YFC

Biography

Originally called Youth For Christ, just to piss off the local Christians, the band got told to change their name…. Or else. Their line-up was three piece, no guitar. Bassist/vocals – Johnathon Ogilvie, bassist/vocals – Grant Horsnell, and drummer Micheal Daily. The band performed throughout New Zealand teaming up with Children’s Hour for gigs. The band recorded and released one 6 song EP through Hit Singles, but split before they managed to release most of their best songs, including such favorites as ‘Black Train’ and ‘Waltz’. YFC were exceptionally inventive in their sound.

Both Daily and Horsnell went on to join Shaft‘s Micheal Williams in Sydney based This Cage. Ogilvie and Daily also started up Sydney based Leadleg who recorded and released a version of the YFC track ‘Waltz’ but the song was greatly altered from the original. Daily then joined former Jean-Paul Sartre Experience frontman Dave Mulcahy in a new three-piece called Eskimo alongside Dolphin‘s Rob Mayes.
Failsafe

In early 2005 however, the trio finally reconvened for the release of Failsafe‘s excellent Retrogenic series, playing a handful of live shows and releasing ‘Richochet’, a compiled anthology of unreleased or out of print YFC material.

Members

  • Johnathon Ogilvie (bass/vocals, 198?, 2004)
  • Grant Horsnell (bass/vocals, 198?, 2004)
  • Micheal Daily (drums, 198?, 2004)

Discography

  • Between Two Thieves EP [1984 Hit Singles Hit15]
  • Richochet [2005 Failsafe 062cd]

Eskimo [Sep 2004]

as i arrive to failsafe records headquarters (a small upstairs flat in central christchurch) lying on the floor are half made covers for eskimo’s debut album, loverbatim. the name according to david mulcahy, the band’s front man, is an implying connotations of hibernation.
eskimo was born out of dave playing solo in a bar. according to him, rob mayes took pity, inviting him back to play at his failsafe studio. rounding up the line up, rob brought drummer friend michael daly to the group. michael was drummer from art-rock outfit, yfc. eskimo’s dave mulcahy is probably better known as a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for superette and jean paul sartre experience. rob mayes’ musical background included dolphin and throw. he also runs failsafe records, which has been home to the likes of degrees k and loves ugly children.
when asked about the sound of loverbatim, rob leans over to the computer at his desk and reads straight off a press release “distilled entrails of pop and rock art musings.”rnthe reaction is surprise from michael.rnrob: well its pop rock, and art rock. it’s got all those elements in it.rnmike’s the art, dave’s the pop and the rock, and i’m the rock and pop.rndave: it is a pop rock album and its kind of … its pretty indie if you want a genre… but how do you describe your own poos. some days i think it’s good, some days i think it’s really crappy and some days i think it’s really amazing. just depending on how i’m feeling.rnmichael: the sound is strong; people will be able to immediately like it.rnrob: dave’s a bit of a romantic in his lyricism. he sings about kisses and stuff like that.rnmichael: and bombs.rndave: well some songs, some of the songs on it i wouldn’t say were romantic at all, i think they are quite existentialist.rnmichael: there’s some harder hitting material on it.rnrob: i think all of the rhythm tracks are pretty driving actually.
eskimo vs. previous bands?
michael: it’s absolutely nothing like it! it’s got melody.rnrob: michael’s stuff is art rock, drum based stuff…. although eskimos stuff is very rhythmic and pounding beat underneath it. the icing isn’t the same but the foundation is pretty close.rnmichael: there are other differences like the fact other previous bands i’ve been in we’ve gelled material from nothing. dave has brought already structured work, which we have then arranged.rndave: it’s an extension, in my eyes.rnrob: do you reckon it’s heavier? cause i was listening to that solo album of yours…rndave: yeah well the last release i did was a melancholy acoustic affair, but previous albums have always had an element of rock and roll. my guitar playing is a little bit better after 20 years.
rob: musically it’s a wee bit different, it’s still has the melodic hook thing, but that’s just what we do, it’s what all my bands have done. we both come from a similar background, (dave) has the dream aspect… mesmorising, like the last jps stuff.rndave interjects: this guy could write a fucking novel!rnrob: well i just know this the last jps stuff was really oomph oomph… really hypnotic… didn’t you notice that?rndave: what my songs or the bands songs? it’s quite different in jpsrnrob: cause there’s three songwriters i suppose…i can’t tell you guys apart actually.rndave: well the good songs are mine
the recording process
rob: it was interesting.rnthere is a universal agreement in the roomrndave: it was not long enough for my liking.rnrob: dave has a history of big budget albums which not going to happen here.rndave: i really like to remix some of the album now; i was listening to some of it today, but rob’s not going to let me.rnrob: well it was just going to be a couple of songs, just to get some david songs out in the public… but it kind of spread like a cancer,rnmichael: well as a process it was quite interesting, the guys were recording while i was away.rnrob: yeah, michael went away for two months right when we wanted to start recording.rnso did the whole lot to click tracks. the bad thing about it was he had to play to someone else- he wasn’t the driving rhythm. the good thing about it was that he got to play to a finished product, with vocals on it, drummers don’t usually do that, they usually play to the bare bones. if someone puts a guitar hook later, they go, well i would have done something to that had i known it was going to be there. michael got to have all of that.rnmichael: it’s a hard thing to do, playing to a rigid time… i play to the whole thing if its there.
dave’s influence
dave: i did the solo album in ’98 and moved down here (christchurch) in 2000 and pretty much sat back and listened to music rather than try to write it, and that was a conscious decision because i’d been playing constantly for 15 years and i decided it was time to sit back and look at the canvas. i listened to everything; i don’t think there is a piece of music i couldn’t listen to.
rob whispers in the background, ” i bet michael could find something you couldn’t listen to.”
dave: there are always bands that i find inspiring. at the moment it’s the eagles of death metal and qotsa- all those guys, i really like their approach to music. although some days i’ll find some old wire record and get really into that, get obsessed with that. you’ve just got to be exposed to hearing them talk about their music, exposed to it in a context, which is real rather than the press release record company rubbish which makes everything banal and boring.
the new zealand music industry
dave: i think its got better and its got worse, there’s a bit of an industry, there’s more of an opportunity for bands to make a living, but there’s also a lot of bands making a lot of crap music to cater for that. there are so many roads you can go down, a lot of young bands aren’t very inspirational.rnmichael: i think it’s bigger, healthier and it’s more of an industry. i think that was what was great about music 15 years ago is the industry was so crap people concentrated on making good music, now people concentrate on making money from music.rnrob: that’s the kind of music that appeals to people who say when you ask what music they like they reply “all kinds”. which is exactly the wrong thing to say, you’ve got to have an opinion or else its just wallpaper.rndave: i think that’s bullshit; i like all kinds of music,rnrob: no, there’s stuff you don’t like.rndave: like what?rnrob: how about a hayley westenra album?rndave: i’d find that interesting purely for the fact that you’ve been involved in it.rnrob: well not that album…but i did record one. you have really strong opinions on music, you go “i fucking hate it, i fucking hate it”rndave: yeah, but at least it’s interesting; i enjoy listening to why i fucking hate it.rnrob: you don’t like all kinds of music, you’ll listen to all kinds of music and fucking hate it.
do it yourself
rob: i don’t think we have a choice.rnmichael: apart from that, there are so many bands that are doing well and doing it for themselves. they’re not part of the rolling machine.rnrob: i think we’d all like not to do as much work as we have to do. david and i cut up and manufactured cd’s, and i’m just about to do distribution, and i mean we wish someone else would do it, but well they would not do it how we want.rnmichael: there are some smaller outfits who are getting quite efficient, at putting cd’s into stores, and not major labels.rnrob: we are cottage industry. we’ll make up more cd’s after you leave. we will post them out ourselves, and reap those $20 rewards, it’s not going to amount to more than a couple of hundred of sales, it won’t cover costs, but that’s not why we do it. we did it because we want to have a nice album, and that’s the best reason.
live shows
dave: i will base myself up in auckland next year, and will hopefully be coming down to do some eskimo things three or four times during the year.rnmichael: the last gig was good. we actually don’t play all that often, we’re probably close to the laziest band on the planet.rnrob: we’d be a lot better if we were playing more often, but so would every band in new zealand but you just can’t.rnmichael: if you’re not playing much the nerves are always there. it makes it interestingrnrob: we’ve really worked out how the songs go since we were writing them at the time. the arrangements are what the album is now, but they’re not what they started.rndave: if i can get hold of the master tapes i’m going to remix it as a dance album.
touring nationally
dave: no. i wanted eskimo to be a project band, concentrating more on recording and songwriting. i’m adaptable, but i don’t foresee us not being so live.rnrob: it was just supposed to just be a project thing, it wasn’t meant to be a band. then it went into a band, then david just want it to be a project, then said we’d do some gigs, and then it was back to the project, so it a bit of whatever comes, but it’s the album that is important.
future of eskimo as recording project
dave: well it’s me who pretty much says, “i don’t want to do that” its like a presidential veto.rnrob: i don’t think you’re quite that important david! (laughter)rndave: i’d rather see us to be perceived as a recording project that occasionally plays live.
music in advertising
dave: i’m all for it if we can get any money for it. we did an ad but we haven’t had any money yet, that was for firestone. i really hated it when i first thought of the concept, but right now i’m so broke i’d do anything. i hate the whole thing of commerce invading into music, but everything is a money value these days.rnrob: its not like we’re writing a song, “we like firestone tyres, they’re really cool” the usage of a track on that thing was accidental at first anyway.rnmichael: i’ve got to say, firestone’s okay, cause when i was a kid at school there was a big tyre named fristly, it was a firestone tyre, you had to be the first one to get to it and wheel it round the playground. class would finish and you’d run.rnrob: that was in the days before game boys.rnmichael: does that seem unusual?rndave: i remember those things, i do remember sitting in those things.
lastly i had to ask, did eskimo get hassled about living in igloos- apparently putting the heaters on is risky.

Eskimo

Biography

Formed in 2004, Eskimo marks Dave Mulcahy‘s return to the Christchurch music scene, after playing in Superette and solo up north. Playing guitar and singing, Mulcahy is flanked by Rob Mayes (Dolphin, the Failsafe label etc) on bass and Michael Daly (YFC, The Renderers) on drums.

In 2007 Eskimo decided to change their name to Kimo, while working on material for a new release to follow up 2004’s ‘Loverbatim’.

Members

  • Dave Mulcahy (Guitar/Vocals, 2004)
  • Rob Mayes (Bass, 2004)
  • Michael Daly (Drums, 2004)

Discography

Links

 

Michael J. Brassell: A Memorial [Mar 2004]

Michael John Brassell was a revered and cherished man. As a central figure in both the Christchurch and Dunedin underground rock scenes, Mike (known to many by his stage pseudonym, Mike Hex aka Mike/Whitey Hiss) developed a distinct creative style unhinged from his commercial surroundings. Mike championed the DIY spirit, performing, recording, producing and releasing an abundance of beloved recordings with little regard for mainstream success, but full of such beauty, it would be hard pressed for any true music fan to find merit. Highly prolific, Mike bounced around a handful of bands in the 90’s and 00’s – making his name with a noisy Christchurch-based troupe of madmen called Squirm.

Formed with Brett Lupton and a drummer known as ‘Hat’ in 1992, Squirm thrashed around Christchurch for some 18 months, releasing the ‘Feeding the ground’ full-length in tiny numbers before disbanding – only to regroup late in 1993 with Darryl Kirk on drums. This line-up would produce Squirms defining releases ‘whip me honey’ and the ‘mister mistake maker’ EP on Rob Mayes’ vaunted local indie Failsafe Records, but the Squirm boys wanted to push on for bigger things. Though the EP, recording under former Jean-Paul Sartre Experience and later Stereobus front man Dave Yetton, had interest from the in-a-state-of-progress Flying Nun label – they ultimately failed to find their mark.

The late 90’s brought about a change in line-up, with Peter Mitchell (formerly of New Zealands’ great underground sun-stained country legends The Renderers) now on drums, with former Pumpkinhead bassist Vaughan Watson solidifying the line-up for their last couple of years.

With aspirations to cross over to an american audience, Squirm took the unusual step of going it on their own, Mike forming his own recording label (Noseflute Recordings) and rechristening his Christchurch flat recording space as ‘Hex Central‘ – now a well-known spot for local muso’s. Though the DIY approach never saw them reach their goal of hitting it big overseas (and Squirm actually dissolved with the release of Mike’s first solo release), it did cultivate interest in the Hex philosophy to recording.

Mike’s low-fidelity, hiss+ recording style (all future Hex recordings would be free from the threat of any kind of crystal-clear and septic digital clarity) seemed custom made for his quirky and explorative approach to guitar playing and vocalising. Suddenly other bands were joining in on the act – Mike playing particular attention to The Centre Will Hold, a melodic local outfit of friends determined to produced the ultimate 1 minute pop song. In D Flat.

Mikes’ music (he had soon released his solo debut ‘Johnny Horse’ in small quantities, spreading a short distribution to independent pockets of Europe and the states, along with a keen – though small local following) was now sounding almost fully formed. After the release of the albums follow-up ‘the hiss explosion’, he took the step of moving to Dunedin. Taking a coordinating position with the fledgling Arc Life Recordings label – which had succeeded Flying Nun as the centre of all things low-fidelity in Dunedin, he joined locals Stephen Kilroy and Thom Bell.

With Mike in line, Arc Life thrived. New recordings from locals Cloudboy and their charming chanteuse Demarnia Lloyd, along with Renderers descendents (Brian Crooks side-project) Bible Black and the involvement of one of Mikes’ heroes – David Kilgour of seminal outfit The Clean, had Arc Life well on their way to bigger things.

In 2002 Mike released what could be his finest release, the awe-inspiring beautiful ’66’ with the Hiss Explosion – the texturally focused guitar-and-drums duo he had formed with former Squirm member Peter Mitchell for his last outing. ’66’ is pretty much a faithful recreation of how Mike and his hiss explosion sounded live – a rush of guitar, thumping drumming and melodic vocals. Based around Mikes’ obsession with a looping guitar foot-pedal (not exactly the height of hi-technology) the primitive sampler made for excellent compliment, and allowed Mike to create walls of transient, flowing sound, flush with soaring highs and lows that Mike caressed with his careful vocal approach – truly mesmerizing.

I had the fortune of organizing Mike’s final Christchurch show on Waitangi day 2004, and in an effort to promote the show, we scammed an interview used in local gig guide the package which i contribute towards, with Mike explaining where he was currently at. He talked about new releases on their way from HDU front man Kahu and perennial Dunedin feature Bob Scott putting out a CD of ‘Lost Folk Music’, along with possible recordings from The Centre Will Hold’s outgrowths’ the (still Christchurch based) Undercurrents. The big news though was that Arc was rebuilding their home-brew studio – with the help of Thom Bell (who was now playing an integral part in the hiss explosions’ sound, being the in-house sound guy) they had purchase a new studio desk from Canada and had set about putting things together.

The Hiss Explosions’ last Christchurch performance was a wonderful occasion. Christchurch has been witness to something of a re-birthing in the local scene in the last year, with more venues becoming regular performance options and the Waitangi day show brought out the kind of crowd you reminisce about, with former scene regulars and underground musicians alike coming out of the woodwork to witness Hex’s triumphant return, along with some starting performances from Substandard, Idols of Eve, Into the Void and fellow Dunedin troupers the International Telepaths.

Sadly Michael John Brassell passed just a few short weeks later, a sad victim of pneumonia; he died quickly and without warning in late February at the age of 38.

With little time to think, Fleur de Lis – a close friend and the front-woman of one of Christchurch’s most under-appreciated rock outfits The Dialtones, and myself set about stringing together a memorial gig for Mike, and with out too much trouble people were soon going out of their way to pay tribute to our fallen friend. On Friday the 12th of march, some 9 bands lined up to pay respect to Mike in their own way – the way Mikey Hex would have wanted it – with music.

Memories and reminds of Mikes past were gathered in a tribute center near the stage, a beautiful image of Mike playing at the Waitangi show, along with posters from Mike’s many bands through the 90’s (including one that was particularly significant to me – a late 90’s show were my own band made just our sophomoric appearance under Mikes lead), and his memorial signing book that was just about overflowing with loving tributes by the end of the night.

With 9 bands and some 300 punters, there was no messing around to be had. Dave Khan showed what a long way he’s gone in the last 18 months – forming an ethereal wall of sound from his keyboards and vocal harmonizing effects as drawing room – the solo moniker that seen him through a decade and a myriad of different styles. Playing out like ambient music at high-volume, Khans’ approach made the perfect melodic introduction to the night, a relaxing low-key performance.

Substandard took the occasion to make some changes – for the first time they had become a four-piece, joined by guitarist Danny Bare’s flatmate Matt on 2nd guitar and the groups first ever vocal performance. Covering Sonic Youth’s epitome of sound ‘Diamond Sea’ – a seething 20 minute song comprised of 2 distinct approaches – melodic vocal parts joined with full-frontal guitar attacks (known as the ‘Sea of Confusion’). Substandard made good on the hardest of covers, Andrew adding his own touches while trying hard to mimic Steve Shelley’s minimalist drumming, Gareth floating in and out with strong bass cues, while Danny and Matt reconstructed the piece with precision.

The Dialtones (with the ever-present sound supremo Marcus Winstanley making his 1st of 3 stage performances for the night) were absolutely bombastic. Marcus’s dominant drumming drove the band to new heights, Fleur leading the band through one of their most rousing performances and absolutely the surprise of the night. Fleur’s usually sedate vocals seemed to raise with authority above driving compliment, and it sounds like they’re truly in-line to make a welcome return to the Christchurch scene with a new high-power approach to their slightly folky rock.

With the night now pressing on (20 minute sets are one thing, but set-up times had already seen the night stretch out an hour or so) Minisnap had arrived and were inclined to take the stage next. With Marcus returning to the stage to compliment the Rob Scott-less Bats sister band as the supplementary guitarist, mini-snap sounded a little muffled and lacked definition, but still displayed a charismatic approach to their jangly guitar pop.

Arriving from wellington to take the stage as Dragstrip), former Ape Management band mate of Mike’s David Clark displayed humor and a gritty approach to guitar rock. With Darryl Kirk soon filling in on some impromptu drumming (without knowing any of Dragstrip’s stop-start song structures), he brought a smile to an already jubilant crowd. Using the kind of down-and-dirty insights that a beat poet might conjure up, Dragstrip were brash and to the point – and thoroughly entertaining.

The entertainment continued in the form of a short and explosive set from Into the Void – another in the line of bands that appeared with the Hiss Explosion on Waitangi day. The guys were right on forming, pounding away on the gig drum-kit with authority, while guitar and bass interlocked to create dense and highly rhythmic grooves. Things got a little silly late in the set when the drum kit, started inching its way off the stage, the voids drummer continuing to soldier on as his kit fell apart around him, with cymbals flying forward and his double-kick basically giving up the ghost simultaneously.

After a bit of a delay, the other surprise packet of the night – a new look Shocking Pinks took the stage for their debut performance. The Pinks have cultivated a bit of a unusual standing in the Christchurch scene, diving fans and muso’s with their infectious danceable songs, but leader Nick Hearte’s somewhat unusual approach to retaining band members. Needless to say the new line-up looked a little nervous (especially playing to such a large crowd), with new guitarist Kit not really making their new direction – closer to a shoe-gazer sound, all that obvious with some restrained playing. Cutting things short at a mere 2 songs; they ended in a flurry of sound as nick drowned the crowd in bass feedback.

Things took on a more mellow direction as the night passed 2:30 am – the much-vaunted undercurrents showing off the highly soothing melodic pop that had made them such a firm favorite with Mike. Bassist and vocalist Nick (formerly of seminal shoe-gazers Barnard’s Star, along with the guitarist – yes him again – Marcus Winstanley) really drove the band on a number of their songs, his playing adding volume (not to mention groove) to their wistful and contemplative pop melodies. One of my highlights for the night, the undercurrents unfortunately played to a fleeting crowd, weary from a late night.

Finally Eskimo – the new power-trio of Rob Mayes (bass), Michael Daly (drums) and local legend Dave Mulcahy (guitar) concluded things to a diminished, but enthusiastic crowd. Mulcahy and Mayes joked, and ran through a couple of their newly formed songs – that sounded like a slightly harder variation on Mulcahy’s former band Superette. In good spirits (not to mention having consumed many) Mulcahy grew distracted and frustrated in their third song, and quickly pulled the plug – effectively ending a long and wonderful night a little abruptly. Despite such a rough approach to a set, they did sound quite distinctive. After hearing an earlier performance to an uninterested varsity crowd a couple weeks back, Eskimo sound like they are indeed making strides towards the kind of pop gem i know both Mayes and Mulcahy are capable of.

And thus a long night was completed. Special thanks must go to sound guru’s marcus and loki, who made everything flow so beautifully, and of course the many bands that gave their time for such a worthy cause. Michael John Brassell will be remembered as a friendly and encouraging man that meant a lot to so many people – he will always be our Mike Hex.

David Mulcahy

As A Member Of Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, Mulcahy Was Only Part Of A 3-Pronged Song-Writing Troupe, Responsible For A Terrific Body Of Songs Over Their 10 Year Life Span. In The Mid 90s, After The JPSE Boys Had Gone Their Seperate Ways, Mulcahy Changed Focus To Superette – Creating An Almost Perfect, Dark Materpiece With Their Sole Lp Tiger.

Unfortunately Superette Were Short-Lived, And Mulcahy Retreated To Work On His Own Solo Material. Oddy Knocky Was An Uneven Attempt At Releaving Some Of The Huge Body Of Songs He Had Written Without Releasing, The Occassional Pop Gem Hidden In Generally Pretty Dire By-The-Number Rockers.

In 2004 Mulcahy Resurfaced In Christchurch (Were He Had Moved Several Years Earlier) With New Band Eskimo, And Started Recording Songs With Eskimo Bassist (And Failsafe Label-Head) Rob Mayes And Drummer (Ex-YFC) Michael Daly.

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also