We ended 2009 with the loss of an underground Aussie music icon, Rowland S. Howard. As guitarist/songwriter with Melbourne’s Boys Next Door, who then morphed into The Birthday Party (then on to collaborations with Lydia Lunch, to Crime and the City Solution, and These Immortal Souls, and then on to solo efforts), he was the man beside Nick Cave who served up the frightening sounds that scraped the back curtains with feedback and laid the sonic landscape for scary songs like: “Release the Bats” and “Nick the Stripper”. When I first encountered those songs, through friends’ record collections in the early 90s (long after their original pulsating existence), I was literally terrified by them. It was scary stuff. But the guitaring made an impact on me. I was intrigued by the sound. It was such an original approach to the instrument, and his influence is hard to gauge. Post-Punk was/is so much more interesting than Punk. They truly tried to scrap everything that had come before and create something new. And this is why there are so many bands of that time that still warrant major attention. By subverting genres, and instruments, and sound, and electronics, they confounded expectation and rewrote the possibilities of the band, and the song. And Rowland S. Howard was (along with other luminaries, of course) one of the key cogs in that situation. His sound was unmistakable, and will live on. Sad news. I’m off to slap on “Shivers” one more time.
by Decoy Spoon