Scavengers

High-profile first wave Auckland punk outfit (archivists declare them THE original New Zealand punk outfit) who actually evolved out of the 1b Darlings, a glitter and glam r’n’b cover act dating back to 1976 comprised of Michael Simmons (soon to be Mike Lesbian – vocals), Marlon Hart (Mal Licious – bass), Simon Monroe (Des Truction – drums) and Paul Cooke (Johnny Volume – guitar). During late ’76 and 77 the band laid low, practising and cultivating their attack on new zealand, with a slew of imported british singles as their inspiration.

With the explosion of punk in New Zealand in min ’77, they steeped forward into the limelight, bringing the punk spectacle to Auckland along with the Suburban Reptiles, and brought out a couple of singles (including the fantastic anthem ‘Mysterx’ – later used in a telecom ad!, and the even better ‘True Love’), featured on the AK79 compilation. In the early 80s the Scavs had a number of line-up changes, eventually renaming themselves the Marching Girls and then relocating to Melbourne – producing an underwhelming EP.

They eventually had an album produced post-humously (from their some-what limited recordings) in 2003 with their self-titled (Scavengers) release.

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

Suburban Reptiles

Attention grabbing flash-in-the-pan first-wave Auckland punkers, based around James Salter (Aka Jimmy Joy – Saxophone), Claire Elliot (Zero – Vocals), William Prendergast (Billy Planet – Bass), Trish Scott (Sissy Spunk – Guitar), Brian Nichols (Shaun Anfrayd – Guitar) and original drummer Des Edwards (who turned up later in another short-lived punk band – Junk) soon to be replaced by Mark Houghs (aka Buster Stiggs) who had been playing in Neil Finns’ early outfit After Hours – before he left to join his brother in Split Enz.

Jimmy Joy (Brett Salter) and myself were going to form a jazz band, but, in late 1976, after having been shown a live review of the Sex Pistols in NME by film director David Blyth, decided that this punk thing had more going for it.
– Simon Grigg: taken from Griggs’ propeller archive website.

Under Simon Griggs management, the Reptiles dressed in stark and desheveled clothing, often in Nazi regalia, and attempted to draw attention to themselves making their live debut (borrowing Split Enz’s gear, no less).

Though far removed from the political uprising of their inspiration motherland of England, punk did make a major impact in New Zealand homes in 1977, and few bands were as attention-grabbing as the Reptiles. Billy Planet later switched instruments, replacing both original guitarists with Bones Hillman (who had made his name in the Avondale Spiders) bringing along his bass, and of course his unmistakeable punk-Hitler moustache with him.

They recorded 4 tracks at a 1977 session under Tim Finn (who according to Grigg fell asleep 10 minutes into the sessions) for phonogram, though only ‘Megaton’ and ‘Desert Patrol’ would turn up on their single with the other tracks (‘Razor Smile’ – which featured on the Angel Mine soundtrack, and the excellent ‘Coup D’Etat’) eventually compiled together onto the ‘AK79’ compilation in 1993.

Zero eventually went on to play Columbia in the stage version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – joining the british king of glam, Gary Glitter. Reforming with Zero on vocals, Stiggs and Baldock on guitar with the Split Enz connection increasing to include Phil Judd on bass and Paul Crowther on drums they now took on a new wave approach – ousting Jimmy Joy. Pretty soon the band had disbanded, with Zero leaving for Sydney with boyfriend Joy.

Discography (picks in bold)

    ‘Saturday Night Stay At Home’ / ‘Desert Patrol’ 7″ Single [1977 Reissue Ripper]
    Suburban Reptiles 7″ Ep [2004 Reissue Raw Power]

See-Also

Alec Bathgate – The Indifferent Velvet Void

2004, Lil Chief, LCR009

I’ve tried to start this review several times now. There is something about Alec Bathgate‘s music that is so compelling that it’s a mystery why I find it hard to describe why his subtle blends of Beatle-esque pop and noise-collage lo-fi experimentation so appealing. When I put this CD in my Walkman, it replaced another cherished CD that was graced by Bathgate’s presence.

That album was AK79 – a compilation of Auckland-based punk bands from the late 1970’s which should be a standard in any kiwi music fans. Bathgate and his buddies in toy love had made great progress since evolving from their primordial roots as the enemy, as toy love’s two tracks on the album were an early indication of how startling Chris Knox had become as a vocalist, and the intense pop-filled hooks Bathgate and cohorts Paul Kean, Jane Walker and Mike Dooley were capable of.

Well AK79 is a long time ago now, and the indifferent velvet void is just the 2nd solo excursion of one of New Zealand’s finest guitarists and song writers. The tall dwarfs have been a little quiet as of late, though a recent excursion up north produced a wonderful Helen Street Studio recording of some of their past classics, as documented on national radio recently.

Bathgate is most notoriously known as the quiet or sane member of the duo, so hopefully this will be a step towards Christchurch’s own being recognized on his own merits, rather than as a supporting player.

First song in the shadows hits immediately. With a Tall Dwarfs style gleeful intro and extended-bridge style chorus punctuated by some simple rhythmic organ and of course, hand claps. Not exactly a long way removed from Gold Lame and its fuzzy guitar and organ driven power pop. ‘Ebb and flow’ quickly shows the other side of the coin, a more down-beat, acoustically driven number that establishes one of the themes of the album – a fascination with dreams, perhaps alluding to something more in-grained..

After the hyper-catchy sing-a-long of we’re all babies, a track fairly reminiscent of more recent tall dwarfs tracks, the centerpiece of the album unfolds. In a mere two minutes and 10 seconds should I wake up? Presents itself as the most perfect pop song, and one perhaps with something to say, to boot. A rising hum gives way quickly to shuffling guitar and accompanying bass with an orchestrally constructed, brief and utterly engulfing chorus. ‘Should I wake up?’ is repeated until it lodges into your brain.

I’m pretty sure this song was part of my subconscious memory before it had even finished playing the first time. The briefness and epic approach suggests that Bathgate might be hinting at something a little more deep than simply dreaming… Is this a relationship song?, the phrase ‘Wake Up’ is so ambiguous, he could be hinting at any kind of underlying issue. Each verse varies between metaphor building allusions ‘On the Inter-Island Ferry / on the deck in the sun, your in your pajamas / but somehow it don’t seem odd’, and the more suspicious ‘You’re still hanging in there / you’re still doing well, are you really with me? / I can’t tell’.

Out of my head follows up on this relationship issue theme ‘Sometimes you look right through me / like i’m an invisible man, I try to do the right thing / I don’t know if I can’, sounding like a confession rather than a catchy pop-number. Lyrically, the rest of the album veers a little off-center after the slight return electronically-constructed intermission piece, though faked is another highlight.

On a bed of junk-box percussion and some genuinely creepy organ (that actually appropriates a theremin initially) , Bathgate plays around both lyrically (the song reads like fractured poetry) and musically (with layers upon layers of harpsichord and unidentifiable instruments).

On Bathgate’s cover of the Yardbirds classic Overundersidewaysdown lots of Beatles-style faux-psychedelic tricks are put to good use, with some genuinely huge sounding guitar and bass building to climax with the help of backing vocals from Alec’s son tTim, not to mention the phased and trippy vocal approach during the chorus.

Next comes the broken cup – a track very reminiscent of the tall dwarfs baby it’s over (a recent live performance by Alec included this gem) and the album title track, which is a bass-driven number punctuated by drum-machine rhythms and muscular rock guitar.

After a couple more rock-driven aggressive numbers, the album finds solace with new day, a strumming poppy number with more ambiguous lyrics – ‘did I forget? / Did you forget somehow, everything starts on a new day’, pointing at a gentle, world-rebuilding kind of end to the album. It’s a little confusing deciphering just what is the message in the indifferent velvet void..

Perhaps its an accurate title, a beautifully colored album hiding an unidentified but generally dark undertow. In any regards, i’d love to see Alec Bathgate get the recognition he deserves, and hopefully it won’t be another 8 years before his third solo release is out.

Bored Games

Biography

Before Dimmer, before Straitjacket Fits, before even the Doublehappys, Shayne Carter was in a Flying Nun-type punk band called Bored Games, who opened for the likes of the Clean and Toy Love before the lads had even left high school.

The conduit was the Pistols doing ‘Pretty Vacant’ on TV some time in 1978. A blast of white light – so exotic, primitive and powerful – it blew me away. Lesley Paris (later to become a member of Look Blue Go Purple, and at one time even head up Flying Nun) informed me that her neighbor, Robin Siatanga, had a tape of the entire ‘Nevermind The Bollock’ album and we’d pass it among ourselves like this chalice of purse gold. I can still remember the cassette – White with thin gold stripes. At home i’d listen to it on headphones, cranked up beyond distortion, the music like an avalanche in my ears. That’s when I began writing songs. – Shayne Carter

At the age of 15, Carter (the ever-vocal front-man) formed Bored Games with Kaikorai High School buddies Wayne Elsey (bass) and Jeff Harford (drums) drafted in Logan Park High Schoolers Fraser Batts (guitar – brother of Jeff, making his name in The Same) and Jonathan Moore (guitar).

That was the beginning really. Two tribes from opposite sides of the city interlocked, bringing together the 20 or so kids who made up the town’s original young punk scene. By this point The Enemy had left for Auckland – along with the original Clean – and assumed a shape of mythic proportions. – Shayne Carter

Bored Games started forming songs and ideas, Lesley helping out as their primary supporter, and the band indulging in such influences as “The Buzzcocks, The Saints, The Stooges, The Ramones, The Damned and The Pistols. AK79 came out and we loved The Scavengers tracks and would later cover Proud Scum’s ‘I Am A Rabbit’…”, and listened intently to bootleg’s of The Enemy, provided by (‘Records Records’ owner) Roi Colbert.

Going from making their debut at Kaikorai High School talent quest to supporting heroes Toy Love (and even upstaging them by playing ‘Pull Down The Shades’ in the more primal, slow 10 version The Enemy used to play), things quickly fell into place – the band playing community halls to armies of Dunedin youngsters, though violence somewhat curtailed this option and being too young for pubs the started to run out of options. A possible support slot with Lip Service fell through:

…Mr. Batts said no. We didn’t bother telling Lip Service we weren’t turning up because they were from Auckland and besides they looked old. We thought they were probably fakes. The Knobz came and played a lunchtime concert at school. The covered The Members’ ‘Solidarity Confinement’ and dedicated it to Bored Games but we were unmoved. We thought The Knobz were fakes as well. Afterwards my next door neighbor would plaster “Knobz wank dogz” posters all over the city. -Shayne Carter

By 1980 the band had started thinking about recording, with a back catalog of some 20 originals to work with. Mike Chunn overlooked the group, taking on the young Dance Exponents instead. Wayne Elsey grew tired, leaving to form The Stones and was replaced by Terry Moore, and the band won the 1980 KVHS talent quest on second attempt. In 1981 the band slid away, half the members resurfacing in Martin Phillips re-christened sequel to The Same – The Chills.

The group would (with the birth of Flying Nun, later in 1981) record the ‘Who Killed Colonel Mustard’ EP (which included the brilliant ‘Joe 90’ – unmistakably the bands signature song) posthumously a year after their break-up, and Carter would go on to re-unite with his school chums in The Doublehappys. The EP is now tragically hard to find, but the boys material is easily obtained on the ‘..But I Can Write Songs OK’ compilation on Yellow-Eye records.

[Quotes from Shayne Carter taken with permission from ‘Mysterex: Kiwi Punk And Beyond #3”]

Members

  • Shayne Carter (vocals, 1978 – 1981)
  • Wayne Elsey (bass, 1978 – 1980)
  • Jeff Harford (drums, 1978 – 1981)
  • Fraser Batts (guitar, 1978 – 1981)
  • Jonathan Moore (guitar, 1978 – 1981)
  • Terry Moore (bass, 1980 – 1981)

Discography

  • Who Killed Colonel Mustard EP [1982 Flying Nun LUDO001]

Links

Places of Interest

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