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Skeptics

Hugely popular and influential New Zealand industrial rock act. Known for their grinding sound and one particularly visual music video – the incredible and universally banned ‘Affco’. The video shows some rather graphic freezing-works footage, and was directed by Stuart Page – also known for his band the Axemen. The video has since had several one-off showings, and is actually available directly from page – but it is far too graphic to ever receive any kind of commercial release.

David D’Ath (vocals / keyboards) and Robin Gauld (guitar) formed The Skeptics in Palmerston North way back in 1979, with Don White (drums, percussion and samples) and Ian Reiddy (bass) soon joining to complete their original line-up, heavily influenced by the first wave of British punk. After a few fruitless practice sessions and recording efforts in their high school, Gauld’s old friend Nick Roughan (who was considerably more technically adept) was brought in as a new bassist and things started to gel.

The Skeptics are set apart by the transcendent intensity of their performance. It’s uplifting by way of the band’s sheer force of will. Punishing and cathartic in the extreme, the skeptic’s noise is demanding and confrontational

– Paul Mckesser, taken from a live review in Rip It Up, 1990

Support slots and eventually their own headline slots soon showed a quickly rising fan-base – the band were growing very popular. The Pyronnists Selections EP was recorded for Ripper recordings, but a stolen master tape delayed their debut release (though the track ‘Last Orders’ was included on the Three Piece Pack compilation). After a close finish in the Auckland battle of the bands (finishing 2nd to the short-lived Gurlz) they finally made their debut with the EP Chowder Over Wisconsin, a distinctly collaborative album.

The band continued to build a strong following, running the Palmerston North venue ‘Snail Clamps’ – and started releasing material through Paul Lurkers Industrial Tapes , including a release from spin-off act the Amazing Charlton Heston. Once palmy had been conquered the band relocated to Wellington, losing Gauld to overseas study and gaining the Gordons / Bailter Space‘s John Halvorsen as his replacement, and Brent McLauchlin lent a hand as mixer (and eventually a part-time 2nd drummer).

2nd album Skeptic III and the subsequent ‘Affco’ video were produced in 1987, cementing the bands notoriety, but TVNZ refused the piece, even with digital editing to mask the gore:

The graphic scenes of animal slaughter are unnecessarily detailed and prolonged, and despite the fact that they may be everyday scenes at freezing works, this does not imply that visuals of this nature may be screened on television
– Gerry Ryan, ‘Radio With Pictures’ producer

Come 1989, work on the third album Amalgam was disrupted by D’Ath’s health. It was quickly apparent that D’Ath had leukemia, but despite rushing the albums production, D’Ath never saw it completed. He died on Tuesday, September 4th 1990, dissolving the band. Post D’Ath’s death, the band released archival and live material and compiled their work on a Flying Nun released boxed-set, though Roughan, White and Gauld’s attempt at a reunion (as hub) never really got off the ground.

The focal point was david with his slight stature, his hooked nose and his deep-set eyes. He looked like some strange, punch drunk bird and the veins in his neck bulged as he forced mysterious words and noises from his throat
Chris Matthews, taken from D’Ath’s obituary in Rip It Up, 1990

Discography (picks in bold)

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Categories
b artists

Bailter Space

Biography

Starting life as the Gordons, Bailter Space were one of the most abrasive aggressive and (primarily) loudest bands to ever emerge out of Christchurch and the Flying Nun scene of the early 80s. Comprised of Alister Parker on guitar/vox, John Halvorsen on bass and Brent Mclachlan on drums, the Gordons were the sonic exploration end of the dunedin sound, creating tremendous walls of weedback and distortion, never seen before on the New Zealand scene. Parker’s deadpan monotone growl was the icing on the cake in these early albums, and the Gordons were reasonably successful as a local act before disintegrating in 1986, releasing two solid albums on Flying Nun.

Parker formed Bailter Space in 1987 (initially as Nelsh Bailter Space), retaining his role from the Gordons years, but bringing in the Clean‘s Hamish Kilgour on lead guitar, the Pin Group‘s Ross Humphries on bass and Glenda Bills on drums. This line-up never seemed to settle though, with Kilgour switching to drums, Humphries and Bills leaving the group to make way for original Gordons bass player John Halvorsen to resume the bass playing role. This line-up recorded their stunning, ear-bashing debut Tanker, but once Kilgour had rejoined the Clean full time again in time for 1989’s Modern Rock, Brent Mclachlan was brought back in to complete the original Gordons line-up.

Through out the 90s, Bailter Space continued to release brilliant, dense rock albums, cultivating their wall-of-sound to the point of My Bloody Valentine comparisons, but Bailter Space were always more aggressive and indeed louder than their Irish cousins. After several impressive North American tours, Matador signed the band for American distribution, releasing the 4 song ep The Aim to a burgeoning US audience. The positive feedback that Vortura and Wammo (their mid 90s classics) receieved led to the band relocating to New York.

After adapting to a looser, more ‘Indie’ sound with 97s Capsul, the band then set about a less hectic schedule, gradually developing their sound at a more relaxed pace, taking several years between Capsul and Solar.3, even after the more considerable amount of press these albums receieved. In 2004 the (newly coporatized) Flying Nun / Festival Mushroom Group issued a best-of compilation compiling the history of Bailter Space. Though put together and designed by the band themselves and contains many classic character-defining Bailter Space songs, the compilation skimps on any band info or details along with some of the more direct and obvious compilation choices, leaving their albums (particularly Tanker and Wammo) much better starting points for the band.

After a lengthy hiatus whilst the members were living in various cities in New Zealand and the United States, Bailter Space re-emerged in 2012 with new recordings on the Arch Hill label – previewing tracks on-line before the new albums eventual release in August 2012 – some 14 years since Solar.3 was released!

Members

  • Alister Parker (Guitar/Vocals/Bass, 1987 -)
  • Hamish Kilgour (Guitar/Drums, 1987 – 1989)
  • Ross Humphries (Bass, 1987)
  • Glenda Bills (Drums, 1987)
  • John Halvorsen (Bass, 1987 – )
  • Brent Mclachlan (Drums, 1987 – 1989)
  • Todd Lindner (Bass, 2012)

Discography

  • Nelsh Bailter Space EP (1987, Flying Nun Records, FN094)
  • New Man 7″ Single (1987, Flying Nun Records, FN096)
  • Grader Spader 12″ Single (1988, Flying Nun Records, FN106)
  • Tanker (1988, Flying Nun Records, FN107 / FNE31)
  • Thermos (1990, Flying Nun Records, FN142 / FNE32)
  • The Aim Ep (1992, Flying Nun Records, FN232)
  • Shine 7″ Single (1992, Clawfist)
  • Robot World (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN259)
  • B.E.I.P. EP (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN284)
  • Vortura (1994, Flying Nun Records, FN295)
  • Splat EP (1995, Flying Nun Records)
  • Retro CD Single (1995, Flying Nun Records)
  • Wammo (1995, Flying Nun Records)
  • Capsule (1997, Flying Nun Records/Turnbuckle, FN375/TB005)
  • Capsule 7″ Single (1997, Turnbuckle)
  • Solar.3 (1998, Wildside/Turnbuckle, TB017)
  • Photon EP (1998, Turnbuckle)
  • Bailter Space Compilation (2004, Flying Nun Records)
  • Strobosphere (2012, Arch Hill Records/Fire Records, AHR052)
  • Trinine (2013, Arch Hill Records/Fire Records, AHR056)

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