Q&A Scene: James Williamson & Deniz Tek

What’s your scene?

JW: “Well, generally, I’d say my scene is enjoying life, hanging with my family and friends and playing with my granddaughter whenever possible.”

DT: “Family, music, art, medicine.”

Tell us about your very early bands The Coba Seas and TV Jones?

JW:  “My earlier band was “The Chosen Few” which I co-founded with another guy  Scott Richardson (who later abbreviated his name to Scott Richards and formed a band “The Scott Richard Case” which was a regional success).  I left that band after only a few months since I was sent to juvenile home, but on returning one summer was introduced to Ron Asheton who had become the bass player for the Chosen Few and during the same meeting I met Iggy for the first time. After Juvenile home, I was sent to a boarding school in Upstate New York where I soon collected the other guys around the school who could play instruments and liked the same types of music.  We formed a band which only later was named “The Coba Seas” once one of the members dad’s had recorded us, so we had to have a name. Anyway, all these early efforts were cover bands of mostly Rolling Stones, Them, The Kinks etc from the British Invasion bands.”

DT: “TV Jones is an acronym of Tek, Vanderwerf and Jones. We were a big hit in Wollongong in 1973, doing a weird mix of Alice Cooper-ish glam, early Velvets and hi- energy protopunk stuff. I was the lead singer. Some of the performance-art side of our presentation was edgy. It did not go well when we moved up to Sydney, and I was  sacked from the band in favour of a more commercially-oriented front man.

You both have had successful collaborative songwriting and recording partnerships through the years. What’s the core ingredient to a fruitful collaboration? 

JW:  “Well, I’d say you have to like and respect whoever it is that you’re collaborating with.  I think its pretty impossible to make music with people you don’t like or respect, just just doesn’t work very well or last very long.”

DT:  “Getting along well, personally; as well as having a mutual willingness to work hard and place the success of the project above selfish concerns.”

It’s amazing that it has taken so long for the two of you to collaborate given the parallels and common threads of your collective musical histories. Had you thought about teaming up musically prior to meeting in 2011? 

JW:  “No, I wasn’t really aware of Deniz or Radio Birdman before we met (sorry)…I had after all been out of the music business for a very long time and so hadn’t had exposure to them.”

DT:  “I did imagine how the Raw Power-era Stooges might sound with a two guitar lineup, with me in a supporting role. I figured if they were interested in that they would ask me, and they didn’t. I was keeping busy anyway, and not really looking for a new collaboration.”

You are both known for your seminal Detroit guitar sound and style as a result of spending your formative musical years in Michigan. How much did the Hawaiian environment shape your treatment of the revisited songs on Acoustic KO? 

JW:  “Since these songs were from the back catalog, they had already largely been shaped.  But, since we did them entirely acoustically (except for the bass which just didn’t sound right acoustically)..of course the arrangement varied from the originals and instrumentation was different… I think Hawaii’s role in all of this, was simply as a meeting place to get together and chat about things and gin up some ideas when we later acted on.”

DT:  “I think being in Hawaii gave us the inspiration to do something acoustic – we casually tossed the idea around of playing acoustic songs locally in bars or whatever – and that led to the idea of an acoustic recording. But the treatment of the songs on “KO” had little if anything to do with Hawaii. Only the vocals were actually recorded on the island, and  there’s nothing especially Hawaiian-sounding going on there!”

What acoustic guitars did you play on the recordings? 

JW: “I used a Greenfield G2 (Michael Greenfield is an amazing Luthier in Canada), a 1967 Martin D28, and a Tony Francis Weissenborn style 4 (Tony Francis is another amazing luthier from New Zealand).”

DT:  “I played a Takamine Dreadnought, and an old Regal Dobro for slide.”

Is an Australian tour and a full album on the cards? 

JW:  “We have discussed doing selected dates, but at the moment Deniz is busy touring on his own solo album, but we’ll just have to see how things pan out.”

DT:  “Not planned as such but we’ve talked about the possibility.”

8. What has inspired you most as a result of this collaboration? 

JW:  “Just the enjoyment of making music that we both had fun doing and really feeling that we both got a lot out of it.”

DT:  “The opportunity to present songs that I have known and loved for decades, in a new  and interesting way.”

Deniz Tek and James Williamson’s Acoustic K.O. EP will be available March 31st on vinyl and digital (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) formats.  


01  I Need Somebody 

02  Penetration 

03  Night Theme 

04  No Sense Of Crime  






Fans of The Stooges and Radio Birdman are in for a real treat this spring as guitarist James Williamson and singer/guitarist Deniz Tek have teamed up for a new spin on four classic Williamson compositions from the early/mid ’70s. The two proto-punk icons have unplugged their amps for drastic, yet no less gratifying reworkings of two numbers from Iggy & The Stooges’ seminal Raw Power album (“I Need Somebody” and “Penetration”) as well as two tracks from Pop & Williamson’s often-unsung masterpiece Kill City (“Night Theme” and “No Sense of Crime”). These songs were orginally composed by Pop & Williamson, with the exception of “Night Theme” which was penned by Williamson and Scott Thurston.

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Williamson explains hooking up with Tek and working with him on this effort, “I first met Deniz in 2011 when doing the Ron Asheton Tribute show at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Deniz had been a good friend of the Ashetons (having come from Ann Arbor like them) and had been asked to play on some of the old Stooges tunes that night.”  

“Later we stayed in touch during the times I would visit Australia on tour with the Stooges, and it also turned out that he visited the Big Island of Hawaii frequently, as do my wife and I. In fact, during one of our get togethers on the Big Island Deniz mentioned that we should record some acoustic songs together.  Maybe do some of my old stuff. It was later that day, hiking in a remote area, that we came across some abandoned trucks. His wife, Anne, got her camera out and said ‘there’s your record cover!’”

Oddly, in a parallel development, a long time fan and incredible collector of Stooges memorabilia, Hakan Beckman, had suggested to James a couple of years earlier that “Night Theme” should be orchestrated. Further, he had developed a fantasy album cover called Acoustic K.O. James loved these ideas and now, with Tek, had the vehicle to realize them.  

“That’s how it all started,” Williamson admits. “However, once we began recording, the project took on a life of its own. If this was to be called Acoustic K.O. it needed to be entirely acoustic. Michael Urbano broke out his old 1920s drum kit and Gregg Foreman used my old 1930s pump organ and a piano. Guitars, of course, were acoustic, and the only exception was the bass that Bob Glaub played – an old hollow body Kay since an upright  just didn’t sound right for these songs. The horn section rounded everything out.”

“For ‘Night Theme’ I enlisted the help of Mark Culbertson, musician extraordinaire who had played contra-bass for me on the albums Ready to Die and Re-Licked, to do the arrangement. He did an extraordinary job! I was able to find an incredible group of players called The Awesome Orchestra from Berkeley, CA under the direction of David Moschler to realize Mark’s arrangement and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”

“It all came together once we layed down Deniz’s vocals while in Hawaii, and with the help of Petra Haden doing some backing vocals and violin, along with Annie Hardy (Giant Drag) doing the duet with Deniz on ‘No Sense Of Crime’ we had performances to be proud of.”  


About Maryanne Window 49 Articles
Maryanne is a writer and bass player. You can find her onstage with Monique Brumby.