Auckland based outfit started their time at the end of the eighties with a post shoe-gazey british sound. The band featured Tosh Graham – vocals, Rob Young – bass, Deryck Hunt – drums, Gareth Price – guitar. The band have stuck pretty strongly together and developed their sound progressively over the years. They self released as cassette in 94 and went on to release a couple of singles with a proper label, moving through the heavy guitar thang.
The band changed their name to Propeller and added a second guitarist in to the line up, making their sound a much more solid and melody driven affair. Their sound as of the end of 98 is focused powered pop. Quite good actually. They have recently self released a 12 track ep of out takes from their recent recordings.
– Rob Mayes
Discography (picks in bold)
- Before Heaven Cassette [1994 BMG]
- 12 Shades of Heaven lathe-cut 7″ [1999 King Records Worldwide]
3-piece dunedin indie-pop outfit who formed in 2003 and quickly put out an ep on failsafe records. comprised of mike mcleod (vocals, guitar), ed lonsdale (bass, vocals), and chris butchard (drums, vocals) – the band has been described as relating strongly to the dunedin sound of the early 1980s, singled out as one of dunedin’s finest up and coming pop-rock outfits.
Whilst Chris Matthews was struggling within the pop-confines of the Prime Movers, Johnny Pierce (Bass), Grant Fell (Guitar) and Bevan Sweeney (Drums) were forming their own sound as Children’s Hour.
More intense and experimental than what the Headless Chickens eventually became (Children’s Hour were essentially the Chooks in their original incarnation), they fused electronic and analog instrumentation, and wrote thoroughly brooding rock music that actually went rather unnoticed.
Matthews (Vocals / Guitar) eventually joined the trio in 1983, and it was this line-up that released two EPs on Flying Nun – and went on to tour New Zealand. Fell left for Australia, but after a short-absence, the group eventually reformed as the International Headless Chickens, and with fell back in line (and the ‘International’ dropped), the Headless Chickens went on to become one of New Zealand’s most successful bands.
In 2005 the core remaining members (plus Failsafe‘s Rob Mayes) reconvened for a handful of reunion performances, playing a swag of material both old and new, released as Looking for the Sun – as part of Mayes archival Retrogenic series.
- Johnny Pierce (Bass, 1982 – 1985)
- Grant Fell (Guitar, 1982 – 1985)
- Bevan Sweeney (Drums, 1982 – 1985, 2005)
- Chris Matthews (Vocals/Guitar, 1983 – 1985, 2005)
- Rob Mayes (Bass, 2005)
- Flesh 12″ EP [1983, Flying Nun, FN C60]
- ‘Washed Away’/’Stuck Pig’ 7″ Single [1984, Flying Nun, KID001]
- Looking For The Sun [2005, Failsafe, 064CD]
delphy sprung into existence after members kevin stokes – guitar/vocals, rob mayes – bass/guitar, and tracy thompkins – drums, decided to change their name from dolphin due to the number of london based bands with that word in their name. delphy comes from the song title of a mayes penned song ‘julie delphy’s eyes’, a song about mass obsession toward the elite few, in this case an imaginary case of american youths obsession with the french film star. the band had already called themselves delphy before they discovered that there is no h in the stars name, thus the band are named after a spelling mistake and shall probably never get the chance to meet the french film star because the play in a band with the same name or have a song to do with her.
in may 1997 delphy perform the first in their last set of london gigs, drummer thompkins having to return to the us because her visa to stay in the uk had run out. the band were hoping to finally get one of the many a and r representatives from the contacted record labels to actually show up at a gig so they could get on with the business of making music. they played probably their best london show at the bull and gate at the end of may 97, followed by a slot in early june at camden’s dublin castle. both gigs were well attended but not by the record industry. one final show was played at the finsbury park powerhaus, and the band entered the studio to record 5 new songs written while drummer thompkins was in the band. 4 of these tracks would appeal on the bands soon to be released ep.
the band decided to perform a tour of the east coast of america due to thompkins having to return to the states and mayes wishing to take a break from the uk. many people who saw delphy play their london show commented that they had an american edge to their music. stokes vocal style was a slightly left of centre sound, having an appealing human quality to it but the band did originally receive comments regarding the non commercial nature of his voice. during the bands uk phase mayes had penned most of the bands songs, also dealing with all the band management. thompkins pushed for the band to drop singer stokes and pick up a more commercially minded singer in the states, but mayes decided to stick with the line-up for the american shows.
in august of 97 mayes and thompkins were in new york and mayes arranged the manufacture of the bands self released mini album heatseeking, to be used primarily as a demo for american record labels. the cd contained 4 songs from the most recent sessions with thompkins on drums, and one song each from the sessions with pete thomas and steve birss. a nine date tour was arranged for the end of october and early november, and stokes was to join the band for the dates. the band performed the series of nine dates on a shoe string budget starting in new york and taking in boston, philadelphia, washington, hoboken nj, and hokassen, thompkins home town.
the virtually unknown band played successful sets to the hugely impressed audiences who had happened into the venues more or less by chance. the tour ended with gigs in boston’s tt the bears and lastly at influential new york venue brownies, where a couple of a & r types were to attend. the band were in luck this time as a us music lawyer, (the american equivalent of a talent agent), attended the gig, and suitably impressed by the bands performance agreed to act on the bands behalf in securing a record contract. he considered a us $200,000 deal a probability. the band were pretty buzzed after their successful performances and the interest from the lawyer. stokes had to return to london to continue his day job as studio engineer but on a high after the successful tour was committed to continuing working with the band. a second series of american concerts were needed to secure a record deal via the music lawyer and these were tentatively schedule for the american spring in april, allowing the band to recoup some energy, mayes and thompkins journeying to new zealand to continue work and rest, stokes to london to resume his sole source of income.
a highlight for mayes and thompkins, (both committed fans of the pop of british band the cure) was meeting robert smith after their november 97 philadelphia show, after thompkins in a particularly american turn decided to ‘stalk’ the band to their hotel from the concert. smith was presented with a copy of the bands cd which contained a contact email address for the band. a month later the band received an email from smith congratulating them on their music and enquiring about the bands future plans. a few weeks back into the grind of london life and stokes had all but forgotten the buzz of their american tour and opted out of doing anything with the band for another 10 months, preferring to concentrate on his paying career as studio sound engineer, effectively killing the bands chances at securing a deal off the success of their american tour.
mayes and thompkins returned to new york to recruit a new singer and hopefully continue with their music, but the stresses of new york life and finding a replacement for stokes necessitated mayes leaving for london, effectively cancelling the band. delphy have further 12 completed unreleased tracks including probably the bands standout track the mayes composed and aptly title ‘cave me in’ from the bands sessions with thompkins drumming.
picks in bold
christchurch based three piece featuring failsafe’s rob mayes – bass/ guitar, kevin stokes – guitar/vocals, and stephen birss – drums. the band was formed out of the ashes of 1986 – 87 band heartland featuring all three members. birss and stokes going on to work on my wild violet, with mayes eventually rejoining the band in early 1988.
the band performing under the moniker of candy crush and performed twice in support of bailter space and jean-paul sartre experience before mayes left for a world tour as the bats sound engineer.
just prior to mayes may departure the band recorded 5 songs, one (when i touch you) being included on the bands first release the hold touch ep in late 1988. both mayes and stokes were local sound engineers so the band recorded and produced all their own work. mayes also designed all the bands artwork and released and distributed their material on his own label.
lead track “if only i could hold you once again” making nz play lists and charts including national television’s “cv campus radio chart”.
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’.
- Dave Mulcahy (Guitar/Vocals, 2004)
- Rob Mayes (Bass, 2004)
- Michael Daly (Drums, 2004)
[profile contribution thanks to jason young and rob mayes – mayes has written a detailed description of his connections to the band which is available on the failsafe website, though there is obviously some contention over certain elements of the groups history]
loves ugly children was formed in christchurch in 1989 by vocalist/guitarist simon maclaren (blue flesh syndrome), featuring scott mcarthur – guitar, floss (angela leslie) – bass and simon crockett – drums (trawler). after playing its debut gig supporting dolphin at the subway, the band recorded five tracks in maclaren’s old mill warehouse with rob mayes, which appeared on the tape-only release ‘stagger’ (failsafe). when floss split with mcarthur to pursue a relationship with maclaren, they continued their music as a three piece under another name, with maclaren singing and playing guitar and a new drummer from dunedin, greg. they didn’t play any material from the previous line up, though they did decide to revert back to the name loves ugly children. after recording several songs, none of which were released, greg was offered an album and tour with the verlaines, and left the band during july ’90.
the uglies again ceased to exist for nine months, simon and floss playing in other chch bands including the hilarious sex trash automobile.a jam with neighbour jason young (excellent soul therapy and cultivation) during may ’91 led to the reformation of loves ugly children with their first gig only two weeks after that. quite a few important songs were created in these first two weeks including ‘good things’, ‘strangers song’ and ‘love you dead’ which became standards in the luc set for the next couple of years. a recording at arnie van bussel’s nightshift studio led to a tape-only release of ‘good things’ which went on to be #1 on rdu radio station. the first six months saw luc play many shows, win a war of the bands at the carlton and tour the south island, returning to find themselves parked solidly at the forefront of the chch scene.