On Monday, September 15th I saw an innocuous Facebook post by Doo Ragnarok, aka Duane Zarakov, aka Pat Faigan – a fairly typical post by Pat, who spends a great chunk of the day posting excellent youtube clips of classic songs – in this case The Great Unwashed‘s ‘Born in the Wrong Time’, which is one of my all time favorite songs, Kiwi or otherwise.
However the responses to this wonderful song were different than usual – a whole heap of sad comments. This is how I found out Peter Gutteridge – founding member of The Clean, The Chills, The Great Unwashed and his own group Snapper – had passed away that morning.
Pretty soon the rest of the world had caught up on Peter’s passing – Simon Sweetman seemed to have the first story online about his passing, and this interview from Mess and Noise back in April last year seems to be the most informative insight online in to who I believed to be New Zealand’s greatest song-writer.
I took the photo above back in 2012 after catching Peter play a live acoustic set at Christchurch’s Darkroom Bar back in 2012 – Peter was very conscientious about his appearance, making sure I drew as much of the ample character in his face as possible. I got just two shots; the above color shot which seems to portray fire and brimstone, a swaggering but downtrodden character. However the 2nd shot I took (below) seems to show another side of Peter – there is warmth and frailty in his eyes – a complete transformation.
Considering the depth of Peter’s music, this transformation is not surprising. Though known for the huge walls of feedback and straight for the jugular approach of songs like The Clean’s ‘Point That Thing somewhere Else’ (which he was always keen to remind us – he wrote at the age of 17), he also had a deeply emotional, quiet side – Snapper’s ‘Gentle Hour’ and several of the Great Unwashed’s song hint at this.
I managed to catch Peter playing a couple times in the past 2 years, with the reformed Snapper playing at the 2013 Camp A Low Hum being a particular highlight – it was great to see Peter passing the baton to a new generation of Dunedin kids, with a backing band that included Bad Sav‘s Hope Robertson and Though Creature‘s Danny Brady.
So Monday was a very sad day in New Zealand Music. We’ve lot one of our greats, a fantastic song-writer that has just begun to resurface after a long absence from the public eye.
Japanese noise legend Merzbow, comes to Christchurch.
Opening with an excellent set from Stanier Black-Five (check out her new inner-city listening-post / wine-bar venue The Auricle) producing out-there sounds with a heavy locomotive motif, and US-born Rotorua act Acclimate, who’s approach was more beat orientated and featured some pretty out-there video accompaniment.
Merzbow himself created a cacophony of noise at his requisite thunderous volume utilizing all analogue electronics, custom built for his specific requirements including an electric pseudo-banjo looking device crafted from what looks like a pot and springs.
Headliners Thrill Collins are comprised of Ex-Christchurch folk Jos Van Beek (vocals and discordant, not-really-guitar-at-all guitar) and Nick Robinson (rhythmic, gnarly bass), plus slinky local drummer Ben Dodd. The trio have existed in name-only fashion for quite some time, though eventually the single ‘I eat pretty well for a poor person’ established their sound back in 2010. With Jos and Nick both moving about the North Island, last nights show was essentially a reunion.
The always terrific Log Horn Breed opened the show, toning down the frantic feeling of previous performances to a tight, explosive set of songs. Recalling the grooves and guitar of the Birthday Party with shout-spoken storylike vocals and a bunch of interesting noise thrown in for good measure. Love these guys.
Speaking of Love – local singer-songwriter Brian Feary debuted his new stage persona ‘Brian Luv’, dressed to the nines and performing covers in a swarthy showman type way, even ending the night with a swag of Karaoke favourites, climbing the bar and wooing the ladies. Nice!
[Interview and Article by Andrew Barry, Photos by Christopher Andrews]
Meeting with the members of Christian Rock at their spiritual (and in some cases literal) home of All Plastics Recording it is immediately clear that the band is no marriage of convenience, or mere side project.
The three musicians in Christian Rock are all at ease with each other as coffee, cigarettes, easy banter and self-deprecating wit flows. Rhett Copland, Jamie Larson and Brian Feary are all well-established members of Christchurch’s Indie scene, and despite busy musical schedules they get plenty from this latest endeavor.
I’m with them, ostensibly to discuss the lack of music venues in Christchurch but conversation jumps from left to right with ease and a sense of fun.
Topics covered include;
Withering (and deserved) put-downs of sacred local music cows [for names of whom, send me a fiver].
The ups and downs of the internet for musicians.
The horror that is Nelson, (“It’s shit, and too many people hate me” – Copland)
The merits of various member’s potential careers as gigolos, and broadcasters, Rhett not so great – (“I’d be a shit gigolo, id care about myself, not her needs”) and Jamie, pretty good (he’s a student at the New Zealand Broadcasting School).
This is before concluding finally in a revealing run through of the inside the actors studio 10 questions. That might just come later, and it’s a superb little pop psychology quiz.
This many paragraphs in is probably a few too late, but it’s perhaps about time to explain quite who and what Christian Rock are. They’re good friends, music obsessives, and to boot (as Copland says); “Everyone’s having fun playing.”
This sense of fun, and slightly warped humour is evident from the off, the band’s name and song titles have been described as Brilliant by Russell Brown, and I’m not about to pick a fight on such a clear-cut issue, he’s right, plus, regardless who am I to argue with the doyen of New Zealand’s blogosphere.
Rhett says the name partially comes from memories I’m sure we all share of Rockquest days where “When you’re 16, anything rock or from out of town is legit” and the inherent humour which surrounds everything in that competition,
Call me cynical or a pushover but once again I’m not going to argue that point, because for all its good, there’s something adorably and endearingly witty about Rockquest, even if it’s often by accident. Furthermore it’s hard to take issue with Copland when he says “I found Christian Rock (The genre) really funny then, and I do now”.
Christian Rock the band though, are funnily enough, a Rock n Roll group made up of atheists, described by their drummer as basically “Being more of a child-like form” than the member’s collective and numerous other projects, and “A return to guitars after the Sonics of the likes of Phobos Eros” by their vocalist.
These quotes aren’t meant to imply the band isn’t taken seriously, but rather that it opens up avenues for three talented guys to scratch musical itches they otherwise might not be able to reach.
Punk, psycho-Billy and garage rock feature on the menu, with Bob Log III cited as a key influence. All of the above can be heard in the strident ‘We’ll meet at Riccarton Mall to fuck” some would argue the band’s legacy is safe already, just through having had a song of such a name grace the airwaves of National Radio.
But there’s more in store, the irreverent sensibilities of the band saw the first practice yield three songs from the ether, with multi-instrumentalists Copland and Feary enjoying the challenges and excitement of (surprisingly after so many band’s each) playing as a duo of guitarists for the first time.
The band is featured on [Joe Sampson’s new Christchurch-based label] Melted Ice Cream’s brilliant recent compilation, Sickest Smashes from Arson City. Sampson sums things up perfectly by stating of Copland “It’s the most energetic I’ve heard him”
Rhett Copland, self-described as musically skitzo, but better known for languid psychedelica, superb shoegaze and introspective soundscapes is firmly in more of a rowdy mode here, backed up by the equal parts perfect time keeping and machine gunning of Larson’s drumming, not to mention the versatility and force of Feary’s guitar playing.
The aesthetic of the band at this stage in their early development is just as tightly formed and well-rounded as the lack of fat on the bones of their tunes -pieces that are more missives than songs really.
Christian Rock themselves claim that it’s simply “Been fucking fun, and it’s too early (for the band) to be anything” but the early songs and presentation hint at a manifesto, and plenty more incendiary musical nuggets ahead.
Artwork features the takes of several celebrity fans about the group and the knowing touch of ‘Professional band’ is added to their official Facebook handle.
This band is simply three guys having a good time making music together; and that is about as pure a motivation as there is left in contemporary music (which on the whole is just “There to sell cars”). However, because of the intelligence and passion of the members it transcends what in lesser hands could be a cliché.
Rhett’s right in saying Its unusual to be this invested – especially in a time where the general public aren’t and so much music is simply there (as Feary puts it); merely “Written to be played to a crowd”, this is not to mention Copland’s point that “No one in New Zealand music’s made money except Dave Dobbyn”.
However, we should be thankful for the trio’s investment, as short, sharp, fun but fiery bursts of Rock n Roll courtesy of Christian Rock might just be the kick up the ass a willing, but still broken and tired Christchurch City needs.
Copland says that listening to music “You can tell when there’s genuine intent.” Those who have taken to Christian Rock so far know that intent is unmistakable, but Garden City listeners’ best make the most of this, at least in the live arena while they can; a move to Auckland, for greater access to festivals, and a more receptive audience is pencilled in for 2014.
Click here for more images from the Sickest Smashes from Arson City compilation album release party.
In 2001 the then Olympia, Washington based group The Microphones would release what would become their most critically acclaimed release – the phenomenal double-album ‘The Glow Pt. 2’. Receiving rave revues and even topping influential independent taste-making magazine Pitchfork’s end-of-year album list, the album was at the time the best indication of Phil Elverum’s considerable talent as a singer, songwriter and producer.
Elverum was essentially the only core member of the group, and with 2003’s thematically appropriate album ‘Mount Eerie’ (the narrative of the album involves Elverum death, before discovering the face of the Universe) he decided to conclude the group, with subsequent material released under the name Mount Eerie. This new moniker implies a more solitary approach from Elverum, and also emphasises Elverum’s connection to outdoors, evoking scenes of foggy mountain-tops, rustling wind and dark nights.
Touring New Zealand under the Mount Eerie name before concluding at the excellent annual festival Camp A Low Hum – Elverum played a terrific show at Lyttelton’s Wunderbar, ably supported by Wellington-based singer-songwriter Seth Frightening. With audience members attentively crowding around the stage, Elvrum ran through 12 songs of sheer beauty and feeling. Most songs came from the thematically-separated recent albums ‘Clear Moon’ and ‘Ocean Roar’, but a few earlier numbers were thrown in for good measure.
Elverum played shimmery 12-string guitar, occasionally tempered with bursts of loud reverb, whilst his soft, boyish vocals weaved stories on top. From the softer, welcoming sounds of Clear Moon to the dark and tumultuous scenes of Ocean’s Roar – Elverum is a master of evoking imagery and feeling. I had the great pleasure of catching Mount Eerie a further two times on the tour, with Elverum consistently delighting crowds.
Wow it certainly has been a long time since I’ve contributed to thebigcity – sorry about that. It’s been a pretty quiet holiday break in Christchurch, at least musically – however I’m really looking forward to Mount Eerie’s tour and of course the great annual trip to Camp A Low Hum – both in February.
Last week however I had the great privilege to catch the latest line-up of Bill Direen’s might group the Bilders. Direen’s back catalog of fantastic songs (‘Do the Alligator’, ‘Love in the Retail Trade’, ‘Sad But True’ etc) is truly immense and this sharp three piece pulled out all the pieces.
Word has it their drummer (and fantastic film-maker) Stuart Page was in a car accident earlier in the week and shouldn’t have been playing, but he soldiered on anyway. It was also fantastic to see Christchurch legend Mick Elborado back on stage, playing bass the way only Mick can play – he contorted and tore up that ‘Mickenbacker’ on the more excitable numbers. Direen himself was relaxed and demur up front, leading the fellas through-out the night.
The dynamic duo of T’Nealle Joie (Bang! Bang! Eche!) and Jasper Bryant-Greene (who ran the Gold Sounds record label, releasing T54’s first recordings) saw a hole in the Christchurch Music and entertainment market after the earthquakes of February 2011. With virtually no live music venues in the city and very little night-life to speak of, the pair leased ‘The Archive’, a multi-use venue on St Asaph Street, initially with a warehouse all-ages event that featured the Transistors, Bang! Bang! Eche! and Valdera. After a refit the Archive would go on to encompass the venerable Galaxy Records, a studio for the RDU radio station, the art space Room 4, and perhaps most importantly, the Darkroom.
Back in October 2011 the new bar opened with the experimental sounds of US sound artist C Spencer Yeh and a very special sell out show from Christchurch’s own Bachelorette. Over the course of the last year the venue has not only grown in reputation as Christchurch’s finest local venue for independent music, but also in stature, with additional seating area, a huge array of drinks and an ever-increasing clientele. Saturday marked the Darkroom’s 1st birthday, and as a tribute to the early history of the venue, the same key groups were present to celebrate.
Brown Leaves are a rebirth of prior group Valdera, featuring the same duo of James Musgrave (guitar, vocals and pedals) and Matt Scobie (drums), though in a punkier, more straight-forward style. These days Musgrave seems more comfortable as a front-man and the duo ripped through a short set of sharp, jagged rock numbers with gusto.
Speaking of gusto – the Transistors have recently returned from the United States, touring alongside Japanese Rock n Roll icons Guitar Wolf. Lead singer James Harding was a live-wire, bouncing around the stage but still hitting ever mark in their blistering, non-stop show. The trio showed the well-honed chops of a group that’s spent months on the road together, not stopping for a breath during their opening handful of songs.
Lastly Bang! Bang! Eche! took to the stage, building up the tempo of their performance as the night came to a close. With Joie and Charlie Ryder exchanging bass, guitar and keyboard parts, vocalist Zach Doney triggering electronic effects and climbing around the audience, and drummer James Sullivan as energetic as ever behind the kit – it’s hard not to have fun at a Bang! Bang! Eche! show. What a great way to cap a terrific 1s year as a venue.