Henry Vyhnal

Henry Vyhnal

The solution presented itself at a gig one night in September when Gavin met Henry Vyhnal, whose talents he was already aware of via his work with Jarryl. Henry played Rhythm Guitar and Electric Violin; both instruments Gavin believed, could be worked into Babeez. He was asked in on a few rehearsals. Henry was not interested in joining a band, having been through the mill with Pelaco Brothers and the Millionaires.

Nevertheless, he wanted to assist Babeez specifically and punk generally. In a 'guest' role, Henry was soon practicing regularly at Faraday St: "I wanted to see the movement happen. I saw it as a way of being involved in the scene and helping it along the way". Although a Second Guitar job for Henry was obvious (giving Jarryl room to move) the Violin was worked into about a third of the set.

As Henry put it "They were more interested in my Violin than anything else. Gavin wanted the Violin because he knew the sound could evolve into Guitar based thrash. Having an exotic instrument in there would set Babeez apart from other bands, as well as his song writing and vocal skills".

Long impressed with Jarryl, Henry found Babeez themselves to be a creative unit that were no slouches musically; Jarryl was the most fantastic guitarist around. Gavin was quite a multi instrumentalist himself, a very capable musician. "Julie was the only member to be a novice in any sense". As Henry also found, the direction, writing, and arrangement going on was something unique, distilled out of respectable influences "the Ramones and sixties pop Sandie Shaw, that kind of stuff. In writing songs, they wanted to combine a pretty vocal melody with crashing guitars in the background, which hadn't been done before".


The heavy rehearsals continued on the eve of the E.P. release in mid-October. In this hour of need, drummer Paul Makeshift (!) arrived from nowhere and took the chair until mid December. When the record hit the shops, it was the second DIY release after the Saints' 'I'm Stranded'.

Babeez distributed the disk themselves and gathered some interesting reactions to the music and packaging, not to mention their policy of independence: "The industry, when we released it, were knocked-out. They couldn't understand what we were doing" [Gavin]. Such was the climate here in late 1977.

Through November/December, the cover stirred much controversy as Joe Public, straying into certain record shops, saw a crude reproduction of an abortion in a bin staring back at them from the racks. More importantly, what was in the grooves was getting reaction, especially as it was the first proof that punk existed as a musical force here in Melbourne.

The record was to an extent, a rallying point and sales were encouraging in the ensuing months; in Melbourne, in Adelaide, and in Sydney.

In the hands of critics, the E.P. fared well: "The first two songs are raging punkoid statements a la Ramones. ..(Nobody Wants Me)..is a more restrained affair, about suicide" [Juke]. Ram said of 'Nobody Wants Me': "A slow compelling dirge with traces of light pop in the heavy playing", and described 'Dowannalove' as 'Neo-Stooges' (1/78).

Self Abuse fanzine said: "'Nobody Wants Me' was the best track. The guitar is very good, very fuzzed and a big fuckoff to all the guitar gurus who go in for speed and technical virtuosity". Their scribe was not so hot on the other two: "Ok, but too much like cliches to make much impression". Adding an important footnote, Self Abuse said: "It doesn't matter what people say about them, at least they put a good record out" (3/78).

Melbourne tit & bum scandal weekly The Truth had an interest in punk rock as sensational copy and in the wake of the E.P. release, they ran a short story focusing on 'Hate', or the story behind the lyrics. Babeez had told the Truth that they were adapted by Gavin, from lyrics by a girl known to the band describing her feeling about assailants who had raped her at knife point. While happy to tell that much of the story, no Babeez would say more. The E.P. had cost all of $500.00. The band were broke, but their achievement was now very public.


Battle of the Bands

As Drummer Makeshift proved at least adequate and Henry Vyhnal was integrated, the push was on for more live work in November/December. Again Universities and Tertiary Institutes provided some work, such as a large anti-nuclear benefit at Melbourne Uni. This show (in November) earned Babeez a whopping $25.00! Also in November, the name Babeez was registered as a business name and the band put themselves in for the forthcoming 3XY battle of the bands. For those too young or otherwise absent, FM radio was then existent only on drawing boards or being physically assembled. The Alternative radio spectrum in Melbourne circa 1977 was solely 3CR. 3XY was the big figure, a voracious promoter and the most popular by far. They had an unstinting top 40 format and 24 hours of bland D.J.s churning out the repulsive Eagles / disco / Elton John / M.O.R. / Boz Scaggs porridge. 3XY also had an annual Battle of the Bands, every summer at the Exhibition Buildings in the city. These events were a positive hangover from the sixties, when radio was active in fostering home grown talent. The Judges were generally 3XY D.J.s. so Babeez had no great expectations. Gavin was always surprised that they were allowed in at all: "If you could record a demo tape, you were in. They got us in and didn't know what they were getting themselves into". Babeez had entered for two simple reasons. The prizes included amplifiers and microphones; equipment sorely lacking among the impoverished Babeez. As a bonus, these widely promoted shows would give the band a lot more exposure. Babeez were accepted and the battle was to go ahead in January. December 3rd saw what was probably Paul Makeshift's last gig. It was Saturday night, supporting JAB at St Jude's hall in Nth Carlton. There were a few hundred people there and Babeez went down well.

The right equipment

Live sound at this stage was sabotaged by poor, or nonexistent equipment; foldback was strictly a luxury. To rectify these problems took money, which wasn't going to appear overnight. Gavin began theorizing about how Babeez could work without amps, going directly through the PA. It was good audio theory and a realistic answer to the problem. Gavin would soon apply it, with very mixed results. Henry Vyhnal was especially frustrated by the live sound. His violin was being used to good effect through the set; it became an electronic instrument played through a phase shifting pedal which resulted in some bizarre sounds, especially on 'Nobody Wants Me'. The problem was that due to absent or useless foldback, his violin was impossible to tune. It worked in rehearsal, but usually went to pieces live. Henry's job on second guitar also became problematic. Babeez, in recent gigs, were playing incredibly fast. The sound sometimes resembled a blur. Henry simply couldn't keep it up over a few sets, never having played as fast. He decided to drop out in the New Year, especially as Babeez now knew their course and he was never in for all the ride.

Vanguard of the movement

Babeez were now identified as the vanguard of the movement; contemporary publicity material stated: Babeez believe Punk Rock is symbolic of the death of idealism & the birth of destruction reality. Perhaps a little high-sounding, but there was purpose and thought at work in this band. Even so, they were not yet the politically oriented band that 1978 would see. Henry Vyhnal remembers Gavin's profuse compositions being straight pop lyrics more than anything else. For effect, Babeez had begun adopting noms-de-punk. Gavin usually traded as Adam Punk, Gavin Punk or Adam Five. Jarryl, inspired by his showbiz forebears, chose Jarryl Circus. Julie became Julie Joy or Joy Relentless.

John Murphy

John Murphy

Mid-December saw Babeez after another drummer, as Paul Makeshift had exited. They were after someone suitable and permanent; and he found them. It was John Murphy and he was ideal for Babeez at the time. For starters, Murphy was young, but an experienced player. His father was a Jazz drummer and John Murphy was raised behind a kit. Murphy's path had crossed that of the incipient Babeez years ago; in late 1975, John was drumming for a progressively oriented suburban band called Mandrax. They swung the occasional date at the same no-account local halls that the Fallen Angels were playing. Mandrax entered a band competition held at Camberwell Town Hall and were beaten, on this occasion, by Fallen Angels. Murphy also specifically wanted to join a punk band. He liked the music and had been around the scene here. Word reached him via a few acquaintances that Babeez needed a drummer. It was soon apparent that John was, as Gavin said: "Someone who understood our ideas". At the time, John was also offered a job with the Negatives. He was already moonlighting with the Obsessions when regular drummer Peter Cave couldn't play four or five gigs. The Obsessions also included Graham Pitt; once of Antennae and the TV Kids!

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