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Deniz article from "Time Off Magazine" (Brisbane) - Nov 1996

An article by by Simon McKenzie - English


Many thanks to Craig Regan who sent (and type !) the article.

Those who saw Deniz Tek's show at Van Gogh's Ear Lobe last year saw one of the great shows of the man's career, a monstrously energetic set from one of the ass-kickingest bands in the world.

Tek and his guitar foil Kent Steedman were on fire, bassist Jim Dickson was rock-solid and Nik Reith was machine-gun accurate on the skins.

The Radio Birdman classic, 'Descent Into The Maelstrom', was an experience beyond words, and Tek's solo material was delivered at the same breakneck pace.

Tek remembers it as a great show, too. Everything fell into place - the band were well looked after and the on-stage sound was great. The elemental four-piece could hear everything that was going on- an incredibly important aspect of live sound.

"You have to get yourself into kind of an ecstatic state to reach the threshold where you have a show like that," Tek explains. "You can't really leave your body when you're worried about the sound, you're worried about 'Are these people gonna pay us or are they gonna beat the shit out of us when we finish playing?', or this, that and the other thing. If you don't have any worries - technical or personality-wise - then you're free to do something transcendental."

Such shows are unfortunately rare. More often than not, it's the other way around, and peripheral concerns can keep a band from fully immersing themselves in their music.

Nonetheless, Tek's intense personality and playing - and the exceptional capabilities of his band - can make it possible to play a great show regardless.

"Even in those situations, you can turn that around and make it good," Tek says, "if you can turn anger into something positive. There's a lot of times when I'm angry on stage because things aren't going well - the sound, or whatever - and if I can focus that anger into the guitar, sometimes you can end up with a really good night from that, too."

The Tek Band are an amazing group on any night, and when they hit it... boy, do they hit it. They've been together for nearly three years now, and they can reach amazing instinctual highs when they play. They're returning to Brisbane this week - and you'd bloody well better see them, because this could possibly be their last tour in this incarnation.

"It's ideal," Tek says of the band, "but nothing lasts forever. It seems like one of the laws of nature, that whatever starts always changes. We're already running into some time problems with Nik, because of being in Tumbleweed. They're demanding more and more of his time, and it's really doubtful at the moment whether Nik can continue with us, simply because of the Tumbleweed commitments.
We're going to talk about it on this tour, and probably at the end of the tour we'll have a band meeting and see what we have to do. Obviously, I would prefer to have Nik stay, but if he has to leave, then we'll just have to figure out a new lineup."

Reith, an amazing drummer who filled the Tumbleweed seat last year (and has also been with the Celibate Rifles for some time now), is perfect for the energy freakout rock the Tek Band specialise in.

"I had no doubts the first minute that I started working with Nik that he would work out,"
Tek says.
"He's a natural positive influence for my kind of music."
Tek's music is currently at its most daring and adventurous. He and Steedman, Dickson and Reith spent a lot of time together in Tek's home in Billings, Montana, writing and recording Tek's latest album, Le Bonne Route. It's a stunning record that captures the sheer power and fury of this remarkable four-piece, and it also sees them improvising freely and pushing their sonic envelope to bold new limits.

"I think the intention was to not censor anything, to allow anything to evolve that wanted to evolve,"
Tek says of the sessions for Le Bonne Route,
"and that's kinda how it was. A lot of those songs started as freeform jams that we taped. This is really the first time that the band has had any time to spend together, where we've been living in the same house for a prolonged period.
We could go down into the music room and just turn that tape machine on and start jamming, without any preconceived notions. At the end of all that we had a bunch of tape, and I listened to it and picked out bits and pieces that seemed to work and we made those into songs. So it was fairly spontaneous."

Meanwhile, Tek continues to work as a surgeon at the hospital in Billings, taking unpaid leave to tour with his band. There'll be more of that after this tour - the reformed Radio Birdman will be playing a two-week tour of Australia in the New Year (kicking off at Rock Above the Falls in Lorne in Victoria on New Year's Eve). There'll also be a live Birdman album released - recorded early this year on the first reunion tour.

"We made a live album on that tour, and it came out very well,"

Tek says.

"That will be out soon, probably just mail-order, on our own label. What I've told the other guys is that I'll do the January tour, but if we want to play more after that we have to make a studio album first, with all new material. If that is agreed to by the rest of the guys, we'll be doing a Radio Birdman studio album in the early part of the year."
The Deniz Tek Band play the Crash'n'Burn this Friday (November 8) and the Playroom this Saturday (November 9).

SIMON McKENZIE

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