1) Hands Up project from Germany. Members - Ronny Bibow & Michael Bein.
2) Sydney. The early 1980s. If you were a fan of live rock and roll and weren’t even peripherally aware of The Hitmen, you desperately needed someone to check your pulse. In fact, you didn’t even have to hail from Sydney - Australia’s most bombastic and cocksure rock outfit toured all over Australia. Relentlessly.
The Hitmen were originally an outgrowth of Radio Birdman, with most of its membership passing through the ranks of what was originally a party band.Their all-enduring member was frontman Johnny Kannis, whose Greek-Australian lineage didn’t preclude him from being a descendant of the Dictators’ Handsome Dick Manitoba and Elvis Presley. He leaned his stagecraft as Radio Birdman’s Master of Ceremonies and one-half of their back-up singers The Glutonics. The other constant in all but one post-Birdman Hitmen line-up was Chris “Klondike” Masuak, a Canadian-born teenage schoolmate of Kannis and close spiritual guitar kin of James Williamson and Ross the Boss.
Johnny and The Hitmen became The Hitmen soon after Birdman collapsed in on itself, reaching well beyond the radiitonal inner-Sydney haunts and staking a claim for the hearts, minds and dancing shoes of suburbia. With high-energy music breaking out all over Australia, The Hitmen became big business, signing to a major label and becoming part of “the industry”. Just the sort of behaviour to burn bridges with fickle inner-city fair-weather friends.Carrying themselves with a swagger born of near fanatical self-belief and arrogantly brushing aside any detractor or musical pretenders deemed to be not up to the mark, The Hitmen were impossible to ignore.
Shifting line-ups and a music business that didn’t know what to do with their derivative but always entertaining stock-in-trade meant The Hitmen never quite broke through to the big time. They were a band that packed ‘em in live but their albums (“The Hitmen”, “It Is What It Is” and “Moronic Inferno” in the studio, “Tora Tora DTK” live) never did the proportionate numbers in sales. Nevertheless, scores of beer and testosterone-fuelled Aussie youths grew up with the hard rock soundtrack that The Hitmen provided ringing in their ears, and discovered some fine music in the deal.
A near fatal car accident in 1983 all but buried Johnny Kannis and the band in the process, but for more than a decade, off-and-on, The Hitmen carried a torch for hi-energy fun. Kannis’ injuries hampered his on-stage activities to the extent that he mostly moved into band management. A farewell tour and the occasional re-emergence (with the appendage “DTK” to the band name, to avoid an overseas copyright clash) kept things simmering into the mid-’90s, when Kannis’ move interstate took the wind out of the sails. Rumblings of a reunion tour have been constant. THE BARMAN thought it was high-time to investigate and document the band’s history in this rare interview with The Hitman himself.