Ballon d-Essai

Biography

Christchurch based 5 piece. Released 2 EPs on Flying Nun records (both of which included comic books), and the band recorded a bunch of other material plus a live show at the Hillsborough Tavern and much of this appeared on the Failsafe records release ‘R.I.P.’, another track was also included on the 1984 accident compilation.

Lindsay left the band after the first EP and was replaced by Lyndon Frasier (Lyndon and the Liars). Steven McIntyre went on to join All Fall Down.

The band were relatively entertaining live, doing the art school thing with props and performance. they were interesting for a while in their use of 2 bass guitars and the Peter Hook melody lines from that sort of line up. They eventually started to write more traditional songs and lost the edge they originally had from being completely crap at playing their instruments.

– Rob Mayes Of Failsafe Records

Members

  • Steven McIntyre (Bass/Guitar, 1981 – 1986?)
  • Mark Rastrick (Vocals, 1981 – 1986?)
  • Scott Wilkinson (Drums, 1981 – 1986?)
  • Matt Campbell (Bass, 1981 – 1986?)
  • Lindsay Davis (Guitar, 1981?)
  • Lyndon Frasier (Guitar, 1982? – 1986?)

Discography

  • This is the level crossing 12″ EP (1981 Flying Nun Records, FN007)
  • Grow up 12″ EP (1983, Flying Nun Records, FN020)
  • R.I.P. (1986, Failsafe Records, SAFE005)

Links

 

Belle Motions

Biography

The Belle Motions were a fine pop blast, strongly melodic and guitar led.

They didn’t make much of an impact locally but I remember enjoying the chiming guitar tones and melodies of this band. The band played with guitars handmade by Scott, and Wilson played an eight stringed Hagstrum, which featured a higher octave string next to each of the normal strings.

Ollie Scott is a world authority on Buster Keaton and has written a definitive book on him.

– Rob Mayes at Failsafe Records

Belle Motions sole recording ‘Living‘ was included on Failsafe RecordsBiding Out Time’ compilation.

David Toland also played with The Playthings, Springloader, Chicane, and Future Stupid.

Members

  • Donna Sheene (Vocals/Guitar, 1986?)
  • Ollie Scott (Guitars, 1986?)
  • David Toland (Drums, 1986?)
  • Mark Wilson (Bass, 1986?)

Discography

Links

 

Beat Rhythm Fashion

Biography

Fashionable Wellington-based post-punk from the early 1980’s that featured Caroline Easther (The Chills, Verlaines, Spines etc), but formed by British ex-pat brothers Nino and Dan Birch.

Initially formed as a studio-based outfit in august 1980, and heavily indebted to the sound of the Cure, the Birch brothers had been around the Terrace scene for a while, playing in both the Westown Quintet and The Mixers.

No Great Oaks 7″ Single

Beat Rhythm Fashion eventually started playing live in 1981, taking their place in a vibrant and expanding scene.

They survived a bit longer than many of the formlative Wellington punk outfits featured on ****, releasing several singles packaged in distinctive 2-color sleeves and were recorded as part of the 4-band live album Wellingtonzone, that marked the debut of the soon-to-be-huge Mockers. The band had more of a pop-friendly new-wave edge than their harder-edge contemporaries, but saw little exposure outside Wellington.

In 2007 Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records finally released Bring Real Freedom – a collection of songs culled from out of print vinyl releases, live recordings and unreleased material as part of his ongoing reissue series.

The group received some retrospective exposure in 2017 thanks to Salmonella Dub – The Christchurch dub group were due to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, however they declined involvement after their pick of Beat Rhythm Fashion (as an influencing group) were deemed too obscure.

Members

  • Nino Birch (Guitar/Vocals, 1980 – 1982)
  • Dan Birch (Bass/Vocals/Drums, 1980 – 1982)
  • Glen Stewart (Drums, 1980 – 1981)
  • Caroline Easther  (Drums, 1982)
  • Peter Kaio (Drums, 1982)

Discography

  • **** [1980, w/ Life in the Fridge Exists, Wallsockets, Naked Spots DanceSausage]
  • Beings Rest Finally 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk008]
  • Turn of the Century 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk012]
  • No Great Oaks 7″ Single [1981, Epic, ES751]
  • Bring Real Freedom [2007, Failsafe Records]

Links

 

Breathing Cage

Biography

Something of a dark horse in the New Zealand rock canon, Breathing Cage reads like a super group of New Zealand musicians (vocals by Jay Clarkson, guitar by Greg Malcolm, drums by Gary Sullivan and bass by Michael Kime) and actually went on to win the (then coveted) Rheineck rock awards.

Unfortunately things didn’t pan out when it came to spending the prize (which was a studio recording package) – they went way over budget, the studio foreclosed on their recordings, they couldn’t get a record label to pay for the excess, and the album went unreleased for many years (though eventually resurfaced on Flying Nun Records to very little backing).

Members

  • Jay Clarkson (Vocals)
  • Greg Malcolm (Guitar)
  • Gary Sullivan (Drums)
  • Michael Kime (Bass)

Discography

  • You and Me and the Old Hill Cassingle (1991, as Jay Clarkson Breathing Cage, Flying Nun Records, FN135)
  • Misericord (1991 as Jay Clarkson Breathing Cage, Tall Poppy L30589)
  • Split Milk (2006, Failsafe Records, SAFE078)

Links

Catherine Wheel

Biography

No relation to the UK band of the same name, this one was formed in 1988 if it makes any difference. Following on from Genie and the Wild Children‘s Dave Hunt, Brett Lupton and Mark Tyler and with Paul O’Brien joining, the band became brilliantly adept at working up catch pop and indie rock numbers.

The band recorded 6 songs with Rob Mayes in the bands warehouse on 4 track yielding exceptional results, and self released minimal copies of it to friends. One track ‘Love and justice’ was included in the Pagan Records indie guitar compilation Positive Vibrations.

This batch of songs mined similar territory to the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience in their Flex EP phase, but with the Catherine Wheel’s own slanted style. Easily as good though.

Another series of recordings were completed at the same warehouse on 8 track yielding 4 more songs, none of which were released.the band also committed to tape a large part of their set at a recording session at Rob Mayes Gilby Street home but the sessions were scrapped due to difficulty with O’Brien’s drum sounds. These songs represented a wealth of cool pop songs, and most were not recorded again. Later developments in recording technology would have allowed correction of the original problem, but no use crying over spilt milk.

Catherine Wheel stumbled on to average success, the band always having trouble with live gigs, through technical difficulties, and in some cases stage fright. Eventually the band split with Lupton going on to form Squirm, Hunt went on to form Supertanker, and recorded and released material with Failsafe.

Supertanker went through a few line-up changes before folding, and Hunt eventually ended up as replacement guitarist for Christchurch grungsters Pumpkinhead. At Pumpkinhead’s demise Hunt joined David Yetton’s Stereobus project, joining after the release of the first album. Bassist Mark went on to collaborate with drummer Dave Deacon as the Sly and Robbie rhythm section of Christchurch working in Golf Course Alligators, Salmonella Dub, and 147 Swordfish, among many others.

– Rob Mayes

Members

  • Dave Hunt (Guitar/Vocals, 1988 -)
  • Brett Lupton (Guitar/Vocals, 1988 -)
  • Mark Tyler (Bass, 1988 – )
  • Paul O’Brien (Drums, 1988 -)

Discography

Links

 

Channel Four

Biography

An early pop punk band featuring Eugene Butcher (later of Desperate Measures and Evasive Action), David Gent and Michael Harrallambi (both of Dance Exponents).

Never saw this band but ‘You Were The One‘ (Failsafe Records‘ ‘Accident‘ compilation) is a pretty good example of catch pop punk/new wave stuff. The Exponents used to do a cover of this song in their live set.

– Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records

Members

  • Eugene Butcher (Vocals, 1981)
  • David Gent (Bass, 1981)
  • Michael Harrallambi (Drums, 1981)

Discography

Links

 

Chameleon

Biography

Melodic pop four-piece Chameleon was formed by Jazz School students Leigh Franklin and Julian Marchant late in 1993. Drummer Bevan Davison and keyboardist turned bassist Mike completed the lineup. This was soon to change with Greig Bainbridge coming on board on bass (ex Bill Direen and the Builders) and Mark Kouvelis on drums, both of whom played in local jazz-funk band Eat My Shorts.

Their first gig was at the Dux de Lux alongside Atomic Blossom and Squirm following the release of their single Blue Soup, under Failsafe.

Early in 1995 the band won the NZ heats of the Next Big Thing competition along with Auckland Band Word, which led them to compete in Melbourne against International competition. This cemented their desire to return to Melbourne as soon as possible to take advantage of the thriving music scene there.

While there guitarist Julian contracted a mysterious illness which left the left side of his body numb and having to learn to play without feeling in his fingers. Chameleon then released a 5 track EP titled Gladwrap under Saint Records early 1996, which followed a Nationwide tour.

They moved to Melbourne March 1996 minus bass-player Greig, who had musical commitments in NZ. They then recorded 4 track EP Hot’n’tot, named after Greig’s dog Hotty.

Failsafe Records

Members

  • Julian Marchant (Guitar/Vocals, 1993 – 1997?)
  • Leigh Franklin (Guitar/Vocals, 1993 – 1997?)
  • Bevan Davison (Drums, 1993)
  • Mike (Keyboards/Bass, 1993)
  • Greig Bainbridge (Bass, 1993 – 1996)
  • Mark Kouvalis (Drums, 1993 -1997?)

Discography

  • Gladwrap EP (1996, Saint Records)

Links

 

Chicane

Biography

Formed in 1994 the four piece Chicane rapidly gained a strong following in their home town of Christchurch.

The band features the vocal and guitar talents of Dean Chiplin who was last seen on the Failsafe Records label on the Avalanche compilation playing guitar for Supertanker. David Toland on drums and Che Rogers on bass duties and shared their talents between Chicane and Springloader who featured on the ‘Good things’ compilation.

Taking advantage of recording time offered in Greymouth the band have put together a six song mini album which embraces the variety of songs in their live set.

Drummer Toland moved to Auckland after the recordings and is replaced by Whetham Alpress. The band performed gigs locally before founder members Chiplin and Schilder decide to move to Auckland, replacing Alpress with Toland and Rogers with Dylan (Elevation).

Chicane’s music is predominantly solid guitar based, ranging from the swooning pop of fabrication and scatter bomb to the hard edged wired sounds of v-flare and the title track. the up beat downtime has gain inclusion on kiwi hit disc 14.

– Rob Mayes at Failsafe Records

Members

  • Dean Chiplin (Guitar/Vocals, 1994-)
  • Justin Schilder (Guitar/Vocals, 1994-)
  • Che Rogers (Bass, 1994 -)
  • David Toland (Drums, 1994 -)
  • Wheltham Alpress (Drums)
  • Dylan (Bass)

Discography

  • ‘V-Flare’/’Fabrication’ 7″ Lathe-cut (Self-Released)
  • Revs per minute EP (1994, Failsafe Records, SAFE040)

Links

 

Children’s Hour

Biography

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 Records – 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 Records 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.

Members

  • 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)

Discography

  • Flesh 12″ EP (1983, Flying Nun Records, FNC60)
  • Washed Away 7″ Single (1984, Flying Nun Records, KID001)
  • Looking For The Sun (2005, Failsafe Records, 064CD)

Links

 

Cicada

Biography

Cicada were an Auckland based guitar-oriented band.

Since forming in 1992, Cicada have recorded and successfully aired many demos on student radio throughout the country and have amassed considerable live experience, including support slots for touring international acts such as Fugazi and Yage.

Oscillator is Cicada’s debut EP, self-financed and released on Failsafe Records. Four tracks: Winter, Alphajerk, Good, and Sway were recorded on 24 track at the lab in September 1994 and engineered by Chris Van De Geer and produced by Richard Aspden and Cicada. Track five was recorded at York Street Studio in April 1993, engineered by Malcolm Welsford and produced by Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke fame and producer of Shihad’s Churn album.

Reflective of live Cicada performances, a wide variety of sonic technology was utilized in the creation of the Oscillator product including acoustic, electronic, digital, analogue, modern and antiquated equipment with the aim of capturing a broad frequency response and ‘deep’ audal scope.

Oscillator captures well the elusive Cicada ‘sound’ – an invitation to new angles of listening pleasure. A limited edition lathe cut 7″ vinyl featuring Alphajerk and Winter was released by the band to follow the Oscillator EP.

The band recorded and self released a follow up album of material in 1997.

– Rob Mayes

Members

  • Andrew Denton (Guitars)
  • Andrew Spraggon (Vocals/Guitars/Keyboards)
  • John Taylor (Drums/Samples)
  • Kevin Tutt (Bass)

Discography

  • Winter 7″ lathe-cut (Mr Banger)
  • Backstab 7″ lathe-cut (Mr Banger)
  • Oscillator EP (1995, Failsafe Records, SAFE037)
  • Soupsonic ()

Links