dave graney - Moodists-Coral Snakes-mistLY-FEARFUL WIGGINGS

dave graney - Moodists-Coral Snakes-mistLY-FEARFUL WIGGINGS
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About Me

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WORKSHY - 2017 memoir out on Affirm Press. Let's get Tight - 2017 CD with Clare Moore. Moodists - Coral Snakes - mistLY. I don’t know what I am and don’t want to know any more than I already know. I aspire, in my music , to 40s B Movie (voice and presence) and wish I could play guitar like Charlie Christian or Grant Green -but not in this lifetime, I know.

Friday, January 8, 2010

rowland howards passing

I thought I'd write a little on the passing of Rowland Howard. I have no claims on him then or now, many others being much closer and they spoke eloquently at his funeral. I just shared the times occasionally.

Saw the Boys next Door before he joined and then afterwards. "Door Door" is an album thats just like that. Pre Rowland on side one and post on the other. He played a Firebird , a real plank and I think he got that great sound with an MXR Blue Box octave divider. My favourite song was "the hairshirt" with his amazing solo. I haven't heard it for many years now. Saw the Birthday party a lot , and played with them , and talked to him a few times through that period. He was playing a Jaguar. In the "prayers on fire" days it was great when he sang his songs in the band. “The Guilt Parade” was always great. He smoked very dramatically and leant into his amp in a  peculiar way all poised and pivoted on one leg, guitar swinging like a pendant. Great hair. Shared  a squat with him for a while in posh West Hampstead. Never saw him. Lived like the actor John Barrymore, high up in the garrett. Was into scarves and coats and pyjamas. I went up to the garret and he was smoking and playing his jaguar without an amp. He was talking about Jim Thompson, that was in 1983, when Jims books were just coming out again. He read a lot, I gathered. 
Saw and played with Crime a  lot and then These Immortal Souls. Remember him and Epic going off to see Johnny Thunders play at the Marquee. Nobody else was talking about Johnny then. 
Passed him in the street occasionally. Always  a  smile. Not a real sociable fellow. I mean he'd be out at his gigs and would not hang around afterwards. Straight back to the garrett. Found him easy to talk to. He did acoustic gigs, I thought he was best as an electric guitarist. He sounded great loud and wailing. Electrified. Acoustic is too intimate, I don't think he was into that intimate vibe, not on a stage, I understood that. 
Like many of his generation he carried  a story with him wherever he was. Uptight and given to drama. 
He came from Nunawading. There was a bunch of them, "the Nuna boys" Comically weird gang of outsiders. Actually the NUNA BOYS were more his younger brother Harrys thing. Him and his mates. Rowland had gone on ahead.

The funeral for Rowland was held on a Thursday at a church in Grey street st Kilda. I’d known there was a soup kitchen there and also, once upon a time an Op Shop, but never a church. It turned out to be quite a big Catholic church. The service had been made “public” at some point and all over the social networks a week away from the actual proceedings. A big crowd gathered outside in the hot sun, on the street and a bouncer let people in in an orderly way. Quite a few hundred people. Eulogies were given by Genevieve McGuckin who had spent most of her adult life with Rowland, then Jane Usher , who had been married to him in the 90s, then her son (and his step son) Tom also spoke , then Harry Howard and Mick Harvey, Pierre Sutcliffe read some words from Nick Cave, Conrad Standish ,Paul Goldman (who also read some words from fellow film maker Andrew Dominick) , finally his most recent partner, Bianca Murray spoke. Rowlands screaming guitar filled the church as the coffin was carried out.

People gathered on the steps for a while. A quite amazing crowd. Dawn Cave and Nancy Pew and Rowlands father Jock being the only members of the preceding generation I could note, the rest were just us, his peers and contemporaries - not so used to these affairs and trying to behave appropriately. The "public" nature of the funeral gave it an oddly self conscious lag. In general, people worked through it and it wasn't too hyped. It was real enough to anchor everybody.

There was a wake at the St Kilda Bowling Club, directly across the road from the Seaview Ballroom. That was the Beat Club where everybody had played. The only place thats ever mentioned. Everybody walked down from the church.

The wake was a gathering of people who'd shared some intense moments in that most intense and speedy of times, their youth. A time when they were making themselves up. Some got away from the scene and the times, others never moved far. A few rock n roll chumps were there to claim the body for their corny and dopey cause. Everybody's got to live. The rest were the original genius audience of the Boys next Door and the Birthday Party and many of their rivals from those days too. People I’d been incredibly intimidated by all those years ago, mostly these being the women. The men , when they had been boys, were all created for or by the women. Then they all ran off as far as they could, full of juice they’d been gifted with. I spoke to many people who were phantoms and it was as if it was the first time we’d ever spoken. People I’d been stupidly competitive with and realised I probably had more in common with now than ever before. Talked quite easily with some it was energising for days. It was a class reunion. In all sorts of sense of the word class. It was also a kind of school I’d been to.

Like many funerals, it shocks the living into life, for a moment.

7 comments:

os said...

Good one Dave. Good to have your perspective on Rowland, hes also been part of my "class"..

ps. Saw you in 2001 supporting the Bad Seeds in Berlin. Bought your album and played it in my car all summer long. My punkrock friends didnt like it -lol!

Mr. Kim Guthrie said...

Dignified, insightful and real Dave.
I love honesty.

Thankyou

Mr. Goldblog said...

Hi Dave,

Nice factual eulogy. I think alot of people miss the fact that Rowland brought
a real intellect to Australian rock that is frowned upon and still ignored, and hasn't even been acknowledged in the mainstream indie media.

I agree with your take on your blog about Australian culture, I have to disagree with you about your love of ALL Aussie culture, personally I have come to the conclusion that Australians make the best electrified guitar based rock n' roll in the world - we are masters of it, and we have some of the greatest modern painters. But seriously, our literature, besides George Johnson, Pat White and Archie Weller is all purple prose, and our cinema besides Andrew Dominik and maybe the Fat Pizza guys, has been an elitist circle-jerk for the past 30 years. We have excellent technicians and actors though...

The rhythms and pulses of Australia 'as it is' are best expressed in our music and painting/fine art.

And Rowland really gave Melbourne a modern, world-beating 'sound'.

That's no mean feat.

Bloodline said...

Thanks for a wonderfully descriptive eulogy Dave...it's certainly a sad passing even if you never knew the man...his axe wielding has influenced many guitarists. My early recollection was the sheer intensity of his performance in The Birthday Party @ the Trade Union Club in Syd circa '81...it was spine tingling & a real eye opener for me @ a formulative time in my musical direction. He'll be missed by any discerning lovers of left field music...RIP...Mick Blood on behalf of the Lime Spiders

Anonymous said...

Thank You Dave. Nice to read your thoughts.
I am sorry that I was unable to attend the funeral.
Like you I started seeing the Boys Next Door just before Rowland joined, I came back and back and was hopelessly hooked. They became my favourite band of all time.
I still consider them to be the biggest influence on my life, and I remember Nick once asked me which were my favourite Boys Next Door songs. He was a bit peeved that nearly everyone I mentioned was written by Rowland!
Even today, some 3 decades or so later, his old songs still pop into my head and become "ear worms". They are so memorable and unique, like the man himself was, and like the special times they were first played and we all grew to love them.

R I P Rowland.

Debbie Nettleingham

Sean Condon said...

Very nice work, Dave. Very nice indeed. I used to talk with Rowland at KIll City sometimes, and at various gigs and I always found him a real gentleman; that's not a word that usually springs to mind when you think of him, but there it is - that's what he was.

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