We make a little history, Baby

By Deb

bnd-nick-rsh1Melbourne 1977-78, the UK and New York Punk explosion is washing over pockets of Melbourne. Punk in Melbourne however has little of the class anger that pervades the UK and indeed has an arty if not a touch of self indulgent swagger. Ultimately leather jackets and pants, mini skirts and fishnet stockings, white or blue schools shirts, suit jackets, skinny blank ties, jeans ripped and unripped, pointy Cuban heeled shoes/boots, gym boots and stilettos will abound. Being Melbourne, winter will also bring out old duffel coats scored from op shops or grand-dads (often with leather jackets under them).

Barry Earle has formed a Punk record label called Suicide and relatively unknown “punk” bands from across Australia are signed up. Importantly one of those bands is The Boys Next Door”; a band that will play lots of gigs to fill in many nights and some recordings which fill many days for me.

I remember going to the Suicide label launch. It was at Preston Institute of Technology from memory. Suicide bubble gun packets was handed out from a trestle table set up. During the performance Nick was flicking smoked cigarettes into the audience at times during their stint.

Ultimately the Suicide compilation album “Lethal Weapons” is released and of course bought. As a gimmick it is pressed on white vinyl. It is a composition album with the standout acts in my mind being the Melbourne based acts of the The Boys Next Door, Teenage Radio stars and JAB (ex Adelaide). Ultimately members of Jab and Teenage Radio Stars will form the Models, another significant punk/pop band of Melbourne that dominates my nights. The Boys next Door score 3 tracks; more than any other band gets.

BND Lethal Weapon Front Cover BND - Lethal Weapon Insert A BND - Lethal Weapon Insert B Lethal Weapon Back Cover
Photos from Debra’s Collection

Melbourne is home to a thriving live small pub scene in the older inner suburbs, even if the pubs can only open to 11.30pm and in the early part off the week generally close at 10.00 pm. While the masses have their outer suburb large beer barns with rock or disco, a distinctly counter group of punks are dancing to a different beat. Boys and girls are wearing white powder to enjoy pale faces, eyeliner and dyed hair (predominantly blue-black). For a small door charge you got to see a band or bands and could generally catch a gig 6 nights (sometimes 7 nights) a week. Indeed on Mondays and Tuesdays Martinis in Carlton was free or a dollar. A feature of these small pubs is the provision of a meal voucher that allowed an 11.30 pm licence close. At 10.00 in exchange for your vouchers you could have a pastie or some other minor feed (chicken wing and chips; pizza slice etc) which allowed a late night opening past 10.00 pm.

BND-11Over a three year period the Boys Next Door are regular fixtures at many of the local punk pubs. In their early days they enjoy a residency on Tuesday nights at the Tiger Lounge (Aka the Royal Oak Hotel in Richmond). However being Tuesday 10.00 pm is the norm for closing time. They have recorded in the studio songs for an eagerly awaited album release but alas the album takes ages to be released and in fact is virtually 2 separate time recordings. Waiting to go on the band drinks in the lounge meaning small talk to them is an option. Indeed a feature of the Melbourne punk scene is that bands generally can be seen prior and after playings and often at other gigs. Indeed significant parts of the audience are generally common to most gigs I attend.

A significant event at the Tiger Lounge one Tuesday night is the appearance of Rowland Howard (Young Charlatans) in the line-up for the first time. Curiously he sings Shivers but after that night it is always sung by Nick. The addition of Rowland marks a significant change in style over time best described by the two sides of Door Door.

Boys Next Door - Crystal Ballroom

Later Tuesday nights became a regular night at the Crystal Ballroom in St Kilda for me with the Boys Next Door playing a residency. Eventually the Tuesdays at the Ballroom move to an 11.30 close. A side benefit of the Ballroom opening later is that one can after it closes, stagger down Fitzroy Street to Bananas on the Esplanade, which as a 1.00 0r 2.00 am licence and see the Models play, making for a great night of music and drinking. The Crystal Ballroom was the hub of punk in its heyday. It had multiple playing areas and hosted local interstate and international punk/new wave acts. With its long stairway from the foyer up to the actual ballroom, it was a wonder that no drunken or drugged patrons or artists broke their necks. With the Crystal Ballroom (near the corner of Fitzroy and Grey streets) being located in St Kilda (a suburb notorious with its drug and red light history) punks and their attire raised barely an eyebrow except with the boys and girls in blue (aka the police). Indeed the arty Melbourne punk scene was a relatively peaceful and safe environment especially compared to the masses and their beer barns and discos.

Of course the Boys Next Door play other nights and other venues over the period of their existence bore morphing into the Birthday Party and heading off to England. There were early gigs at The London Tavern in Caulfield, gigs at Hearts (aka Polaris Inn) in Carlton; the Exford in the City (smallest lounge I’ve ever seen a band play in) but in the main The Tiger Lounge and then the Crystal Ballroom dominate. BND Crystal Ballroom horizontal viewThe Ballroom also was the scene of a limited single release by the Boys Next Door and The Models (Scatterbrain and Early Morning Brain). I still have my copy. A particularly fortunate event was a live to air gig from Storey Hall at Melbourne Uni in November 1979. Broadcast live by 3RRR FM it was possible to tape record the whole set in stereo on cassette. Bear in mind this was before the Internet or even Cd’s. Being relatively fragile and then irreplaceable the cassette was duplicated and played and played by me. Of course the beauty of the tape was that it had far more songs than the Album and in my mind many Melbourne punk bands never captured their real sound in the studio. Of course a benefit of a vigorous live gig circuit was that most bands became quite proficient at playing and as a band the Boys next Door actually maintained and expanded their membership unlike many other bands that fractured and split. Hence seeing the Boys Next Door live and having a great tape recording meant one could waste oneself regularly.

Missing Link Vinyl B: BND-BP Missing Link Vinyl A BND-BP Missing Link Record Cover 2: BND-BP Missing Link Record Cover 1 BND-BP
Photos from Debra’s personal collection

LINKS: Boys Next Door Live Concerts/Set Listings (1977-1980)

A Melbourne resident, Deb has been a Nick Cave fan for 30 years and is a contributor, content advisor, and patron of Nick Cave Fixes.  You are welcome to leave comments for Debra on her wonderful recollections and perhaps share your own memories of those days.  Questions and so forth?  Please use the following form to contact Debra.  Tx.

The BND Nick Cave Fixes page was published 6 April 2009. Edits, graphic arrangements by Morgan. Contact admin(at) for photo attribution/copyright concerns.

32 thoughts on “BOYS NEXT DOOR

  1. hi,
    first i’d like to thank you very much for sharing your memories.
    as a nick cave (, birthday party, boys next door) enthusiast that was indeed really interesting to read.
    maybe you could help me with a question that’s been on my mind for a while:
    it’s about the cover-artwork of “door, door”.
    i always found that picture to be really amazing and i’ve looked for information many times, but i can’t find that much information on it (origin, who is that person?,…).
    if you (or anyone else here) know anything more about the photo, i would be so grateful if you let us know.

    greetings from berlin (sorry for possible mistakes in my language),

  2. Hi Morgan do you remember where the shots of the BND at the Crystal Ballroom came from? The Green tinted ones. I found them a while back and would like to revisit the source.

  3. I didn’t realise Greg Macainsh produced the Boys Next Door?!!! He would have still been in Skyhooks then!

    • yes i thought this was strange at the time because he was so not “punk”. me being young at the time it was all about the scene and being cool etc not about his ability as a musician or a producer. oh the shallow days…unfortunately i haven’t changed much….lol. ;p

      • LOL!

        I hear ya! Except I am getting better in my old age. I can at least appreciate good quality work these days, even if I don’t necessarily like it, or the genre into which it falls.

  4. Damn do I ever love the BND. I spent last week talking to Ron Rude about them–He’s been the first so far to confirm that there was a video for the Hair Shirt, said that it was screened at the lobby of the Crystal Ballroom, and so were other locally produced music videos, but that “none of us cool assholes paid any attention”. He remembers it as a performance piece and said not much happened. Got any memory yourself of this, Deb? I wish I could see it. :/

    Thanks definitely for the write-up!

    • sorry prick, didn’t realise you had commented. ron is right. videos were played in the lobby, but as he said we didn’t take any notice or were too smashed to even care. my other half adores ron rude and we have his first LP “borders of disgrace”. he saw him play a number of yrs ago at the art house under the band name “edie sedgwick’s revenge”.
      btw i love the hair shirt especially that wail.

      thanks for commenting. 🙂

      • I should be getting Vorpal Blade in the mail at some point, but he told me to wait for the revised version of Borders of Disgrace.

        Also, on his myspace, he’s put up two songs from Vorpal Blade as performed by “Ron Rude + The Fucking Homos”–Ron and the Boys Next Door. They’re very good indeed.

        • thanks prick. i popped over to his myspace and had a look, but couldn’t see the tracks you were referring to.
          maybe he has taken them down or there is the possibility that my brain is not working!

          revised borders of disgrace? – my other half will be very happy indeed. 🙂

          • They’re called “I Love You, You” and “I’ll Kill Them”–They’re both listed twice in his player, but the album version of each has “(Vorpal Blade)” after the song title.

            It doesn’t say Ron Rude + The Fucking Homos in the player, it just is (Nick chose the name, apparently)–September 7, 1979.

          • thanks prick. 🙂 i had to laugh when ron says to audience member “are you from belgrave. i hate belgrave i want to fucking drown out billy”. prick i am not sure if you are from melbourne but “billy” is the puffing billy train / tourist attraction that runs thru belgrave.

          • No no, I’m from the states. Didn’t know that, but do now. p:

            Wanted to add that the date I wrote was wrong–Sometime early 1980 instead.

      • Deb, are you going to the 2 films at MIFF?

        I won’t be able to make it 😦 Am arriving home from holidays late on the 2nd so I miss Dogs in Space altogether, and will be waaaaaaay too tired to see a film at 9.15 on the Sunday night.

        Fortunately the DVD release has the Dog Food doco on it as well so I will have to make do with that.

        Also, Ears reunion benefit gig at the Corner on Aug 16th, I WILL be going to that 🙂

        • cassiel: i have pre ordered the dogs in space re release with the bonus dog food doc (thru jb hi fi). hope the ears reunion goes well. i don’t think i will be attending at this stage as i have a severe foot problem that is not allowing me to do much at the mo. (apart from taking pain relief!)

  5. I love Sam’s blog! I especially love his 1981 diaries. I met Sam once at one of his plays, I was struck by just how well MH portrayed him in the movie! Sails of Oblivion is a line from a Brecht song “My Death” which Bowie used to do live at all the Ziggy shows back in 72/73.

    Ash is a lovely bloke. I had no idea who he was when I met him a couple of parties a couple of years ago, which was good cos I was chatting to him for ages on both occasions without being starstruck (which happens sometimes!). I was drilling him about living in Berlin, in relation to when Bowie lived there from 76-78. A fascinating period, I can understand why Nick was drawn there too.

  6. oh yes cassie. my other half was a huge JAB fan. we still have our vinyl copy of “love by numbers” and the metronomes one. yes i should have mentioned that he has toured with / played with EN. thanks for bringing it up. as you were talking about “dogs in space” another of my favorite bands were “the ears” with Sam Sejavka. if you don’t know already the movie was based on his life. i loved his other band “beargarden” as well. sams blog here:

  7. Deb, I’m so jealous! I’m a (little) bit younger than you and didn’t hit the ‘scene’ until 1987… the Ballroom was long gone and that era was captured (and re-lived) through the Dogs in Space movie. Even now, I think back to the late 80’s and the venues we used to haunt to see the wonderful Melbourne underground scene that are no longer with us – The Venue Ballroom (St Kilda), The Old Greek Theatre (Richmond), The Palace (St Kilda), The Club (Collingwood) and all the pubs that have now gone by the wayside in the name of ‘inner city gentrification’.

    Another link in relation to your post, you didn’t mention Ash Wednesday. He was one of the members of JAB you said that went on to form the original version of the Models. He moved to Berlin and has spent many years touring with Einstürzende Neubauten but I believe he’s back living in Melbourne now.

    Thanks for the post, keep adding to it as much as you like, I LOVE this era of music, my most favourite of all. It was amazing to see Primitive Calculators re-form earlier this year on Mt Buller too! (We have Our Nick to thank for that!!)

  8. This is absolutely fantastic Deb! Thanks so much for sharing you memories. That was the coolest history lesson I’ve ever had. What a time…

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