It’s now been 4 days since the Christchurch earthquake, you’ll have to excuse my typing as I’m still without power (or water or sewerage) so I’m posting via my android phone.
During the quake I was working in Lyttelton – Christchurch’s port town and the center of the 6.3, 5km deep quake.
I was a little lost about what to do during the shaking – I watched my co-workers hit the ground so I followed suit, before we pulled out on to the streets.
Turns out the building we were in was falling apart – along with most of Lyttelton. I saw a distraught Oscar looking over his beloved El Santo and avoided the towering, leaning Harbour Light while walking around stunned.
Possibly the only cycle-commuter in Lyttelton, i decided to brave the hills as I still hadn’t made contact with my girlfriend or family. Certain Evan’s pass would be impassable I headed around the bays taking in the views of Cass, Corsair and Pegasus before climbing over the breach.
I encountered gigantic boulders as I made my way towards Sugarloaf but was relieved to leave the port and head down towards the Canterbury plains. First stop was my grandparents in lower cashmere, relieved they were ok, they passed on news that my mum had just been there and she was heading towards my sisters. My next move then was to track down my girlfriend Johanna and then evaluate my house.
I flew across Cashmere, Barrington and Addington, overtaking the gridlocked cars and avoiding great mountains of liquification before reaching her working in Linwood. Appearing that everyone had already left I pedalled quickly across Linwood and headed home…
Xpressway was formed by Bruce Russell in 1985 to release his then-fledgling Christchurch band the Dead C, live archival recordings from This Kind Of Punishment and the debut solo material from Alastair Galbraith. Over the course of the next 23 (mostly cassette-only) releases, Xpressway, Russell and his comrades themselves formed an ever-growing niche-market of dark, brooding releases, mostly in lo-fidelity form, but full of character.
Xpressway was the label that set the careers of Stephen Cogle, Peter Stapleton and Brian Crook (between them being a major part of Victor Dimisich, Scorched Earth Policy, the Terminals and the Renderers), the Jefferies brothers and David Mitchell in motion, quite an achievement. Their brilliant compilations Xpressway Pile-Up and Making Losers Happy were re-released by overseas labels in the early 90s, hastening the influence of these inspiring 23 releases.
Russell ended the label once they had achieved global recognition, as he had always intended Xpressway to be a stepping-stone toward competent distribution, and they had achieved that by the early 1990s with American labels like Siltbreeze, Drunken Fish, and Kranky and European labels Turbulence, Ajax and Raffmond picking up a fair portion of the labels many talented musicians. Russell then launched Corpus Hermeticum – an outlet for even more challanging music (mostly by his own personal pool of musicians, but expanding into even overseas experimental and underground musicians).
Picks In Bold
- Xpressway Pile Up [1988 XWAY5]
- I Hate Pavel Tishy’s Guts [1989? promo issued in 2 versions XWAY6]
- Xpressway Pile=up [reissue with extra tracks 1990]
- Making Losers Happy 
- Whats That Noise? 7″ album 
- I Hear The Devil Calling Me 7″ album [distributed by drag city 1993]
- Xpressway is no longer active, but you can contact label-head Bruce Russell directly:
- Bruce Russell [Label Head / Email Contact]
- +64 3 328-9276 [fax number]
- Bruce Russell
- PO Box 124
- New Zealand [Postal Address]
[Published in the Christchurch Mail 04/01/07]
The sale of the iconic Wunderbar in Lyttelton has attracted three serious offers, all from local people. The bar was put on the market in November when owner Jorg Swhwartz, who built the bar in 1991, decided to sell and return to Berlin. One of the offers was chosen last week and any deal will be finalised and made public on January 19. The bar was on the market for $300,000, but the offers are understood to be lower.rn