The Insurgents

Biography

Christchurch-based pop-group, The Insurgents were the darlings of the all-ages scene courtesy of their involvement with Will Edmonds’ Out of Kilter. The original line-up of Young, Coffey and Ellis displayed a strong Brit-pop influence on Chris Young’s songs, whilst Mike Ellis added an element of US Indie-Pop to proceedings.

Ellis and Young have tremendous chemistry together, shaping their songs with perfect harmonies and huge hooks, whilst Coffey keeps things nice and tight.

The band spent a year on hiatus courtesy of guitarist/vocalist Chris Young’s other pop-tastic band Neil Robinson winning the Smoke-Free Rock-Quest in 2006, and eventually succumbed to the big OE, with all 4 members leaving Christchurch for an overseas experience.

Along the way the group recorded an EP with Jo Veale, added Will Edmonds on guitar and recorded what was essentially a post-breakup album for Rob Mayes Failsafe Records.

The Insurgents reunion / album release show at Al’s Bar, 2009.

This release eventually saw them frequent New Zealand television with their song ‘Rather Be Dead’ in adverts for Canterbury University.

With the albums release the group hastily shot and released a handful of music video’s with director Peter Bannan, each filmed as largely continuous shots at the groups established suburban Sockburn House-Party flat with a huge number of Friends and fans.

Members

  • Chris Young (Guitar/Vocals, 2004 – 2009)
  • David Coffey (Drums, 2004 – 2009)
  • Mike Ellis (Bass/Keyboards/Vocals, 2004 – 2009)
  • Will Edmonds (Guitar/Vocals/Keyboards/Bass, 2007 – 2008)
  • Perry Mahoney (Bass, 2009)

Discography

  • Yours Disappointingly EP (2008, Self-Released)
  • All the Stupid Smiling Faces (2009, Failsafe Records)

Links

 

Southern Front

Biography

The last evolution in the chain for the core of the Christchurch punk rock movement this band were made up of the members of Unauthorised, Desperate Measures, and Evasive Action.

The band were moving well away from their punk roots despite their punk followers wish that they’d never play anything else, developing an interesting post punk sound a la Killing Joke, dark and interesting thanks to Vandenhoven’s wandering melodic basslines and Johnston’s hooky guitar playing.

The band released one album “Southern Front” through Failsafe Records which was mostly recorded at Tandem Studios with engineer Eric Johns, guitarist with 70’s disco stars Heat Wave (hit single “Boogie Nights”), and co-produced by Rob Mayes (first production job), singer Heapworth, and Vandenhoven.

The last track on the album is actually from the group’s Evasive Action line-up recordings, though it was sung by Heapworth and not Evasive Action’s main vocalist Eugene Butcher so technically it was a Southern Front recording. This track was recorded at Nightshift Studios.

The band filmed a video for the track for $100 at 4 am on the hills overlooking Christchurch using the talents of one Peter Bannon, who went on to be one of New Zealand top fashion photographers, though obviously not on the basis of this rough-and-fast video.

Hepworth left for Australia soon after the release of the album, and the band continued on with Gibson singing and drumming. The band later took on singer Alan Clark (Banshee Reel) and recorded one song at Nightshift studios before splitting. The song was never released.

– Failsafe Records

Members

  • Eric Vandenhoven (Bass)
  • Phil Johnston (Guitar)
  • Mark Gibson (Drums/Vocals)
  • Harry Heapworth (Vocals/Guitar)

Discography

Links

 

Springloader

Biography

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.
– Failsafe Records

Members

  • Rob Mayes (Guitar, 1993 – 1995)
  • David Toland (Drums, 1993 – 1994)
  • Michael Oakley (Vocals, 1993 – 1995)
  • Che Rogers (Bass, 1993 – 1995)
  • Andrew Kerr (Drums, 1994 – 1995)
  • Kevin Stokes (Guitar, 1995)

Discography

Links

 

Squirm

Biography

Brilliant 90’s Christchurch sludge-rock outfit comprised of Brett Lupton, Daryl Kirk and Mike Brassell (Hiss Explosion).

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 Andrew Meier (aka ‘Hat’ – who would go on to have an involvement with Flying Nun and as station manager for Christchurch’s RDU radio station), with the original line-up recording and releasing a cassette on Peter 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 (The Undercurrents, Pumpkinhead) joined as bassist.

Members

  • Michael Brassell (Guitar/Vocals/Bass, 1992 -1996)
  • Brett Lupton (Guitar/Vocals/Sampler, 1992 – 1996)
  • Andrew Meier (Drums, 1992)
  • Darryl Kirk (Drums/Keyboards, 1993)
  • Peter Mitchell (Drums, 1993 – 1996)
  • Vaughen Watson (Bass, 1993 – 1996)

Discography

  • Feeding The Cround Cassette (1992, Flat City)
  • Whip Me Honey EP [1994, Failsafe Records, SAFE027)
  • Mastermistakemaker [1995, Failsafe Records, SAFE028)
  • Spastic Sarcastic [1996, Noseflute)

Links

 

 

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

Substandard – Low Electric City Pulses EP / Global Research Centre

2002, Failsafe Records

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.

Substandard

Biography

Excellent instrumental 3-piece out of Christchurch in the Post-Rock 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 Heta’s 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 EP’s, 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 Records) 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 truly 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 Heta 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.

Members

  • Danny Bare (Guitar, 2002 – 2004)
  • Gareth Heta (Bass, 2002 – 2004)
  • Andrew Robbins (Drums, 2002 – 2004)
  • Matt Craw (Guitar, 2004)

Discography

  • Substandard (2002, Failsafe Records)
  • ..Low Electric City Pulses EP (2002, Failsafe Records)
  • Global Research System (2003, Failsafe Records, SAFE054CD)
  • Elite Mini Album (2014, Failsafe Records, SAFE104CD)

Links

AD

Biography

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, Rob Kitson (also Of Clients), Rob Mayes (Dolphin, Throw, Springloader), Rick Tindall (Johnnies) and David Scales (Clients) 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, among 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 pretentiously 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.
– Rob Mayes

Members

  • Andrew Naylor (Drums/Bass, 1984)
  • Rob Kitson (Drums/Bass, 1984)
  • Rob Mayes (Guitar, 1984)
  • Rick Tindall (Vocals/Guitar, 1984)
  • David Scales (Drums, 1984)

Discography

Links

 

Alpha Cast

Biography

3-piece Dunedin indie-pop outfit who formed in 2003 and quickly put out an EP on Failsafe Records.

Comprised of Mike McLeod, Ed Lonsdale and Chris Butchard – the band has been described as relating strongly to the Dunedin sound of the early 1980’s, singled out as one of Dunedin’s finest up and coming pop-rock outfits.

Members

  • Mike McLeod (Vocals/Guitar)
  • Ed Lonsdale (Bass/Vocals)
  • Chris Butchard (Drums/Vocals)

Discography

  • Inside your mind EP (2003, Failsafe Records, SAFE056)

Links

 

Atomic Blossom

Biography

The brainchild of Christchurch musician Dean Karena who first came to local prominence with his previous band Naked Lunch in 1990. [Atomic Blossom had] their first performance at an outdoor concert at the Dux de Lux in Christchurch, first up on a rainy outdoor show featuring Cinematic, The Headless Chickens and Dave Dobbyn.

Trevor Hall had previously worked as an Orientation and Activities co-ordinator for University events, but he was a relative newcomer to drumming, and the band felt they had to replace him almost immediately, shifting Hirtzel from bass to drums and bringing in Layton Pace (Trawler, Swirl).

This line-up quickly cemented itself and recorded 5 songs almost immediately, one track appearing on the Good Things compilation, the other 4 eventually being re-recorded toward the band’s album. Pace left the band after 6 months choosing to commit himself to Trawler, where he got to sing and write his own music.

Pace was replaced by Matt Monopoly and this line-up stayed solid till the band eventually disbanded in disastrous circumstances in New York in 1995. The story goes that the band continued to grow in popularity, working toward their self-released album, and building a strong following for their heavily British sonic guitar sound.

The band secured support slots for Smashing Pumpkins on the 1995 New Zealand tour, impressing the Pumpkins and management. Meanwhile Atomic Blossom’s manager was in the US working at securing the band industry support and arranging concert dates for them stateside.

AB put the finishing touches on the CD and pressed 500 copies. This was used as a demo of the bands material and hardly any of them saw public release. The album remained pretty much impossible to obtain for ten years, until Failsafe Records remastered and re-released it in 2005.

At the end of 1995 Stone left for the US, the rest of the band were to follow early in 1996. Unknown to the rest of the band Stone had tired of playing in the band and felt her leaving for the US was indication enough to the others that she wanted to leave. The other members followed in 1996 and the band united to play American concerts which secured them heavy interest from US labels, notably Maverick Records.

A record deal was as good as signed apparently before Stone chose this opportune moment to abandon the band, effectively scuttling the project.
Stone stayed in New York, and Karena, Hirtzel, and Monopoly returned to NZ and disbanded. Karena left NZ for Australia, probably disheartened by the turn of events. Hirtzel concentrated his efforts on his other band Debris. Monopoly has since moved to the UK and is presently rehearsing with Jeremy Taylor toward possible work as Cinematic.

– Failsafe Records

Members

  • Dean Karena (Guitar/Vocals, 1993 – 1996)
  • Prudence Stone (Guitar/Vocals, 1993 –  1996)
  • Greg Hirtzel (Bass/Drums, 1993 – 1996)
  • Trevor Hall (Drums, 1993)
  • Layton Pace (Bass, 1993 – 1994)
  • Matt Monopoly (Bass, 1994 – 1996)

Discography

Links