The Face - December 1980
The Birthday Party Release The Bats
To watch The Birthay Party play is a devastating experience. They have cut deep into the concept of live performance with a carnal, anarchic (in the true sense of the word) frenzy of a show that recently got them thrown off the stage at The Ritz in New York.
"I thought," says vocalist Nick Cave, "that the whole thing was really sober and very conservative actually. I thought it looked like a great place to play, but the bouncers just dived on stage and pulled out all the plugs."
Nick Cave's emanciated howling defies the poetry of his lyrics, while Rowland Howard behaves like a snivelling sick cat on guitar. With a hardcore line in bass and drums, The Birthday Party generate a power only previously achieved by The Stooges and, sometimes, The Doors.
"SURPRISING" reads the backdrop which they hang behind them onstage "WHERE YOU FIND GOD".
Their three singles, "(The) Friend Catcher", "Release The Bats" and "Mr.Clarinet" and debut album "Prayers on Fire", have rewarded them with both a lengthy and consistant showing at the upper end on the independant charts and a devoted but fanatical following in this country, but the band are returning to their native Australia to record a second album.
They have varying opinions about Australia, but Nick feels that it is a good idea to step into a different environment to record. "Your ideas completely change and you see things in a different fashion. And I don't enjoy waking up in the morning in London; there's not very much enthusiasm or atmosphere here at the moment-it's a fluke if you go out and have a good time."
Offstage he is like a caged animal; there is a kind of an angry grace about him waiting to be whipped into the passion of a song like 'Nick The Stripper'.
"Personally," he moans, "I'd like to get away for a while, the way things are building up here too quickly is not particularly honest.
"Some people seem to be coming to gigs just for the sake of it, and flinging themselves into a frenzy the moment we start to play-we don't have to do anything to wind them up like that.
"I made the mistake of saying in earlier interviews that the British audiences were incredibly cold and frigid and never really gave themselves at gigs-looking at a group in the same way they'd look at a bunch of hyenas in the zoo.
"But that sort of situation has been reversed. I would hope that our music simulates the imagination into more than a sort of vertical jumping."
The agonising intensity of songs like "Zoo Music Girl", "King Ink" and "She's Hit" break down all the barriers of a band/audience realtionship and totally redefine the limits of violent music.
- Jessamy Calkin