We asked local legends CIVIC about the songs that have influenced them most.
Melbourne pub-punk favourites CIVIC are back with a new 7″. Radiant Eye features the namesake track alongside a B-side cover of The Creation’s 1966 classic, ‘Making Time’.
The release comes after the band recently signed to Flightless Records and precedes the band’s debut album set for release through the label in early 2021. Through the below list, CIVIC spill the beans on plenty of punk classics alongside a few unheralded gems.
Skeptics – ‘Affco’
Being from a meat packing town, this song struck a chord instantly. Industrial samples over a haggard and “out of time” drum loop keeps you on your toes for the entire four-and-a-half minutes. Not to mention the video which is perhaps the perfect visual companion.
Story goes the video was banned from New Zealand television and released on a VHS and handed around like a black market snuff film. Fortunately, you can view it on YouTube these days. Not for the faint hearted. Directed by Stuart Page who we’ve managed to get to edit our video for ‘Radiant Eye’.
Eddie Criss Group – ‘Ready Ready Now’
There’s not much information about Eddie Criss Group. Undertaker is a one-off record, a collection of nasty lo-fi recordings from this NYC punk/glam group featuring the razor guitar work of Wayne Kramer. Kramer and MC5 are a massive influence on us but this track is a perfect example of Kramer’s post prison shredding. Same era as his collaborations with GG Allin.
Eddie Criss has this laidback-yet-haunting vocal style which I hear in singers like Greg Sage and other ’80s punk bands who would end up carrying the torch and taking it a lot further than this one-off gem.
Rocket from the Tombs – ‘Ain’t It Fun’ (Live)
You have to make sure you’re listening to the live version of this Rocket from the Tombs classic. It’s in the quality of the recording – the frightening vocal delivery and maybe the best guitar tone and solo of anything ever. Proto punk is a nerd term for bands that were wild before 1977 punk basically. Cleveland rock’n’roll played hard and recorded harsh. The best kind. Drug addicts with style.
“I broke the window/Smashed my fist right through the glass/I didn’t even feel it/It just happened so fast/Such fun.”
Negative Approach – ‘Nothing’ (7″ version)
If you like punk and hardcore how can you not like Negative Approach? Huge track. Was hard to just choose one. Black Flag-inspired Detroit hardcore. I have ripped this riff off a couple times now. The feedback of the guitar with the rumbling bass at the start gets me psyched. John Brannon is a sick frontman for this style. Hard vocal delivery and to-the-point lyrics with nods to English punk. They don’t have much of a back catalogue but what’s there is epic.
Iggy Pop and James Williamson – ‘Sell Your Love’
I think The Stooges are a pretty obvious influence for us. This song comes a bit later though off the album Kill City which was recorded as a demo in 1975 and released in 1977. Here you hear Iggy’s direction changing towards his soon-to-come solo career but still sporting that Raw Power violence – by this point The Stooges had come to a drug-riddled end. I see this as like a missing link between Raw Power and his Bowie years with The Idiot and Lust for Life. I’m into nearly everything he’s done and my favourite track changes almost weekly but this week it’s this.
The Gun Club – ‘The Lie’
Jeffrey Lee Pierce is probably one of my favourite singer-songwriters. It’s always clicked with me. Country-style punk which only got better as their career went along. Big harrowing voice doused in reverb. The sense of urgency in his voice on this track is great. Gives you a pretty good example of his vocal skills.
Not to mention the lineup – Patricia Morrison on bass and Kid Congo Powers on guitar. Great band. This is off the Death Party EP which had a smaller, different lineup than usual but is still great. Another top shelf record of theirs is Miami.
Celibate Rifles – ’24 Hours’
Great Australian surf-punk track. The Melbourne response to Radio Birdman. That said, Celibate Rifles brought way more to the table then just being a Birdman rip off band. Damien Lovelock’s voice paired with his political-yet-abstract lyrics are something I think we’ve always tried to achieve. Downstroke guitars and major-to-minor chord changes in punk songs really rubbed off on me too. They were a blistering live band too, even in later years, who I was fortunate to catch twice.
The Saints – ‘Erotic Neurotic’
What more can I say about this band that isn’t already known. Huge influence on us. This song is off the first record (and I did consider choosing something lesser known) but how can you beat three chord riffs played downstroke? The obnoxious lead breaks obviously overdubbed, Chris Bailey’s snotty vocal delivery without breaking a sweat, bass and drums holding it down and just the tone of the whole thing is harsh and warm. I never fail to get something out of their records.
Radio Birdman – ‘Descent into the Maelstrom’
Hard to choose one song but this has one of my favourite Deniz Tek solos. The rolling surf beats, the piano, everything has its place and works together for this furious build up in the middle. A six-piece that knows how to stick to their instrumental role. Classic Sydney punk sound. They used a ’60s garage influence and Motor City proto-punk to define something truly original on the other side of the globe. One of Australia’s best bands.
The Scroungers – ‘Prison Clampdown’
Furious one-man recording band from Brunswick in the ’90s. This comes off a split with Rupture who I would also recommend. Great vocals, peaked out drum machine. Lyrics are about the taking away of prisoner’s rights during the Paul Keating era. An Australian accent going hard at the establishment. Makes me want to smash a window and kick a bin.
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