Psych-influenced Wellington-based psuedo punk outfit that proved to be the starting point for legendary Puddle front-man George Henderson (Guitar / Vocals), along with Chris Plummer (Drums), Susan Ellis (Keys / Vocals) and Richard Sedger (Bass). With many song-writers in their line-up, and with addition of Mark Thomas as a second guitarist, the Spies had a unique and eclectic sound, with songs veering in many different directions.
Unfortunately the band was short-lived, only lasting 8 months through 1979 and putting out a solitary 7″ release from a band set-list that was almost all original – though with left-field covers of Pere Ubu’s classic Non-Alignment Pact and Thomas Leers’ ‘Private Plane’. Soon the majority of the band, plus additional friends and like-minded muso’s reconvened in Christchurch to establish a secluded band house where both the And Band and the even more eclectic Perfect Strangers lived, wrote, practised, and performed.
Discography (picks in bold)
- ‘Give Me A Reason’/’Daddy Was A Dj’ 7″ Single [1980 Ripper Rip010]
A well-known, yet thoroughly underground troop that often swelled in numbers (sometimes up to as many as 10 members in the mid 1980’s). The group have been known for their artistic endeavors as well as their music – with drummer Stuart Page (aka Stu Kawowski) a renowned film-maker and photographer.
Barely out of Cashmere High School, Steve McCabe played alongside Bob Cardy (aka Bob Brannigan – later to form the legendary Shaft up in Auckland) in a variety of pre-cursor bands, before Page jumped on stage at one of their shows. This was the birth of The Axemen, and the core line-up of all the groups earliest recordings.
The group released three albums on Flying Nun Records in the mid to late 1980’s – guitarist Dragan Stojanovic joining the line-up in time for 1989’s Derry Legend. Several releases on their own Sleek Bott imprint followed – following a very make-shift, punk approach to recording, their albums were often of-the-moment pieces…
The story of [Big Cheap Motel] is: Bob and myself went down to check out the Christchurch botanic gardens, the scene of the local council/”Big M” milk drink-sponsored “Summertime” concert-in-the-park series of free outdoor events, only to find the park plastered with billboard-sized posters of skimpily-clad young ladies advertising the sponsors wares.
We immediately proceeded home and wrote the enclosed set of ‘protest’ songs about the travesty, which were performed at the event, to the mild annoyance of the council & the sponsors.
– Taken from Mayday: The Little Stevie McCabe / Axemen / Sleek Bott webpage
- Steve McCabe (Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals, 1983 – )
- Bob Brannigan (Guitar/Vocals, 1983 – 2011)
- Stuart Page (Drums/Vocals/Trumpet, 1983 – )
- Dragan Stojanovic (Guitar/Vocals/Mandolin/Bass, 1989 -)
- William Daymond (Bass/Guitar/Keyboards/Drums, 2011 -)
- Mick Elborado (Guitar/Bass/Vocals, 1991)
- Paul Lee (Saxophone/Vocals, 1991)
- B. B. Ryan (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 1991)
- Pete Rees (Vocals, 1991)
- Arthur Sheep (Saxophone, 1991)
- Shorty Hamilton (Drums, 1991)
- Jessica Walker (Violin, 1991)
Note: This is an abridged list of musicians listed on The Axemen’s various recordings – see the groups Wikipedia page for an extended roll-call.
- Big Cheap Motel (1983, Sleek Bott)
- Three Virgins Three Versions Three Visions (1986, Flying Nun Records, FN049)
- Derry Legends (1987, Flying Nun Records, FN120)
- Ak87 (W/ The Shit Pop Boyz 1987, Sleek Bott)
- Scary! (W/ The Sleek Bott Gang 1989, Sleek Bott)
- Peter Wang Pud (1991, Flying Nun Fn204)
- Dirty Den Sessions (1991, Sleek Bott)
- Recliner Rocker (1992, Sleek Bott #921)
- Three Rooms (An Elton John Tribute Album) (1992, Sleek Bott)
- Across The Universe In 27879 Days Ep (1992, Sleek Bott)
- The Axemen Singles Collection (Compilation 1998, Sleek Bott)
- Nutsack 7″ Single (2011,
- Sac Tap Nut Jam (2013, Spacecase Records, SCR006)