn’t ignore ’em. Supports were numerous: The Cult, Angels, Cheap Trick, Divinyls, Kings Of The Sun, The Sunnyboys and D.A.D among others. Their debut single (released in April 1989 on Melbourne’s Au Go Go label) ‘Red Hot Rocket’ shot straight to the top of the local chart, and the first pressing sold out in under three hours. This limited edition run of 1000 copies were pressed on red vinyl, and included a sticker and came snugly wrapped in a pair of customised knickers (white, green or pink). A second pressing also sold out within four days later. Once all copies disappeared, a picture sleeve issue then appeared. Engineered by TMG drummer Herm Kovac and produced by Mick Cocks from Rose Tattoo, this Easton penned song is indicative of everything the band stood for. A thumping, humorous effort, that captures Easton’s unique vocal style. This guy could sing, and also possessed a frightening scream that made their live shows all the more memorable (hunt down the 1985 Soggy Porridge single ‘Call My Name / Rip This Soul Apart’ and I’m sure you’ll agree with me). Sections of the video for ‘Red Hot Rocket’ were filmed at the ‘Harlots Ball’ – a gala evening held at the Coogee Bay Hotel on 19 November 1988, although the majority was filmed at Sydney’s St James Tavern. The Candy Harlots appeared as cover stars for On The Street mag, and in early June ’89 with word quickly spreading, headed south to set Melbourne’s stages alight. They played two memorable debut shows, the first at Geelong’s Barwon Club (my memory of some local red necks watching Mark Easton with his performing can of foam is a treasured one !) and then the following night, playing to a packed house at Richmond’s Corner Hotel. With major label interest the future appeared bright, and this particular line-up seemed destined for stardom, and it’s a mystery as to why they never attained it. The continual gigging carried on, and the band released their second single ‘Danger’ in 1990 on the Timberyard label, but by now the buzz around town was beginning to fade. This song was penned by Dee, and his songwriting prowess shines through. An incredibly catchy chorus, mixed with some memorable lead guitar work, coil themselves around Easton’s distinctive vocals, and this song manages to capture some of their raw live power. It’s one of my all time favourite singles. This version is far superior to the Aiz Lynch / Virgin backed effort that was to emerge two years later. Ron Barrett’s ‘Wrap 2 Arms’ was a mainstay in their live set, and this crunching effort loses none of it’s bite on disc either (Lee De Hugar’s blitzing solo deserves mention also). Unfortunately ‘Danger’ lacked the hype and promotion of it’s predecessor and was generally ignored. Tragically on 2 October 1990, Ron Barrett passed away – apparantly choking to death after vomiting during an asthma attack. Ron was only 26 years old, and I found him to be one of the nicest people I’ve met in this industry. His love and enthusiasm for his music was felt by all who knew him, and he is still greatly missed. The Candy Harlots soldiered on, with ex-Rags n Riches guitarist Phil Bowley replacing Lee De Hugar, and ex-Flying Tiger Peter Masi replacing Ron Barrett. More gigging ensued, but on Friday 22 March, 1991 at their old stomping ground – The Kardomah Cafe, Mark Easton, after several years on the Sydney circuit – gave his final performance and left the music scene. This line-up of The Candy Harlots etched forever a permant mark, unleashing their unique brand of hot, heavy, sexual, explosive, and pulsating style of rock n roll. They deserve their place in the annals of Australian rock, and I’m sure many hold fond memories of a time when this exciting band were dubbed ‘Sydney’s biggest live secret’.

by Denis Gray

Easton and DeHugar at Dee Why Hotel (photo: Denis Gray)