Steroids

Short-lived Wellington punk outfit (originally known as Johnny Mono And The Steroids) that featured on the Wellingtonzone compilation – a not quite as successfull follow-up to the acclaimed **** release from the previous year.

Forming in April 1979, The Steroids played a pretty standard post-punk style, punctuating their setlist with choice covers by the likes of Wire, Gang Of Four and early Cure. Comprised of Andrew Dray (Ex-52 and a one-time member of The Amps – Bass/Vocals), Alan Jimson (Guitar / Vocals) and Robbie Holmes (also an ex Amp – Drums), the band was a prominent figure in Wellingtons’ early punk scene.

Discography (picks in bold)

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Throw

Biography

The strange and confusing career of Throw has spawned some of the more successful and impressive releases for the Failsafe label. The band sprung from Failsafe boss Rob Mayes desire to create a studio based song writing ensemble which would have a transitional line-up as the song required.

In late 91 Mayes enlisted drummer Steve Birss again, the pair having patched things up (once again) after Birss’s split from Dolphin in early 1990. Birss had been playing in British influenced four piece Elevation (with David Hunt – guitar, Dylan – bass and Jeremy Talyor – guitar and vocals).

Taylor was enlisted for Throw to add vocals and guitar and in mid 91 Throw did their first ‘rehearsal’ , nutting out a few ideas which were to spawn the tracks ‘Honeyblonde’, ‘Time untied’ and ‘Blinder’. The next week the band recorded their practice and sent away the three songs to the QEII Arts Council for grant consideration.

At the end of that week Throw performed their first gig in support of Naked Lunch at a private party, followed the next week by supports for The Bats and Breathing Cage. Throw quickly built up a strong set of material and in the space of a few weeks had penned the 17 songs which became their stable set.

A month later Throw were headlining their own show at the Dux de Lux followed by a trip to Wellington with co-Christchurch bands Naked Lunch and Loves Ugly Children, playing a gig at the new Carpark to average attendance, and an Upper Hutt show to 6 locals and a bunch of locals who hung out in the other bar, who didn’t like anything you couldn’t ride your motor bike to. Throw also picked up one extra show at hip and happening venue Bar Bodega with ex-Christchurch man Nigel Mitchell’s new outfit, now Wellington based.

This proved to be a luck move for Throw, impressing the local crowd and particularly bar owner Fraser McInnes who took a strong liking to the band and immediately booked them to perform again. McInnes championing of Throw would spill over to Taylor’s post Throw project Cinematic, resulting in Bodega releasing the bands first album.

The Throw project in effect snowballed away from the original intention of keeping the line-up fluid and studio based and the Mayes/Birss/Taylor line-up found themselves heavily occupied with recording and performing over the next 12 months. After the initial rush had died down the band hit some internal political problems with singer Taylor wanting to claim full song writing credit for all material.

Mayes objected to this on the grounds that at least half of the bands music was written or originated from Mayes ideas, and all the material the band performed was worked on and contributed to by all members. Taylor being somewhat of a jukebox for modern pop songs, if he has heard a song he can most times play a version of it.

Taylor later conceded sometimes he couldn’t remember which stuff he’d written and which stuff he’d memorized from music he’d heard. This proves to be somewhat of a problem for the band during writing stages for the group as tunes initiated by Taylor sometimes bore strong resemblance’s to music Taylor had recently heard, and in some cases to Mayes own material he had presented at previous rehearsals.

After a few months of heated contemplation the songs were eventually registered with 1/3 credit to taylor/Mayes/Birss, but the situation had led Birssto limit his commitment to the project and Birsswould now only perform in Christchurch, and for recordings. Mayes enlisted Caroline Easther to drum for the bands North Island shows, Mayes being a fan of Easther’s drumming since her days in Beat Rhythm Fashion, through to The Chills, Verlaines, and Easther’s own band.

Relations with Taylor continued to strain, perhaps due to Throws instant success, something both Mayes and Birss had been used to with their work in Dolphin, but the young Taylor (20) had difficulty with, falling foul of the rock and roll ego syndrome.

Taylor, Mayes and Birss shoot a video for the lead track ‘Wishes from her heart’ on the forthcoming ‘All different things’ EP at the picturesque Castle Hill, the band perched precariously on rock top, during intermittent snow and sunshine. Throw continued to perform around the country working to ward their Arts Council Fund debut EP release. Throw’s work with Taylor culminated in a series of concerts building up to the release of the ‘All different things’ EP.

Taylor and Mayes played shows in Hamilton and Auckland (Powerstation with Semi Lemon Kola and The Nixons) with Easther drumming. These shows were followed by a Wellington date with Easther and a Palmerston North show as two piece with drums on backing tape, at the Feast of Stevens own EP release party. Throw were joined by Feasties drummer Glen Fletcher for the last song of their set away, a tense controlled number.

Fletcher had that day committed himself to a psychiatric hospital for mental stress, leaving the Feast of Stevens to spring him for their gig. Throw started ok with “away” but by the end of it the song was racing out of control, leaving everyone present much amused.

Taylor and Mayes drive back to Wellington straight after their Palmerston North set and find themselves at Bar Bodega with a small crowd of people and so play their two piece line-up set to excellent response. Mayes and Taylor return to Christchurch to prepare for their EP release concerts which entail a release party at Mainstreet Cafe where the band were to perform in a stripped back fashion as opposed to their normally full on power gigs, and a concert at the Dux de Lux.

Tension between Mayes and Taylor had been brewing progressively over the previous few gigs and the situation came to a head on the day of their Mainstreet Cafe release party, resulting in Taylor refusing to attend. Throw played their last performance in the original line up at the Dux at the end of September with the band not saying a word to each other throughout the gig. Mayes takes the next few months to work on the album, finishing off the songs the band had laid the basic tracks down for at the time of recording the EP.

The album is finished in mid 1994 with initial singles being released to New Zealand on Air for inclusion on the ‘Kiwi Hit Disc’ series. Taylor’s desire to pursue his solo song writing leads him to form Cinematic and he recruits bassist James Gutherie, guitarist – and drummer Steve Birss. Cinematic go on to record and release a debut album with that line-up, followed by a further two albums in the mid to late 90s. ‘Falling inside me’ is released as a single backed with ‘Freefall’ and receives a video grant from New Zealand on Air.

The video is directed by Jonathon King and features Auckland actress Rebecca wandering round Auckland rooftops looking pouty and plaintive. The finished video is some way away from the brief given to King. A still from the video is used for the ‘Rememory’ album cover. In march 95 the ‘Rememory’ album is released. ‘Nowhere near’ is released as a single backed with ‘Time untied’, a track with it’s origins in Taylor and Birss’s previous band Elevation. The track also receives an NZ on Air video grant, the video being directed by film maker David Reid.

Mayes is again unimpressed with the directors interpretation of the bands music, the finished video result being some sort of a yuppy pool room love story. In June 95 Throw get another video grant this time for the track ‘Honeyblonde’. Mayes decides to work with camera man Brett Nicols and director and animator Gregg Page who had worked on the springloader video. Mayes also attends the film shoot and assists page on the video which is an animated claymation performance based video, showing the band performing as clay figures.

The video was nominated for a New Zealand music award as best music video, along with videos from Supergroove and Shihad. In August 95 ‘All different things’ receives a video grant and Page and Nicols again make a video for this track, based on the story of a scientist who creates a three piece band to perform a love song to impress a girl.

Mayes shifts to London in November 95 and continues to work on material for the follow-up album, ‘Dream baby good-bye’, which features unreleased re-worked material from the original 1992 sessions as well as recently recorded material.
– Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records

Members

  • Rob Mayes
  • Jeremy Taylor (Guitar/Vocals)
  • Steve Birss (Drums)
  • Caroline Easther (Drums)

Discography

  • Falling Inside You Single (Failsafe Records)
  • All Different Things EP (1992 Failsafe Records)
  • Rememory (1995, Failsafe Records)
  • Nowhere Near Single (1995, Failsafe Records)
  • Dream Baby Goodbye (1995, Failsafe Records)

Links

The Wallsockets

Biography

Highly active in the Wellington scene during the early 80s, the Wallsockets featured Fran and Martin Walsh (lead guitar and bass respectively), Brett Carstairs (rhythm guitar), and originally Tennessee (another guitarist) and drummer Nezzie, though the band brought in new vocalist Lynette Moss and drummer Simon by 1980 – and it was this line-up that completed their recordings.

The band were one of the more persuasive Wellington outfits, organizing gigs and parties, along with establishing practice and performance spaces in central Wellington. Spending time in Sausage Studio’s made the band much tighter, and by the time of their initial recordings, they were a honed and professional outfit, capable of pop-flavored punk with a dark edge.

Fran was also a one-time member of fellow wellington band Naked Spots Dance – both bands contributing to the Wallsockets-organized **** compilation featuring four post-punk bands from the era.

Members

  • Fran Walsh (Guitar, 198?)
  • Martin Walsh (Bass, 198?)
  • Brett Carstairs (Guitar, 198?)
  • Tennessee (Guitar, 198?)
  • Nezzie (Drums, 198?)
  • Lynette Moss (Vocals, 198?)
  • Simo (Drums, 198?)

Discography

  • **** [1980 W/ Beat Rhythm Fashion, Life In The Fridge Exists, Naked Spots Dance Sausage]

Links

AD

Originally performed as Art and Duty, a name borrowed from wellington band Beat Rhythm Fashion‘s song of the same name. The band comprised of Andrew Naylor (Drums/Bass), Rob Kitson (Also Of Clients – Drums/Bass), Rob Mayes (Dolphin, Throw, Springloader – Guitar ), Rick Tindall (Johnnies – Vocals And Guitar) and David Scales (also Of Clients – On Drums) in 1984. This band played live only once, at the gladstone, where there accident compilation track was recorded – a battle of the bands contest which included performances by the Expendables, Not Really Anything, amongst others.

A sort of transitional project for Rob Mayes, the band feature 14 songs with music written by Rob and lyrics improvised by Rick. The band followed on from a previous line up featuring Mayes, Naylor and Kitson dubiously called the Perk-U-Laters, a punk pop outfit put together by Fred Bertram, Christchurch’s self styled Malcolm MacLaren figure. Fred managed a number of bands including Desperate Measures and The Clients and fostered mayes song writing talents by manufacturing a band including the sneering vocals of Robert Blackmore, Mayes on guitar, Naylor on bass and Kitson on drums (also bassist with The Clients).

The Perk-U-Laters played 3 shows, the first at the illustrious star and garter where the predominantly punk audience enjoyed 5 raucous numbers including ‘Psycho Fred’, a thrashing torrid of cheek directed at manager Bertram, who was mixing the band at the time. Yelling for more the audience were informed ‘They Don’T Know Anymore’. One university gig and one Hillsborough tavern gig later and the band disbanded, dropping singer Blackmore and eventually enlisting Tindall on vocals for the preteniously named Art And Duty.

AD featured a new batch of Mayes compositions and included a twin drummer line-up, mainly due to the band rehearsing at the clients armagh street practice room, a house owned by Naylor and then girlfriend Kirsty Lay (Face Of The Eighties’ winner). This house was a notorious punk party venue and had the good fortune to have a good selection of band gear to thrash away on, including 2 drum kits. AD performed their songs once before Mayes decided to write a whole new batch of songs with other musicians, moving on to work with the steve birss, and eventually into Dolphin.
(profile thanks to Rob Mayes)

Discography (picks in bold)

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Beat Rhythm Fashion

Biography

Fashionable Wellington-based post-punk from the early 1980’s that featured Caroline Easther (The Chills, Verlaines, Spines etc), but formed by British ex-pat brothers Nino and Dan Birch.

Initially formed as a studio-based outfit in august 1980, and heavily indebted to the sound of the Cure, the Birch brothers had been around the Terrace scene for a while, playing in both the Westown Quintet and The Mixers.

No Great Oaks 7″ Single

Beat Rhythm Fashion eventually started playing live in 1981, taking their place in a vibrant and expanding scene.

They survived a bit longer than many of the formlative Wellington punk outfits featured on ****, releasing several singles packaged in distinctive 2-color sleeves and were recorded as part of the 4-band live album Wellingtonzone, that marked the debut of the soon-to-be-huge Mockers. The band had more of a pop-friendly new-wave edge than their harder-edge contemporaries, but saw little exposure outside Wellington.

In 2007 Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records finally released Bring Real Freedom – a collection of songs culled from out of print vinyl releases, live recordings and unreleased material as part of his ongoing reissue series.

The group received some retrospective exposure in 2017 thanks to Salmonella Dub – The Christchurch dub group were due to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, however they declined involvement after their pick of Beat Rhythm Fashion (as an influencing group) were deemed too obscure.

Members

  • Nino Birch (Guitar/Vocals, 1980 – 1982)
  • Dan Birch (Bass/Vocals/Drums, 1980 – 1982)
  • Glen Stewart (Drums, 1980 – 1981)
  • Caroline Easther  (Drums, 1982)
  • Peter Kaio (Drums, 1982)

Discography

  • **** [1980, w/ Life in the Fridge Exists, Wallsockets, Naked Spots DanceSausage]
  • Beings Rest Finally 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk008]
  • Turn of the Century 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk012]
  • No Great Oaks 7″ Single [1981, Epic, ES751]
  • Bring Real Freedom [2007, Failsafe Records]

Links

 

Naked Spots Dance

Early 80s Wellington Post-Punk Outfit In The Style Of The Au Pairs, Featuring Kate Walker, Stephen Norris, Matthew Fisher And Katherine Mcrae, And For A Short-Period Future Oscar Winner (And Member Of The Wallsockets) Frances Walsh.
The ‘5 Love Songs’ Ep Is Excellent, A Very Jagged And Fragmented Take On Post-Punk Where The Guitar Floats In And Out Of Thick Bass Grooves, And At Times Threatens To Explode – Later Culminating In An Almost-Psychadelic Styled Breakdown At The End Of The Ep.

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also