SEVENTIES Perth punk pioneers The Victims have reformed to record a lost song about Charles Manson—40 years after it was written.
When Manson died on November 19, something weird happened: on every news story about his death, a few strange people would react with crying emojis.
It was a digital extension of an eerie admiration that had followed him for decades, with a veritable flood of fanmail reaching him behind bars.
The sorority killer Ted Bundy had women flirting with him at court, and even the Nighstalker Richard Ramirez, a rapist and serial killer who was described as having a constant “foul smell” about him, got married to an admirer while on death row.
In 1977 when The Victims went to see the movie Helter Skelter, depicting the murder trial of Manson, the cult of personality around him was growing.
The band’s guitarist and vocalist Dave Faulkner said they couldn’t understand why people admired the guy.
“We found it very creepy,” Faulkner says.
‘It’s a very colourful story, and people are interested in that in a macabre way.
“But ultimately you have to be disgusted by the man and what he was doing, you have to think ‘what a bunch of losers’.”
Drummer James Baker wrote the lyrics to the song Charlie, lambasting Manson, who’d instructed his cult members to murder after he got pissy that no one would give him a record deal.
Faulkner put it to music, and they started playing it at their usual haunts like Hernando’s Hideaway above a restaurant in East Perth, and the old Governor Broome Hotel.
The band was influential in the local scene, but short-lived, breaking up after about eight months, following the usual intra-band disagreements and some friction with their bassist.
They went on to other projects. Baker and Faulkner founded Hoodoo Gurus, and Baker would play in a slew of acts including The Scientists and Beasts of Bourbon.
Like many of their songs, Charlie was not recorded before they went their separate ways
“We never recorded much, we only did a single and an EP,” Faulkner says.
“We never made an album which is the biggest regret. If we only had a bit more money to make a record back then.”
In 2014 and 15, Faulkner and Baker got back together and teamed up with Ray Ahn from hardcore punk act the Hard-Ons to perform the 70s era Victims songs under the name “Television Addicts”.
They were warmly received, so they revived the old name The Victims and sold out shows at the Rosemount and Mojos.
And now they’ve recorded some of their old tracks that never made it to tape.
Faulkner says he was able to remember most of the lyrics—the songs were short and punchy—with only one lost to memory.
The day before they were due to start recording in Perth’s RADA Studios, they got news that Manson was dead.
They’ve released the song early to mark the occasion, a bit of metaphorical dancing on his grave, ahead of the rest of the songs.
Faulkner says the band would love to get back into live gigging.
To listen to Charlie on YouTube, search “The Victims-Charlie”, or click on the link on the Perth Voice Facebook page.
by DAVID BELL