Deniz Tek and Angie Pepper interview on 19th of January 1991
by Kim Cooper from "Superdope #2" - Summer1991 San Francisco, CA - English
Radio Birdman should need no introduction. This is probably the most in depth interview Deniz and Angie have ever given. Dig it. Superdope: How do you feel today about the constant swell of interest in Radio Birdman and its spinoffs?
Deniz Tek: Well, in my life I’m not really aware of it at all. It really doesn’t enter into my day to day life here. Nobody in Montana knows about Radio Birdman. I guess if I want to go back to Australia, I might be aware of the interest, from the book and the box set, but I really don’t even think about it. It doesn’t matter. Spinoffs? Well, I think the big thing about the spinoffs is that they are all trying to distance themselves from Radio Birdman. When Rob does gigs he gets young people that come up to the front of the stage that scream for Radio Birdman songs and request them, and he is totally frustrated by that. He’s been known to kick those people in the head. It’s young kids that have never even seen Radio Birdman that are yelling these things out, and Rob Younger for one would like to totally distance that, and not have it be a part of what he is doing now. I guess the only other ongoing concern is the Hitmen, and the Hitmen are not worried about it right now. They don’t care about the Radio Birdman past. They’re happy to have been part of it; they don’t regret it; they’ve worked through all the trauma of being a post Radio Birdman band and now they’re moving on into new territory.
Angie Pepper: Well the guys in the Hitmen like us enjoy relationships that are still ongoing from those days, and there’s no reason to deny any of that stuff.
Superdope: Are you resentful of the way things worked out for Radio Birdman, the way the band was mistreated?
Deniz Tek: Well, it comes with the territory. If you break new ground and do creative things there’s always gonna be obstacles. And we regarded it not so much as people being mean to us, but like as if you’re driving down a bumpy road or there’s ice on the road or some obstacle in your way, and you figure out a way to get around it. We didn’t tke it personally than and I don’t take it personally now. People that were problems were not regarded as people, they were just regarded as obstacles.
Angie Pepper: Well, Radio Birdman’s music and your attitude towards business and the industry was definately seen a s a threat by other musicians and the industry in Australia. You were obviously a force to be contended with, and that was going to threaten their little mediorce, mundane performance and existance, so you did evoke a lot of animosity from other people in the music industry. I didn’t see that it affected you at all.
Deniz Tek: No, I guess I could count the times that I was personally effected by it on one hand. Red Symons calling me a Nazi in the Melbourne newspaper in his article--Red Symons is a guy outta Skyhooks that had a problem with me, accused me of Nazism, and that bothered me for a little while, only until I found out that it was not gonna be financially feasible for me to sue the guy, and when I found out I couldn’t really do anything about it I stopped thinking about it. That’s the one thing that really comes to mind.
Angie Pepper: What about in the early days, when you guys first started and you’d play a gig at a club or a pub, and all your fans would turn up and the local cleintele wouldn’t like em?
Deniz Tek: They’d beat up on em. Bouncers would drag my girlfriend off stage and throw her out the door. Yeah, that would get our hackles up. But only for a few minutes. We all just figured that we won most of those encounters, because we left the scene of those performances where we cleared the local clientele, with bouncers threatening to beat our ass, and take off, and it was like we’d robbed a bank or something. We’d have a party and have a great night, and figured that we always won. We would never be asked back to play at that place again, of course, but it was like an outlaw existance. We didn’t care what they thought about us, and we regarded every confrontation as a victory for us when we got with all our equipment intact. The trouble with that you run out of places to play pretty quick, when you can never play in the same place twice.
Angie Pepper: I guess the bottom line is the music is always victorious. The audience that came to see you always went away happy.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, they knew that they’d seen Radio Birdman, and some of the people that were blasted out of the place knew that they’d seen something, and probably figured out later that it was something that they might wanna check out again, and would come back maybe at a later time.
Angie Pepper: I dunno. I don’t think they’d wanna check it out again, they’d probably just now enjoy saying that they were there. (Laughs) They would never wanna go back again.
Deniz Tek: Maybe.
Superdope: Are you glad to be getting recognition now for the work you did 15 years ago, or is it too late?
Deniz Tek: It’s in the past, but I see time as continuous. I think that whatever happens happens. It’s not like it doesn’t exist anymore just because now we’re in 1991 and that was in 1976. It does, but it exists in another place on the time line. If you look at the dimensions of space, of time-space, time is just another axis of direction, and it’s in another, but it still exists. And of course those experiences affect me now, but it is in the past. I’m in another place now. I’m doing different things now. And to be recognized for that happening really doesn’t matter to me that much. It matters only if it opens a door for me where I might get access to something based on the reputation that I wouldn’t get access to otherwise. Like if I get a chance to record in a good studio with somebody else putting the money up because I did that before and they liked it, that’s a good effect of it. But other than that, it doesn’t really matter, because what I do now is different.
Superdope: What do you think was the best thing you ever recorded or performed?
Deniz Tek: It’s really hard to put one thing down and say that was the best recording. From each album there were a few good things .... and a few bad things. Mostly good things. I think on the EP the thing I was most proud of was “Smith and Wesson”. Then on the first Radio Birdman album, I really like “Maelstrom”, and I always liked “Man with Golden Helmet”, “Murder City Nights” was good too. “Anglo Girl” was good. I thought “Hit Them Again” wasn’t so good. And I didn’t really like the version of “Monday Morning Gunk” that was on that album; Itry to skip over that. I didn’t particularly like our version of “TV Eye” either. Looking at Living Eyes, the things that are outstanding for me now are “Moving Change”, “Hangin On”, and “Didn’t Tell the Man”. I think those wer the best things from that session at Rockfield. Most of the stuff since hasn’t really been released so people wouldn’t know about it.
Angie Pepper: Well, it’s hard for me really be objective and say this is the best thing I ever recorded”. I can just remember impressions of recording session, and I listen to the tapes and all the subjective emotional stuff comes into it. I enjoy everything I’ve recorded. Mort (Andrew “Mort” Bradley) sent me a tape that I’d done completely forgotten about, that was done, gosh, maybe back in 1977 with Rob Younger on drums, and Charlis Georgees from the Hellcats on guitar, and I think Steve Harris on keyboards, and Clyde Bramley on bass. It was “A Question of Temperature”. Mort was going to school to learn how to do what he does now, and he asked us to come in so he could practise engineering. We recorded that song and it was great, and I’d forgotten all about that. But when I hear it now it’s as raw as hell but it’s great, it brings back all the good feelings about that time. The Passengers recording I really enjoyed. I loved being in the Passengers band, and I was leaving the band, so there was a really deep, heartfelt sincerity about what we were doing. It was all very vital and passionate at that session.
Deniz Tek: Do you remember about the Angie Pepper Band demos?
Angie Pepper: I remember with the APB sessions it was really hard to get into it. It just wasn’t coming together. The songs had only been written six weeks prior to us recording them. The music was put together really fast. The band learned the songs in a coupla days and then bang! We did six or eight gigs, and it was all for the purpose of putting down an album. So the songs hadn’t really worked themselves in; we knew them well, but it just hadn’t taken on the personal character that’s necessary for a good performance, in the studio anyway. It was just really tough to get into it. And then we said I could always take a break. Our friend Gabor Bunda was there in the studio, he was the only other guy that was allowed in the studio when we were recording, and Deniz sent him out for a bottle of Slivovitz. (laughs) He came back with a bottle of Slivovitz and we all drank it and it was magic from that moment on, it was great, it just came together so well. I remember seeing Gabor through the glass there where the console was just throwing his head back in ecstacy at what was going on. I love listening to that stuff, I really do. It’s great. The gigs weren’t as much fun as the recording session for the reasons that I’ve just explained, that the songs hadn’t worked themselves into our souls yet. But they have since. The Houston tapes that I did after that, though, were APB songs and that was a lot of fun because we were back with Mort again. Mort’s a good friend from the past, and we were working those session musicians that we didn’t know very well. But they all liked the music very much and we all became very close very quickly. It was enjoyable. The best recording session, or the best recorded performance I think.... will be the next one.
Deniz Tek: The Radio Birdman album was recorded over a year, here and there on weekends when we could get into the studiobecause we were only allowed to record when there weren’t paying customers coming in and the studio wasn’t booked. Then they’d call us up, we’d come in, set up our stuff and record for a weekend, then we’d be out of there again for another two or three weeks. So that was over a whole year. Rockfield [where Living Eyes was recorded] was a concentrated three week effort.
Angie Pepper: A lot of the atmosphere of that recording session was related in the book. What about the Visitors?
Deniz Tek: We set up everything like live, all the amps, set the drums up, got the mic up for the singer and just played our set, basically. One song after the other. We didn’t do any extra takes. It was all done in one afternoon - demos - and later on that was released by Citadel as a record. But it was never meant to be a reord, it was just demos. But out of that record I think there’s a couple good performances. I think I’d really like to go back to “BrotherJohn”. “Life Spill” came out good, and “Journey by Sledge”.
Angie Pepper: A bit of trivia that isn’t documented anywhere is that I’m singing on “Journey by Sledge” in the harmonies. It’s not written on the album, but it was after a Passengers gig they pulled me in to put harmonies on that.
Superdope: Any memorable performances?
Deniz Tek: Radio Birdman played, it’s estimated, over 300 gigs, and it’s a blur. It really is a blur. I can remeber scenes or flashes from things that happened but it’s very hard to put a whole gig together in my memory. I think the ones that are really outstanding, well, I remember a whole bunch of gigs. Playing to twelve people at the Excelsior Hotel after moving the pool tables out, and out of those twelve people three of them are little old ladies that drink in the pub all day, and they’re up dancing! The Funhouse, the Oxford Tavern, playing there and eventually getting crowds of 400 people in this small room where the physical structure of the building is literally shaking and we’re wondering about the integrity of the structure and if there’s gonna be a disaster, multiple, mass casualty situation when the floor caves in. It was on the second story of this really old pub. Chris trying to throw his guitar out the vertical window crosswise (laughs) so it’s not going out so it’s not going out, and he’s banging the peg-head and the back against the edges of this window, trying to throw it out. Visions of just mass roaring of people , and being aware that not only the people in the Oxford, but all the way down the stairwell and into the street and down the sidewalk are all dancing to the music. Just an incredible power sensation of that. Down in Melbourne playing at a pizza joint called Martini’s where Rob dives off the stage and across a table full of - y’know, people are having drinks, and there’s these long tables orientated lengthwise from the stage back towrads the back of the room and it’s all glass and bricks and real echo-y, and Rob just sliding on this table like if you dove onto some ice and slid on your stomach. And drinks and stuff, ashtrays, and lit cigarettes are going in either direction like a bow-wake from this guy going over the edge of this table. (laughs) And playing the Paddington Town Hall, another one, 4000 people show up, there’s just mass rioting. The only term you could put on it is rioting. And at the end of the show, the entire stage coming down, being torn down, collapsing, and amps coming down. When we went to England again it got really small. We started playing small pubs again and not big concert halls.
Angie Pepper: But you had negative audiences then didn’t you?
Deniz Tek: Very negative. It was the immediate post-punk era. I think we started playing in England like January or February of ‘78, and so it was immediatelyafter the punk craze had just started to subside. And you had all these people wondering what the next thing was gonna be, but it wasn’t gonna be us for sure because we were from Australia, and the people in England have an inbred prejudice against Australians, so ... But we did have, the first round of gigs in London, we had some converts, and at the Hope and Anchor we had one great night were we did two encores, the only time in the band’s existence where we ever did two encores. The band was really smokin’. This Hope and Anchor pub, a little tiny room cram-packed with people where the stage is on one end and the bar is at the back, and just wall to wall people. A dressing room off to the side of the stage. We were treated out, and the screaming and ponding and thumping, and they started thumping in unison, and the whole building started to shake. And we came out, palyed another song, went back and it just kept increasing, and we usually never did any encores, but this night we did two. It just seemed appropriate, it was just such an intense response from these English London people who had up to now not seemed to like us or accept us. And there were a few good gigs also on that tour when we got out into Europe. In Brussels there was a goodone, and out in the country, the black country of England: leeds, Sheffield. They call it the black country because everything is black, from the industry. The trees, the grass, the buildings, everything is black. Playing in those pubs we had some really good gigs. But for us it never mattered that much whether the people liked it. I remember one gig down in Melbourne, we were down ther the same time as Ted Mulray. We went into one of their enclaves ; we played. Nobody there knew anything about us or liked us, and we cleared the place out except there was about ten people that liked the band that had come to this gig. And we were being booed, but we were playing great, and off each other. Me against Rob, Warwick and the song would be going on, there would be a melody line played by one guy, and then another guy, Chris would be taking another direction, Warwick would be going in another direction, the drums, it was kinda like a loose tightness, everything was going in divergent directions, but somehow creating an entity that was just being formed on the moment. Improvisation I guess is what it was, but we liked it so much we did another encore ‘cause we were having so much fun even though everyone hated it and was booing us when we left the stage.
Angie Pepper: I didn’t see any of the European legs of the Radio Birdman tour. I saw most of the ones in England, and it was really strange that most of the audience, all they wanted to see was stuff like, Sex Pistols or the Stranglers. It was like they had no ability to comprehend the music that Radio Birdman was putting out. They had cotton wool in their ears or something. It was just really strange to see that reaction, when I had expected them to be a lot more receptive, but the last Paddington Town Hall gig that Radio Birdman did in Australia, that was really weird too because it was massive. It was like “this is the end of the Radio Birdman era in Australia” and there were thousands and thousands of people there and it was just craziness. It didn’t make sense to me. The music was great, but from being in the audience it was completely different to what Radio Birdman had been, and it wasn’t an enjoyable gig to be in the audience amongst all the crazy people. Friends of Radio Birdman found other places to be, out of the audience area, up on the ledges halfway up the windows and three story high ceiling, and things like that, just places to get away from those people. But apart from that gig, that’s the only one I remember that wasn’t just spectaclar. The gig was spectaclar, but it was uncomfortable to be amongst the crowd. I remember the Oxford gigs where it was so hot you’d open the windows and climb out onto the corrugated iron roof. The Oxford Funhouse was on the second story of a two story pub, and all the pubs down therehad these veranda-awaning type things over the street. And the band would take a break and there’d be an onslaught of people diving through the windows, sittin gon the corrugated iron, drinking their beers, trying to cool off. I remember sitting out there and looking down the street and seeing all the city lights and the cars passing by and thinking “What a great life.” (laughs) “This is wonderful. What a wonderful way to spend your life.” The gigs were fabulous, they were so full of new energy. It was just wonderful. We were really in the right place at the right time. My performances, the Passengers. Every one of them was memorable. I don’t have any memorable stories. I’m a very subjective performer. There was nothing extreme about any incidents that happened. The only thing that was extreme was the passion that we put into our performance. One gig that I remember was the second to last gig we did. It was a benefit, an anti-nuclear benefit. I would never do one of those now. I was young and foolish at the time. I’m not behind that at all. But other members of the band presented it to me. Jeff Sullivan had been asked to do it, and he put it to us, and it was like “This is our chance to play to thousands of people in a big hall and see what it’s like. It would be good for the band to try it.” And from a musical point of view it was a great. It was just an excellent gig. We performed very well. We had a great sound on stage so that I could hear what everybody was doing really clearly. And I knew we had a great sound out front too. Y’know when you rehearse in a practise room and you have all the sound hitting you at the same time, individual instruments might not be as clear , but you do get all the sound. But it was really good to be able to hear everybody playing clearly as well as they did. It was great. I sang very well at the time. It was thousands of people and now I remember seeing people from Midnight Oil and INXS and all those other bands that were industry bands from there, because it was very much an industry gig. And I remember seeing them all down at the front.
Deniz Tek: Midnight Oil was always political.
Angie Pepper: Yeah, I know.
Deniz Tek: I’ve never been political about music. I have my personal politics but I don’t stick it in my music. I remember that gig because I saw all these people from different bands down the front and now the order has changed, everthing’s different. But that gig was great. But I... The Passengers was a very passionate (laughs), sensitive subject. We were very young, and it was all very (laughs).... That was the Passengers. I always enjoyed the Passengers gigs, they were great.
Superdope: Which members of the old Sydney scene are you still in contact with?
Deniz Tek: Well, I'm obviously in contact with Chris Masuak, I've just finished recording an album with him down in Houston, Texas. Johnny Kannis is in that band, The Hitmen. Actually they call it Hitmen DTK became there's another band in either Portland, Seattle or Vancouver, somewhere up there that is The Hitmen, and they threatened to sue our Hitmen for using the same name. Of course our Hitmen have had that name for 15 years, but I guess we didn't register it in the United States. So we're getting sued, they had to add something to it to make it different. And Mort was the producer and engineer of that album. He's from the old Melbourne scene really, not Sydney. Mike McMartin I have contact with because he administers my publishing. I have written letters to Rob within the last year which have been answered, and Rob sent me a copy of his latest album with the New Christs, so we're in contact. We talk on the phone occasionally. Other band guys: Ron Keeley I talked to on the phone a couple of weeks ago, he was concerned that I might be over in The Gulf fighting and he called about that. We had a nice talk on the phone. Of course Vivien Johnson, official Radio Birdman biographer. Mark Sisto. I haven't heard from Warwick in a long time, about a year and a half, two years, but me and Warwick did completely patch up our friendship after the band, I have to say that. We’ve gotten together and talked everything out and got back to a basic friendship on that. So I guess that's about it for me on the Sydney scene, what about you?
Angie Pepper: Well once every three or four months I ring up Jim Dickson who fills me in on what everybody's doing. And occasionally I call up Jeff Sullivan too.
Deniz Tek: Haven't heard from Steve Harris or Pip Hoyle for a long time.
Angie Pepper: No. But when we go back to Australia I always try to find as many people from those days as I possibly can because there were so many good friendships there. I mean just because people don’t write to each other doesn’t mean that the friendship doesn't exist any more. There's so many good friendships and good experiences and memories there, I always try to find all my friends end catch up on what they're doing. I like to find out that they're okay, just to make sure that life hasn’t dealt them a bum hand. And it's always good to see them. We always say well keep in contact. And we don't write--I mean, I hardly even write to my parents, but it doesn't mean I don't love em anymore! We go back to Australia every two or three years, and that's when we catch up on our friends. And there isn't any of them that we avoid. I try to seek out as many of them as I can.
Deniz Tek: I think for me the most exciting thing is getting hack together with Chris and working on recording. I just got back a week ago from Houston, but it turned out so well, I mean together we play so well, that I can imagine us forming a partnership on a lot of projects in the future. Really excited about that. And with Johnny as well, Johnny Kannis.
Superdope: Any reaction to Vivien Johnson's book about Radio Birdman?
Deniz Tek: Well, y’know, I’ve got mixed feelings about it The first half of it to me was really entertaining. I enjoyed it, read through it really quickly. In a couple nights I was through the first half and I found it entertaining, humorous, good stories, basically the same positive, upbeat feeling that I had when I was there doing those things was brought back to me. The last part of the book was strange. I think that there's a lot of stuff said in there that's not true by some of the other guys in the band, and I know that they regret it now.
Angie Pepper: They're not outright lies, just their perceptions at the time.
Deniz Tek: Well, yeah. There's real contradictions in the book. Anyone that reads it will see the contradictions in it. And people that said things now--at least some of them I know from having talked to them recently--regret saying those things. And realize that the things that they said were inaccurate.
Angie Pepper: There was a lot of heavy stuff going on, particularly when the band was in England, that doesn't come out in the book. It wasn't told to Vivien because it was just so personal that it just belongs to the members of the band.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, there's some things, some secrets that are still not told.
Angie Pepper: And it explains a lot of the problems that some of the members were having. It all becomes very clear when you have this information, but there's no reason why anybody else but the people concerned should have that information. So as a book it's just good reading.
Superdope: What do you miss about the old days in Sydney?
Deniz Tek: It was a place and time where the were no boundaries on what you did. You could do things with very little money there because of the economy at the time. And that's totally changed now. You didn't need a lot of money to do creative things in music. And you could set things up and do them the way you wanted. There was very little crime or heavy interpersonal stuff going. If yon avoided the inner city clubs like Checkers or The Whiskey--those two places were Mafia-controlled--other than that there wasn't much crime so you really weren't that worried about getting beat up or maimed or killed. You could just be free. And that also relates to the time of a person's life. That was in my late teens, early twenties, and no family, no responsibilities. Virtually you could do anything. I had no problem with just taking off from Sydney and going down the coast to the Royal National Park and going surfing for three or four days at a time, or go fishing and then come back. It was just free and easy, and a really nice time.
Angie Pepper: You could go out and have fun without being on your guard. You could stagger home at four o'clock in the morning and not worry about whether you were going to be attacked. There were no obstacles to having fun.
Deniz Tek: Yeah. It was an ideal place and time that probably will never occur again.
Superdope: If you don't mind naming names, what individuals do you think had the most to do with making your life hellish during the Radio Birdman days?
Deniz Tek: That question doesn't make any sense to me because my life was great during the Radio Birdman days. It was the best lime I ever had.
Angie Pepper: Didn't anybody give you any trouble at all?
Deniz Tek: Yeah, I had trouble, but it was turned around into being a positive. We thrived on trouble. Trouble was our bread and water. Great--trouble--great! Just increase the power and go on to the next thing. I guess the only time my life was hellish was in the last two months of the band's existence when Warwick wouldn't speak to me and wouldn't say "good morning" or "g'day' when you see him, when you go out of the hotel room and you get in the lift and go down, out in the street and put your stuff in the van and say "Hi, how you doing today?" and the guy doesn't say anything. That was hellish. Other than that, it was a little bit hellish too to try to get Rob to be up for performances where he would be threatening to quit every day of the last two months. But other than that, I suppose what I'm saying is that we made life hellish for ourselves at the very end, but other than that no, it wasn’t hellish, so I don't have any problem with anybody. It was great, Best time I ever had. Yeah.
Superdope: Do you want to tell your Seymour Stein and Iggy Pop stories?
Deniz Tek: [The Iggy stories are] all in the book. About us going to dinner with him and him sticking us with the bill and all that. He probably also had some instruments stolen from our van that night. The other Iggy Pop stories that I told you were probably second hand from Ron [Asherton], and I don't warms really go into those because there's an effort in the works right now for Ron and the Stooges to reunify and do an album and a tour. And I don't wanna say anything in any media that would jeopardize that, because Ron really needs the money. There's some Seymour and Linda Stein stories in the book. Seymour, he's a really unusual guy, I’m really ambivalent towards him. He has a dual personality, one being a real fan of rock and roll, and the other being a shrewd, ruthless businessman in the record industry. And he manages to balance this personality dichotomy. He started out as a messenger for Cashbox magazine, running errands and being a general gopher. The next thing I know about him is he was involved in Redbird and Roulette Records and had to do with major girl groups like the Chiffons and Shangri-La and the Cookies and people like that. So he kinda clawed his way to the top, being just a fan, clawed his way to the top of the business. Sire Records. I spent some time at his place in New York just after Radio Birdman got signed to Sire. He had me over to his house, which is a town-house on Central Park West. And you go in there and it's wall-to-wall records, every wall of his house is 45s and albums, all indexed. Anything that was great that's been recorded is in his house. He's a short guy, drinks a coupla cases of diet 7-Up every day, orders out for Chinese food and just talks about music. He gets into a frenzy about it I played him, when I got there, a tape of our Paddington Town Hall concert, which was recorded on 16 track mobile track parked outside, so it was a good, studio-quality tape of this live show. Played him "More Fun ". It was a good "More Fun ", and he started going into a frenzy and calling up record distributors all over the country, and holding the phone up to this boom box that he had playing "More Fun" and saying, "This is the next Danny and the Juniors,” and how it was going to sweep the country and all this. He loves Elton John. Elton John is his favourite person in the world and he just constantly has dreams about the next Elton, the next Beatles, the next Rolling Stones and being part of it. But he manages his business terrible. and he has no problom with cutting people off, cutting your funds, leaving you stranded in a foreign country, all this other stuff. Having your great album in the can and not releasing it out of spite. So he's really got two sides, and his wife Linda really doesn’t help at all. She's a fairrly malignant personality as far as I’m concerned. At that time she was the road manager of The Ramones, ex-school teacher, and just used to having her own way. And she didn't have her own way as far as relating to us went. He's just an interesting person. I’m very happy for him that he's got Madonna and he's probably made a million dollars or more by now. But he won't have anything to do with me anymore, and likewise.
Angie Pepper: Anyone else in your musical history that you have had feeling towards? What do you have to lose?
Deniz Tek: Well that guy from Skyhooks that called me a Nazi, if I ever run into him he's gonna have some answering to do. He'll have to stand up for what he said and back it up; he won't be able to. There's been a lot of people who're derided me personally, guys like Nick Cave. I don't know him personally, I don’t know why they have any bad feelng towards me. I suppose it's insecurity on their part. I’d be really not interested in pursuing that at all. I think if they ever encountered me in a social situation I probably wouldn't give them the benefit of the doubt. There's Michael Gudinsky from Mushroom Records. There's the guy, Glenn Baker, who used to manage Ol '55, I suppose he's probably a big-shot now, Y'know, all these people I’ll just take em as they come if I run into them again. I don’t think about em at all. As far as harbouring bad feelings, I don't. because I don’t think about them at all.
Angie Pepper: It seems like just after Radio Birdman broke up all these other bands, INXS and the DiVinyls, other bands filled the void that you guys left. There was a need for these bands to denounce Radio Birdman, to say "Radio Birdman had nothing to do with us. No, they didn't open any doors for us at all and dunno anything about em, never saw em." And yet we've got photographs of you guys playing with Michael Hutchence or whatever his name is of INXS right down the front of the stage. It's obvious that you did have a tremendous impact on the Australian music scene. And it's really weird that these other bands have this need to denounce you as having no influence on them. I don't know why; they've no reason to he insecure about it. That's really something I don't understand because I don't know any other great band who has denied its influences. I mean The Rolling Stones are always talking about...
Deniz Tek: Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran.
Angie Pepper: Yeah, it's an obvious influence, not so much the music-
Deniz Tek: And we talked about our influences.
Angie Pepper: I mean their music isn't like yours, but you certainly broke ground for them, and they don’t have to give you credit for what they are, but it's so strange that they would be so negative about you. I guess they still feel threatened, I suppose your popularity as the legendary Radio Birdman is shown the reason why. I dunno. It's just weird.
Superdope: If you could bring any four people back from the dead for an evening, who would they be and what would you do?
Deniz Tek: Well, I’d bring my two grandfathers back because I never got a chance to know em. I was a small child when they died and I’d like to talk to them and find out about what they were like and something about my family history that they might know. I haven’t had a very easy time tracking my family history. There's just not that much information available. So I’d like to talk to those guys, I suppose that leaves me with two other choices. I would take Jesus Christ; being the founder of Christianity, find out what he thought about it. And Benjamin Franklin, being one of the founding fathers of the United States. And again what to do with them? Just sit and talk and get as much information as I can. I think that probably for me the most important things in the last 2000 years were the founding of Christianity and the founding of the United States, and it would be a good idea to taIk to guys that were in on it. To find out the inside story about that would be great.
Angie Pepper: Well I’d have a hard time calling back anybody I didn’t know or anyone who didn’t have a personal affiliation with me--
Deniz Tek: Assume that they won't be upset about it.
Angie Pepper: It would be by invitation, and I dun't know that I could get what I wanted out of people that I called back if I didn't know them and they didn't know me. I would like to talk to my grandfather on my mother's side who I never met. He died before I was born. I’d also like to talk to my grandmother who brought me up and died when I was in my early twenties. But even though she lived with us I didn’t spend any personal quality time with her. She was just my grandmother that brought me up and I didn’t really know her very well I knew how she would personally react to my needs as her granddaughter, but now that I’m a mother myself I’d like to talk to her more about what it was like for her growing up and the things that effected her. The other two people I’d like to bring back for one evening would be, no, not Elvis (Laughs), not Roy 0rbison, although they're quite close. I would have loved to have met Roy Orbison before he died. I was very upset when he died. He's my favourite singer of all time. I'd bring hack Peter MacLaine, who hardly anybody's ever heard of. He was my best friend during The Passangers time. He took a lot of photographs of The Passengers. He died a couple of years ago from a ruptured aneurysm. We were very close during The Passengers days, and contacted each other about once a year since I left Australia. But he died suddenly and I would like to see him again. There were lots of things we had to talk about that we didn’t get a chance to. And the other person is Ian Krae, who is the only other person of my generation who was a personal friend of mine who's died, and I guess nobody likes it when people they know die. I'd like to talk to him again.
Superdope: What have you been reading lately?
Angie Pepper: Well a oouple of weeks back I was reading "Will" by G. Gordon Liddy, and now I’m reading "Clear and Present Danger", Tom Claney. I read a lot of children's books to my kids. I try to read the front page of the newspaper once a day, (Laughs) I read the "Conservative Chronicle" and I read the world news from "The Wall Street Journal". Deniz reads a lot of publications and finds a lot of interesting articles. He'll find articles that he thinks'll be interesting to me and give them to me. What have you been reading, Den?
Deniz Tek: I just finished reading "North to the Pole" by Will Steger. That's just a narrative account of an expedition to the North Pole by dog-sled where they were trying to recreate what Admiral Pearey claimed to have done in 1909, to reach the Pole by dog-sled without re-supply. And so they tried to do that: take off by land over the arctic ice and reach the Pole without any re-supply. That was a good book. They ran into a lot of personal problems along the way. You might expect that with any extreme performance venture. In some ways it reminded me of being in the band on tour, some of the things that they ran into personally. Several other books too. I usually have about six books on my nightstand and I read em all at the same time. "Anna Karenina" I’m going through again, about halfway through that. A book called "Fork-tailed Devil" which is about the P-38 Lightning. "Grizzly” by -- I can’t remember the author’s name -- a guy around the turn of the century who spent his life stalking grizzly bears without a gun, trailing them and observng their habits. And a book called "And Brave Men Too" which is an account of Congressional Medal of Honor winners in Vietnam. And I read "National Review" when it comes out.
Superdope: Could you outline your movements since leaving San Diego? What kind of medical cases do you handle now, and how is it different?
Deniz Tek: When I was in San Diego I was in the Navy, working at a Navy hospital. I was gonna get out of the Navy after that. I was faculty in a residency program, teaching residents how to be emergency physicians. And afler that I was ready to get out of the Navy, but I got an offer to be Brigade Surgeon for the Marine Corps for the 4th Marine Brigade, and decided to do that job for another couple of years. So we went to Norfolk, Virginia and I had this administrative job as the surgeon for a brigadier general of the Marine Corps. The brigade that I was with had its area of responsibility in Northern Europe and in the Caribbean and Central America, so I spent a lot of time traveling to those places and doing planning for evacuating war casualties from those places. After two years of doing that I had spent a lot of time away from home. I got out of the Navy and we moved to Billings, Montana. I'm working as a physician in an emergency department here in a hospital. And I'm the director of a flight program here as well. What kind of medical cases do I handle now? Anything that comes in the door. It could be major road trauma, gunshot wounds, heart attack, stroke, bleeding pregnant women, small babies with bad infections, down to things like sprained ankles and sore throats. Basically anything that comes in. Those are the kind of cases. Y'know in Montana there's a lot less AIDS-related illness, and a lot less crime-related injury. There's not so much penetrating trauma. It's more blunt trauma from road accidents and motorcycle accidents, and in Montana you'te ten times more likely to be seriously injured by a horse than you are by a motorcycle. So the spectrum of trauma is different, or the mechanism of injury is different, but the kind of cases are pretty much the same. We treat a lot of Indians from the Reservation. A lot of our penetrating trauma comes from there. As far as drugs, really the only thing up here is alcohol, and some of the Indians are into paint-sniffing. But I've been here for over a year now, and I have not treated one heroin overdose or one major complication of cocaine in the whole time I've been here. And every other place that I’ve worked--San Diego or Norfolk or Portsmouth--it was a daily occurrence that I would treat these things, and AIDS. But in Montana it's not like that at all. That's one of the reasons why we moved here.
Angie Pepper: How does it differ from your experiences in San Diego? Say a little bit about that. You've got more time now.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, well, I'm working twelve hours at a time, ten or eleven times a month, so I have a lot of days off, a lot of time for other things. A lot more spare time. Over the last year or so I've done some fishing, some camping and mountain bike riding, skiing, tennis. More recently music. Been writing some songs lately. Put a home studio together in the basement to be able to make demos and write songs. I'm spending a lot more time with the children than I used to, just doing things with them. I took up bow-hunting, and so I'm shooting bow and arrow and things like that.
Angie Pepper: You've found people to play with too, haven't you?
Deniz Tek: Yeah, well, I've met a few people. I met a drummer that owns a music store called Bohemian Music named Francis. I've jammed with him a few times. There's a guy here also that's a DJ called The Mystery Guest (Laughs)--we can't say his name, it's a secret--but we have jammed with him too.
Angie Pepper: He plays great stuff on his radio show.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, he has a great radio show every Friday night from 10 to 11:30.
Angie Pepper: He plays stuff we’ve, never heard before.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, he's our source of inspiration. And he's also a good guitar player.
Superdope: How old are your kids now, and what are their interests?
Deniz Tek: Max is three, and he is interested in airplanes, cars and tracks, watching cartoons on TV.
Angie Pepper: Buttons.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, he's into any mechanical device and likes to turn it on or turn it off. Whatever state it's in he manipulates it into the opposite state, either on or off.
Angie Pepper: He's broken every piece of mechanical equipment that we've put within his reach. Tape recorders, record players, just if he can get ahold of it it's just--
Deniz Tek: Gone.
Angie Pepper: It's gone. (Laughs) He just plays with it until it's dead.
Deniz Tek: He's a good boy. Hana is our daughter, she's six. She knows how to read now and is practising that. She's a good artist, a visual artist, with drawing and painting, That's probably her main interest. She also likes music and dancing. She takes tennis lessons twice a week. Dancing. She's real social. She likes to have friends over all the time.
Angie Pepper: She will find common ground with anybody she meets; she's very social, a very friendly person. Very sensitive, too. She always has been. She has what I think is a unique ability to empathize with other people's feelings. She revealed this as early as the age of one and a half. She's a very sweet girl. The children are wonderful.
Superdope: Tell us about Orphan Tracks and the Passengers collection.
Deniz Tek: Well, Orphan Tracks, these guys from Revenge Records in France --Bernard Masanes and Jean-Marc Foillet-- came to my house in Norfolk and they basically looked through my collection of old tapes and wanted to know whether they could take some tapes and release em. I had some old stuff that was basically out-takes, demos, home recordings, stuff that you would never expect to be released on a record. They were willing to leave me some money and take some stuff and release it. And at the time I was--
Angie Pepper: Why not?
Deniz Tek: Yeah. I was of the mind that my career had pretty much finished and I wasn't gonna really be doing anything else, so I was happy to have them clean out my closet and release all this stuff. And they took it and released it. "ACM" and "Big Ride" and "Steel Beach" were recorded in I think 1985, in Hawaii. "ACM" is a fighter song--I wrote it for the squadron that I was in at the time, just kinds like a party song for the squadron. "Big Ride" was supposed to be a theme for a movie. These were recorded at home on a 4-track porta-studio with a drum machine. Other songs on there were basement jams with friends, and then there was Houston--I think 6 songs on it were from Houston, where we recorded demos with Angie and some session people.
Angie Pepper: The Passengers tape was a demo tape. We already knew we were breaking up. I was going to go over to the States to join Deniz. And we'd put some money aside from our gigs and Jim said, "Well let's get all our originals down and make a demo tape and see what happens." So that's what we did. We weren't gonna sell it or try and fish it around to any recording studio, it was pretty much for our own benefit as a memory of our songs.
Deniz Tek: One thing to remember about that it was mastered from a very rough cassette copy, because the original master tape was lost, and--
Angie Pepper: Stolen.
Deniz Tek: Well, yeah, lost or stolen. We really don't know what happened to it, it was gone. But Revenge wanted to put it out anyway, even from a very rough, old cassette, so the fidelity's terrible, but you can still hear that it was great.
Superdope: What about the Angle Pepper Band sessions? Will those recording ever be released?
Angie Pepper: After I left The Passengers, I went to the States to join Deniz and we were in Detroit for a year. Then we both went back to Australia for six months. Dunng the last half of that six month period, Deniz did the New Race tour. Before Ron Asheton and Deniz Thompson came over to do the New Race tour, Deniz and I put together the band with Clyde [Bramley] and Ivor [Hay] and Steve [Harris]. And for want of a better name it was the Angie Pepper Band. The idea was just to perform the songs that Deniz had written in the mean time, that he'd written for me. We did about six or eight gigs, I think, in Sydney, as the preliminary to doing an album. Trafalger was gonna put out this APB album, kind of a forum for me. And then we did the gigs and they were great gigs, and we did the recording and it was a great recording. It was only supposed to be demo tapes, supposedly prior to recording the album. In the meantime, Deniz and I got married and somehow Trafalgar Studios found out that Deniz and I were married and were very much aware of the fact that Deniz was going back to the United States. And they put 29 and 132 together and worked out that I would be joining Deniz in the States, and there goes there product, which is very short-sighted of them, considering this age of technology we're living in. When they found out that Deniz and I were married and that Deniz was going back to the States, and they assumed that I would be going back with him, they dropped the whole thing. I was fully prepared to stay and fulfill my commitrnents, and there was no reason why I couldn't perform in the States or in Australia under the Trafalger label. But I guess they got paranoid about it. So they dropped the project. And all we had was the demos. We still have the demos in tape form. I don't know if Trafalger have them in master form. They were the ones that lost track of the Passengers tape for me, although the Passengers tape was recorded at Palm Studios. When I left Australia I left the Passengers tapes with Mike McMartin for safe keeping and he lost track of em. I don't know if the APB tapes in master form exist or not. We will re-record those songs, those songs will come out. I dunno what will happen about that actual session, though.
Deniz Tek: Anyway, the demo tape, does belong to Trafalger, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't allow that to be licensed to Revenge or anybody else. but the songs, the song copyrights are mine, and I could re-do em if we want to.
Superdope: Are Revenge Records interested in putting out any new material you might present them? Any plans to do so?
Deniz Tek: They're probably interested in doing it. I know that they would. And that's probably a good fallback position if we don't achieve any better deal. I think that it'd be premature to say that new material would be on Revenge. It's like anything else. If you buy a new car you would look around and get the best deal that you could. Same thing with new material that we're gonna do. We'll see. If Revenge has the best offer, then we'll go with Revenge in Europe. If not, we’ll go somewhere else. Revenge hasn't got any market in America, Australia, New Zealand or Japan, so, in any case we'd be going with other labels in those places.
Angie Pepper: We've had a good relationship with the guys from Revenge in the past. They've put out stuff that other records companies weren't interested in. They've been very good about royalties. It has been a really good relationship. And personally it's been a good relationship, too. Jean-Marc and Bernard have been good friends of ours. The relationship will continue, but our relationship with them doesn't exclude any business dealings we might have with other record companies or vice versa.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, I agree with that. I really like those guys, and they're doing a wonderful thing putting this old stuff out that would never otherwise see the light of day. Good people.
Superdope: What are your impressions of The New Christs and The Screaming Tribesmen? Died Pretty? Eastern Dark? Do you generally keep informed about new stuff coming out of Australia?
Deniz Tek: When I was in Houston with The Hitmen last week I asked those guys about what was going on and they said that the best bands were the Screaming Jets, which were young guys outta the western suburbs of Sydney, and that there was a band called the Lost Boys that were pretty good. I dunno anything about The Eastern Dark. I have one of their albums that I've never broken the cellophane on, so I recognize the name but I've never heard em or heard of em. Died Pretty and the Screaming Tribesmen: people have sent me the records and I've listened to em...once, and that's it. The songs really didn't do anything for me. I recognize that the playing, technically, is good, but I don't think the songs were very good. And I only put a record on twice if I'm compelled to, and in this case I wasn't compelled to. The New Chnsts? l've had some singles come over, I've listened to those, and this latest album -- I did listen to that more than once. Some of the songs on that really did grow on me. "Burning of Rome” in particular I thought was a really good song. But I’ve never seen the band live. Maybe I will when I go over there this summer.
Angie Pepper: The only time we really find cot about what's going on in Australia is when we go down there I mentioned before, our friends down there, we don't write very much, they don't write very much. Occasionally we make phone calls, but when we do we don’t talk about other bands that are going on, doing stuff down there. So it's only when we go down there that we find out from the newspapers and other people in the industry that we come across about what's actually going on musically down them. Unless someone sends us and album, and it's always on a personal basis.
Superdope: What do you think is the biggest misconception people still have about Radio Birdman?
Deniz Tek: Well, I dunno. Nobody talks to me about Radio Birdman, so I don’t know what their misconceptions are. I don't, I really don't know. I think if anybody reads that book, there's a lot of contradictions in the book, and that might be a source of misconceptions, but...
Angie Pepper: You gotta keep in mind that Deniz has been outta Australia for ten years, and during that time he's been in the military flying jets, and he's been in the medical community, and now we're up here in Montana. Radio Birdman in Australia is a far cry from those areas, so it's not like he's bombarded with autographs or radio interviews. He's been called up for a few radio interviews, but we're not very much aware of what’s going on in Australia or outside of the United States as far as Radio Birdman is concerned.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, or even in the big cities of the United States, LA, New York, y'know where people are who know about Radio Birdman. There's no contact with it any more.
Angie Pepper: And we don't go around looking for people that have heard of Radio Birdman; we're just living our lives. New things.
Superdope: Angie, who are your Influences? What are your favourite songs?
Angie Pepper: I don’t have any musical influences that dictate to me where my own musical writing is to go. I don’t know where that comes from; that comes from somewhere that's unconscious. I have music that I enjoy listening to that I will tum on and, when the kids aren't in need of me I’ll dance around the house and sing along to the stuff. It might have a subconscious influence in the music that I write, but it's nothing conscious. I like listening to Malathini and the Mahotella Queens, a South African group. I really like 'Talk is Cheap", Keith Richards' album. I like Billy Idol’s latest album. I love Roy Orbison. I’ll put on the Travelling Wilburys. I don’t like any music that I see on MTV; I hate it always. I listen to a lot of country music 'cause it's the best thing on the radio. In between 10 am and 12 I'll turn on the news radio station and listen to Rush Limbaugh because he's really entertaining. And I’d say he was a philosophical influence for me. I admire that guy a lot. There are obscure records in the past, like Diane Renay. She has a fabulous voice. I love her songs. Nobody influences in my singing style and the things I write I think, except Deniz, because I do it with him, so...and my children. My life, my immediate life, is my greatest influence.
Superdope: What other bands were you in besides The Passengers and The Angie Pepper Band?
Angie Pepper: When I was ten years old the girl across the road from me, Jill Cann and I used to go round the neighbourhood and sing Christmas carols and collect money for the Smith family. Then I went into high school and I got together with five other girls -- three of us played guitar -- and played folky type songs and did school performances. When I left school I got together with another two guys to play guitar, and we used to play at the Newcastle University, old English type folk songs. Then I went to art school, and to make my way through school I joined a blues band as their singer, and got $10 a night on Fridays and Saturdays, and that paid for my art equipment and my parents paid my $6 a week rent in a house up on the beach that I lived in. I always enjoyed singing, but up to that I’d never really enjoyed the bands that I was in. I went down to Sydney, met people from Radio Birdman and friends. Didn't do any singing for a couple of years. Then did a guest-spot with The Hitmen when Radio Birdman was taking a break from performing in Sydney. That was the next time I sang. And then after I came back from England I put The Passengers together, with Jim Dickson and Steve Harris and Jeff Sullivan. Then after that the next move was over to the States and the next band I played in was the band that Deniz had put together on the ship, when he was with the Marines. We got together in the Philippines and played at the Brown Fox. My next band after that was the Houston recording session. It wasn’t really a band just a recording session. That's about it. Oh, wait a minute! When we were back in Hawaii, Deniz had another band that we put together and played a couple of military dances, and I sang in that. I missed out The Passengers and The Angie Pepper Band, but you know all about that.
Superdope: Do you have any plans to sing again, and do you write songs?
Angie Pepper: I always sing. Plans to sing again professionally, yeah. Deniz and I have got plans in the works that we're not gunna talk about now, but they're good ones. We have a recording studio in our basement that's a great venue for us to work on new songs. We've got a lot of new songs. Yes, I write songs. Prior to this year I’ve written a lot of lyrics. During The Passengers days it was very much a combined effort between the band, everybody contributed lyrics and music and it was really pretty much an equal effort there. And prior to this year I’ve written a lot of words, as I said. This year, now that we’ve got the recording studio here and Deniz is down there all the time playing, he gives me ideas, I give him ideas. We're working together very well now. And the result of that will be apparent in our next album, which should be out next year.
Superdope: Could you give us your brief Impressions of the following people as you knew and/or know them? Rob Younger?
Deniz Tek: Always been a good friend to me. Idealistic.
Angie Pepper: "Always been a good friend. Idealistic" This is it?
Deniz Tek: This is brief now.
Angie Pepper: Brief? OK. (Laughs) How can you be brief about..? I lived with Rob for three years.
Deniz Tek: I lived with him for five years.
Angie Pepper: We know him very well. Very complex person. You can’t give a brief impression of him. I love him very much. He's...tendency to be paranoid...Tremendous amount of potential that will never be realized because of his own paranoia.
Superdope: Chris Masuak?
Deniz Tek: Great guitar player. Great friend. Wonderful, unique person.
Angie Pepper: I have never seen Chris angry or upset about anything.
Deniz Tek: I have.
Angie Pepper: Yeah, you might have, but in all the years that I’ve known Chris he might've walked out of a band session, that it might have been hellish or whatever arguments or whatever went down, he'd walk out. And if I was there with a smile, he'd be there with a smile too.
Deniz Tek: The only time I've seen him angry is when he didn't achieve what he wanted to achieve on guitar end he had to do it over again several times.
Angie Pepper: My best memory of Chris is that he got up and played with The New Race a few times when they were on tour down in Australia, and I was in the back in the dressing room while he was getting ready to go on stage and do a few songs. And for every gig that The New Race did in Sydney, Chris would be backstage with his little Ampeg, playing along to every song. And I remember being back there with Chris just prior to his chance to get on stage with those guys, and there would be this glow in his face for the whole time. He was so happy to be there. And that's how I remember Chris. This guy playing guitar with a great big grin on his face. He really loves to play music, and he's so good at it. This is where he belongs.
Deniz Tek: Me and Chris are like, I think, brothers in music. Our styles fit together hand in glove, and also as a person, he's like a brother.
Angie Pepper: There really is a magic that comes across when you and Chris play together.
Deniz Tek: Yeah.
Superdope: Warwick Gilbert?
Deniz Tek: Warwick, hot and cold. He can be the greatest friend or he can be real cold. Personally he's difficult to be with really long-term. Short-term can be great. He's got very deep musical roots and he's a great player, there's no doubt about that... I'm glad that I made up with him after the Radio Birdman business, after he had his big, I guess you'd have to call it a breakdown. And we've gotten back together since then and it's been OK.
Angie Pepper: I think for Warwick Radio Birdman was a source of pleasure and pressure for him, and being close to the band and not being part of the pressure for him we had a good relationship.
Superdope: Pip Hoyle?
Deniz Tek: Like a saint. Self-sacrificing and a brilliant musician. Very good friend. Never a problem with Pip. He was always the problem-solver rather than the guy that created the problem.
Angie Pepper: Great friend. (Laughs) I mean, you ask us for these brief impressions of these people that have touched us deeply and personally. It's really hard to do. You can't say anything bad about them, and your mind is flooded with all these different ideas about them. And you can't do it briefly.
Deniz Tek: I can tell you that whenever there was an argument between two guys in the band, Pip would always go to one guy and then go to the other guy. He was like a negotiator, he would be a peace envoy and try and figure out a settlement that would be a win-win situation for anybody that was involved in the dispute. He was a real peacemaker, that guy.
Angie Pepper: Pip's living in Tarre now. He works very hard as a country doctor, there. He's got a wonderful wife, she really is a beautiful woman, and he's got two great little boys.
Deniz Tek: Brats.
Angie Pepper: (Laughs) They're not brats! They're little country boys, y'know, rough as heck.
Superdope: Ron Keeley?
Deniz Tek: Ron Keeley was always the oldest guy in the band, and he always had some philosophy or wisdom to impart about whatever situation we were in. I thought he always regarded us as naive, and he knew the answers. But his answers only ever got us so far, and they never got us to exactly where we wanted to be. He never quite got there with his philosophy. But he was pretty wise, and I think that we would have done well to have listened to him more back in those days than we did. He's a really good guy. Good friend. I just wish that I was living in proximity with him now so that we could get together more often. I think being two old men we could probably sit around and look at the horizon and have interesting discussions.
Angie Pepper: Well you've both got military experience now, that gives you some common ground too.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, we've got a lot of common ground. I would like to get together with Ron again.
Superdope: John Needham?
Deniz Tek: I knew John before I was in any of these bands. He was a mathematics student at the University and in those days you had houses that were divided up into rooms, and each guy had a room and then you shared to kitchen and the bathroom. John was in this house where I was. When I met him he was interested in Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, and when Radio Birdman finally got together and happened he was kind of a confidante and a friend of mine. And has been up until now. He's got his own record company now. He's managing Died Pretty. And he's doing his own thing. I haven't heard from him for a couple of years. Brief impression: cynical.
Angie Pepper: (Laughs) "Brief impression: cynical". But back in the early days, Radio Birdman days and post-Radio Birdman days when he was controlling the Citadel label, he was a very positive person who enjoyed what we considered to be the good things in life.
Deniz Tek: Yeah, he likes to wear Hawaiian shirts. (AP laughs) Flack jackets. Likes to make tacos, drink beer.
Angie Pepper: Likes people to laugh.
Deniz Tek: Likes to watch Hawaii 5-0 on TV.
Angie Pepper: Stuff like that. I dunno what life has done to him now. We haven't heard of or from him for several years.
Superdope: Ron Asheton?
Angie Pepper: Uncle Ronnie.
Deniz Tek: Uncle Ron is totally positive. No matter whatever happens to him he maintains a positive attitude. He is always involved in schemes which go bad: Stooges, Destroy All Monsters, you name it, he's involved in it and it ultimately fails. But he always is positive about it and looks to the next thing. And is bright about the future. Right now he's making triple-D grade horror movies in Michigan, and he's back in a band with Niagara again called Dark Carnival, with Scott Asheton on drums and some other people that I don't know. I talk to him at least once a week on the phone. He's like an uncle to our kids. He sends them presents and he visits us probably once every year or so and stays for about a week. He's kind of like an uncle in our family.
Angie Pepper: Yeah, apart from music he's a military enthusiast. He's a pilot that never got his wings, so to speak. And Deniz and Ron talk frequently on the phone about the military and the Marines and the war and all that stuff. his father was a pilot.
Superdope: Dennis Thompson?
Deniz Tek: I really don't know enough about him to comment. In the band [he was a] real positive, go-getter type. He struck me as a kind of a streetwise businessman/con artist type that is always looking for the next thing to happen. I'm pleased to have known him. I admire his music. But that's about all I can say.
Angie Pepper: Nice guy. Hustler.
Deniz Tek: Hustler, that's it.
Angie Pepper: Has to be told which women are married, stuff like that.
Superdope: Fred Smith?
Deniz Tek: Fred Smith is kind of a social retard. He's real quiet, withdrawn. Barely relates to people. But obviously he's a brilliant guitar player. Always good to me. Invited me to play on stage with him in his band several times and [I] just enjoyed knowing him. He and Ron don't get along well at all. And so when those guys are together in the same room it's always kind of difficult. But Fred is...real different, but I think he's an OK guy.
Superdope: Steve Harris?
Deniz Tek: He was in both my band and Angie's band. In fact he used to play bass in my band and play keyboards in Angie's band, often on the same night, in different locations. A guy that could play any instrument. Enthusiastic kinda guy. He was a young high school kid that was a fan of Radio Birdman in the early days and then went on to do other things. We like him. I would never hesitate to work with him in the future. He'd be real handy to have in a band because he can hear harmonies and he can play by ear just about anything.
Angie Pepper: Steve Harris was the little brother I never had; I love him.
Superdope: Jim Dickson?
Angie Pepper: I know him much better than Deniz does. I met Jim Dickson when The Passengers were getting together and Clyde Bramley was gonna play bass for The Passengers, but The Other Side had asked Jim Dickson to be their bass player, and Jim was tied up with The Survivors up in Brisbane, couldn't get down fast enough for The Other Side. So they got Clyde on bass. Jim tumed up down in Sydney expecting to play with The Other Side and his job had been taken. Nowhere to go, no one to play with, so he moved into our house. And we were looking for a bass player, so he joined us. And it was magic ever since. Jim's a great person. Always tremendously friendly, helpful person. He'll do anything for anybody. He has huge hands that can cover the span of a bass-neck so well. He's a great bass player. I talk to him as often as I can afford to. Just totally positive person. Loves music. Big fan of The Who. The Who's his big band in his influences.
Superdope: Mark Sisto?
Angie Pepper: (Laughs) how can you be brief about Mark Sisto? (laughs)
Deniz Tek: I can be real brief about Mark. It's well-covered in the book, so excerpt that!
Superdope: John Kannis?
Deniz Tek: Kannis started off as a fan of the band when he was in high school. He was a good friend of Chris, in fact I think they were in the same class at school, and so they came to the band together. And Kannis used to help us out all the time. he used to carry equipment, help the band get set up and things like that. We had him MC. He used to rent a tux and MC for the band. Later formed The Hitmen, and since then he's just continued on in music. He's never changed. Y'know, I saw him last,-week and that was the first time I'd seen him in about ten years, and he's still exactly the same. He has a Radio Birdman logo tattooed on his arm. The only person that ever had the logo tattooed on them was not in the band, but it was John Kannis. He goes by the nickname "Zeus".
Superdope: Ron Peno?
Angie Pepper: I don't know him, (Laughs)
Deniz Tek: I know him.
Angie Pepper: Got drank and went berserk a few times, that's all I know (Laughs) about the guy.
Deniz Tek: I only knew him for about a year. He was the singer in The Hellcats, and I thought he was pretty good. He had a reasonable voice and certainly tried hard. He was often on the obnoxious side, and I think this related to him getting drunk and his bisexuality coming out when it wasn’t really called for, or wanted. And...you sometimes had the feeling you had to beat the guy back with a stick. I think he really means well, and he's a very good person at heart. I've nothing against him. Wish him well.
Superdope: Which groups do you think were the greatest punk-era bands in England, Australia and America?
Deniz Tek: Y'know, you could take this queston two ways. You can take it number one what were the greatest punk bands in those places, and the easy answer to that is none of them, because I don't like any punk bands. The other answer to that is what were the best bands in that era, and to me the punk era is 1976 through 1978. After '78, punk was virtually dead as far as I'm concerned. The best bands then in England would have been, for me, The Rolling Stones and I used to like also a band that we saw live over there called The Confederate States of America. The lead singer played a Gretsch Chet Atkins guitar, had big Buddy Holly type glasses, and they did mostly cover versions, but they were really good. In America in those days Blue Oyster Cult, Sonic's Rendezvous Band. And in Australia Radio Birdman was the only show in town. Post I978 you had other good bands: Visitors, Lipstick Killers, Passengers, Other Side. But in the punk era, Radio Birdman is all you had in Australia.
Angie Pepper: Yeah, that's right. I'd like to add the Mangrove Boogie Kings. They were good in the post Radio Birdman days. They were a rockabilly band.
Superdope: Deniz, how did you find America changed when you returned from Australia 10 years ago?
Deniz Tek: The hippie craze had degenerated into drugs and crime. I mean not LSD and marijuana, but cocaine and heroin. And the Carter regime was coming to an end, and the Reagan regime was just starting, so there was a big political turn around. People felt better about the country I missed all the Carter years anyway, but when I left America to go to Australia, Nixon was the president, and when I came back Carter was going out and Reagan was coming in. It was a big upswing. So I came back at a good time.
Angie Pepper: How old were you when you left America to go to live in Australia?
Deniz Tek: I was either eighteen or nineteen.
Angie Pepper: And what kinds of things were you doing before you left to go to Australia?
Deniz Tek: Same. I was a University student and I was playing music. No different. I was a big fan of Alice Cooper and The Bonzo Dog Band when I left.
Superdope: Have you ever had an American patient or other hospital contact recognize you and enthuse about Radio Birdman?
Deniz Tek: Yeah, I have. The one guy that comes to mind is Brian Weitz. He's a doctor in Billings that was in the hospital I was working in...he recoginized me from the album covers.
Superdope: I know much of your equipment was stolen a few years back. What have you replaced it with?
Deniz Tek: Just last Christmas, I got ahold of some new stuff that put together enough of a studio to make demos. I got this stuff at a place in Salt Lake City, and I got some of it down in San Francisco. Tascam 688 8-track recorder, ART SGE Mach II effects processor, Electrovoice RE20 mics, a Yamaha RX5. That's the basic guts of it.
Superdope: And finally, in keeping with the 16 magazine feel, please describe your dream date!
Angie Pepper: I never read that magazine.
Deniz Tek: I never read that magazine either, but I guess my dream date would be for me and Angie to go down to the Caribbean and spend a couple days without the kids and rest. Down to an island, just rest on the beach. What about your dream date?
Angie Pepper: Yeah, ditto. (Laughs) That would be my first choice. If 1 couldn't get that I'd opt for a weekend alone with no interruptions except from Deniz, I guess.
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