Solid Gold Hell

Brash Auckland rock outfit from the mid 90s featuring Glen Campbell, (former Jean-Paul Sartre Experience Member) Gary Sullivan, Matthew Heine, Colleen Brennan and Simon Cummings.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Sugar Bag’/’Evil Cabaret’ 7″ Single [1994 Flying Nun Fn289]
  • Swingin’ Hot Murder [1994 Flying Nun Fn298] Rn
  • The Blood And The Pity [1996 Flying Nun Fn346]

See-Also

The Stereo Bus

The pop outgrowth of Ex-Christchurch song-writer Dave Yetton (Ex Jean-Paul Sartre Experience), who’s backing band has included Francis Hunt, Nick Buckton, Matthias Jordan, Mike Hall, Mike Franklin Browne, Jason Fa’afoi, Bobby Kennedy and Mark Beaton.

Made a splash in the mid/late 90s with a pretty swell, but ultimately pretty twee debut and a less rock, more sopp follow-up. They didn’t quite have the hooks and general wacky attraction of JPS at their peak, but they’re ok. The group disappeared in 2000, but ultimately resurfaced in late 2011, with more material on the horizon.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The Stereobus [1997 Festival]
  • Brand New [1999 EMI]

Awards
Tui Awards 2000

  • Best Music Video: Alex Sutherland and Michael Lonsdale

See-Also

YFC

Biography

Originally called Youth For Christ, just to piss off the local Christians, the band got told to change their name…. Or else. Their line-up was three piece, no guitar. Bassist/vocals – Johnathon Ogilvie, bassist/vocals – Grant Horsnell, and drummer Micheal Daily. The band performed throughout New Zealand teaming up with Children’s Hour for gigs. The band recorded and released one 6 song EP through Hit Singles, but split before they managed to release most of their best songs, including such favorites as ‘Black Train’ and ‘Waltz’. YFC were exceptionally inventive in their sound.

Both Daily and Horsnell went on to join Shaft‘s Micheal Williams in Sydney based This Cage. Ogilvie and Daily also started up Sydney based Leadleg who recorded and released a version of the YFC track ‘Waltz’ but the song was greatly altered from the original. Daily then joined former Jean-Paul Sartre Experience frontman Dave Mulcahy in a new three-piece called Eskimo alongside Dolphin‘s Rob Mayes.
Failsafe

In early 2005 however, the trio finally reconvened for the release of Failsafe‘s excellent Retrogenic series, playing a handful of live shows and releasing ‘Richochet’, a compiled anthology of unreleased or out of print YFC material.

Members

  • Johnathon Ogilvie (bass/vocals, 198?, 2004)
  • Grant Horsnell (bass/vocals, 198?, 2004)
  • Micheal Daily (drums, 198?, 2004)

Discography

  • Between Two Thieves EP [1984 Hit Singles Hit15]
  • Richochet [2005 Failsafe 062cd]

Straitjacket Fits

Dissonant kiwi pop-rock that at times verged on shoe-gazer (the band were known for incredibly loud live performances), often hiding their delicate melodies and concise, heartfelt lyrics behind a wall of feedback. Based around Shayne Carter and Andrew Brough (who eventually split from the band after the Melt tour to form Bike) both on guitar and vocals, David Wood filling the bass role, and John Collie at the drums. Shayne Carter was always the man in the spotlight, he had come from Dunedin band the Doublehappys and was known as a bit of an enigmatic front-man, as well as being quite the temperamental artist type. Andrew Brough however (formerly of the Orange), represented the quiet and caring, under-appreciated side of the band – his single ‘Down In Splendor’ is one of the best examples of melodic kiwi pop, a fragile, love song with a killer sing-a-long chorus.

But Carter is one hell of a songwriter also, practically carrying the first album (the classic Hail) with his singles ‘She Speeds’ and ‘Life In One Chord’. During the first two albums, the Fits were at the fore-front of kiwi rock, challenging the Chills and the Headless Chickens for the most popular of local bands, and along with the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience as the pick of the New Zealand underground scene. When the Melt tour wound down in early ’92, Brough decided it was time he formed his own band, as little of his material seem to work its way into the Fits cannon. He was replaced by Mark Peterson for the disjointed album Blow, released later in ’92.

Although Blow contains some excellent pop singles in ‘Done’, ‘Cat Inna Can’ and my personal favorite, and an excellent moot point for The Fits – ‘If I Were You’, the album was too inconsistent to support an attempted break into the burgeoning American market, and the band broke up to persue their own interests.

Carter now performs under the Dimmer moniker, releasing the brilliant, decade in the making I Believe You Are A Star last year to unanimous critical acclaim, and with a follow-up to be released shortly! Brough’s band Bike made one of the great New Zealand pop albums of the mid 90s, drawing a great deal of radio play for what was basically an all-hit album.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Life In One Chord 12″ Ep [1987 Flying Nun Fn080 / Fne25]
  • Hail [1988 Flying Nun Fn105]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 12″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn108]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 7″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn114]
  • Hail [1990 Extended U.S. Edition Flying Nun Fn142]
  • ‘Sparkle That Shines’/’Grate’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn151]
  • Melt [1990 Flying Nun Fn174]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’In Spite Of It All’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn175]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’Skin To Wear’/’In Spite Of It All’/’Hail’ (Live) 12″ / Cd Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn176]
  • ‘Down In Splendour’/’Seeing You Fled’/’Missing Presumed Drowned’/’Cave In’ Double 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn180]
  • Down In Splendour Video Cassette [1990 Flying Nun Fn D16011]
  • Done Ep [1992 Flying Nun Fn242]
  • Blow [1993 Flying Nun Fn251]
  • ‘Cat Inna Can’/’Sycamore’/’Satellite’ Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn265]
  • ‘If I Were You’/’Brother’s Keeper’ (Demo)/’Burn It Up’ (Demo) Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn285]
  • Best Of Double-Cd [1998 Compilation Flying Nun Fn406]

Awards Etc
Rianz Awards 1990


  • Music Video Of The Year – Bad Note For A Heart
  • Cover Design Of The Year – John Collie

Rianz Awards 1993


  • Album Of The Year – Blow
  • Top Male Vocalist Of The Year – Shayne Carter

See-Also

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

 

Chug

Biography

On paper chug sound like a bit of a super-band. Featuring the wonderful Norma O’Malley (formerly of criminally under-rated all-girl janglers Look Blue Go Purple) on vocals, along with Alf Danielson (Goblin Mix), Stephen Kilroy (Stephen and about a million other bands) and Alan Haig (Snapper, and for a while as drummer for the Verlaines).

This incarnation put out a self-released single before signing to Flying Nun, but soon after releasing their follow-up single, both Haig and Kilroy departed, making way for further luminaries Dave Mitchell (Goblin Mix, and of course the 3Ds and now Ghost Club) and Gary Sullivan (Jean-Paul Sartre Experience and then Solid Gold Hell) to fill the gaps. phew.

To me, their albums always seemed like potential wasted, particularly as Dave Mitchell seems to keep to his own devices, having more of a support role than a creative force. However, for power-pop fans – their 1997 sophomore effort Metalon is a pretty fine album in its own right.

After extensive problems with American label Alias Records, they called it quits in 1998 – with Mitchell moving to London and the other members returning to their subsequent other bands.

Members

  • Norma O’Malley (Organ/Guitar/Vocals/Harmonica, 1991? – 1997?)
  • Alf Donaldson (Bass/Vocals/Guitar, 1991? – 1997?)
  • Stephen Kilroy (Guitar, 1991? – 1992?)
  • Alan Haig (Drums, 1992?)
  • Dave Mitchell (Guitar/Percussion, 1994? – 1997?)
  • Gary Sullivan (Drums, 1994?)
  • Shaun O’Reilly (Harmonica, 1994?)
  • Shaun Broadley (Drums, 1994 – 1997?)

Discography

  • ‘Flowers’/’Gunnera’ 7″ Single [1992, Flying Nun, FN248]
  • Kisser Cd Ep [1993, Flying Nun, FN263]
  • Sassafras [1994, Flying Nun, Fn300]
  • ‘Golden Mile’/’Concord’/’Cosmos’ Cd Single [1994, Flying Nun, Fn305]
  • ‘Golden Mile’/’Concord’ 7″ Single [1994, Flying Nun, FN305]
  • ‘Queen Bee’/’Dennis Potter’/’Metalon’/’Seam’ Cd Single [1996, Flying Nun, FN365]
  • ‘Queen Bee’/’Dennis Potter’ 7″ Single [1996, Flying Nun, FN365]
  • Metalon [1997, Alias, A117]

Links

 

Dolphin

Biography

Christchurch based three piece featuring Failsafe’s Rob Maye, Kevin Stokes and Stephen Birss. 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 performed 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” make NZ play lists and charts including national television’s CV campus radio chart.

Members

  • Rob Mayes (Bass/Guitar, 1987 – 1990)
  • Kevin Stokes (Guitar/Vocals, 1987 – 1990)
  • Stephen Birss (Drums, 1987 – 1990)
  • Andrew Kirr (Drums)
  • Pete Thomas (Drums, 1996)
  • Tracey Tompkins (Drums, 1996)

Discography

  • Hold Touch cassette (1988, Failsafe Records, SAFE009)
  • Promise cassette (1989, Failsafe Records, SAFE010
  • Out of Hand / Finally It’s Time (1995, Failsafe Records, SAFE031 / 032)
  • EPs (Compilation 2005, Failsafe Records, SAFE074)
  • Waiting for Splashdown (2006, Failsafe Records, FR001CD)

Links

 

Eskimo

Biography

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’.

Members

  • Dave Mulcahy (Guitar/Vocals, 2004)
  • Rob Mayes (Bass, 2004)
  • Michael Daly (Drums, 2004)

Discography

Links

 

Jean-Paul Sartre Experience – Jean-Paul Sartre Experience

1994 / 2003 Reissue, Flying Nun, FNCD078

With Flying Nun reissuing a number of their long out-of-print release, it was about time the boys from Jean-Paul Sartre Experience saw the light of day again. Their early discography is as follows: they released a self-titled EP, then followed it up with a mini-album entitled Love Songs.

These were then released as a cumulative album, which was initially also named love songs, and then expanded and changed to the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, just to confuse archivists. The end result is quite a collection of genuine pop-classics, and was the moment in time when the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience was really hitting their stride.

The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience (later shorted to JPS Experience or JPSE due to legal hassle’s with Sartre’s estate) was formed in Christchurch in the mid-80’s and immediately set about creating a suite of songs that tread the line between charmingly naive love songs (‘Let there be love’), upbeat sing-a-longs (‘I like rain’) and even kooky, disjointed attempts at white-bred rap (‘Crap-rap’).

Both blessed and cursed with all 4 members being songwriters (with Dave Mulcahy, Jim Laing and Dave Yetton all providing both guitar and vocals) their songs were fresh, invigorating and stylistically scattered in these, the early years.

Eventually the band would split after years of tightening their formula until things just weren’t fun anymore (their last album, the wildly uneven and downbeat bleeding star). Mulcahy then launched the brilliant, larger than life, and unfortunately short-lived Superette, eventually going solo. Yetton created his own ‘sissy-pop’ project – The Stereo Bus which eventually grew out of its humble solo beginnings to be a very popular 5-piece. And lastly their drummer Gary Sullivan (who often took the back stage in JPS Experience’s career) formed the acclaimed, but commercially ignored scuzz-rockers Solid Gold Hell.

Dave Yetton had a penchant for creating what he freely admitted was girly pop – soppy love songs and silly, carefree lyrics. Mulcahy acted as the ever-vigilant older brother with tracks like ‘Firetime’, adding structure to result in a perfect balance of playful melodies and sobering lyrics. Their songs were playful, yet intelligent (‘Flex’), reflective, but upbeat (‘Grey parade’) – you’d expect with such a clash of idea’s the songs would fail to gel, but luckily Jean-Paul Sartre Experience is one of those releases that exceeded all expectations.

‘Loving grapevine’ is perhaps the most perfect example of how their songs worked so well. Jim Laing’s demented, gleeful vocals are so exuberant you can’t help but think how much fun they had recording the album. A relatively straightforward pop number, the song is highlighted by cheery backing vocals – when the guitar solo strikes mid-song, it almost seems out of place.

In fact, the vocals are the most distinctive element of the album, three vocalists perusing a myriad of approaches add up to an awful lot of styles. Even the more serious numbers (‘Transatlantic love song’) seem characteristic when accompanied by such out and out fun numbers as ‘Jabberwocky’ and ‘Let there be love’.

The instrumentation is brilliantly suited though too, particularly Sullivan’s drumming which seems to drive the seriousness of the songs — the more fun and over-the-top the songs, the more disjointed and playful the rhythm. For an album with no credited bassist, their sure are some catchy grooves too – particularly the slowly building ‘Jabberwocky’. It rolls and rolls as the song grows and grows, building tension and allowing ragtime piano and guitars to float in.

Follow that up with the funky, disjointed slop-hop sing-a-long ‘Crap rap’ (trust me, it’s a lot better than it sounds) with bass that pops and grooves in an ultimately impressive fashion (considering the pedigree of these four white southern boys).

I would challenge any lover of pop to come away from this album without at least one favorite. I mean, who could resist the ever-charming ‘I like rain’ and it’s Casio-tone melody? These are the kind of songs Chris Knox would have been making if he weren’t such a crotchety old bastard. High recommended for days inside, days at the beach, days spent snuggle with loved ones, or nights spent partying.

At their peak in the mid to late 80’s, JPS Experience were considered one of the finest and most popular bands in New Zealand, along with their noisy neighbors The Headless Chickens and The Straitjacket Fitz. This album is the perfect document of the cheery, upbeat side of classic New Zealand pop, and a firm addition to Flying Nun’s current catalog of reissues.

Jean-Paul Sartre Experience

Biography

For a band that has so much influence and family history spread across its members, Jean-Paul Sartre Experience (later shortened to JPS experience, due to legal wrangles with Sartre’s family estate) produced what could be considered a limited body of work – never living up to the expectations they had made for themselves as one of New Zealand’s best live acts during the late 80’s and early 90’s.

However ‘Love Songs’, their brilliant first album, is something of a New Zealand classic – an infectious example of quirky New Zealand guitar-pop. A varied album based around love and positively, i always find something to enjoy every time I come back to it. Jangley numbers such as ‘The Loving Grapevine’, cherished sing-a-longs like ‘I Like Rain’, and all-out fun romps such as ‘Crap-Rap’ keep me entertained, if only for the fun aspect.

After the subdued but often sparkling quirky debut, they took a very long time to release ‘The Size of Food’, which showed a change to a more rock sound.

Members

  • Dave Mulcahy (Bass/Vocals, 1984 – 1994)
  • Dave Yetton (Guitar/Vocals, 1984 – 1994)
  • Jim Laing (Guitar/Vocals, 1984 – 1994)
  • Gary Sullivan (Drums, 1984 – 1994)
  • Russell Baillie (Keyboards, 1991 – 1993)
  • Matt Heine (Keyboards, 1993 – 1994)

Discography

  • Love Songs (1986, Flying Nun Records/Communion, FN078/COMM2)
  • Jean-Paul Sartre Experience EP (1986, Flying Nun Records, FN057)
  • I Like Rain/Bo Diddley 7″ Single (1987, Flying Nun Records)
  • The Size of Food (1990, Flying Nun Records, FN122)
  • Elemental/Flex EP (1991, Communion, COMM24CD)
  • Precious 7″ Single (1991, Flying Nun Records)
  • Bleeding Star (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN246)
  • Masked and Taped EP (1993, Flying Nun Records, FNCD244)
  • Breathe EP (1993, Flying Nun Records, FNCD245)
  • Into You EP (1993, Flying Nun Records, FNCD271)
  • Ray of Shine/Shiver 7″ Single (1993, Flying Nun Records)
  • The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience Compilation (1995, Flying Nun Records, FNCD078)

Links