Rowland S. Howard
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|Rowland S. Howard|
|Birth name||Rowland Stuart Howard|
24 October 1959|
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Died||30 December 2009
Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
|Instruments||Guitar, organ, vocals|
|Associated acts||The Birthday Party
The Boys Next Door
Crime & the City Solution
These Immortal Souls
|Ibanez No. 2348
Rowland Stuart Howard (24 October 1959 – 30 December 2009) was an Australian rock musician, guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work with the post-punk group The Birthday Party and his subsequent solo career.
Rowland Stuart Howard wrote "Shivers" at the age of 16 while in the band The Young Charlatans. Howard gained acclaim after joining Melbourne-based band The Boys Next Door, when the song was released as a single. The band changed their name to The Birthday Party and Howard's discordant guitar remained a major factor in their sound.
The Birthday Party relocated from Australia to London in 1980 and subsequently to West Berlin which they found to be a cooler version of Melbourne (and preferable to London) and came complete with inspiring Berlin types.
The Birthday Party's live performances were wickedly gleeful romps. They drew on a very wide span of influences; from The Stooges to Jacques Brel and often to frightening effect fueled by drugs and alcohol. They were considered hugely influential on the world music scene before their self-destruction and the rifts occasioned by Nick Cave's ever expanding artistic diversions.
The Birthday Party's early records were released by Missing Link Records in Australia and 4AD Records in the UK. They later became associated with Mute Records in Europe. Howard and Cave suffered 'creative differences', and Howard left the Birthday Party as they transformed into The Bad Seeds. He soon became a member of Crime & the City Solution, a band led by Simon Bonney. Later he formed These Immortal Souls with girlfriend Genevieve McGuckin, brother, Harry Howard, and Epic Soundtracks.
Howard also collaborated with Lydia Lunch, Nikki Sudden, Jeremy Gluck, French electro group KaS Product, Barry Adamson, Einstürzende Neubauten, guitarist Chris Haskett, The Gun Club singer and songwriter Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Fad Gadget, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Henry Rollins, and A.C. Marias. He was described by Sam Agostino as 'one of the most influential indie guitarists ever'.
Lydia Lunch and Thurston Moore recorded a version of Howard's song "Still Burning" ('I catch most things in my blood you all lose between rooms') for Lunch's In Limbo (1984) mini-album. "Still Burning" had previously been recorded as a bass-heavy track with Howard on vocals, during the Honeymoon In Red recording sessions (1983–1987).
These Immortal Souls released their first album Get Lost, (Don't Lie!) in 1987 and played shows in Europe and America, returning to Australia for a short tour in 1988.
After the release of These Immortal Souls' second album, I'm Never Gonna Die Again, (1992) and another Howard/Lunch collaboration Shotgun Wedding, Howard, Lunch and members of The Beasts Of Bourbon performed live on tour in Australia and Europe. Shotgun Wedding was re-released with a second compact disc of live recordings. Shotgun Wedding was a swaggering rock 'n' roll album featuring cover versions of "In My Time of Dying" and Alice Cooper's "Black Juju".
Howard sang backing vocals on the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album Let Love In (1994). In 1995 These Immortal Souls contributed their version of "You Can't Unring a Bell" to a Tom Waits tribute album Step Right Up.
He left London to return to Melbourne in 1995.
Paul Godfrey a.k.a. Epic Soundtracks, the drummer for These Immortal Souls, was found dead in his London apartment on 5 November 1997, shortly after a relationship break-up, a successful tour, and the release of the third of his solo albums.
Howard lamented in a 1999 television interview (Studio 22, ABCTV) with Clinton Walker that people still asked him about "Shivers", a song he wrote when he was sixteen years old which first became well-known when it was sung by Nick Cave. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7ChSy6FhxQ
An unofficial Rowland S. Howard fan website was established as the amount of Rowland S. Howard related information and file swapping grew steadily on the internet from the mid-1990s. Howard made a cameo appearance in the 2002 vampire movie Queen of the Damned as a musician in a vampire club band. French label Stagger Records released a double CD tribute album to Howard in 2007 featuring Mick Harvey, The Drones, The Holy Soul, Penny Ikinger, Loene Carmen, Nikki Sudden, Noah Taylor and many more.
In September 2007, Howard joined with Magic Dirt and Beasts of Bourbon for a tour of the east coast of Australia. Howard appeared at the All Tomorrows Parties rock festival in Australia in January 2009, curated by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He was backed by Mick Harvey on drums, and JP Shilo on bass. Howard's second solo album, Pop Crimes, was released in October 2009 to acclaim from the musician Robert Forster (musician). He appeared on the Magic Dirt EP White Boy playing guitar and supplying vocals on the track "Summer High".
Rowland S. Howard died of hepatocellular carcinoma secondary to liver cirrhosis on 30 December 2009. He was 50 years old. His public funeral was held at Sacred Heart Church, St Kilda, Melbourne on 7 January 2010.
In an October 2009 interview, Howard said that the forthcoming album he was working on (Pop Crimes) was recorded quickly: "I contracted liver disease a while back and I've basically got liver cancer, I'm waiting for a transfer, if I don't get it things might not go so well...so..." .
His Birthday Party band mates reflected upon his death: Nick Cave told WENN, "This is very sad news. Rowland was Australia's most unique, gifted and uncompromising guitarist. He was also a good friend. He will be missed by many". Mick Harvey remarked, "Sometimes people are ready to go because they have been sick for a long time, but Rowland really wanted to live. Things were going well for him outside his health and he wanted to take advantage of that, and he was very disappointed that he wasn't well enough to do so".
In October 2011, filmmaker Richard Lowenstein (Dogs in Space) and Lynn-Maree Milburn (We're Living on Dogfood - documentary maker), released a 110 minute documentary film on the life of Rowland S. Howard titled Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard which had a limited release for cinema. On April 24, 2013, Port Phillip Council approved a proposal to name a St Kilda laneway Rowland S. Howard Lane to honour Howard's contribution to the St Kilda music scene.
Band history 
- Tootho and the Ring of Confidence, with band members including Simon McLean and Clint Small
- The Obsessions, with band members including Simon McLean and Graham Pitt
- The Young Charlatans, with band members including Ollie Olsen
- The Boys Next Door: members Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Tracy Pew, and Phill Calvert
- The Birthday Party, with the same band members
- Honeymoon In Red, released as a Lydia Lunch album, Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, J.G. Thirlwell, Thurston Moore, Murray Mitchell, Tracy Pew, Genevieve McGuckin (Nick Cave and Mick Harvey are uncredited on the album)
- Crime & the City Solution, with band members Simon Bonney, Bronwyn Adams, Mick Harvey, Alexander Hacke, Epic Soundtracks, Harry Howard
- These Immortal Souls, with band members Genevieve McGuckin, Harry Howard, Epic Soundtracks
- Nikki Sudden and the Jacobites
- Teenage Snuff Film, (Rowland S. Howard solo album featuring Mick Harvey and Brian Hooper)
- Pop Crimes, (Rowland S. Howard's second solo album featuring Mick Harvey, JP Shilo and Jonnine Standish of HTRK)
Film roles 
- We're Living on Dog Food, 2009
- Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard, 2011
- Ibanez No. 2348 guitar, a copy of the Firebird model originally made by Gibson. He used it in his early days in the Australian rock scene, while he was member of Young Charlatans and The Boys Next Door, being inspired by Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music.
- Fender Jaguar guitar. It was a post-1966 Fender guitar, from the CBS era. Considered as his main guitar, Howard got it in 1978.
- Fender Twin Reverb amplifier (1970's model with master volume). Rowland used these amps almost exclusively throughout his career.
- MXR Blue Box effects pedal. Many of his trademark distortion excursions were assisted by this guitar pedal.
- MXR Distortion + effects pedal. Almost as essential in Howard's rig as his Jaguar.
Production credits 
- Autoluminescent Film Review in The Age Newspaper http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/movies/autoluminescent-20111029-1mpe4.html
- Rowland S. Howard Laneway Approved By Port Phillip Council in Tonedeaf http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/news/local-news/296496/rowland-howard-laneway-approved-council.htm
- Nick Cave's Right-Hand Man: Remembering Rowland S Howard
- Rowland S. Howard at the Internet Movie Database
- Rowland S. Howard on MySpace
- Rowland S. Howard on You Tube
- Outta The Black & Into The Ether: A Rowland S. Howard Web Site
- Autoluminescent Official Website
- Autoluminescent on IMDB
- Hero to the Australian underground (obituary), The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 January 2010]
- Rowland S. Howard - 1959-2009 (obituary), Amoeba Music
Further reading / bibliography 
- Extensive archival information on www.burning-heart.net
- From Pop to Punk to Postmodernism: Popular Music and Australian Culture from the 1960s to the 1990s, (Edited by Philip Hayward).
- Bad Seed: A biography of Nick Cave, Ian Johnston (1995).
- Future Pop: Music for the Eighties, Peter Noble (1983)
- Stranded: The Secret History of Australian Independent Music 1977–1991, Clinton Walker.
- Incriminating Evidence, Lydia Lunch. Last Gasp Books.
- Nikki Sudden weblog.
- Nikki Sudden quote taken from Nikki Sudden weblog, 23 March 2006.
- Tape Delay: Confessions From The Eighties Underground, Charles Neal.
- Fast Forward, Tape Zine, Melbourne, edited by Bruce Milne