Surface Of The Earth

3 piece featuring Paul Toohey, later of K-Group – freeform Wellington-based experimentation using:

Synth drones, guitars and mutilated electronic debris to create a soundspace where layers of distortion, hum and buzz hang like veils in the air, each disrupting the aural view of the layer beneath, without completely obscuring it from audibility
– Bruce Russell

Described as inexplicably the most drone underground act around (Wolf Eyes and Sun O))) stand aside), Surface Of The Earths’ recordings move at a pace so slow that you’d wonder why they ever released singles..

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Surface Of The Earth Cassette [World Resources]
  • ‘4.02’/’4.55′ 7″ Lathe-Cut Single [World Resources]
  • ‘Shield’/’Corridor’ 7″ Lathe-Cut Single [World Resources]
  • Surface Of The Earth Double-Lp Re-Issue [World Resources]
  • Interference [Fusetron]
  • Surface Of The Earth Cd Re-Issue [1997 Corpus Hermeticum Hermes021]

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Sven Olsens Brutal Canadian Love Saga

Nigel Beckford, Tim Robinson, Andrew Downes, John Fletcher, Murray Costello, Steven Hinderwell, Janet Thompson And Nick Sceats.

The Wyndham Range Concerto Was a cassette-only release that accompanied the novel the Weet-Bix Emperor written by Nigel Beckford. The album was only sold through bookshops in a brown paper bag that contained a novel, a snax cracker which readers were encouraged to ejaculate onto and a 45 vinyl single for playing packing vinyl, a game which entails passing a vinyl record between the buttocks of drunken participants. The book described the antics of an unemployed scrubcutter growing up in Tauranga and has been hailed as a ‘Comic Classic’ by the likes of Arthur Baysting, Sue Macauley, Barry Humphries and John Campbell. (It is a firm favourite at the TV3 newsroom.) despite it’s uncompromising subject matter and underground publishing origins, the novel and cassette quickly sold out. The album is based on the world of the book and offers crazy vignettes of provincial life rendered in surprisingly gentle and tender acoustic pop style. In a bizarre twist, one song from the album, our love was a grim citadel which puts Rak Mason’s classic poem to music, was chosen by poetry critic Greg O’Brien As National Radio’s ‘poetry moment of the millennium’ in 2000!

Only a few copies of the original cassette/novel package remain and are available through Henryboy, box 6273, Wellington, although a cd re-release is in the pipeline, as is a follow up.
– Nigel Beckford

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The Wyndham Range Conshirto [1992 Henry Boy Records]

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Surplus Sons Of A Factory Nation

Zane, Rob Groats and Dave.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Surplus Sons Of A Factory Nation Ep [1995 Yellow Bike Bike021]

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The Swingers

Phil Judds short-lived pub band turned superstar outfit. With Counting The Beat they became an overnight sensation, a stripped down successor to the punk bands that came before them (The Scavengers and Suburban Reptiles), The Swingers were Judd and ex-punks Bones Hillman and Busters Stiggs – a rough around the edges rock outfit with the most familiar guitar intro in New Zealand music (its now the soundtrack to a million K-Mart ads..) and a killer riff. They eventually went through rough times, with Ian Gilroy and Andrew Mclennan eventually drafted into the line-up. Their popularity soon waned, with Judd’s interest going into other projects.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘One Good Reason’/’All Over Town’ 7″ Single [1980 Ripper Rpi002]
  • Practical Jokers [1981 Ripper Rpr004]
  • ‘Counting The Beat’/’One Good Reason’ 7″ Single [1981 Ripper Rpi012]
  • ‘It Ain’T What You Dance It’S The Way That You Dance It’/’Flak’ 7″ Single [1981 Ripper Rpi015]
  • ‘One Track Mind’/’Distortion’ 7″ Single [1981 Ripper Rpi019]
  • ‘Punch And Judy’/’In The Middle Of Nowhere’ 7″ Single [1982 Ripper Rpi022]
  • Starstruck [Soundtrack 1982 Mushroom]

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Straitjacket Fits

Dissonant kiwi pop-rock that at times verged on shoe-gazer (the band were known for incredibly loud live performances), often hiding their delicate melodies and concise, heartfelt lyrics behind a wall of feedback. Based around Shayne Carter and Andrew Brough (who eventually split from the band after the Melt tour to form Bike) both on guitar and vocals, David Wood filling the bass role, and John Collie at the drums. Shayne Carter was always the man in the spotlight, he had come from Dunedin band the Doublehappys and was known as a bit of an enigmatic front-man, as well as being quite the temperamental artist type. Andrew Brough however (formerly of the Orange), represented the quiet and caring, under-appreciated side of the band – his single ‘Down In Splendor’ is one of the best examples of melodic kiwi pop, a fragile, love song with a killer sing-a-long chorus.

But Carter is one hell of a songwriter also, practically carrying the first album (the classic Hail) with his singles ‘She Speeds’ and ‘Life In One Chord’. During the first two albums, the Fits were at the fore-front of kiwi rock, challenging the Chills and the Headless Chickens for the most popular of local bands, and along with the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience as the pick of the New Zealand underground scene. When the Melt tour wound down in early ’92, Brough decided it was time he formed his own band, as little of his material seem to work its way into the Fits cannon. He was replaced by Mark Peterson for the disjointed album Blow, released later in ’92.

Although Blow contains some excellent pop singles in ‘Done’, ‘Cat Inna Can’ and my personal favorite, and an excellent moot point for The Fits – ‘If I Were You’, the album was too inconsistent to support an attempted break into the burgeoning American market, and the band broke up to persue their own interests.

Carter now performs under the Dimmer moniker, releasing the brilliant, decade in the making I Believe You Are A Star last year to unanimous critical acclaim, and with a follow-up to be released shortly! Brough’s band Bike made one of the great New Zealand pop albums of the mid 90s, drawing a great deal of radio play for what was basically an all-hit album.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Life In One Chord 12″ Ep [1987 Flying Nun Fn080 / Fne25]
  • Hail [1988 Flying Nun Fn105]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 12″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn108]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 7″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn114]
  • Hail [1990 Extended U.S. Edition Flying Nun Fn142]
  • ‘Sparkle That Shines’/’Grate’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn151]
  • Melt [1990 Flying Nun Fn174]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’In Spite Of It All’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn175]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’Skin To Wear’/’In Spite Of It All’/’Hail’ (Live) 12″ / Cd Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn176]
  • ‘Down In Splendour’/’Seeing You Fled’/’Missing Presumed Drowned’/’Cave In’ Double 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn180]
  • Down In Splendour Video Cassette [1990 Flying Nun Fn D16011]
  • Done Ep [1992 Flying Nun Fn242]
  • Blow [1993 Flying Nun Fn251]
  • ‘Cat Inna Can’/’Sycamore’/’Satellite’ Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn265]
  • ‘If I Were You’/’Brother’s Keeper’ (Demo)/’Burn It Up’ (Demo) Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn285]
  • Best Of Double-Cd [1998 Compilation Flying Nun Fn406]

Awards Etc
Rianz Awards 1990


  • Music Video Of The Year – Bad Note For A Heart
  • Cover Design Of The Year – John Collie

Rianz Awards 1993


  • Album Of The Year – Blow
  • Top Male Vocalist Of The Year – Shayne Carter

See-Also

The Strange Girls

Cja, Sugar Jon, Motty “Kat” Smokehouse, Kraus.

Discography (picks in bold)

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The Stoutfellows

Christchurch Celtic Rock. Dan, Nick, Peet, Scott.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Stout Fm [2000]

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Stout

Christchurch punk-ska.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Beer Pressure EP [199?]

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Strangeloves

Rex Bourke, Joanne Kickoff, Maria, Liz Cohor, Rebecca Shanahan, Noel Ward, Tim Mahon and Tane Tokona.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘When Judy Gets Out’/’She Said Let’S Kiss’/’You Cure Me’ 7″ Single [1987 Flying Nun Fn089] Rn
  • See Your Colours [1991 Flying Nun Fn179] Rn
  • ‘Turn Your Lights On’/’John Lennon’ 7″ Single [1991 Flying Nun Fn186] Rn
  • ‘She Knows Whats Happening’/’Little Sickie’ Cassette Single [1992 Flying Nun Fn230] Rn
  • The True Ep [1992 Onset/Offset]

See-Also