Mollett Street

NOTE: This post probably contains quite a few errors and an inaccurate timeline – there is very little info online about old Christchurch venues, so I welcome all corrections and additions!

Also Known As: Club de Rox

Location: Mollet Street, Central Christchurch

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Current Status: Demolished

Active as a live music venue: 1977 – 1978

Bar Manager: Al Park

Capacity: –

All-Ages: Yes

Mollett Street was an informal performance space above the Longhorn Leather shop on Mollett Street, just off Colombo Street in Central Christchurch. It was particularly notable as the first punk-friendly venue in Christchurch, however by all reports Mollett Street had a communal party vibe, doubled as a market, and managed to bring together the long-hairs, the freaks and the punks of all varieties – pretty much all-comers.

After school, Scott and I regularly hung out at the record counter of the University Bookshop, which was run by Tony Peake, an Aussie, a few years our senior. One afternoon Tony told us of a new club that had just opened in the city in a lane way off Colombo St. It wasn’t really a club at all, more like a few rooms above a leather shop with a homemade stage and a single toilet, which rarely flushed.

– Mark Brooks of Johnny Velox and the Vauxhalls, from AudioCulture’s ‘Mollett Street Madness

Christchurch music legend Al Park is always tied to the history of Mollett Street – he was responsible for booking bands (and named it ‘Club de Rox‘, though that never seemed to catch on), plus his early group Vapor and the Trails were regulars through-out the two year lifespan (1977 – 1978) of the venue.

Mollett Street Bands – Appendix from Wade Churton’s ‘Glam, Punk and Scorched Earth Policy’

Christchurch’s original British-style punks The Doomed were one group that made their mark at Mollett Street – garage rock historian Andrew Schmidt (of Mysterex Fanzine fame) detailed the venue with some rather stellar photos of the group performing in July 1978 – Johnny Abort’s (aka Dick Driver) wild afro haircut standing out in every shot – TVNZ’s ‘Eyewitness Punk‘ piece from 1978 captured the performance, along with some typically bristly punk attitude from Driver disparaging Auckland Punks as ‘plastic’.

I can remember goin there on a Sunday evening with the Clean and the Enemy to see the Basket Cases….i dont remember there being anymore than about 5 people there. And here was a band playing live some of the music we all loved. A song off the Pretty Things LP Parachute, Velvets etc etc!…The only other memory is when Jane walked off stage Chris jumped on her. Everyone hit it off! I dont remember playing there. I remember playing Foresters Hall (?) and breaking a string, which I had never done before. I thought to myself “what the fuck do I do now”?, when Al Park jumped on stage with a string and re strung it the gat while it was round me neck. …what a guy!….anyway the Mollet ST meeting was quite something, little did we all know what was coming!

– David Kilgour

Wade Churton detailed the groups that played the venue, with Vapor and the Trails, Sugar Cane, Blueprint, Doomed, Soundchaser, Vandals, Janice Gray, Johnny Velox and the Vauxhalls and the Basket Cases making the most appearances – though it’s also notable for touring groups such as The Enemy (twice), Scavengers, an early performance from The Clean, Citizen Band and Bamboo coming from out of town.

The Sunday night bill on a typical night might feature Al’s group Vapour and The Trails, a folk singer, a prog rock group and us playing our own two minute songs and a few sped up Who covers. This attracted a pretty diverse crowd of hippies, students and a few punk rockers eager for some Sunday night entertainment, as nothing else was open. There would always be a queue around the corner and up Colombo Street clutching the obligatory two dollar cover charge.

– Mark Brooks

After the venue closed, legendary Christchurch film-maker (and drummer for the Axemen) Stu Page shared the space with photographer Peter Towers for a period in the early 1980’s.

Though the building was heavily damaged in the February 2011 earthquakes, with Christchurch’s South Frame redevelopment progressing in 2017, it appears new life may finally be brought back to Mollett Street with Otakaro opening the space as an ‘inner city oasis’, framed by the newly developed Justice Precinct.

History

  • 14th August 1977: ‘Club de Rox’ Opening show with 2 movies, a play and performances from Sugar Cane and Vapor and the Trails.
  • Late 1978: Closes as a performance space.

Links

The Bats

Biography

The Clean was never a band to stand still. Several times during the 80’s they broke up, then reformed for a European, New Zealand or American tour, and all three members relocated at least once during these crucial years. So when Rob Scott arrived in Christchurch in the mid 80’s, he decided to form a 4 piece through his garden-city colleagues that would act as an exercise point for his by now prolific song-writing ability.

Switching from bass to guitar meant that the brilliant husband and wife combo of Paul Kean (Detroit Hemorrhoids, The Basket Cases and the mighty Toy Love – primarily bass, but also guitar) and the multi-talented Kaye Woodward (guitar, violin, mandolin etc) took over the rhythm section, with experienced drummer Malcolm Grant (who had played with the likes of The Vacuum and The World) at the throne.

Their first album Daddy’s Highway is considered a masterpiece, a jangle-pop classic showing the groups tendencies for stunning, harmonious guitars, sing-a-long vocals and pounding rhythms. The single ‘North by North’ is a brilliant example of what’s flawed with the international music scene – a song so appealing, carefree and yet focused can go essentially ignored in-spite of itself.

The Bats never really accumulated a particularly strong following throughout the 80’s and 90’s, as their albums continued to sprout up (the brilliant The Law of Things and Fear of God being my favorites) – they were confounded to minor-league college radio airplay, even in their hometown.

With Scott’s movement back to Dunedin in the early-mid 90’s, their output became less prolific, but their popularity saw a considerably upswing during the mid to late 90’s, with the release of the Couchmaster album (and the ‘Courage’ single) and their considerable presence on the soundtrack to the brilliant Topless Women Talk About Their Lives television series and motion picture.

Its safe to say that the bats are now seen as one of the great Dunedin Sound bands, mixing jangle-pop with their own tendencies for melodic vocals, small-town themes and homegrown ethics. They’re a band that prefers a low profile, yet deserves the attention of the world.

They still continue to tour, though Scott’s relocation means this happens much less often – but the remaining Christchurch members formed Minisnap in the late 90’s, with Kaye Woodward providing taking the lead.

Members

  • Robert Scott (Vocals/Guitar, 1982 -)
  • Paul Kean (Bass/Guitar, 1982 -)
  • Kaye Woodward (Guitar/Bass/Vocals, 1982 -)
  • Malcolm Grant (Drums)
  • Michael Summerfield (Live Viola, 2017)
  • John Christoffels (Live Cello, 2017)

Discography

  • By Night 12″ EP [1984 Flying Nun FN024]
  • And Here Is Music For The Fireside 12″ EP [1985 Flying Nun FN031 / FNe22]
  • Made Up In Blue/Trouble In This Town/Mad On You 12″ Single [1986 Flying Nun FN060 / FNuk1]
  • Daddys Highway [1987 Flying Nun FN079 / FNe23]
  • Block Of Wood/Calm Before The Storm/Candidate 7″ Single [1987 Flying Nun FN084]
  • 4 Songs 12″ EP [1988 Flying Nun FN104]
  • Compiletely Bats [1988/1990 Compilation Flying Nun FN Bat001 / FN143]Rn
  • Law Of Things [1989 Flying Nun FNd30239 / FNe33]
  • Smoking Her Wings/Mastery/Passed By 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun FN124]
  • The Black And The Blue/Watch The Walls 7″ Single [1991 Flying Nun FNk11013]
  • Boogie Man/Jetsam/Mama Come Watch Cd Single [1991 Flying Nun FN K11033]
  • Fear Of God [1991 Flying Nun FN217]
  • Silverbeet [1993 Flying Nun FN260]
  • Courage/Mind How You Run/Slow Alright/The Wind Is Sad Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun FN261]
  • Live At Wfmu 7″ EP [1994 Merge Mrg058]
  • Under The Law/Spill The Beans/Sir Queen(Live) 7″ Single [1994 Flying Nun FN291]
  • Spill The Beans Cd EP [1994 Flying Nun FN291]
  • Couchmaster [1995 Flying Nun FN301]
  • Afternoon In Bed EP [1995 Flying Nun FN341]
  • Thousands Of Tiny Luminious Spheres Compilation [2000 Flying Nun FN413]
  • At The National Grid [2005, Pocket Music]
  • The Guilty Office [2008, Arch Hill, AHR036]
  • Free All The Monsters [2011, Flying Nun, FNCD513]
  • The Deep Set [2017, Flying Nun, FNLP568]

Links

 

The Enemy

Biography

Young Dunedin guitarist Alec Bathgate and drummer Mike Dooley lined up Invercargill-born record store employee Chris Knox as a bassist in mid 1977, unaware he couldn’t actually play. Eventually the group would secure a gig at the Old Beneficiaries Hall, so Mick Dawson was brought in – allowing Knox to assume his rightful vestige as the new groups vocalist.

Knox was a long-haired, bearded counter-culture type – but more in the hippy frame than the burgeoning punk style of the time. The group would encourage crowd involvement and invite their mates around for regular practices, hashing out a vast selection of original songs in public.

In a breezy 18 month life-span the group would play a ridiculous amount of shows, firmly establish themselves as New Zealand’s very best original punk group, inspire the formation of groups such as The Clean, The Chills and Bored Games – and mutate into something completely different before they even unleashed a studio recording on the world (though a handful of studio cuts have made it on to compilations over the years).

The Enemy’s legend was based on Knox’s confrontational stage antics (stealing Iggy Pop’s tricks like rolling in broken glass, cutting himself etc), unconventional appearance and dress and free-flowing lyrics – though the band were no slouches either!

It the tail end of the seventies The Enemy played at our school dance. Chris Knox was the evilest person I’d seen. From the start I was dreading the moment he might come off the stage, and, like, tap me on the shoulder or something.

I thought I was punk but inside I was cowering. Thank god they only lasted two songs before school principal Dave Rathbone ran onto the stage and kicked them off.

– Shayne Carter [Taken from Mysterex: Kiwi Punk and Beyond #3]

The Enemy were HUGELY influential – venturing North to Christchurch just a couple months after forming, and eventually rolling on to Auckland to dominate their local punk scenes, everything would eventually come to a close when Mick Dawson decided to head home to Dunedin.

The trio of Bathgate, Dooley and Knox would go through a couple line-up changes, and head in a New Wave direction, reconvening as Toy Love.

Note: AudioCulture has an EXCELLENT history of the group on their artist profile.

Members

  • Chris Knox (Vocals, 1977 – 1978)
  • Alec Bathgate (Guitar, 1977 – 1978)
  • Mike Dooley (Drums, 1977 – 1978)
  • Mick Dawson (Bass, 1977 – 1978)
  • Phil Judd (Guitar, 1978)

Discography

  • The Enemy At The Beneficiaries (2001 Archival Live Recording, Restrainer Records)

Links