Rowland S. Howard - Pop Crimes
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ROWLAND S. HOWARD started playing in teenage bands in late ‘70s Melbourne. Whilst still a callow youth he wrote “Shivers,” an undisputed classic. The song was recorded by his band THE BOYS NEXT DOOR who mutated into the BIRTHDAY PARTY and then relocated to Europe to wage a guerrilla campaign against the trivialities of the ‘80s, until they turned their fire upon themselves and disintegrated mid-decade. Whilst his former associates have moved on to weekend color supplement acceptability, Rowland has commonly been perceived as the banished wastrel prince... exiled to a squalid garret on the colder edges of the kingdom, accompanied only by his dreams and inclinations. His demeanour (pale, gaunt, stick thin, sickly, dark humorred, fatalistic) has perhaps inadvertently added far too much credence to this interpretation of events. The shadow of this myth has seemingly obscured the sheer volume of his creativity and the singularity of his musical vision. Always respected by his peers, a scan through Rowland’s catalog of work sees him allied with the likes of Lydia Lunch, Thurston Moore, Wim Wenders, Barry Adamson, The Gun Club, Nikki Sudden, the Beasts Of Bourbon, the Hungry Ghosts and HTRK. Rowland’s own ensemble THESE IMMORTAL SOULS gun their engines in the ill-lit background and the legacy of his work with The Birthday Party scores the skin of successive generations of musicians and fans. But it’s a history Rowland would gleefully put a match to. With or without it Rowland S. Howard would make tense, beautiful music, would deliver us his personal vision of the world, would create Pop Crimes. Long-time faithful friends MICK HARVEY (who played with Rowland for over 30 years), JP SHILO (HUNGRY GHOSTS) and producer LINDSAY GRAVINA make for a formidable backline. Out front the guitar playing couldn’t be any one else but Rowland S. Howard and his weary, almost journalistic vocal delivery dispassionately sits amidst the sweaty panic of the music, adding to the ill ease. The band lurch in to Pop Crimes as if dragging a rain soaked body across a muddy field. Rowland S. Howard died of hepatocellular carcinoma secondary to liver cirrhosis on December 30, 2009. He was 50-years-old.