The Birthday Party


Nick Cave

Nicks history is well catalogued, his ever burgeoning success and notoriety fueled by a variety of achievements since the early, wild Birthday Party days.

After his family moved to Melbourne from the country town of Wangaratta in 1973, he met some of his future band mates (Mick, Phill and Tracy) at Caulfield Grammar School and began performing singing duties with them at weekend rehearsals and occasional school dances.

By 1977 the band, now called The Boys Next Door, were slipping untidily into the new "movement" of Punk/New Wave and Nick met Anita Lane who would become his (un)steady girlfriend for the next 10 years.

His writing at this time was still maturing but after the move to London in 1980 it went from strength to strength and found it's own unique mode of expression within The Birthday Party.

Nicks untamed stage manner and fierce vocal delivery were the conduit through which the bands crazed performances flowed.

Since the groups demise Nick has developed unhindered as his work with The Bad Seeds, his novel "And the Ass Saw the Angel" and "The Death of Bunny Munro" as well as his various involvements in film work (writing, acting and composing) amply demonstrate.

A biography of Nick called "Bad Seed" written by Englishman Ian Johnston was released in 1995.

Post Birthday Party...

Mick Harvey

The son of an Anglican Minister he began playing music by accident with Caulfield Grammar schoolmates Phill Calvert and bassist Brett Purcell in 1972. They were joined the next year by Nick Cave and guitarist John Cochivera and there with were united the core of what would later become The Birthday Party.

Considered to be an exceptional multi-instrumentalist, Mick only considers himself a drummer and guitarist (in that order!!!).

His sobriety throughout even the wildest of The Birthday Party's excesses have led to the belief that he was the element which harnessed the potential of the explosive forces around him.

It is true that he took over the bands management after the move to London in 1980. His abilities as a musician, arranger and producer were a major contribution to the band creatively and proved to be even more so for The Bad Seeds in the following years.

Mick has also scored several low budget films, produced many recordings with Anita Lane and released 4 acclaimed albums of French icon Serge Gainsbourg's songs translated into English.

Discography of Solo albums-
Sketches from the Book of the Dead (11)
Three Sisters (live at Bush Hall) (08)
Two of Diamonds (07)
One Man's Treasure (05)
Pink Elephants (97)
Intoxicated Man (95)

Post Birthday Party...

Phill Calvert

The drummer from the outset at school, Phill survived the roller-coaster ride until 1982. His drumming was the backbone of the band in their embryonic years as The Boys Next Door and he was constantly required to drive the equipment to gigs in his old Holden.

He left the old rust bucket in Australia in 1980 and the rest of the band just accelerated past him, albeit conceptually.

The drumming he executed brilliantly on "Prayers on Fire" and "Junkyard" was as radical style-wise as the rest of the group had become but the others were having to push the chassis up steeper and steeper hills in order to achieve such results.

Phill became the necessary scapegoat when the band ran into the gravel in 1982 and he was left to hitch a ride back to Australia with The Psychedelic Furs while the others freewheeled into Berlin and recorded "The Bad Seed EP".

After his stint with the "Furs" he joined and recorded a few albums with the Melbourne based Blue Ruin.

Post Birthday Party...
Joined the Psychadelic Furs and toured extensively through 1982/83. Subsequently moved back to Australia.


- Exciting Real Life Drama ('02)

- Sugarhips ('99)

The Sunday Kind
- The Sunday Kind ('93)

Blue Ruin
- I'm Gonna Smile ('90)
- Lighthouse Girl ('89)
- Strange Things in the Corner ('88)
- Flame ('86)
- Such Sweet Thunder ('85)

Rowland S. Howard

Had attended Swinburne Free School from which many key figures in the late 70's Melbourne scene emerged.

Rowlands legendary band The Young Charlatans played only 13 shows before dissolving through internal competitiveness (Ollie Olsen being the other singer and writer).

He joined The Boys Next Door shortly afterwards, bringing with him a swag of great songs including "Shivers", which 20 years on has come to be considered a classic.

With his addition the band took an enormous leap forward musically and Rowland began developing a guitar style as unique as the band would later become.

His influence on guitarists around the world has probably been as significant as The Birthday Party's has been in general.

But Rowland was also a singer and frustrations with not getting to sing very often and Nick wanting to sing only his own lyrics became contributing factors in the internal breakdown of the group.

He has subsequently worked on many projects with Lydia Lunch and exercised his vocal chords extensively with These Immortal Souls.

His brilliant first "solo" album "Teenage Snuff Film" came out in 1999.

Rowland died on December 30th. 2009 after a long battle with liver problems brought on by Hep C.

His second solo album 'Pop Crimes' was released just a few months before his passing.

Post Birthday Party...

- Pop Crimes (2009)
- Teenage Snuff Film (2000)

These Immortal Souls
- I'm Never Gonna Die Again ('92)
- Get Lost (Don't Lie) ('87) with Lydia Lunch
- Shotgun Wedding ('90) eponymous
- Honeymoon in Red ('87) eponymous Nikki Sudden and Rowland S.Howard
- Kiss You Kidnapped Charabanc ('87) with Jeremy Gluck
- I Knew Buffalo Bill ('87) Crime and the City Solution
- Room of Lights ('86)
- Just South of Heaven ('85)

Tracy Pew

After spending his early childhood in New Zealand, Tracy began attending Caulfield Grammar School in 1972 when his family relocated to Australia. There he became friends with the "art house gang" which included his eventual band mates. Upon discovering he'd been secretly learning Bass Guitar (from Chris Walsh) he was immediately adopted into the band at the expense of Brett Purcell.

Tracy's personality is legend and his individuality suffused everything he came into contact with. The power of his playing style was such that many of The Birthday Party's best works were written with his awesome undertow in mind.

During 1981 he developed the sartorial cowboy look for which he became renowned and instantly recognizable.

In contrast to his image as a wild man and renegade Tracy was an inveterate reader and after the band's breakup returned to University in Melbourne where he set about studying Literature and Philosophy.

Unfortunately his years of excess had contributed to the onset of an epileptic condition and he died as the result of a seizure in November 1986. His colleagues always felt he would have gone on to become a great writer. Sadly we shall never know.

Post Birthday Party...

Played on tour with Chris Bailey's Saints around the release of the classic 'A Little Madness to be Free'.

Guested on a few songs from the 'Kicking Against the Pricks' sessions with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.


Barry Adamson

Filled-in on Bass for a few shows in the U.K. and played on "Kiss Me Black" (Junkyard) during Tracy Pews incarceration in early 1982. Was a member of The Bad Seeds from it’s inception until 1986 and has released several excellent solo albums since.

Tony Cohen

Producer extraordinaire and mischief cohort of The Birthday Party. His involvement has continued with The Bad Seeds and other ex-Birthday Party projects to the present day.

Harry Howard

Brother of Rowland.Also filled-in on Bass for a few U.K. shows in early '82. Joined up with Rowland in These Immortal Souls. Co-writer of "Several Sins" (Junkyard)

Anita Lane

Occasionally charged with being Nick’s muse Anita was certainly a continuous collaborator and/or inspiration for countless Birthday Party songs. Her direct involvement with the Bad Seeds has been more sporadic but her collaborations with it’s members have continued apace, especially in her own solo work.

Chris Walsh

Longtime friend of Tracy Pew and important figure in the late 70’s Melbourne scene Bass player and prime-mover of 80’s outfit The Moodists. Filled-in for Tracy at The Birthday Party's Crystal Ballroom shows in early '82.

Lydia Lunch

Co-author of a collection of one-act plays with Nick. Toured in Europe with the band and collaborated with it's members on her own recordings at the time. Has continued collaborating intermittently with Rowland to this day.

Jeffrey Wegener

Australia's Keith Moon, founder member of the legendary Laughing Clowns. Played drums on a short European tour with The Birthday Party in early '83 after Phill's departure.

Stephen Ewart, Philip Jackson and Mick Hunter

From Melbourne band Equal Local. Played brass on 'Nick The Stripper' and 'Zoo Music Girl' (Prayers on Fire)

Genevieve McGuckin

Rowland's long-time partner and co-writer of "Capers" and "Ho Ho" (Prayers on Fire). Joined-up with Rowland as keyboard player in These Immortal Souls.

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