Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Phantoms of Brisbane #1 - BIRDS OF TIN

BIRDS OF TIN (1981-1982)


Brisbane's post punk musical landscape is dotted with forgotten artists. Some get mentioned in reference books or in historical overviews, and others get left behind for one reason or another. Like many cities across Australia and the world, the direct influence of the punk and new wave scene of New York and London resonated strongly within the inner-city Brisbane music scene up until late 1982.

In the case of Brisbane, the Cure's 1980 tour and the Talking Heads tour a year earlier resonated among Brisbane musicians in the same way the Saints influenced a tiny pocket of groups to pick up their instuments and get out of the garage in '76. Subsequently, single guitar bands began popping up around town, and Birds of Tin are one of those bands.

Much like the Go-Betweens of 1980-82 and the Four Gods, Birds Of Tin explored unusual, jerky rhythms housed within well-written three minute pop songs; existing long enough to create a cassette EP housed in a 7" record sleeve.

Peter Loveday (guitar, vocals) and Michael Elliott (bass) played in Mute 44, a short-lived pop band who performed at such venues as the Silver Dollar and Pinocchio's around 1980. Loveday had previously played with The Supports, an early pop band who famously traveled on a double-decker bus alongside an infant Go-Betweens and friends up through the North Queensland coast in late 1978.

The Supports made up the basis of Antic Frantic, Loveday's post Birds Of Tin group who played a small handful of shows around Brisbane before relocating to London as Tiny Town, releasing a full-length LP a mini LP and a bunch of 45s. More about these groups in a future posting.

Loveday and Elliott with the addition of Four Gods drummer Keryn Henry played around town in early-to-mid 1981 as the Sea Bees, and with the addition of percussionist Tony Hayes became Birds of Tin. Their only release is a four track cassette, recorded by Repairs neé FX guitarist Colin Bloxsom. Artwork by Peter Loveday.

Same Both Sides

1. Slothy Tank
2. Think of the Future
3. Rain
4. Day at the Beach

Shortly after the cassette release, sound recorder and photographer Gerry Teekman captured the band at the Valley Practice Room in February 1982 featuring multiple takes of the following songs: Shed the Skin, Blasting Radio*, Absurd Overcoat, High Road Low Road, Dust, Slothy Tank, Day At The Beach, Pleasure In Parcels, Raindrop.

* A cover by the DIY English punks the Desperate Bicycles, from the album Remorse Code (Refill Records RR-6; February 1980) featuring former Supports drummer Geoffrey Titley who later returned to Australia to join Antic Frantic.

Below is a complete list of their known live performances:

05/06/81* AHEPA HALL El Salvador Benefit [with the Go-Betweens, Xero and Four Gods]
25/07/81 279 CLUB [with the Four Gods and the Hostages]
07/11/81 279 CLUB [with Systematics and Scattered Order]
04/12/81 AHEPA HALL El Salvador Benefit [with Xero and Party Ice]
10/01/82 NEW YORK HOTEL [with The Birthday Party and Xero]
05/02/82 CPA ROOMS Pregnancy Control Benefit [with Bix Pieces]

* as the Sea Bees

"The short-lived Birds of Tin created some excitement for a while. Rumoured to be "just like the Go-Betweens, only better," they did lend to credence to that band's theory that there is a "Brisbane sound" and that they (the Go-Betweens) are it. Unlike the Go-Betweens, however, Birds of Tin did not have any driving ambition or talent for self-promotion. Their talent lay simply in their musicianship and the quality of their writing, although faced with the problem of having to come up with a set of material quickly, they did sound a bit repetitive at times."

X-Change: A Fanzine about modern music, Brisband people and other nonsense, Issue 4.

Peter Loveday has since relocated to Spain, making wonderful solo albums. His music can be found here:


Baskingshark said...

Hey. Great blog, and great post!

Birds of Tin also had a song 'Day at the Beach' that made it onto Fast Forward #11 cassette in 1982.

It's a great song, BTW and had left me wondering whether they'd released anything else.

Cheers, Steve

Donat said...

I had forgotten about the track on Fast Forward! They rarely covered any Brisbane music in their tapes.

Unknown said...

and let's not forget those wonderful Peter Loveday gigs in Brisbane every now and then . .

ME said...

Jeez, I'm sure we played more than that handful of gigs or was I just on another planet at the time

Karen said...

There were many more than that little list , i agree Peter j
My favourite gigs were when you played at morrises curry shop in george st.
Karen Jackson
Hi peter

Owen said...

Re-up please?

rhythmplague said...

Hey, nice blog...

I know I'm probably a bit late but I too would love to hear this if possible.


Unknown said...


I understand that this is an old blog, however for my research I am seeking to view a full copy of the x-change issue 4 from which the quote in this article is taken.

Any help would be greatly appreciated

Scotty Regan

willsteed said...

Scotty, you can ask me about this if you like.