In the early 90's, five quiet lads from the beaches of Western Australia decided to start a band. This site is a dedication to the members, fans and crew of what could only be described as one of the most contraversial, ground breaking groups to ever come out of Australia. They firmly take their place in Rock'n'Roll history with their exploits remaining, till this day, the stuff of legend.
1990 at a party in Scarborough Hipper, Jono and Barney met for the first time. Music was discussed and then we stumbled on the idea of getting together for a jam. Jono and Hipper had been fooling around in garages for a while honing their skills so at least they had some idea musically what was required. Barney on the other hand had no vocal experience at all, except for one failed audition for a Van Halen tribute act. Drunk he had forgotten his lines and was ejected from the studio and urged never to return.. The bass shoes were quickly filled by John's close friend Nathan (Coxy) Cox. The four set about writing songs that reflected their times and lives. Drinking, sex and confusion.
A chance meeting between Hipper and Barney with the legend Billy Thorpe at a seaside hotel set their path in stone when the boys asked Billy for any pearls of wisdom to which he replied, "Whatever you guys do, just make sure you play it LOUD!"
When it came time for a band name the dictionary came out. Hipper's then girlfriend Bec offered a suggestion.The name Rawkus is the phonetic pronunciation of the Oxford concise dictionary English word Raucous, meaning harsh heavy sounding eg:squawk of a crow.
The word was agreed on , misspelt and a logo quickly developed.
The four peice soon realised a fifth member was needed to provide a dynamic to the already driving rythm, Dazza Mitchell filled the shoes for a short time and provided the group with a place to rehearse. A five track demo was p-lanned and they hit the studio. In a twist of fate Dazza was MIA on the recording session and the lead guitar was laid down by John Meyer of Rose Tattoo. With the demo complete it was obvious that Rawkus needed more..
To fill the role of lead guitar Rawkus scanned the local industry to find not only a musician but a character. The search was completed when Jeremy (Bozz) Boissevain entered the Rawkus picture. At the final of the Battle of the Bands in 1990 the eventual winners Helter Skelter defeated Rawkus for the title but their guitarist Bozz thought that Rawkus was more his thing. At the after show party Bozz met Barney, Dazza was dumped and the switch was complete.
The son of world famous artist William Boissevain. Bozza brought his ten years of classical training and distinct persona aboard the Rawkus machine.
Together they set course for a groundbreaking and memorable slice of music history.Through a vast array of influences from AC/DC to the Babies the music evolved as a classic blend of blues meets metal. They decided on the tag of "Blue Metal". From the outset it was determined Rawkus would be more than just a musical group, but transgress beyond and into an international symbol of all things Rock'n'Roll.
With Bozz on board the boys entered the "The Best in the West" battle of the bands competition in early 1991 and walked away with the victory much to the suprise of the band members themselves. First prize included a two day recording session at the world famous Planet Studios.
The first Rawkus album was produced with their prize and an additional $400 Australian dollars and completed in two days. Subsequently released on a small independent label called Zero Hour, the album proved a winner with thousands of copies sold in
the first 3 months of release. Copies are still selling world wide through various distributors and stockists. Rawkus and Zero Hour parted company no more than 6 months after their signing with boys battling the label over monies owed and with allegations of threats of violence and intimidation levelled at the boys from the labels head honcho with no charges till this day ever being laid or substantiated.
Needless to say Rawkus promptly received their masters back, but with no label to call home.
Rawkus decided early that to be the best they would have to be the biggest. As Perth Australia was their testing ground they set about recruiting a large number of their friends and industry peers into the Rawkus Army. Australia was simultaneously bombarded with any and all things Rawkus.
Around the clock they strategised and implemented large scale marketing and promotional campaigns to ensure that Rawkus was quickly established as a household name. Due to the sheer size of the operation they looked outside for financial support and the birth of cross sponsorship was born. With their profile expanding many companies threw their weight behind them and they quickly presented every square inch of Rawkus as advertising space. Firstly they conducted an experiment with their favourite alcoholic beverage companies advising each company's representative that they would drink and promote their competitors products if they were not interested in listening. Jim Beam was subsequently strategically placed in all advertising from that day on. From Production companies to Tattoo studios the Rawkus sponsorship portfolio soon amassed thousands of dollars per annum in endorsements.
Their eternal belief in the paying public being their number one priority that no expense was spared in delivering live performances reserved for larger touring acts. Through sponsorship and endorsement deals they incorporated the largest back-line of Marshall amplification yet seen. (Suzie Demarchi of the Baby Animals once asked to borrow a Marshall as Rawkus had all possible amplifiers for hire recruited in their back-line at the 1994 Bindoon Rock Concert where they shared the bill.)Three pyrotechnicians provided the spark, 22 tonnes of Production, 10 road crew and Rawkus provided the sound. With two hour non stop concerts the public was always guaranteed a spectacle.
To To keep the publicity machine rolling Rawkus decided that 800 paying fans at hotel concerts were not enough and their profile needed an injection of ingenuity. Hence the 1993 shattering of the Guinness Book of World Records for "The Loudest Band in the World", a title once held by legendary supergroup The Who. The record of 126 decibels was destroyed as a level of 135 decibels was achieved at the Grosvenor Hotel Perth Western Australia. With a 747 jumbo reaching 128 dB at take off this made the feat quite extraordinary.
That same year Guinness had elected to no longer recognize any potentially dangerous records so Rawkus missed their due in official print.
The "Boyz with the Noyz" tag was swiftly in place and everything they touched turned to gold, then infamy.
Through mass media promotion Rawkus found themselves in every world wide music mag form Rolling Stone to Metal Hammer and on every television variety show imaginable. Of a total of 33 minutes of airtime for the Australian version of COPS, Rawkus, their crew and their associates appeared in no less than 25 minutes of the total screen time. From Don Lane to Stan Grant the discussion of Rawkus and their ear splitting antics made hot debate. The name sprung up in all facets of advertising from the selling of beds to the themes of Radio comedy skits regarding deafness.The machine was now rolling, in control of their own destiny the band decided to continue managing themselves as several attempts at established management agencies saw clashes with direction and an all too common small minded attitude by management companies and labels.
Rawkus hit the country road and broke attendance records at every venue they hit. The crowd had been swept up in the hype and flocked from far and wide to catch the show.
To feed the hungry public Two limited edition Ep's were recorded and released through their own Rawkus Records to satisfy demand. Let it Lye released in Oct 93 sold out in a day and the follow up "Cannot Be" saw the emergance of the track "Bourbon Breath" surged through the market finding it's way into the Scottish club scene on constant rotation.
Cannot Be quickly found it's way onto the soundtrack of legendary American Surf movie maker Chris Bystrom's 1992 release "Madmen Saints and Sinners" which played in movie houses across the USA and was released on video for the Australian surfing public.
The clip, Cannot Be was thrown together in one night in a rented warehouse to add the visual media impact required and endured heavy rotation on every music video show going at the time. And every rock venue video screen. The clip is still seen in clubs and on Rage across Australia.
1993 saw Rawkus play to some 100,000 fans across Australia through the "Oz Rumble Tour" playing 21 concerts in 29 days, culminating in the Bindoon Rock festival to a crowd of 28,000.
The first night in Melbourne saw Rawkus headline at the famous Palais Club "Cat House" to a crowd of 4000 where Rage against the Machine had played just the night before and were also ejected from their exclusive apartment building after Jono locked out scaled the balcony and accidentally entered the apartment of film maker Roman Palanski staying in town at the time.
Late 93 saw the Rawkus thrown off the Poor Boys Tour after 3 nights with no real reason ever given other than Jono nearly coming to blows with the Poor Boys drummer over positioning of the drum riser.
Coupled with the contraversial appearance alongside the Angels at the "Say no to alcohol" concert held at Metropolis Concert Club Fremantle. After two songs Barney declared his boredom then left and returned to the stage with a carton of bourbon cans that he kindly shared out to the now delerious riotous crowd. Rawkus were subsequently dumped from any further supports and cut loose from the prestigious CNS management agency that stabled the other power house of Australian heavy metal.....Allegiance.
The media continued to feed the public as stories in press, radio and television appearing regarding the boys offstage behaviour as much as their on. Rawkus had become larger than their music itself, and something had to change......
Feb 1994 saw Rawkus embark on a foray into the American commercial rock market, backed by interest from the worlds largest Record Companies, Rawkus slipped back into the studio and prepared for a new direction with the ode to old friends "Whiskey Blue".
Backed by a television production house a $25,000 film clip was produced and subsequently never released. A newly acquired financial backer, manager and friend Chris Norvilas prominent Perth Hotelier , was found murdered by a former Penthouse Pet girlfriend, in a Perth Hotel that he owned, Barney had been at discussions with Norvilas and a leading Record Company A&R earlier that evening and had left just hours before the murder and was in no way connected. The meeting was ironically to discuss the problems involved with obtaining visas for the US with the criminal convictions sheet of the members reputedly measuring 10 feet. Once again an opportunity was lost and Rawkus were left to ponder an another uncertain future.
Late 1994 signalled the beginning of the end for Rawkus as internal disputes raged over song writing direction and lengthy litigation against Distributors and Labels over monies owed.
Coxy had been dumped and replaced with Rob Lee on bass and continued to write but essentiall Rawkus withdrew from the live scene only to perform to over 80,000 at invitational concerts and tour supports.
The final Rawkus show was played headlining the Kalgoorlie Motorcycle Show Australia to a crowd of over 6,000 people on August 12 1994. Barney once again headed to alcohol rehabilitation and the band as the world knew it had ended.
With an average age of 21 the first chapter of Rawkus had been written.
The year 1999 saw Rawkus emerge once again. With new passion and direction it was time to unleash the machine again. Backed by an exciting new label, dedicated professionals, and a new generation of listeners, it was an exciting time to be involved in the most exciting Industry on earth. Rock'n'Roll!
With the side project of Footprints completed in the spring a new spark was lit.
As the music Industry had evolved into the milennium, new and exciting advances in technology had made the production of music a more time and cost effective medium.
It was obvious that new blood had to be found to bring Rawkus up to date.
Seeing Ear Records had commisioned the recording of a Bon Scott tribute album to be distributed through GOH international. Rawkus were requested to make a contribution and "Long way to the top" was decided on.
In the Rawkus Cd collection can be found the album Synergy by the band "Sound Surgery." This insanely intense early 90's recording of brutality at it's finest was the brainchild of writer, producer and performer Adam Keane. With diverse blends of industrial and computer animation Adam had pushed the boundries of musical expressionism well before Limp Biskit had made this genre their own.
Seeing Adam on lead guitar perform in the late 80's Adelaide group Bezerker to sellout crowds then following up with lead guitar and vocal on an Australian tour of the Metallica concept band "Justice for all" he threw together to make some cash Barney was truly impressed and knew Adam was the kind of musician and producer who ran his own race and held an insiders understanding of the music business that few would achieve.
Rawkus guitar strings were released and continue selling to this day along with a steady stream of merchandise.
Barney, Hipper and Bozz met up once again and entered the studio for one last hoorah. Recorded in less than an hour the subsequent track produced by Adam was a truly ruthless inclusion to the album.
With a new found enthusiasm the boys set to work laying down three new tracks for the upcoming Loud album. Push the envelope, Rawkustra and the classic We can't live together before abandoning the project and once again Rawkus closed another chapter in their all too brief History.
Adam Keane now resides in Perth and has established one of Australias premier recording facilities, Survival Studios.
Bozz moved on to create the group Hurricane Mary and after two albums and tour supports of Van Halen decided to call it a day.
Jono Oliver formed the powerhouse metal outfit KIN and after 3 albums and countless live shows he hung up his drum stool, and now enjoys success as an accomplished producer, promoter and Performer "DJ Grin"
Hipper moved into Concert Production working for touring acts such as Kiss, ACDC and the Rolling Stones and once joined a jam on stage with Beatles luminary Sir George Martin to name a few.
Barney fooled around with other bands before moving into promotions, writing and event management, and in 1996 was found as the Head Chef at the notorious Raunchy Promotions' Slic Chix aldult entertainment restaurant along with the Playboy club the following year.
Coxy retired from the music scene following his departure and enjoys a much quieter life.
The name Rawkus since 1994 has now become what the boys had always dreamed, With the establishment of the great Hip Hop Label Rawkus Records By the Murdoch empire that has released hundreds of the worlds greatest acts today. The name Rawkus has spread throughout the globe and is instantly recognisable with all things rebellious and as we all know.............There's no place in Rock'n'Roll for nice quiet boys and girls anyway.
Special thanks to all these incredible people.
Angelo (President Tito) Tetto, Anna Hipper, Michael (Spike) Liddelow, Jodie Hipper, Alan (Merv) Sparrow, Michael (Mick) Sparrow, Dave Hillier, Jamie Rutherford, Narelle, Janine and Carol, Wayne McGuigan, Jim Townshend, Danny Kelgrim & Wendy, Shaun Keane, Dave (Big D) Frizzell, R&R Studios, Mark (sea weed monster) Brad (Licka), Julie Sharp, Mitch, Lee Borteli, Rebecca Barber, Angie Wright, Lee Wright, Fox, Gareth, Gypsy Jokers MC, Coffin Cheaters MC (Bindoon), Club Deroes MC, Danny & Pig Cub Original, Chris Norvilas (RIP), Hellbound, SFD, Club Atlantis, Xpress Magazine, Review, Christie Eleizer, Linda Sharp, Planet Studios, Shelter Studios, Helter Skelter, Wim Boissevain, Rob & Kerrie (RIP), Michelle Egan, Rod Hipper, Margie, Jono's Mum, Ann(For all the terrific photos, logo development and advice), Rob Caruso(Seeing Ear Records), Richard Lane (Anvil Records), The Scarborough Crew, The morning Crew, The Pulse, Kate Detchon, Jim Beam, Sound Works, The Drum Shop, White Sands Tavern, Sarah Jones, Eileen Taylor, Zac Matulick, Jamie-Lee Wild, Helen & Greg Sharp, Wade, Danny Thompson, Claire, The Stoned Crow, Geoffrey M Howard(Cat House), Adam Keane (Berzerker, Survival Studios), Channel Seven, Channel 10, Stan Grant, Mario Derazio, Rob Lee, Darren Mitchell, Rolling Stone mag, Bill Thorpe (RIP) for your pearls of wisdom, John Meyer(Rose Tattoo), Conrad and the boys (Allegiance), Rachel, Narelle, Rochelle and Tanya Callaghan, Denise, Trudy Pendlebury, Tattoo Art, Rock Shack, Guitar World, Karrinyup Tavern and of course..................................................... The Fans
Source : www.freewebs.com/barney-matulick/theRawkusyears.htm