By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor
Unbelievably Bad photographer Rod Hunt recently dug up some killer prints of Aussie punk pioneers Rocks and their crowd that he shot at The Royal Hotel, Sutherland, in 1989.
Rocks were locals from the Sutherland Shire, southern Sydney, and the band’s leader and mainstay, Bill Posters, recalled the days of The Royal for UB.
BILL POSTERS: “Right up until they started having bands, the Royal was pretty much a hangout for all the rougher element of Sutherland’s locals. In fact, the east side of Sutherland where it is located was known as the area where you could easily get in strife if you didn’t know the right people, so I was very sceptical when I heard they were putting on bands there, especially punk bands. I could see the locals being OK if the bands played stuff like Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath but I was certain they would not accept punk under any circumstances. They just weren’t into that at that time.”
“Anyway, I waited to hear some reports from the early gigs before I thought about even going to have a look. I had visions of all-in brawls and a very short run as a live venue but I was surprised when I heard it was doing well.
“I went over one night to see for myself. I got there before the bands started and the first thing I noticed was a rugged looking bunch playing pool right next to the stage. By their clothes and hair I knew they weren’t into punk so I really didn’t have high hopes for the night, but when the bands started they just moved in to the next bar and didn’t cause any trouble at all. That really surprised me and night went off without a hitch.”
“When we did our first gig there I can remember feeling quite confident until I noticed that the pool players were still there while we were playing. I kept my eye on them, expecting trouble anytime, and suddenly one of them stopped playing pool and came up on the stage right next to me midway through a song. When the song ended this bloke put his hand on my shoulder and I thought, ‘Here we go’’, but all he did was ask me to say happy birthday over the PA to one of his mates. Well, I was happy to oblige and once I did it he walked off happy and the rest of the night went fine.”
“I did see trouble with the locals was one night when some skinheads came down and I heard one them had upset one of the locals somehow. I saw these skinheads sitting at a table when one of the locals went over and pushed one off his chair and dragged him outside where I heard the skinhead got a beating. Apart from that all the gigs I saw there went well with no problems at all.”
The latest edition of Unbelievably Bad features an in-depth interview with Bill about witnessing the birth of punk and its many subsequent deaths. Issue #18, on sale now.