Chris Masuak May 21, 2017
Radio Birdman used to mean something...used to stand for something! The band attached concepts like “brotherhood”, “honour”, “loyalty”, and “integrity” to itself while slowly but surely disappearing into the kind of vanity driven and posturing black hole that we used to disdain.
I had just been instructed that I “was not invited to participate” in the upcoming tour to promote the band’s “definitive boxed set” and I was certainly not interested in facilitating the ongoing personal fantasy that the band’s history had been relegated to.
However, the filmmaker Jonathan Sequeira
assured me that no one was calling the shots on this project except him! No one had the power of veto…there was no one (and the emphasis was on a particular “one”) running interference.
So, I thought sure…if I’m going to make an asshole of myself at least I’ll be in good company!
Jonathan was circumspect. He never let on what the other guys had to say. He was letting us all reveal ourselves for who we were despite ourselves. He was assiduously objective.
It was crazy timing! Like I said…I had only just “officially” fallen out of favour. It was inevitable and a long time coming and a relief when it finally did. In that culture you’re a bully or you’re a sycophant or you’re simply not in the gang.
I didn’t miss it.
But, it reminded me that it was great being in the gang in the old days. We were comrades, fighting a real and (we truly believed) noble fight. We were different and my new teachers and role models and heroes were patient and tolerant and kind to their young and naïve bandmate.
We were champions of a music that no one else knew about. I learned about all this stuff through the guys and because of my more formal musical training, I had something to give back.
I think that this documentary will capture a sense of that early unity and the genuine excitement that we felt for our music.
I know that the audience felt that, too! I had been in the audience and knew what it was like to be swept along on a tsunami of sound and energy.
In later years I would meet and play with some of the guys who we admired and who we helped introduce into the culture. Ron and Scott from The Stooges, Wayne and Dennis from the MC5. God, I even played in a band that blew Iggy and his band offstage night after night on his first tour of Australia!
I related to them like normal people. It felt like we were friends at the time.
I don’t know if they ever realised how much Radio Birdman did for them. Even before Birdman, Warwick, Ron, and Younger were playing their music in The Rats. I mean…who did that in those days?!
I didn’t really hear any of that stuff until I started hanging out with the guys, even though I’d seen the Raw Power ads and reviews in Time magazine and seen The New York Dolls album covers in record stores back in Canada.
Back at the Birdman “clubhouse” we were always listening to The Stooges, The MC5, The New York Dolls, Alice Cooper, The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones and surf music. The Blue Oyster Cult helped up the ante just that little bit!
It was a real education. We were filtering all that stuff through our collective hands and making new music in the process. Those were thrilling times!
And, we were a gang. No one else could join. Everyone wanted to.
We were a gang and an alchemical reaction. I think that the documentary will finally make that clear. I think everyone’s getting a bit tired of that tired lone gunman's attempts at re-imagining the band’s history.