The Birthday Party (originally known as The Boys Next Door) were an Australian post-punk band, active from 1978 to 1983. Despite limited commercial success, The Birthday Party’s influence has been far-reaching, and they have been called “one of the darkest and most challenging post-punk groups to emerge in the early ’80s.” The group’s “bleak and noisy soundscapes,” which drew irreverently on blues, free jazz, and rockabilly, provided the setting for vocalist Nick Cave’s disturbing tales of violence and perversion. Their music has been described by critic Simon Reynolds as gothic, and their single “Release the Bats” was particularly influential on the emerging gothic scene.
In 1980, The Birthday Party moved from Melbourne to London, where they were championed by broadcaster John Peel. Disillusioned by their stay in London, the band’s sound and live shows became increasingly violent. They broke up soon after relocating to West Berlin in 1982. The creative core of The Birthday Party – singer and songwriter Nick Cave, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Mick Harvey, and singer, songwriter and guitarist Rowland S. Howard – later went on to acclaimed careers.