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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.”

Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips caught up with the pair via Zoom for a chat about their careers, their gear and the new album

More about James Williamson, Deniz Tek and the album:
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, by some strange quirk of fate (namely a lengthy family stay in Sydney in 1967 which precipitated his move to study medicine at the University of NSW Australia at the age of 19 in 1972), was starting to introduce the 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 symbolic significance that reflects the Stooges’ influence on Tek’s band Radio Birdman, and in turn the Stooges’ and Birdman’s shared influence on a notable thread of Australian rock that has continued since the mid-‘70s.

More than most bands, Birdman championed the artists that influenced them. And the Stooges influenced Birdman’s incendiary style more than anyone: Radio Birdman’s very name came from a (mis-heard) Stooges lyric, and the opening track on their first album was 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 Hoodoo Gurus to the Celibate Rifles to Bored – have all 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 00’s 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 Sydney 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 mid-70s trip home, 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 was a Stooge briefly, standing in for Ron 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 a couple of years back. But it is the first time that Williamson and Tek – a Stooge and Birdman – have collaborated as partners on a full album of new original material.

Williams 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!

Watch the video for “Stable”:

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