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Rock Journalism Archive: 1988, The Radiators Abandon Gimme Head

I can't think of a more Australian subject to begin posting stories from my archive of interviews with more than 400 musicians, singers, songwriters than this from 1988, when The Radiators briefly decided to abandon playing their biggest hit, as they struggled to find "a new direction."

I wrote this for a magazine I worked for in St Mary's, New South Wales, when I was 18-19, called The Eagle Magazine. 
I wasn't sure what would be suitable for a "family magazine" distributed across huge parts of New South Wales, so the Editor said, "Just write it all." This was my first draft. Only about half of what I coyly submitted made it into print, for obvious reasons.
If I find the original magazine when it was published, I'll add an image for comparison.

The Radiators - Interview With Geoff Turner, 1988


Think of a nightclub, a pub, a front bar almost anywhere in Australia, and it's a pretty good bet The Radiators have played there.
“At least once!” laughs bass player Geoff Turner.
The Radiators burst onto the Australian music scene in 1979, with the release of their debut album Feel The Heat and guitar and synthesiser-soaked live shows. There was theatre and fire and plenty of energy, to go along with all that great new wave punk-dashed rock.They were immediately fun. They got national exposure, and a die-hard audience, managing to be more entertaining than The Police, when they opened their 1979 Australian tour.
Now in 1988, almost a decade later, The Radiators have clocked up an incredible 2000 live shows. It stunned Geoff Turner to realise this recently, and such an achievement seemed to impact on the band, and what they wanted to do, “maybe in the next 2000 shows.”
The Radiators recently released “Gimme....Live”, basically a best of The Radiators, and this is where the band now want to leave the enormously popular crowd favourite Gimme Head. They want a new direction for the band, new sounds, new songs, a new image.
And so the song that helped draw them a cult following, and helped maintain them as one of the most consistently popular pub bands in the country, is going to be dropped from the set.
“That song hampered our careers and held us back from playing a lot of venues “ says Turner.
“We were even labelled as 'sexist' because of it. (Gimme Head) was only done for fun, and was only ever supposed to have been an extra single for the first 5000 people who bought the Feel The Heat album. But it's taken us over.”d
He's talking about the Right To Remain Silent EP:
17 (I Wish I Was)
Summer Holiday
Comin Home
Fess' Song
Gimme Head.
Blasting this EP from your Manaro was very fashionable for male teenagers in Western Sydney, predominately in the Blacktown region (OK, Marayong) in the early 1980s. Still is. The classiest of guys timed the arrival of Gimme Head song on their ear-assaultingly loud car rados to pulling alongside any handy female walking along the footpath. "Gimme Head Baby!!"
Geoff Turner visibly cringes, again and again, when I tell him this story.
"I've seen those fuckwits do it, too!"
You were only just teenagers then, now you're basically a band with families, haven't you all got young children now and your most famous song is about...
"Stop!" He's laughing, but also not.
Geoff goes into a bit of a rant, again, about how unfair it is the Radiators are now being labelled "sexist pigs" in the media for playing what is now an established Australian party song.
Gimme Head is a consensual song, Geoff said, with a seriousness that clashed remarkably with the giggling fun machine of his onstage persona. It's consensual. He's not demanding it. He's basically begging his girlfriend. She did it last night for the first time in ages, and he's saying, that was incredible, please do it again. Please!
I was singing it at a party only a few weeks ago, I tell him. It's absolutely weird to have you now sitting here explaining it to me like an English lecturer unravelling Shakespeare.
All of our songs are consensual, Geoff continues. Whatever happens in 17 was consensual between teenagers at that age. Why do we we cop shit for that now? What about the 13 EP? Nobody ever hammers them for that one. And his voice tapers off.
He meant the Cold Chisel EP, "You're Thirteen, You're Beautiful And You're Mine."
So a new beginning then for The Radiators, after a recent three month break to write new songs, a good number of which feature in the band's current live show. The Radiators have 25 new songs, in total, and are making plans to head into the studio to begin recording a new album by year's end.
Do people miss Gimme Head at the live shows?
“Yeah, some,” says Geoff.
Do they get angry you don't play it anymore?
“We sometimes get an earful after the show.”
But doesn't it put you off, people basically chanting for you guys to play Gimme Head live? At a recent show I saw, one bloke kept yelling he'd driven 3 hours to hear that song especially. 'You bunch of c..nts!' he kept shouting.
“Yeah,” sighs Geoff. “We get that a lot, too.”
Geoff asks about the Eagle Magazine this interview is being conducted for. I explain it's a local news magazine, delivered once a month to homes in Newcastle, Blacktown, Wollongong, Parammatta, St Mary's, Penrith.
How many people does it reach you reckon?
It gets delivered to 150,000 homes, something like that.
"So I just told our whole fucking audience we're not playing their favourite song anymore?"
He mutters under his breath, "fa-a-a-a-ark..."
So will there be another bonus. just-for-fun, EP with live-to-regret-recording new songs on it with the new album when it's released?
"No!" Geoff Turner laughs.


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