Star Scene: James Williamson ~ The STOOGES & Deniz Tek ~ RADIO BIRDMAN

James Williamson of The STOOGES and Deniz Tek of RADIO BIRDMAN chat to Mary Boukouvalas about their sound and style, the world today, their new collaboration, Two To One, released today on Cleopatra Records, and coffee!

Photo: Anne Tek

Photo: Anne Tek

Los Angeles, CA – Legendary punk/proto-punk guitar heroes, Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famer James Williamson of Iggy & The Stooges, and ARIA Hall of Famer Deniz Tek of Radio Birdman, have joined forces for a brand new, odds-defying studio album, Two To One, set to be released September 18 by Cleopatra Records. The album features 11 all-new original compositions highlighted by the first single “Stable” and the explosive lead-off track “Jet Pack Nightmare.”

Williamson and Tek met at a memorial show for founding Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton in 2011 and reconnected when Williamson finally made it to Sydney with Iggy & The Stooges in 2013. They’ve since become neighbours in Hawaii. Although generationally separated,  they share roots in the fertile Ann Arbor/Detroit high energy rock scene of the late 60s and early ‘70s.

Williamson first took up with the Stooges in 1971 after the release of their second album, and was Iggy’s partner in crime when David Bowie brought the band back to make one of the most iconic and influential albums of all-time, Raw Power. Ann Arbor native Tek, thanks to a lengthy family stay in Sydney in 1967 which precipitated his move to study medicine at the University of NSW at the age of 19 in 1972, was starting to introduce the Ann Arbor/Detroit high energy sound to Australia with a nascent Birdman around the same time as the Stooges were falling apart in 1974.

The pairing of these two greats has a special emblematic significance that reflects the Stooges’ influence on Radio Birdman, and in turn both bands’ shared influence on a notable thread of Australian rock that has continued since the mid-‘70s.

Radio Birdman’s very name came from a (misheard) Stooges lyric, their first album was dedicated to the Stooges and it opened with a cover of the Stooges’ “TV Eye”. “Search & Destroy”, the iconic anthem from the seminal Williamson-era Stooges album Raw Power, was a live Birdman fave. Countless bands that followed in Birdman’s wake in Australia – from the Lipstick Killers to the Birthday Party to the Hoodoo Gurus to the Celibate Rifles to Bored –  have cut their teeth on Stooges material.

The fact that the Stooges maintained a strong presence in the Australian musical psyche for decades, even before their early ’00s resurgence and despite never having toured or been played here originally, is very much down to Birdman’s efforts on their behalf. The new album thus reflects part of a great musical continuum. An Ann Arbor/Detroit and Australian rock’n’roll continuum. And it finds master and apprentice working as equals.

It’s not the first time that Deniz Tek has worked with a Stooges member. Having met Ron Asheton on a trip home during Birdman days (resulting in the Tek-Asheton Birdman co-write “Hit Them Again”), Tek enlisted Ron to play in the short-lived supergroup New Race in 1981, and he subsequently employed Ron’s brother Scott Asheton to play on and tour his first solo album in the early ‘90s. Tek even stood in for Ron for a short set of Ron-era material when the Stooges played that memorial show after Ron’s death.

It’s not even Tek’s first project with Williamson: the pair released an EP of acoustic Stooges covers a couple of years back. But it is the first time that Williamson and Tek – a Stooge and a Birdman – have collaborated as partners on a full album of new original material.

Williamson had this to say about the project; “It was really a lot of fun working with Deniz to make a no-frills, good old-fashioned guitar album. Took me back to Raw Power and Kill City days. Deniz comes from a very similar approach to music that I do, both of us have had many years of experience in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

Tek adds: “Raw Power shaped my path as a young guitar player. It was great to partner up with James to make this album. Everything fell into place beyond expectations – the songs, the band, the production, and even the timing. I am very happy with it.”

Two To One will be available on CD, digital and in your choice of red, blue, yellow or classic black vinyl!

Order the album:
11041 Santa Monica Blvd #703
Los Angeles CA 90025

About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.