IT'S A DOG'S LIFE
INTERVIEW WITH ROB THE RADIODOG FROM THE BUCK ROGERS RAVERS
It was 1993 and 1994 and I used to listen to 2SER on the radio and nearly every week would hear 'Rob the RadioDog' giving shouts out to his crew the Buck Rogers ravers. Often criptic messages and I imagined just how sorted this group of ravers were. Then when they started advertising their rave 'Astral Flight' and we were all eager to see what these space travellers had in store for us. They didn't let us down! Later that same year they staged PleasureDome '94 with DJ Slipmatt and then in early 1995 put on 'A Perfect World'. These parties would go down in history. When you look up warehouse rave in the dictionary, there is a picture of a Buckies party. They went all out with production, sound and DJ talent that guarenteed that we all had a wicked night. We had a chat with Rob the RadioDog and his part in helping organise such awesome events.
Fav Party Jeez, tough one to start ... Chaos 3, 1995 Sleazeball, Happy Valley 2
Fav Venue State Sports Centre, any warehouse in Alexandria
Fav Track Honestly can't pick one
Fav Genre Piano/Italo
Fav DJ Do I really have to pick one? Pee Wee ;)
Can you tell about Buck Rogers Ravers and how it all began?
The Buck Rogers Ravers started after a chance meeting of old school friends at Tribal's First Birthday in 1993. There was John the Sneaky Greek, Steve Bloxta, Michael Placebo Man and myself, Rob The RadioDog. But the Buckies were a much larger group that included all of our friends and many other ravers. Without them, we would not have put on the parties that we did.
How did you start getting into raves? Do you remember your first rave?
Would have been in 1992, my first party being Ov Thee Earth Tribe in the Glebe Island grain silos. A friend from uni took me and he's still reminding me of that fact!
What parties did you put on?
Our first rave was Astral Flight, under the old Saloon Bar in Camperdown, Then Pleasuredome94 in a warehouse in Leumeah. The final party was A Perfect World out west as well.
What do you think set the Buck Rogers Ravers apart from other parties?
I think we were one of the first local crews, made up of ravers who wanted to put on parties for other ravers.
Explain to us how did promoters go about obtaining warehouses to stage their events in? The story at the time was people posed as someone who needed a warehouse for whatever when meeting real estate agents and paid the bonds and a month’s rent up front? Was this just an urban myth?
There seemed to be a few real estate agents that knew what we were doing and we managed to find them when we needed a venue. We always paid in cash and always paid extra for unseen expenses. Another issue was dealing with bikies. Our security involved bikers and so when we went out west we had to make sure it was cool with the local motorcycle clubs. Was a bit hair-raising at times.
What was the hardest part of promoting?
The hardest part? Setting up and bumping out. There's always people willing to hand out flyers and stickers, wear the t-shirt and be a scene-queen but when it came to doing hard work you'd often find it was only a small crew who would be around ... especially Sunday afternoon when you still had to pack the truck and clean out the warehouse!
Run us through how you organise a party, was it different each time or essentially the same process, from conception till party and after. Was there alot of thought put into OHS, first aid, safety codes etc?
It's such a huge process to put on a successful party. Firstly there's months of promoting and hyping the event. There's clubs and parties to hand flyers out at and radio shows to get. The Buckies used to have weekly meetings where we would run through what had to be done. There was no real OH&S and we thought we covered our arses by have St John's on site and getting insurance.
Was there money to be made from promoting and running a rave in the 90's? How much did it cost to put on a rave?
Sure there was money to be made, but I never saw any of it. A decent sized party (up to 5000 people) would cost $50,000 to $100,000 or more. Lighting and production always cost a big chunk of that as well as the cost of the venue. But being young and dumb we never had that kind of money so there were always backers circling around.
Did you ever mix at your parties?
No, I was a bit of a spastic on the decks.
Did you attend other raves? If so what was one of your favs? Who did you admire as a promoter?
Part of being a good promoter, I think, is being out there every week pushing your name, your brand, your next party. For a few years in the early 90s we were out 4 or 5 nights a week. We'd see our friends, other promoters, and it was a great scene - Plus8, Alphabet Soup, Happiest People, Smurf Village, MDMA
Give us a feeling for what it was like being a promoter back in the day, did you all work together or was there a fierce rivalry going on between promoters?
I always felt that the Buckies were part of the first wave of local rave promoters after the English crews. Back then there wasn't that much rivalry. It wasn't that we all sat in a circle and worked out how we were going to do things but we were aware of who wanted to do what and when.
Tony Papworth did get all the promoters in one room at the Graffiti Hall for a Ravers Rights Action Group meeting once. It was just before Astral Flight and we were shit scared of having our party shut down. But there were all of Sydney's promoters in one room ... if the cops had come and arrested everone there would have been no parties in Sydney for a long while.
What was the worst thing about promoting raves in the 90s?
Nothing, I had the time of my life back then.
Did you get shut down much by the authorities? What was the conversation like when they turned up.
Astral Flight was held in a venue owned by a retired policeman, so we had no dramas there. At Pleasuredome the extra rental fees seemed to sort out any issues with the authorities but a couple of the Buckies got done at A Perfect World and had to face the local council in court.
The movie Groove made famous the notion of promoters doing it all for the nod, for the love of the punter...was it like that for you?
Pretty much. I would have loved to have made money, made a careeer out of promoting and producing events but in the end I was a raver that enjoyed partying as much as the people who came to our events.
What was your favourite memory from a rave.
Too many good memories to single out just one
What are you up to these days?
I'm a graphic artist for a major daily newspaper. I fell into design when I worked for 3D World after I finished promoting. My partner and I bought a house in Earlwood a couple of years ago and we just had our first child, a boy in April 2014
What sort of music do you listen to now?
Anything and everything. I especially like tracks where I can hear a sample that's been lifted for an old skool rave tune.
Thanks for your time Rob :-)