Southern Front

Eric Vandenhoven, Phil Johnstons, Mark Gibson and Harry Hepworth.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Southern Front [1985 Failsafe Safe004]

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Springloader

Formed in late 1993 by Rob Mayes, Springloader was principally a vehicle for Mayes own compositions, predominantly melodic based indie rock, combining the pop of Mayes previous outing in Throw, coupled with the heavy leanings of Dolphin, and a new darker extended edge, Mayes shifting to guitar. Mayes collaborated with drummer David Toland as an instrumental 2 piece originally with the pair developing a power pop sound progressing and following on from the sound of Mayes previous musical outings Dolphin and Throw. Mayes had spent the last year working on the Avalanche project and associated ventures, and this leading to a heavier guitar sound.

After a couple of months Mayes invited singer/guitarist Micheal Oakley to join the group on vocals. Oakley had been a regular attender at Throw and Dolphin gigs and came to Mayes attention through his own song writing in Field, which featured Chè Rogers on bass. Field were almost a tribute band to Mayes own band throw, the band being big fans of Throws music and stylistically similar. Rogers and Oakley were a regular feature on the local pop gothic scene and had been in a number of musical outings together that made waves in those circles, notably CR Eye, and Elder Sign, both bands developing a following at various successful indie all age concerts the band self promoted and arranged.

Oakley bought Rogers into the band and within a month Springloader had arranged their debut performance on February 5th, out of town at Wellingtons Bar Bodega with fellow Christchurchers Atomic Blossom. This event hinted at problems which would later see the band split with Toland due to his unreliable nature, as Toland misses the plane to Wellington and must fly on a later one, narrowly making the gig. The band followed this with a support slot for Auckland’s the Nixons [aka EyeTV] in Christchurch and the band hitting further problems with Toland, who went missing the night before the concert leaving the band to arrive at the concert alone. Toland later arrived and played the show. Wounds healed, the band arranged a local show at the Dux De Lux, Toland once again going missing during the bands pre show rehearsal and arriving again just before the show.

Band relations were heavily strained by this stage but the band agreed to embark on a South Island tour to Dunedin and Invercargill. The band once again hitting trouble with Toland arriving minutes before the bands were due to start playing. Toland was also playing in the support act, the fledgling Future Stupid, the bands first live performance. The bands played their show in Invercargill successfully before a stressful return to Christchurch and a final blow out before Toland and Springloader parted company. The band did 2 recording sessions with the original line-up, the first in January and the later in April, recording a total of 14 songs. One track ‘Now I Know’ was included on the Good Things compilation. The others have not yet appeared on official release but will be available at some stage. In September 94 Mayes enlisted new drummer Andrew Kerr, and the band recorded a New Zealand On Air funded video for the track one more thing. Mayes continued to work on the bands music till the band performed one last time in April at the Dolphin album release party. Mayes left for London in October of 95 to concentrate on his work with Dolphin.

In 2005 the previously unreleased ‘Just Like Falling’ finally saw a commercial release as part of Mayes archival ‘Retrogenic’ series.
– Rob Mayes

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Just Like Falling [2005 Failsafe 073cd]

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Squirm

Brilliant 90s Christchurch sludge-rock outfit comprised of Brett Lupton, Daryl Kirk and Mike ‘Hiss Explosion‘ Brassell. Released a series of warped, discordant guitar albums, based around Brassell’s excellent guitar-work and an inventive, lo-fi and somewhat sloppy (in a good way) approach to recording songs.

The group was formed by Brassell, Lupton and Original Drummer Hat (who would go on to have an involvement with Flying Nun and is now the station manager for Christchurch’s RDU radio station), with the original line-up recording and releasing a cassette on Pete Mitchell’s Flat City label.

After Hat’s departure in 1993, Darryl Kirk joined the line-up – the line-up that would record the bulk of the bands output. In their last line-up Pete Mitchell became the new drummer, whilst Vaughen Watson (Undercurrents, Pumpkinhead joined as bassist.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Feeding The Cround Cassette [1992 Flat City]
  • Whip Me Honey EP [1994 Failsafe Safe027]
  • Mastermistakemaker [1995 Failsafe Safe028]
  • Spastic Sarcastic [1996 Noseflute]

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Throw

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 out fit, 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 memorised 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 birss to limit his commitment to the project and birss would 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 [aka eye tv]) with easther drumming. These shows were followed by a Wellington date with easther and a palmerston nth 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 nth 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 johnathon 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 is 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

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Title Format [June 2011 self-released]

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Triffids

Incredibly young band who impressed during their short existence in 1983-4, narrowly losing to the whiteboys in the 1984 battle of the bands, the Triffids were sort of pre dance based guitar pop, a band in development. Their music was bouncy rhythmic stuff, and they probably owned a lot of British postcard pop and bands like 23 Skidoo, and Scritti Politti. They consisted of Marc Howe (Bass), Jamie Mccabe (Vocals) and Craig Gurny (Drums) all of the bands Verve, Burn and Rocket Monster, plus Ben Stockwell (Guitar). Howe went on to
moderate success with both Breathing Cage and Surfing USSR.

The band hit problems with their own perception of their music, and the inevitable drugs, and split. They released 2 tracks, both appearing on Failsafe records compilations. Howe has continued his love of music and is presently studying jazz at the Christchurch Polytech Jazz School. His father was a jazz player who performed with Miles Davis.
– Rob Mayes

Discography (picks in bold)

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Unauthorised

Hard core punk outfit, pretty serious about their music. The band feature Jeff Paris (Drums), Harry Hepworth (Vocals), Mark ‘Gibby’ Gibson (Bass), and Phil Johnston (Guitar). The band released half an album, the other side of Desperate Measures – ‘Wasted Again’ release, featured fast and dense punk tunes. Hepworth And Paris went on to Evasive Action and later Hepworth, Gibson, and Johnston went on to Southern Front, with Vandenhoven from Desperate Measures.

Discography (picks in bold)

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Wadd

Haydn Sharp (Guitar / Vocals), Stephen Nicholls (Guitar), Hamish Mccaul (Drums), Andrew Hampton (Keyboards) and Walter Friedel (Bass). Put out a self-titled debut in 1995 after featuring on Failsafe‘S Good Things compilation.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Wadd [1995 Self-Released]

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YFC

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 favourites as ‘Black Train’ and ‘Waltz’. YFC were exceptionally inventive in their sound.

Both Daily and Horsnell went on to join Shafts 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.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Between Two Thieves Ep [1984 Hit Singles Hit15]

  • Richochet [2005 Failsafe 062cd]

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Substandard

Excellent instrumental 3-piece out of Christchurch in the mogwai vein. Comprised of Danny Bare (also of The Shocking Pinks) on guitar, Andrew Robins (also of Luge) on drums, and Gareth Heta on bass, they formed in 2002 and quickly built a very strong set of songs built around robins’ excellent drum-work and hekas slinky, powerful bass-playing. Bare’s an excellent guitarist – totally in control of his tone and resonance, which he lets loose live, creating huge walls of sound from his assortment of foot-pedals.

In late 2002 they released a couple of brilliant EPs, all packaged in very classy hand-made sleeves and in very limited numbers – before re-recording most of the material (with the help of Rob Mayes and his label Failsafe Recordings) as part of their debut full-length. Simply put, Global Research Systems is a stunner. One of the most dynamic, concise and free-flowing textural albums around, Substandard show grace and maturity in their truely catchy songs. And they are songs too – avoiding Godspeed! Your Black Emporer’s unfortunate (yet highly skillful) habit of recreating a rising crescendo over and over again, Substandard’s songs are loose, and at times funky – with definite start and ends. Quality live act too, faithfully recreating their recorded tracks in front of live audiences. With Heka taking a bit of time off from the band in late 2003 (getting married), Bare formed the side project Electric Slipper, whilst Andrew spent more time in Luge.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Substandard [2002 Failsafe]
  • ..Low Electric City Pulses Ep [2002 Failsafe]
  • Global Research System [2003 Failsafe]

See-Also

Substandard – Low Electric City Pulses EP / Global Research Centre

Failsafe [2002]
Two wonderfully hand-packaged releases from local 3-piece Substandard. Best described as an instrumental band with involving guitar textures (Danny Bare), driving bass guitar (Gareth Heta) and funky drumming (Andrew Robbins); they been highly prolific around town this year, and their release party at the dux was the icing on the cake. There’s the 3 (+1 hidden track) EP from earlier in the year, and the full-length debut global research centre which expands on the earlier release with a fuller, more fleshed out sound. The end result is actually pretty close to their live performance, with some stunning subtle guitar drenched in echo and reverb.

Coming from the Hiss Explosion / High Dependency Unit school of guitar-workmanship (creating wonderful cascades of sound from a plethora of toys), its quite evocative stuff. Perfect driving music, the album sweeps from gentle willowing numbers right up to powerful, full-tilt rockers reminiscent of the (now defunct) Subliminals. Highly recommended.