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New Book On Australian Punk, Orstralia: A Punk History 1974–1989 by Tristan Clark, Out Now

Contents

New book on Australian punk, Orstralia: A Punk History 1974–1989 by Tristan Clark, out today via esteemed Californian independent publisher PM Press

Companion volume Orstralia: A Punk History 1990 –1999 also out

New books are based on interviews with members of an extensive list of artists including The Saints, Radio Birdman, Boys Next Door/Birthday Party, Babeez/News, Victims, Leftovers, Fun Things, Xero, Psycho Surgeons and X, through to the likes of Depression, Hard-Ons, pioneering all female-artists Gash and the Mothers, Cosmic Psychos and Grong Grong and onto The Living End, Meanies, Bodyjar and Frenzal Rhomb, along with scores of others. Both books tell the story on a city-by-city basis with regional centers also covered.  

Author Tristan Clark has been involved in the Melbourne punk scene for over three decades. Oakland, CA’s PM Press has also published books by Noam Chomsky, Chumbawamba, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock and numerous other literary and radical figures

Orstralia

Esteemed Californian independent and radical publisher PM Press has today published a groundbreaking new book on Australian punk, Orstralia: A Punk History 1974–1989 by Melbourne author Tristan Clark.

Clark has also today published a companion volume Orstralia: A Punk History 1990 –1999.

Named after a caustic track on The Saints’ classic second album Eternally Yours, the new books tell for the first time the story of Australian punk, not only from its beginning as an underground movement in the ’70s and the emergence of hardcore in the ’80s, but also to its huge and widespread popularity and its commercial ascent in the ’90s.  

The books look beyond the music to take in cultural context and sociological concerns. They are based on interviews with members of an extensive list of artists including The Saints, Radio Birdman, Boys Next Door/Birthday Party, Babeez/News, Victims, Leftovers, Fun Things, Zero, Psycho Surgeons and X, through to the likes of Depression, Hard-Ons, pioneering all female-artists Gash and the Mothers, Cosmic Psychos and Grong Grong and onto The Living End, Bodyjar and Frenzal Rhomb, along with scores of others, many of whom have not been written about in decades.

Both books tell the story on a city-by-city basis with regional centers also covered.  

Author Tristan Clark has been involved in the Melbourne punk scene for over three decades. Oakland, CA’s PM Press has also published books by Noam Chomsky, Chumbawamba, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock and numerous other literary and radical figures.

Orstralia: A Punk History 1974–1989 is available now from BigcartelPM PressNewSouth Books, other online book retailers and select bookshops and record stores.

Orstralia: A Punk History 1990–1999 is available now for pre-order from Bigcartel and select bookshops and record stores.

With appeal to more than just punk history obsessives, Orstralia offers an unprecedented snapshot of an underacknowledged segment of Australian life and history.

Far from punk’s more modish North Atlantic core in the late 1970s, discontented youth in Australia were enacting similar musical and cultural reckonings. Yet in spite of the Australia’s purported “laid-back” national demeanor, punks there were routinely met with insult, fist, or the police baton.

More subterranean than the national scandal that was punk back in “homeland” Britain, Australia’s own bands nonetheless came to be heralded internationally. Orstralia represents the first definitive account of the country’s initial years, from progenitors the Saints and Radio Birdman in the mid-70s, through the emergence of hardcore in the 1980s, to the stylistic diffusion that accompanied transition to the 1990s.

Based on over 130 interviews, Orstralia documents the most renowned to the most fleeting and obscure acts the nation produced. Included are equally engrossing and shocking personal narratives befitting such a passionate and intemperate cultural form, as well as punk’s placement within broader Australian society at the time.

The Saints ('73 -'78) - Orstralia (live)
The Saints “Orstralia” (1978)

Other Praise for Orstralia
“Australia has some claim to being a punk founder nation, most obviously through the influence of the Saints and Radio Birdman. In Orstralia, Tristan Clark explores the wider terrain to recover a vibrant prepunk, punk, and postpunk history that captures the vibrancy and excitement of a culture brimming with ingenuity and teenage verve. A brilliant book and essential reading for all those interested in punk’s cultural past.” — Matthew Worley, author of No Future: Punk Politics and British Youth Culture 1976–84

“If your knowledge of Australian punk grinds to a halt at the Saints, Radio Birdman, the Hard-Ons, and Vicious Circle, Orstralia is a deep dive into that country’s turbulent alternative underground of the late 1970s and ’80s, when rebellious youths clashed with the police (not to mention the church, the government, the media . . . authority in general), rival subcultures, their parents and even themselves. Proving that an oppressive police state is no match for subversive creativity in the long run, Australian punk evolved and thrived in the face of such adversity—very much its own beast given its isolation from London and New York—and this forensically researched tome is its story, written in such detail and with such fascinating insight, you can relive it all vicariously without having your nose broken and discover a treasure trove of passionate noise into the bargain. This is an important and entertaining piece of work.” — Ian Glasper, author of Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980–1984 and The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980 to 1984

From Rhythms magazine July-August 2024

ARTISTS INTERVIEWED FOR ORSTRALIA: A PUNK HISTORY (NUMEROUS OTHER ARTISTS ARE DISCUSSED IN THE BOOKS ALSO)

QLD
The Saints, Leftovers, Razar, Fun Things, Survivors, Young Identities, Just Urbain, Kicks, Bodysnatchers, Upsets, Xero, Disposable Fits, X-Men, Bex Crystals, Acrylic Dreams, The Rejects, Gerry Mander and the Boundaries, Public Execution, NIT, NTT, Bad Ronald, Pictish Blood, Blowhard, DPO, BBQ City Cops, Act, Alien Virus, Acid World, Sabotage, Mystery of Sixes, Criminally Insane, Rabid Souls, Insane Hombres, Bride Wore Boots, Australia’s Pride, Lethal Injections, Smegma, Dog Chairs, Black Assassins, Bengt Snarl, The Girlies, Crucified Truth, Blister, Clag, Godnose, AIM, Dregs of Humanity, Upsyndrome, Biceptasaurus, Mouthguard

NSW
Radio Birdman, Psycho Surgeons, Thought Criminals, X, Johnny Dole and the Scabs, The New Christs, Last Words, Suicide Squad, Rocks, Kelpies, Pel Mel, Filth, Proud Scum, Urban Guerillas, Sheiks, Ward 10, The Mansons, Screaming Abdabs, The Press, Supernaut, Kamikaze Kids, Minuteman, Hard-Ons, Lime Spiders, Massappeal, Hellmenn, Psychotic Turnbuckles, Spunkbubbles, The Mothers, Progression Cult, WWXXIV, Queen Anne’s Revenge, CHAOS, Positive Hatred, Climate Of Fear, My Heart Bleeds For You, Government Downfall, Execution Mask, Aberration, Heresy, Inchmen, Black and Blue, Anti-Hierarchy, Joyful Killing, Tutti Parze, Be Kind To Beavers, Fred Nihilist, Wrong Kind of Stone Age, Animals in Distress, Vultees, Mutant Death, Box of Fish, Proton Energy Pills, Killer Bimbos, Smut, Oppressed Earth, Mindcrack, Subversion, Hate Is Enough, The Blurters, Blitz Babies, Omnicide, Noisam, Flycop, Toe To Toe, Lawnsmell, Ceasefire, No Reason, Pitfall, Arms Reach, Disengage, X-Claim!, Eightfold, The Pact, Major Addiction, Stanley Knife, TBK, One Step Ahead, FMD, Nihilist, Rukus, Frenzal Rhomb

ACT
Tactics, Young Docteurs, Myxo, Vacant Lot, Capital Punishment, Urban Chaos, Under Siege, Apparent Death, SSDC, Crucifixion Squad, Bladder Spasms, Thugs and Terrorists, Forward Defence, Mugshot, Damage Control, The Bigots

VIC
Boys Next Door, Babeez, News, La Femme, The Reals, Negatives, Chosen Few, Fiction, The Ears, Henry Vyhnal, Traitors, Orphans, Toxic Shock, Plastic EP, Scum, Spiral Scratch, Primitive Calculators, Endangered Species, Dave and the Derros, Zorros, Sick Things, Cosmic Psychos, I Spit On Your Gravy, Depression, Vicious Circle, Permanent Damage, Death Sentence, Civil Dissident, Bored!, End Result, Gash, Boot Girls, Society’s Victim, Bastard Squad, Murder Murder Suicide, No Remorse, Utter Stench, Terrorize, The Dorks, Charred Remains, Good and Evil, Chaotic Firing Squad, Seminal Rats, Alligator Parade, Slush Puppies, Frontal Lobotomy, Rat Race, Nursery Crimes, The Meanies, Insyte, Mutiny, Mr Floppy, Blood Duster, Walsh St Cop Killers, Area 7, Stand Against, Drunkard, Bodyjar, Mach Pelican, One Inch Punch/Mid Youth Crisis, Mad Circle/Mindsnare, Warpspasm, Beanflipper, Magnacite, Warsore, Ultimatum, Grim Reality, H-Block 101, Amba Fear, No Idea, Callous, The Living End

TAS
The Reserves, Masochist, Verbal Warfare, Holocaust, Tin Soldiers, Little Ugly Girls, Mouth, Wargasm

SA
The Accountants, Sputniks, The Dagoes, U-Bombs, Riff Raff, No Action, Skunks, Perdition, Fear and Loathing, Human Crash, Insurgents, Filthy Scumbags, The Droogs, Northern Drinking Cult, Agent Orange, No Tactics, Gun Control, Order Of Decay, Hot Tomatoes, Alternative Living, Exploding White Mice, Acid Drops, Twenty Second Sect, Web Of Deceit, Kultural Kompost, Price Of Silence, Clowns Of Decadence, Force Fed 9, Numbskulls, Gacy’s Place, Blood Sucking Freaks, Yokel, Unit 11:74, Captain Clean Off, Day Of Contempt

NT
Exhibit A, Spring Rolls

WA
The Victims, The Scientists, The Manikins, Enemy Sounds, Quick and the Dead, Paper Dolls, The Fakes, Antibodies, Pus/Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs, Avoid Upholstery, Utensils, Modern Wimps, Transplants, Rival Tribes, Circle A, Genocide, Mob Vengeance, Insurrection, Disabled Youth, Division Four, Threshold of Pain, Pigs Are Guilty, Memento Mori, Cremator, Greenhouse Effect, Pestilence, Resolute, Elf and the Goon Gut Babies, Thrombus, Barbary Corsairs, Controlled By Fear, SDI, Storm of Perversion, Nailed Down, Rupture, Chickenshit, Crippled Children, The Rats, Sub Rosa, Eunuch, Riot System, Kerb, Heist

“Punk’s highly disputed meaning and multiplicities of definition ensures it is reduced to an author’s ultimate determination and therefore inhabited by biases based in experiences and prejudgements. Is punk a specified sound, a definable attitude, or a more nebulous amalgam? Seeking to resolve such questioning, as well as providing sufficient definitional clarity and reasons for exclusion of bands, would constitute another book in itself that is not this one. Included in this title are interviews with people whose views or previous behaviours contravene not only the author’s values, but in all likelihood those of many of this book’s readership. They have been included, however, through belief that their exclusion would lead to a compromised history and that punk’s more unflattering facets should not be deliberately effaced or disregarded. Despite attempting to offer a definitive historical account, omissions have surely occurred. Apologies are extended to those who feel themselves to have been unduly precluded or forgotten.” – Tristan Clark

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