Ron and I began to work on songs and were often hanging out at his Mom's house on Highlake Rd on the west end of Ann Arbor, where he was living. Ron had contact with some other local musicians, and was trying to put something together. This was before Destroy All Monsters, and not too long after the New Order. We would sit in the TV room (the TV was on continuously) and have drinks until 4 or 5 AM, and go down to the basement to jam.
There was a singer in Ypsilanti...a bit too much of a "rock god" type for me, and Rob King who would later drum in Destroy All Monsters, and Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson, from the MC5, who was living in downriver Detroit.
Dennis was with Ron in the New Order, and would be part of our New Race project in 1981. We jammed with Dennis a few times, and made some tapes.
Wayne Kramer had just gotten out of prison, and came by while we were jamming in a studio and making tapes. He was doing something with Brits Mick Farren from the Deviants, and Larry Wallis guitarist of the Pink Fairies. Soon after that Wayne would form Gang War with Johnny Thunders, more or less a debacle in which Thunders was usually too smashed to play, but it still offered a good opportunity to see the great Wayne Kramer at very small clubs.
Here, at last, was the energy source. It seems that it never dies, but like an artesian water source it sometimes goes underground and reappears later, elsewhere. It can have multiple tributaries and it needs to be replenished from time to time, not just taken from. You take, but you have to give back. It goes on.
I would see Sonics Rendezvous as often as possible from then on. I was collecting tons of raw inspirational material to take back with me to Radio Birdman. In all the shows I went to, that was always foremost in my mind. There had been no mentors .. not even peers … for a long time. No one to gain knowledge from. No one to inspire my muse.
Radio Birdman was completely and utterly isolated in the ﬁrst months of 1976. Staying on that island without contact for too long could have caused the inspiration to fade, dry up, blow away. The vision could lose clarity, dissipate.
My band had not yet achieved full power, and I knew I needed new inﬂuences to help it go to the next level. For me, Sonics Rendezvous made the difference. It was like ﬁnding a clear cold mountain spring in a trackless desert.
By around February (1976) it was time to return from the Michigan snow to the blast furnace heat of Sydney. In those days the transpacific routes were mostly ﬂown by DC-10s or early model 747s which had to make one refueling stop between LA and Sydney. Continental stopped in Samoa, Qantas stopped in Fiji, and United stopped in Honolulu.
I ﬂew on all these routes, whatever ticket was the cheapest at the time. I was able usually to write material for songs on these long tedious ﬂights, so as to make some productive use of the time. Sometimes I'd get off for a couple of days in these places and look around. I had a friend in Honolulu, John Berger, and sometimes we would go into town and see bands in between these ﬂights.
Once I stopped in Fiji and hitchhiked into the countryside, wandered off the road into the jungle and enjoyed generous hospitality in a small village. Guys spent evenings listening to the radio, playing cards and drinking raw grey muddy kava juice ... the chief was all too happy for this skinny white guy with a guitar to join in the circle and share some laughs as the kava bowl got passed around.
Arriving in Sydney I went straight over to Radio Birdman manager George Kringas' house in Blues Point. I wanted to get back into rehearsals and get ready to record. I got a shock when I went to the bathroom. There was a dead lamb in the bathtub that seemed to be staring at me. Band sidekick Mark Sisto had bought it. It was waiting in the bath because of drainage, later to be roasted on a spit, for my homecoming party that night.
READ PART ONE DENIZ TEK SEES SRB
★Deniz Tek, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a proliﬁc guitarist, singer and songwriter currently based in Sydney, Australia. His career in music, grounded in late-60's Detroit, extends through several decades and across continents. He is best known as a founding member of the inﬂuential Australian independent rock band Radio Birdman.
In 2007, Deniz was inducted into the Australian Music Hall of Fame, and in 2012 was voted number 7 in the top 100 Australian guitarists of all time.★