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Australian Band Brings The Myth To Detroit

Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Australia’s Radio Birdman has been more a legend than a band — especially since it broke up 25 years ago.

But the group, itself infl uenced by Michigan bands such as the Stooges and the MC5, has been cited as a seminal source on the modern rock scene, from Seattle grungers to California nouveau punks. And now it’s back with a new album, “Zeno Beach,” its first ever U.S. tour — and a desire to “destroy the myth” that’s built around the band in intervening years, according to frontman Deniz Tek.

“We were a little uncomfortable with that myth about being a legendary band and all that stuff,” explains Tek, 53, who was raised in Ann Arbor and moved to Australia to go to medical school — and is still a practicing emergency room physician when not playing with the band.

“All we really did to deserve that (reputation) was to disappear and have some pretty wild stories going around over the years that, if you’re not around, take on a life of their own. We just saw ourselves as a rock ’n’ roll band that plays real hard and maintains a pretty uncompromising stance towards authority.”

Radio Birdman came back together in 1996 to play Australia’s Big Day Out festival and has been working together ever since. Over time the band members have sharpened their skills, Tek says, and he’s pleased that he was not the sole or even dominant songwriter on “Zeno Beach.”

And the quintet is pleased to fi nally be playing on this side of the Pacifi c; a planned 1978 U.S. tour with the Ramones was quashed after Radio Birdman’s American record company dropped the band.

“Most of us have been around America in our own bands, individually,” says Tek, who retains his U-M sports loyalties. “When I play in America in other outfi ts, I see guys show up with Radio Birdman tattoos and T-shirts and stuff. So I fi gure it’s those people who are gonna come see us, and hopefully there’s a lot of them.”

Radio Birdman, Mudhoney, the Dirtbombs and Easy Action perform at 7 p.m. Sunday (September 3rd) at the Majestic, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $20. Call (313) 833-9700 or visit

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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