Songs don’t get much better than “Shivers,” a song written by Rowland S. Howard originally for his band Young Charlatans in 1978. This song was eventually made famous by The Boys Next Door, in which Howard played guitar. The documentary Autoluminescent, named after Rowland S. Howard’s song on his tour de force Teenage Snuff Film, talks a bit about this song. The Boys Next Door was Nick Cave’s first band and naturally Nick sang the songs. The crux lies in the fact that Rowland had written “Shivers,” but Nick sang it. There’s a really weird music video where Cave has these evocative, swirling hand motions as he croons Howard’s lyrics. But Rowland is barely in the video, though he appears forlorn, aloof, and more than anything alone out of a cornered shot, like one of those lions padding back and forth behind the glass in a much-too-small cage in the big cats section of the zoo. It’s uncanny, and downright sad.
This would be a trend in Howard’s career - something similar to being snubbed. It didn’t take long for Howard to get into junk, which alienated him from a band that revelled in drug use, as the Boys Next Door took a postpunk turn into becoming the Birthday Party. As the band became Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Rowland was kicked out because of drug use and unreliability, though his angular, sinister guitar sound was deeply influential to the Birthday Party as well as postpunk music.
But this demo is where Howard started, before the Boys Next Door, before Crime & The City Solution, before his collaboration with Lydia Lunch or Nikki Sudden, before his solo career. And you can hear similarities to his eventual solo career, albeit with a noisier edge.
You can download the tape for free on the Rowland S Howard Fanpage