Shocking Pinks

Formed by Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson in mid-2003, The Shocking Pinks are one of the most exciting and memorable bands to spring out of Christchurch in the last 5 years. New Zealand’s exponent of the dance-punk revitalisation – The Shocking Pinks encompass a vast variety of styles into their (utterly original) sound, blending disco, shoegazer guitar, new wave keys and vocals and punky rhythms into a mish-mash of undeniably danceable funk.

Valentines day 2004 sees The Pinks release their debut full-length ‘Dance The Dance Electric’ on Tim Baird’s Christchurch-based and usually house-orientated Pinacolada label. Reduced down to a four-piece (though their stylist Antonia De Bere gets a credit) of Harte, Tim McDonald (keys / percussion), Johnno Smith (bass / vocals) and Danny Bare (guitar – Ex-Substandard), the debut is startling different from their early 4-track attempts (though most of the recordings were done in such a lo-fi manner), with their heavy A Certain Ratio influence shining through on a number of tracks, which are now very varied and dynamic.

Though now somewhat missing a front-person (the album features vocal cameos by the Brunettes Heather Mansfield and original vocalist Mel Smith (Emerald Green, The Greenmatics) their sound has indeed fleshed out, and the band intends to sort out a relationship with the American DFA label.

More news came about with their January 2004 pre-release tour – after internal squabbles, the returning news was that the band had called it quits – though the album was still to be released on valentines day. After a couple of weeks, Harte re-appeared, announcing the band would march on – now with a completely new line-up featuring Harte taking both drum and bass roles, with newcomers Kit on guitar, and Marie on synthesizers (while advertising for a new drummer).

Things turned a little bizarre from this point on, with members of the original line-up reinstated for one-off gigs, then yet another new line-up and an eventual New Zealand tour (which ended unceremoniously with yet more departures). Finally, with The Pinks profile rising substantially both nationally and internationally, Harte took over sole responsibility of the group, signing a contract with Festival Mushroom (through Flying Nun), with plans for an EP and sophmoric EP in the works.

Circa 2004-5 The Shocking Pinks are a one-man recording project, though he has a new and established live band of Herbert Palmer (guitar – also of the Leper Ballet), Gareth (synth, vocals, percussion), and Tom (bass). In September 2004 Harte formed a new duo as a sideline to The Pinks, Black Albino – making their debut supporting touring US troop Hawnay Troof and high-flying Aucklanders Die! Die! Die!. Black Albino are somewhat closer to Harte’s previous outfit the Incisions, and featured former Pink and Incision Tim McDonald.

The Pinks gradually spaced out their live performances during 2005 and early 2006, after Herbert Palmer left the group for foreign shores. However in mid 2006 Harte finally got word of his impending US record deal, signing to DFA records in New York City. The group played a supposed final Christchurch show in August 2006, with Harte heading stateside for the re-release of Infinityland under DFA, with a four-record deal in the wings.

However it took almost a year for the DFA to actually release their first stateside material – a white-label 12″ record; whilst Nick was actually still in Christchurch, and even continued to play shows and house party’s before eventually leaving mid 2007. By the end of the Pinks New Zealand lifetime the group was essentially Nick fronting (on guitar) the Tiger Tones (less bassist Ashlin Raymond) – a local group the Pinks have had a strong influence on.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Dance The Dance Electric [2004 Pinacolada Pinacd02]
  • Sway [2005 Self-Released]
  • Mathematical Warfare [2005 Flying Nun Fncd494]
  • Infinityland [2005 Flying Nun Fncd497]
  • Smokescreen 12″ [2007 DFA]
  • Shocking Pinks [2007 DFA]

See-Also

Pop Hits City

Eclectic pop-rock 5-piece based in the Garden City of Christchurch. Formed as a group of friends by former Bang! Bang! Eche! vocalist Ross Heath (keys/vox), the group was fronted by the OLovelys Laura-Lee Watson (vox/synth), with Will MacFarlane (guitar/bass – Shocking Pinks / Overdrive) and Chris Andrews (bass/keys – Palace of Wisdom / Leper Ballet).

Originally backed by Insurgents front-man Chris Young on the kit – but due to other heavy commitments Young fell away; the group initially continuing with drum-machine backing, before Shocking Pinks‘ Nick Harte stepped in. Harte relocated to Auckland in early 2008, and MacFarlane’s former Overdrive band-mate Tim Woods quickly fell into place.

In mid-2008 the group quickly assembled a selection of songs which Andrews recorded in his own home environment – the group intends to release these songs before Watson departs for Europe with her group the OLovelys.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Five Foxes EP [2008 self-released]

See-Also

Leper Ballet

Biography

Christchurch 4-piece with a heavy Birthday Party flavor comprised of Mark E Smith-channeling vocalist Janus Currie, Nick Cave look-a-like guitarist Herbert Palmer, drummer Kris Taylor and bass-playing Karate enthusiast Rush Jopson.

These guys exploded onto the local scene in late 2004, claiming an unlucky 3rd place in the annual RDU Round Up band competition at the Dux de Lux behind excellent wall-of-sound propagators Happy Palace in 2nd and under-performing victors Chickenyard, before anybody had ever heard of them.

Somehow they managed to emerge fully-formed, with a tight and effective rhythm section, some killer guitar and top notch off-kilter vocal spasms (say Mark E Smith meets a kiwi accent). I wrote a length piece on them for A Low Hum back in 2005.

Basically the band started when some friends of ours came to NZ after living in Europe for a few years and decided to put on a country gig.

Stupidly drunk last Christmas, Janus and I said we were in a band and we would play, so we had 2 weeks to write a few songs and perform them.

At first we had a different drummer but he was shit so Kris joined and after playing a bit, Rush (who used to be in another band called Spankdirt) asked if we wanted a bass player. So the full band has only really been together for a few months.

– Herbert Palmer

The group spent a couple of years garnishing a loyal local following before the various members splintered off to different cities – on a couple of occasions Chris Andrews (i.e. me) filled in for Jopson on bass whilst he was overseas.

Their last shows were fund-raising events that packed out both Creation and Wunderbar – terrific events and a testament to the popularity the group had built in such a short time.

The group made a couple of reunion appearances at Wunderbar and Goodbye Blue Monday in 2009.

Members

  • Janus Currie (Vocals, 2004 – 2005, 2009)
  • Herbert Palmer (Guitar / Accordion, 2004 – 2005, 2009)
  • Kris Taylor (Drums, 2004 – 2005, 2009)
  • Rush Jopson (Bass, 2004 – 2005, 2009)
  • Chris Andrews (Bass, 2005)

Discography

  • Soft Machine (2004, Self-Released)

Links

 

The New Originals [jan 2006]

‘they’re new, and they’re original’.
– Janus currie [lead singer of the leper ballet]

the first time i saw the new originals, supporting solo bravo at the jetset lounge – i thought they were crap. Talented – but crap. Still, you’ve gotta admire a band named in the spinal tap tradition.

Tim moore (guitar and vocals) formed the group in 2002 with his former shirley boys schoolmates matt oram (drums) and louis dudson (bass), by the time they started performing in christchurch’s bar scene, they were boosted by a couple of exchange students – anne ito (keyboards) and per warberg (acoustic guitar), with clare mclennan-kissell (percussion) completing the lineup.

I couldn’t understand how a huge group (by my recollection there must have been at least a half-dozen on stage) of what were presumably under-aged kids (and i use the term fiercely – lousy high school brats, how dare they be in my local, etc), could clamber up the stage of the jetset lounge with keyboards and classical style percussive instruments. I was definitely stuck in a drums, bass and guitar mindset.

Of course i was completely wrong – the group’s only fault is that they possibly hadn’t yet found their feet. And over the next couple of years that would change as they developed their own distinctive sound, perhaps hastened by their reduction in numbers. See around two years later i caught these feller’s once more and found that; they’d been reduced to a slender 4-piece, the twee overbearing-ness i’d imagined had given way to lovely heartfelt melody mixed with glorious noise and lastly (and possibly most importantly) they were now all above the legal drinking age. They’d become one of these groups were you could endless name some points of reference in their sound, but never name a group that sounds quite like them; a reflection of influences harmonized into something, well – original.

In the last couple of years i’ve gotten to know them and their songs quite well, sharing a number of bills with everybody’s favorite erstwhile maniacs the leper ballet meant i saw them more and more, and their quirky approach had more than grown on me – they’d become one of my most beloved local groups.
The group plays a sharp blend of pop-rock, infused by over-the-top drumming; driven by this overwhelming chugga-chugga rhythm, much like the best bats songs – though they can drag on a bit you don’t really want each song to stop.

Tim sings in a kind of almost-embarrassed-by-himself-but-enthusiastic kind of way, plays a mean guitar with a little bit of finger-plucking/tapping style (thanks to a long few months with a couple broken fingers), is simply frightening behind the keyboard and has a pretty swish theremin that the group never really over-use. Ann ito is the cutesy keyboardist and backing vocalist who always seems to be too low in the mix. Louie dudson is the ‘lead’ bassist (ala peter hook) and resident fan favorite pretty-boy – his high-register runs are often pivotal points in their best songs. And of course matt oram -probably the one member of the group that draws the most undeserved critical flak, he’s simply a fire-cracker of a drummer – making the group burst at the seams with tom-heavy drum rolls, feeding that indulgent streak.

So now the end result is a chameleon of a group; from their recordings you might expect the new originals to be a timid, mellow live act – but on witnessing the ferocity and chaotic nature of their performance (especially oram’s full-tilt drumming) you’d be hard-pressed to imagine the group recording at all.

[debut ep] ‘ya stal’ was recorded at the end of 2003 with jules marchant at the desk, and we released it in august 2004 with the party at the dux with leper ballet supporting. It was the first proper recording any of us had done, so it was a real learning curve. The name came from a history textbook at shirley, which said that as a child, stalin’s favorite game was to have the other kids carry him on their shoulders in a mock victory rally, while he shouted “ya stal!” which means “i am steel” and this is also why he later changed his name to stalin, which means “man of steel”.
– Tim moore

a particular point of reference is that tim and i share a mutual love of all things jeff mangum -the crazy bastard behind neutral milk hotel. Of course he’s one of those overblown obsessive types though, with the dozen’s of bogus quality mp3’s and demo recordings – all that crap. You can hear a bit of that in their sound, along with the new order approach to rhythm, and what i see as a velvet underground-esque pulsating drive; i’ve been trying to get him in to the microphones – now there’s a crazy loon i’m obsessive about.

Disappointingly they’re currently on hiatus at the moment as a live group, though it still looks like there’s a future for the new original’s wonderfully comical songs: since then, we did some recordings with nick harte, and more with jules, which became the [excellent] ‘jump on the wagon’ promo cd. We are planning to record an album, as there is at least an albums worth of material we played but never recorded…

there’s no definite timeframe at the moment, because for now at least the band is sort of on hold. We’re going to call it “none dare call it a conspiracy” whenever we do get around to doing it.’ ‘for now, i have recorded an ep “in miracle world” which is 6 tracks, 3 recorded with marcus [winstanley] at the undercurrents studio, and 3 i recorded by myself (i’m going under the name cold war babies). I played every instrument on the ep, drums, bass, guitar, keys, vox, theremin and jews harp.’
– tim moore

look out for their future release and track down the ‘ya stal’ ep – if you can find it. It’s a little old and a little crinkly round the edges, but contains some cracker tunes from the groups substantial back catalogue – ‘and today’ should by right be a hit single, and is always a thrill live. On first impression the cold war babies material varies quite markedly both from the new originals and from song to song. Featuring drum-heavy lo-fi meshed with accomplished guitar and keyboards, sonic experiments and some genuine pop numbers – keep an eye and ear out.