Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos

Biography

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos were a Dunedin-based duo consisting of Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals – before forming the Dead C, 2 Foot Flame, Angelhead, Tanaka-Nixon Meeting, The Weeds) and Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals) – though in an early video recording Morley states the group had formed ‘Up North’ before heading to Dunedin. The duo released a handful of handmade cassettes and had an affiliation with Bob Scott’s Every Secret Thing label, with both album releases and compilation appearances. Their most well known material is the River Falling Love EP which was released on Flying Nun in 1986 before being expanded and re-released by US label Ajax in 1993. Morley formed the Dead C in 1987, effectively bring an end to Wreck Small Speakers.

Featuring performances from other Dunedin musicians: Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals – Look Blue Go Purple, The 3Ds, Ghost Club), Ivan Purvis (Guitar – Love In A Gas Oven, Alpaca Brothers), Lesley Paris (Drums – Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, Olla), Bruce Blucher (Drums – Cyclops, Trash, Fats Thompson, Brown Velvet Couch, Alpaca Brothers) and Martin Kean (The Chills, Doublehappys, Fats Thompson, Stereolab). The groups recordings are based around strong rhythm tracks – usually plucked bass guitar and drum machine, with shout-sung vocals, fractured guitar riffs and organ squeels, with samples and other sound manipulations added into the mix. Though experimental, Wreck Small Speakers retained a high level of musicality and accessibility.

Both their creative genius and the quality of their songs really shines through on the groups lo-fi cassette recordings. The slinky, funky bass and proto-rap vocals on ‘Over My Skull’, the low-key beauty of River Falling Love highlight ‘All Of This’, and Denise Roughan’s wonderful appearance on their most well-known song ‘Rain’. Small scraps of the bands fairly substantial discography have appeared in the digitally archived era, however if ever there was a Flying Nun associated act that could use an anthology release it would be Wreck Small Speakers – its been almost two decades since Morley’s Dead C band mate Bruce Russell released A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers on his own Xpressway label.

Members

  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals, 198?)
  • Lesley Paris (Drums, 198?)
  • Ivan Purvis (Guitar, 198?)
  • Bruce Blucher (Drums, 198?)
  • Martin Kean (198?)

Discography

  • My Blue Fairy Godmother [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK14]
  • 3.V.M. EP [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK20]
  • Over My Skull Cassette Single [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 06]
  • Cave Cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 21]
  • Worlds Fall Apart cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 24]
  • A Summer In Taradale Cassette [1985 self-released]
  • River Falling Love ep [1986 Flying Nun FN068]
  • A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers Cassette [1988 Xpressway XWAY03]
  • River Falling Love Reissue [1993 Ajax AJAX 029]

Links

The Stones

The Stones were an anarchic, anything goes rock band – in Matthew Bannisters’ Positively George Street novel on the Dunedin scene, Bainnister recalls Wayne Elsey (The Stones brilliant singer / guitarist) exclaiming in disgust that Sneaky Feelings think about their music, an idea that seemed foreign to the Stones. But then, the Stones didn’t need to think about the music they made, they were primal, raw, things just fell into place.. But they weren’t by any stretch of the imagination a simple band.

Their contribution to the Dunedin Double release were 4 starkly contrasting songs – one more than each of the other contributors to this seminal document of the birth of Flying Nun as a movement. On ‘Something New’ a huge pulsing wall of guitar slows just out of sync with the songs rhythm creating a beautiful shuffling melody, on ‘Surf’S Up’ they ripped apart a piano, wildly plucking the inner workings of the piano to create a rising crescendo of noise.

They had a detached irony that was never forced – their name and the sleeve for the Dunedin double piece both a brash play on their british name-sakes. Unfortunatley The Stones (who were completed by fellow former Bored Games member Jeff Bats along with Graeme Anderson) were far too short lived – Elsey’s life ended by an accident while travelling by train with the band.

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

Valve

Valve’s E Minor is a lovely slice of Dunedin pop from a fresh-faced band of scene-survivors. Comprised of Paul Winders (The Verlaines), Kiri Winders (My Deviant Daughter) and Jeff Harford (Bored Games, Doublehappys).

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

The Weeds

Biography

[Profile thanks to Tim Davey]

The Weeds were around for about a year in the mid-80’s, formed with the intention of having fun and seeing just how stupid they could be, while also entertaining people. The band provided a great distraction for its members from the more ‘serious’ music they were making in other groups at the time. The name supposedly came from the fact that all the members were quite skinny at the time.

Robert Scott and Michael Morley had been playing together in the Pink Plastic Gods in late 1984. Following the end of the group Scott (Bass, Vocals) And Morley (Guitar, Vocals) got together with Jeff Harford (Vocals) and Chris Healey (Drums) and The Weeds was born. All except Healey had had much experience in other bands; Scott had been in The Clean and was front-man with The Bats, Morley was in Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos and Harford had played with Bored Games. Following the tragic end of Doublehappys in mid-85 Shayne Carter (Guitar , Vocals) And John Collie (Drums) were also added to the line-up. An odd feature of the group was that they had two drummers.

Every gig they played involved some sort of dress-up theme which the whole band would participate in. One night they would be playing draped in foliage and weeds, another would be in glam gear or bad taste clothes. Their most outrageous ‘dress-up’ was playing in their underpants on the town hall stage as support to the Verlaines and the Rip at a 4XO dance. Their only out-of-town gigs were at the Gladstone in Christchurch as support to Look Blue Go Purple and in Auckland at Windsor Castle. The latter gig didn’t go down very well and the band realised that dressing up stupidly and playing music was best done only around people who knew you.

The essence of the weeds was not about serious music or writing meaningful lyrics but about having a good time. A review by Sharon Guytonbeck following a gig at the empire spelt this out:

with a couple of friends helping out The Weeds were a lot of groovy fun. Who needs ‘Live Aid’ when you can have this. Yes, The Weeds confirmed my belief that Dunedin is where it’s all happening musically. We don’t need the rest of the world when we can be at The Empire with The Weeds.

– Critic 6/8/85

Band rehearsals were for the sole purpose of writing new material which gave their on-stage sound a very fresh feel. In mid-85 the band made some recordings at Dockside Studios on Wharf St which emerged as the Flying Nun single ‘Wheatfields’, a very Velvets-influenced piece that buzzed along with the chorus line ‘It’S Been A Hard Day On The Wheatfields …’. further recordings were made later in the year at Chippendale House which to this day remain unreleased.

By late 1985 the members of The Weeds were being pulled away by their other musical projects and the band faded away. Scott continued with The Bats and Carter And Collie went on to form Straitjacket Fits. Morley was later involved in Dead C, Gate and This Kind Of Punishment while Harford became part of My Deviant Daughter.

The Weeds played only around 15 gigs but will almost certainly be remembered by everyone who saw them for their mix of shock, humor and good music.

Members

  • Robert Scott (Bass/Vocals, 198?)
  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Vocals, 198?)
  • Jeff Harford (Vocals, 198?)
  • Chris Healey (Drums, 198?)
  • Shayne Carter (Guitar /Vocals, 198?)
  • John Collie (Drums, 198?)

Discography

Links

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

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