D//E Select: The Boys Next Door: Door, Door

From time to time, Destroy//Exist shines a light on an album which has profoundly influenced the music we value the most. D//E Select serves as a commendatory showcase, offering the chance to spotlight those favorites which deserve continual recognition.

Before The Birthday Party, there was The Boys Next Door. The core members initially met at Caulfield Grammar School in suburban Melbourne during the early 1970s, comprising Nick Cave on vocals, Mick Harvey on guitar, and Phill Calvert on drums, along with fellow students John Cocivera, Brett Purcell, and Chris Coyne on guitar, bass, and saxophone respectively. As students, they formed a rock band in 1973, embracing an art rock approach influenced by glam rock and early punk.

The band was heavily influenced by the burgeoning punk scene in Australia in the mid-seventies, especially by acts like The Saints and Radio Birdman. The Boys Next Door began to gain traction performing covers of punk and proto-punk songs, establishing themselves on the live circuit.

In June 1978, the band as a quartet, recorded a full album's worth of material. Shortly after, Rowland S. Howard joined as a second guitarist, and the group to discarded half of the previously recorded songs and replace them with five new tracks in January 1979. These new tracks comprised side two of the eventual LP release.

With Howard's addition, the band underwent a significant evolution creatively, drawing from punk, rock 'n' roll, jazz and blues influences, and their sound was pretty tough to pinpoint.

Door, Door is a showcase of a group of young musicians in the process of self-discovery. While the record may not have achieved lasting acclaim, it undeniably reveals the poetic sensibilities of its creators, as well as the croon and the dark nature of the inimitable poet, writer, vocalist and well rounded artist that was Cave, an icon in the making. At the same time, Rowland S. Howard's songwriting genius also shines, particularly on Shivers, The Boys' most celebrated song, written by Howard at a time when he was a member of The Obsessions.

Nick Cave's comments on the album, made a little later in the early eighties, are not at all favorable: "We were adolescents and very late developers. There was a period where we were confused and had a lot of problems and we put out an album like Door, Door which is a product of all those things. I mean, it was a complete wet dream that record. I hate it. It reeks of a band trying to be musically intelligent and write clever, witty lyrics. It's a complete wank."
The Boys Next Door circa 1978, photo credit unknown.

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