The Palace Of Wisdom

The Palace of Wisdom originated in 1999 when well established Christchurch rock’n’roller Ben Johnstone (Guitar/Backing Vocals – Hi-Tone Destroyers, The Incisions) got together with intimidating vocalist Andrew ‘Ox’ O’Connell, adding hooky guitar riffs to O’Connell’s hurricane force vocals. The resulting recording was released as part of the No Thanks To New Zealand On Air compilation in 2000. Matt Alien (Hi-Tone Destroyers, Black Panthers, Space Dust, Slavetrader) joined on drums, with the line-up complete by English bassist Ian Lloyd.

With Lloyd’s departure in late 2000, ALC5 (yet another Hi-Tone Destroyers member) joined the group on Bass, however after a year with the group he was also replaced, this time by the legendary Mick Elborado (Scorched Earth Policy, The Terminals, Gas, The Axemen, Drowning Is Easy etc), who became a mainstay in the group and is responsible for the bands huge, over-driven bass sound on the excellent Pills EP.

The group then started to rotated through a number of drummers with Nick Harte (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks, Black Albino, CM Ensemble, The Urinators) in February 2002, Tim MacDonald (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks) in March 2003, Simon Nunn (Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine, The Undercurrents, Kate in the Lemon Tree, Weaponized, Hi-Tone Destroyers etc) in December 2003, and then Chris Andrews (a million lights, Mysterioball, Idols of Eve, Pop Hits City, O’Lovely) in November 2004.

This line-up was the longest of the group, though recordings from this era (which lasted almost 4 years) are limited to Stuck In The Suck. After a disastrous recording session at Christchurch’s MAINZ, and other internal issues – Mick Elborado left the group. Jared Kelly (The Pickups, Blue Moon) then joined in May 2008, with Andrews and Kelly switching instruments after their first practice.

2008 was a particularly important year for the group, recording the Common Threads EP with the lineup of O’Connell (Vocals), Johnson (Guitar), Andrews (Bass) And Kelly (Drums) Before Stink Magnetic‘s Bad Evil joined as a 2nd guitarist, moving down from Palmerston North. This was an important change for the group as in late 2009 founding guitarist Ben Johnstone left to raise a family in Canada, and Aiden Moody (Bad Evil, Grand Chancellors) took over his lead guitar duties.

Both Kelly and Andrews left for other towns in 2010, however Ox enlisted the help of drummer Michael Summerfield (The Undercurrents, Cowboy Machine), before Andrews rejoined in early 2011 on bass guitar. The group played the very last show at historic Lyttelton venue El Santo Porteno, just 2 days before the February 2011 earthquake. This disrupted the progress the group had been making, with guitarist Moody moving on to form surf group The Grand Chancellors. The group resurfaced in early 2012 with Jared Kelly once again playing drums (replacing a departing Summerfield), with John Harris (Lonely Harris Club, Doctors, BnP) quickly establishing himself as their latest guitarist.

Of the course of the last 13 years the group has played a string of high-profile support slots, including The Chills, The Datsuns and of particular note – US group Dead Moon, who the group cover (‘Unknown Passage’) and are of particular importance to vocalist O’Connell with their never-say-die attitude to Rock’n’Roll. The Palace of Wisdom’s set is augmented by a number of re-interpreted covers, often quite removed from the originals, or obscure in their origin – this includes The Great Unwashed‘s ‘Born in the Wrong Time’ (as ‘Sending Him Away’), and Joy Division’s ‘Sound of Music’.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The ‘P’ EP [2001 Self-Released]
  • Candy Pants [2002 Self-Released]
  • Pills EP [2003 Self-Released]
  • Stuck In The Suck [2006 Self-Released]
  • Burnside EP [2008 Self-Released]
  • Common Threads EP [2009 Self-Released]

See-Also

The Undercurrents

Excellent Christchurch guitar band that evolved from earlier group The Centre Will Hold. From that group Jamey Holloway (Guitar / vocals), and Nathan Bycroft (Drums) were joined by Nik O’Keefe (Bass, Vocals) and Marcus Winstanley (Guitar) to form the original line-up in mid 2003. This original line-up played in a low-key manner, with just Winstanley’s guitar adding an extra layer of Shoegaze type guitar into the mix (as he had done with previous band Barnard’s Star).

Eventually Bycroft left and after a short stint by Stephen McCarthy (Pine) the ever-versatile Simon Nunn (also of the Steffan Van Soest Hit Machine, Hi-Tone Destroyers etc) filled the drummers seat more permanently, and beefed up their sound quite a lot. Michael Summerfield (Palace of Wisdom, Cowboy Machine) joined on viola, adding a level of country/folk inflection to their sound. The group managed to win the 2004 RDU Round Up band competition, released an EP with the help of Michael Brassell (aka Michael J Hex) / Arc Life Records and set up All Plastics – a small recording studio.

Simon Nunn eventually found himself committed to his regular gigs as a professional musician, so young drummer Matt Scobie (Black Market Art, T54) was brought in to replace him, and long-time bassist Nick O’Keefe also left, replaced by Vaughan Watson (Pumpkinhead, Squirm). The group has continued a low-key existence, with only a handful of shows a year and recordings few and far between.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Undercurrents (Blue Stripes) EP [2004 Arc Life]
  • Undercurrents (Big Ears) EP [2005 All Plastics]
  • Undercurrents EP (Black Birds) [November 2006 All Plastics]
  • Heavy Sky [July 2010 All Plastics]

See-Also

Scuzzbuckets

As the name suggests, a scuzzy rock’n’roll outfit from Christhurch, part of the Hi-Tone Destroyers / Ape Management crowd that released singles on Kato during the mid to late 90s.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Heartmeat’/’Freeloadin’/’Horny As Fuck’ 7″ Single [Kato Kato 8]

See-Also

Slavetrader

Pure rock’n’roll from the now-auckland based ex garden-city native Matt Alien (Ex Hi-Tone Destroyers etc) and his troup – including fellow Christchurch’er James Jett (bass), plus Paul Pablo (drums), and Andy Halford (replacing Rob Ting on guitar). A bit slicker, brasher and just a little underwhelming compared to Alien’s fire-breathing best.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The People’s Party 7″ [2005? Fast Food]
  • Black Magnet 7″ [2005? Fast Food]

See-Also

Thee Strapons

2 piece scuzzo-rock’n’roll with weird elements and a thoroughly lo-fi leaning from christchurch fixtures (and heads of the Solarphonic label) Bev Greene and Done Campbell – now residing in Wellinton.

This long-lived, stylistically versatile group, began producing music in Dunedin in 1988! Transferring operations to Christchurch in 1993, Thee Strapons temporarily exchanged the William Burroughs-meets-Throbbing Gristle industrial rock, of their Dunedin phase, in favour of no-nonsense punk rock and r’n’b. However, beyond this popular, public persona, the 1996-2001 period also saw much experimentation with psychedelic lounge music and electro-industrial cabaret
Krkrkrk

With the key duo of Thee Strapons relocating to Wellington to raise their child, the Hi-Tone Destroyers‘ Matt Alien moving north to try his hand at greater success, and the Incisions imploding in the early 2000s, the Christchurch underground rock’n’roll outfit was dealt quite a blow.

Mid-fi punk-industrial stuff, some garage moments, often experimental – lots of William S. Burroughs/Psychic TV tape loop fuckery etc… don and i remixed and remastered these to DAT from the original 4-track tapes mid 2000.
Dave Khan on the 2 Early Fears compilations

After a lengthy absence, Thee Strapons finally resurfaced in Wellington in 2004, appearing on the rather mixed Stop The Bypass compilation. Hopefully more is on the way.

A wonderful collection of lounge-rock numbers and synth-pieces recorded 1996-99. longer, more keyboard-driven compositions. lots of local musos are on this recording inc. Joanne and Sharon Billesdon, George Churton (Gene-Pool Belmondo of Gas etc), Chris Rigby and even moi. Bits from Come Back To My Place And Lost Found Sound were originally released on Krkrkrk in early 1997 on the tapes Beyond The Valley Of The Strap Ons &and Fingerless Love

Dave Khan on The Lost Found Sound

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Ouch Lucky Fight Lathe-Cut 7″ Ep [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Predator Sway’/’Strap-Ons Are Go’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Get Outta Town’/’Grind Las Vegas’/’Diabolique’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Taboo’/’Hey’/’Everybody’S Wiser Now’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Daughter Of Horror, Uptight Surfite’/’Tokyo Striptease, Are You Gonna Be There’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic 001]
  • Dance All Night With Thee Strap Ons: ‘Race With The Devil’/’You’Re Gonna Miss Me’/’Pedophile’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic 011]
  • ‘For What Its Worth’/’Psycho’/’Big In Japan’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic Sop10]
  • Beyond The Valley Of The Strap Ons Cassette [1997 Krkrkrk Krk069]
  • Fingerless Love Cassette [1997 Krkrkrk Krk079]
  • Come Back To My Place… [1997 Krkrkrk Krk105]
  • Pretty Ugly Things [1998 Solarphonic]
  • No Time To Be A Work Of Art [1999 Solarphonic]
  • Lost Found Sound [1999 Krkrkrk Krk106]
  • Early Fears 1 [2000 Krkrkrk Krk102]
  • Early Fears 2 [2000 Krkrkrk Krk103]
  • Eat The Mess Age [2000 Krkrkrk Krk108]
  • Bottle [2001 Krkrkrk Krk115]
  • Hellbox [2001 Krkrkrk Krk116]

See-Also

The D4 – 6Twenty

Flying Nun [2001]

The garage rock explosion of recent times has given way to the world again discovering rock’n’roll outside the borders of the United States. After Japanese outfit Guitar Wolf got everyone pumped up all those years back, the Hives have shown that even without the hype, great rock’n’roll can sell, with their lead-off singles entering the charts worldwide backed by the truly American sounds of the White Stripes and latecomers the Strokes. Meanwhile in New Zealand, the garage rock scene has been prominent since the early 90’s. In Christchurch, bands like the Hi-Tone Destroyers, The Black Panthers and Thee Strap-Ons had already formed and released a substantial body of work before The D4 and the Datsuns (of Cambridge) had even penned a song.

But that’s just made their impact seem more explosive. In a short period of time, both bands have been trust into the limelight of the New Zealand rock scene, and have earned their reputations as New Zealand’s best live acts.

6Twenty is the fruit of the D4’s past 2 years of relentless touring. It’s a tight, punchy collection of party songs that jump out at you with more venom than the Strokes have even been able to muster. The album jumps out at with Andrew WK style song titles (luckily no reflection on the contents of the album itself) – the bustling ‘Rock’N’Roll Motherfucker’ opens at a hundred miles per hour and the pace never succumbs. Sure it’s cliched, but the d4 put in the kind of energy Iggy Pop would have been proud to front.

The second track, “Party”, rolls off with a manic agility test drum-roll before the killer bassline kicks in. The song fluctuates between twin vocalist breakdowns, and phased guitar attacks to ends the track in a true party atmosphere before their debut hit “Come On!” winds up blasting your eardrums. Another scorching bassline and confident, punchy guitar – you know you’re onto a winner with this album. Only the choice covers of the Scavengers classic “Mysterex” and the Japanese outfit guitar wolf’s “Invader Ace” break the run of great original material.

Probably best compared to the Hives, The D4 have developed an album that sounds like a pounding live performance with a thin mix of guitar and thick bass with simple but deadly drumming propelling the band to near bursting point, the way a rock’n’roll album should sound.

Both Jimmy and Dion are skilled vocalists, choosing the sing-song approach of vocal treatments, and even harmonizing to their wailing guitar sounds and each other on tracks like the dynamic “running on empty”. The album doesn’t give way to slower numbers as the white stripes have recently employed, choosing to go the hard way, but still sneaking in complimentary organ vibes on “ladies man” and “little baby”.

With 12 songs, it’s considerably lengthier than the current crop of garage albums, but the d4 pull off just about perfect the formula with almost 40 minutes of attention-seeking go-getting rock. So, catch them while you can, before the nme gets a hold of them, because they are already garnering praise for their live shows in Britain.