“ In London whatever had been going on with punk had finished - and we hated, really hated what we were hearing, and we hated the place and hated the weather and we hated the fact that we had no money.” - Nick Cave.
Drug sick, flat-broke and suffering from malnutrition, The Birthday Party took their hatred of London and channelled it into a new body of work which demolished everything that had come before them. Their stage shows became closer to auto-destructive art performances than concerts - the band deliberately antagonising and provoking their audience while assaulting them with an apocalyptic maelstrom of sound which belied their deep immersion in the worlds of art, literature and cinema.
Off stage, their lives were little different. The story of The Birthday Party unfolds like a demented, absurdist novel - an utterly compelling, often hilarious tale of epic proportions, spanning three continents and five years.
“ Onto the stage, climb five undesirable aliens. One, festooned in split-crotch gold lame drainpipes, his bruised features twitching through black frames of hair, appears to be the singer. Another, strapping on a bass guitar like a giant dildo, sports a fishnet vest, a Stetson, and a sort of moustache you might cultivate for hustling meat on Christophe Street. Perhaps most disturbing of all, a kind of gangling, psychotic hillbilly in a ridiculous suit is fastening on a guitar like he was auditioning for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hell, they haven’t even played a note and already half the crowd is filing out. “ - NME Concert Review : The Ritz, New York, 1981
MUTINY IN HEAVEN : THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
Formed in Melbourne, Australia in the late 1970s The Birthday Party were one of the most influential acts of their time. From humble beginnings in suburban Melbourne they grew to command a level of respect around the world which remains undiminished to this day. Fuelled by the incendiary relationship between vocalist Nick Cave and guitarist Rowland S. Howard, The Birthday Party were frequently described as the most dangerous band in the world.
Nick Cave – Vocals
Phill Calvert – Drums
Mick Harvey – Guitar, Drums
Rowland S. Howard – Guitar
Tracy Pew – Bass
Having emerged from the ashes of Cave and Harvey’s first punk-pop band, The Boys Next Door and morphed into The Birthday Party, they quickly rose to become one of the most lauded post-punk bands in the country. Motivated, ambitious and riding high on their success, the group decided to relocate to London - where a totally different reality awaited them. Scorned by the British music press and unable to obtain more than a handful of gigs, the band’s fortunes collapsed as they froze and starved in a series of ever more squalid bedsits and squats.
Relocating to Berlin in 1983 the band recorded their greatest works before self-destructing under the very forces which had driven them to their highest peaks.
“We felt that we were the only real rock band in the world - with all the things that rock music was supposed to encapsulate - and we wanted to take it further and make it even more larger than life. “ - Rowland S Howard.
The story of The Birthday Party’s ascent, apex and inevitable collapse is a thrilling tale of epic struggle, artistic genius and total dysfunctionality.
“Bashed up in police stations, dehumanised in rehabs, near-death experiences, suicidal thoughts, routine overdoses, reduced motivation, broken bones, being ripped off, liking Charles Bukowski, social and physical anhedonia, herd mentality, dead friends, fucked-up relationships, abscesses, car accidents, psychosis, reading The Hobbit, malnutrition, creative impotence, epic time-wasting, talking shit, life-threatening diseases, and not ringing my mother on her birthday.” - Nick Cave
Told in the group’s own words, Mutiny In Heaven brings the band’s story to the screen for the first time. This is a twisted tale of ascent, realisation and implosion whilst dealing with issues of artistic muse, creativity, addiction, fame, interpersonal conflict and the unique relationship between creative vision and self-destruction - all underpinned by the dark, wry humour of the individual band members.
Utilising exclusive, incredibly candid interviews, a wealth of rare and unseen archive, original artwork, unreleased tracks, studio footage, animation and multimedia content - the film is as visually rich as it is narratively riveting - a revealing look back at its key members’ origins, dreams, hopes and motivations.
Original Archive Material:
The Birthday Party’s entire catalogue of recorded works, rare and unseen archive footage, original artwork, unreleased tracks, live recordings, studio footage of the band at work, a comprehensive cache of never before seen letters and correspondence, diaries, original animation and multimedia content.
The film also includes a series of exclusive interviews with all the surviving band members. Rowland S. Howard’s presence in the film is made possible by a series of highly revealing, previously unseen seen interviews filmed shortly before his passing in 2010, filmed by Lindsay Gravina
GRAPHIC ARTIST :
GREG BLAKEY, IAN WHITE
WIM WENDERS, MICK HARVEY, MICHAEL MURPHY, BILL LORD, STUART SOUTER, JENNY O'SHEA
AARON J. MARCH
AUSTRALIA / 2023 / 99 MINUTES / COLOUR & B&W / 16:9 / 2K DCP / 5.1 Sound
IAN WHITE - DIRECTOR
Ian White is an award-winning, internationally recognised filmmaker.
His work has received numerous awards over the years, including a BANF World Media Award for best documentary of the year, several Asian TV awards and a Hero Award at the 2018 Monte Carlo TVFF. His 2015 feature, 'BEFORE THE FALL,' was an official entry in the 89th Academy Awards 2017.
He has directed and produced theatrical feature films and network television content in over 15 countries throughout the world. His work has been described as visually striking and immensely thought-provoking.
Regularly commissioned by the United Nations to produce documentary work, his most powerful films have been mentioned in UN security council meetings. His journeys have taken him through combat zones, refugee camps and some of the most isolated areas on the planet. He has filmed alongside bomb disposal squads, mine clearance teams and medical units in both remote and hostile environments.
Ian White began his career as a graphic designer for Smash Hits magazine in Australia. He went on to become art director for record labels Mushroom and Polydor, where he was nominated five times for ARIA awards and was published in the prestigious international design annual Graphis.