Darkroom

NOTE: This post probably contains quite a few errors and an inaccurate timeline – there is very little info online about old Christchurch venues, so I welcome all corrections and additions!

Also known as: Part of ‘The Archive’, along with Galaxy Records and Next Gallery

Location: 336 St Asaph St, Central Christchurch

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Current Status: Running!

Active as a live music venue: 2011 –

Bar Manager: Marcus Winstanley

Bookings: info@darkroom.bar

Website: http://darkroom.bar

Capacity: 100

After the devastating Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 closed (or even destroyed) virtually all of Christchurch’s live venues, entrepreneur Jasper Bryant-Greene and local musician T’Nealle Worsley (Bang! Bang! Eche!) saw a vacant hole in the local live music scene.

With virtually no previous building experience, the duo started the conversion of an old clothing manufacturing warehouse on St Asaph street, stripping the site back to the bare wood before installing a full bar, stage, upstairs accommodation, toilets…

Charlie Ryder of Bang! Bang! Eche! at The Archive’s opening party

Initially an all-ages house-party was held in May 2011, christening the building as ‘The Archive’ with performances from Valdera, The Transistors and Bang! Bang! Eche! – an absolutely stonking welcome back to live music in the garden city.

Once the full renovations were completed the bar itself was christened ‘Darkroom’ – Bryant-Greene developed the in-house ordering / payment himself and Worsley brought substantial inside knowledge and previous experience (despite her young age) to booking excellent live acts and running the bar.

The duo put substantial care in developing strong craft alcohol selections and creating a relaxed environment with comfortable refurbished furniture – even the outside (but enclosed) drive-way was utilized as a smokers area.

Log Horn Breed at Darkroom

Darkroom lives up to its name – the venue is VERY dark, particularly around the stage itself. They have a great PA system with strong foldback wedges and a powerful PA that is more than a match for the size of the room (which itself is quite small).

The mixing desk sits opposite the stage and is sheltered from other noise in the venue, making for nice and clear band/desk communication. A 2nd floor space beside the desk has been used in the past for a 2nd stage, allowing for long band line-ups with quick change-overs.

Hannah Harding aka Aldous Harding, at Darkroom in October 2011.

Darkroom was immediately successful. An early show by Bachelorette had people queuing out the door, and as one of the few available performance spaces in Christchurch they had their pick of live acts. Though as is the case with most venues – even some future super-stars found it tough to draw large crowds at times:

I used to play there with Aldous Harding every 3rd Wednesday to approx 5 – 10 people, for free.
– Simon Gregory

Marlon Williams did a short residency, playing to similar crowds, sometimes only to the staff. And The Unfaithful Ways. And All Seeing Hand, plus many, many more.

– John Bell

Galaxy Records moved in to an available space in the Archive, and for a period RDU ran a remote studio from the site, too. The last space in the building was refurbished and turned in to an art gallery, originally called Room 4 – however after this closed an additional stage was built and this back room space became available for paid gigs (Mick Harvey, Die! Die! Die! and Shayne P Carter etc), while Darkroom retained a free entry policy.

With the venues general success (and a keen interest in upmarket liquors), the duo decided to open a 2nd venue – the New Regent Street whiskey bar The Last Word. Eventually Worsley would take over running The Last Word.

Photo I took of Peter Gutteridge at his last Christchurch show at the Darkroom, March 2012

However in 2015 some financial issues were unearthed encompassing both bars – as a result over the course of several months several changes would take place.

Fine whiskey importer Whiskey Galore decided it was in their best interest to keep The Last Word open, and took over the running of the bar as it looked like it was to close.

Marcus Winstanley would take over propriety of Darkroom, starting a new chapter in the venues promising history. Thankfully Winstanley is a fixture of the local music scene (as a guitarist or drummer in a variety of bands – Barnard’s Star, The Undercurrents, Minisnap etc) and was previously a tutor at Christchurch’s MAINZ music recording school – for a period he was the venue manager of the Media Club, and has been involved with several other venues over the years as well.

Winstanley made several changes on taking over the venue:

I decided all shows (Darkroom included) needed cover charges and it was a lot of work to have both venues going and personally, I thought the sound quality in the back room was sub-par, so I decided to flag it.

Rebecca started up the gallery again so it’s been running as NEXT Gallery since 2016. After they moved from New Regent Street (Next door to The Last Word), the Canterbury Society of Sonic Artists operated their venue The Auricle out of NEXT Gallery from July 2016-July 2017

– Marcus Winstanley

Darkroom Alleyway

As of Winter 2017, Darkroom is the most active live music venue in Christchurch, with firm connections to up-and-coming bands (through Winstanley’s connections to MAINZ, plus a young clientele), as well as plenty of established bands up-and-down the country on tap.

Darkroom also hosts comedy and performance nights, and has strong ties to both the gallery and record store, with the occasional market or special event that encompasses each.

The Original DarkSpace

Lastly Darkroom has established a strong connection with Space Academy – the multi-use venue opposite on St Asaph Street; so far this has resulted in a handful of co-hosted multi-venue events (i.e. ‘Dark Space’), plus shows are usually planned to accommodate each others crowds.

History

2011: The Archive debuts with a warehouse party in May – eventually Darkroom opens as the music venue, with Galaxy records following.

2013: Darkroom proprietors Bryant-Greene and Worsley launch The Last Word whiskey bar on New Regent Street.

2015: Marcus Winstanley takes over the proprietorship of Darkroom.

Contact Details

info@darkroom.bar

Links

The Bats [February 2006]

Over the last 20 years The Bats have garnished a label of dependability – and with good reason. Though now taking a little bit of time between releases (one might jump to the conclusion that ‘At The National Grid’ is more like a reunion album than simply their first in 11 years), The Bats continue to write, record and perform scores of catchy, poppy tunes – jangly, homely and folky tunes filled with images of Bob Scotts‘ Central Otago past and propelled by one hell of a dynamic rhythm section.

One of the longest surviving Flying Nun groups still with their original line-up (the other would be the Tall Dwarfs), The Bats have continued to be a live fixture over the past decade, particularly in Christchurch; where the majority of the group now resides.

The story goes that when The Clean initially broke up in late 1982, Bob was flatting and jamming with Paul – who had been quite active with the great Toy Love, and various groups round Christchurch such as seminal pre-punk outfit The Detroit Hemroids and Jay Clarkson’s Playthings. Eventually Malcolm Grant (who had sat behind the kit for a later incarnation of Bill Direen‘s The Vacuum and local popsters The World) was brought into the fold, with Kaye completing the line-up by 1983.

I met Bob at the clash concert in the Christchurch town hall in the early 80s, he had moved from Dunedin and was looking for a flat, and my flatmate was leaving so he introduced me to Bob. Then we both ended up moving in to longfellow street with Paul and Malcolm among others, they had drums and amps set up in the living room and that’s when we started playing as a band. I didn’t have many expectations of The Bats, i’m pretty sure I didn’t think ahead much at all in fact but i’ve always loved playing Bob’s songs and playing live in all kinds of places.
– Kaye Woodward

During the hey-days of Flying Nun The Bats could do no wrong, with catchy singles such as ‘Made Up In Blue’ and ‘Block Of Wood’ and the critically-lauded debut LP ‘Daddy’s Highway’ all being perennial underground favorites. However the group never really garnished any popularity – The Chills were a bit of a one-off in terms of stardom for New Zealand bands, and so groups such as The Bats settled for creating fine tunes – and often. In the decade to 1995 the group amassed a terrific body of work – some 5 albums and a handful of eps and singles. Of course the other side of the dice was their live show, an exhilarating experience full of catchy sing-a-long numbers, and some cracking instrumentation – Paul’s a bit of a hero of mine in terms of bass-playing (he’d perfected the chugga-chugga sound by 1985), and they’ve always exuded a homely friendliness that few bands seem to match.

In recent years the garden city trio of Kaye Woodward, Paul Keen and Malcolm Grant has built The Bats side-project Minisnap up from the ground, performing a whole new collection of catchy, wistful pop tunes – with Kaye leading the way as vocalist. Meanwhile Dunedinite Bob Scott took a few years to reunite with his buddies in the clean whilst formulating new tunes for the stellar new LP – and of course everyone in the group has the odd day job, too.

We had been talking about doing a new Bats album for 2 or 3 years before actually doing it. Everything takes ages now of course because of everyone’s jobs and children. Bob came up from Dunedin for the main session at the national grid (which is John Kelcher’s 8 track studio in Cashel Street) over Easter 2003, the view was across to all the mannequins in Ballantyne’s lingerie department but the people/mall action down below was quite entertaining.
– Kaye Woodward

Although the studio experience with John Kelcher was a friendly and natural one, with an opportunity to jam and flesh out ideas, Bob described a handful of the new tunes as ‘complex’ to write, which combined with an unfortunate incident only compelled the delay in the albums development:

After that session Paul got busy over the winter digitizing, loading and eq’ing the tracks at home; but in August our computer (and a whole lot of other stuff) got stolen. We had to go back and re-digitize the 8 track, but were too busy and couldn’t really get into it until after summer. We did a final over dub/mixing session at home with Bob in Oct 2004. More mixing, the artwork and mastering was done and labels pinned down over the next 6 months, then we did preparation building up to a New Zealand and U.S. Release in October 2005.
– Kaye Woodward

Eventually the album was released in late 2005, with critical acclaim spreading across from the States, along with reports of brilliant college radio support – after a matter of weeks CMJ (a chain of radio stations across the USA) had reported ‘At The National Grid’ as one of the top ‘adds’ across the country – rising up the charts in nearly all of CMJ’s 200 stations. The group plan to bolster this support by playing the famed South By South-West festival in Austin Texas, then a quick tour around the main centers.

The plan is to go for 2 weeks and try and play to as many people as possible and give the album a boost. We are doing some in-stores too and they are great for getting through to people. The album seems to be going really well so doing these shows should help a lot. It will be interesting to see the mix of old and new fans. Emails have proved to be a great way of keeping in touch with and making contact with new fans.
– Bob Scott

With an impending European and UK release through Little Teddy and Egg Records, the group are looking forward to a successful 2006, though they’ve got a relaxed approach to touring these days after their previous overseas experiences:

We could have perpetuated our career overseas by touring a lot more and our labels would have liked that but I hated the tour bus style touring we did in Europe and the US In 93. Up till then we had always driven in vans or flown and stayed in hotels or with friends. We did some dates with Radiohead on that 93 tour, they were a big successful band but even they were traveling round in tour buses so I thought that if success meant spending months every year in a tour bus I didn’t really fancy it.
– Kaye Woodward

The Bats

Biography

The Clean was never a band to stand still. Several times during the 80’s they broke up, then reformed for a European, New Zealand or American tour, and all three members relocated at least once during these crucial years. So when Rob Scott arrived in Christchurch in the mid 80’s, he decided to form a 4 piece through his garden-city colleagues that would act as an exercise point for his by now prolific song-writing ability.

Switching from bass to guitar meant that the brilliant husband and wife combo of Paul Kean (Detroit Hemorrhoids, The Basket Cases and the mighty Toy Love – primarily bass, but also guitar) and the multi-talented Kaye Woodward (guitar, violin, mandolin etc) took over the rhythm section, with experienced drummer Malcolm Grant (who had played with the likes of The Vacuum and The World) at the throne.

Their first album Daddy’s Highway is considered a masterpiece, a jangle-pop classic showing the groups tendencies for stunning, harmonious guitars, sing-a-long vocals and pounding rhythms. The single ‘North by North’ is a brilliant example of what’s flawed with the international music scene – a song so appealing, carefree and yet focused can go essentially ignored in-spite of itself.

The Bats never really accumulated a particularly strong following throughout the 80’s and 90’s, as their albums continued to sprout up (the brilliant The Law of Things and Fear of God being my favorites) – they were confounded to minor-league college radio airplay, even in their hometown.

With Scott’s movement back to Dunedin in the early-mid 90’s, their output became less prolific, but their popularity saw a considerably upswing during the mid to late 90’s, with the release of the Couchmaster album (and the ‘Courage’ single) and their considerable presence on the soundtrack to the brilliant Topless Women Talk About Their Lives television series and motion picture.

Its safe to say that the bats are now seen as one of the great Dunedin Sound bands, mixing jangle-pop with their own tendencies for melodic vocals, small-town themes and homegrown ethics. They’re a band that prefers a low profile, yet deserves the attention of the world.

They still continue to tour, though Scott’s relocation means this happens much less often – but the remaining Christchurch members formed Minisnap in the late 90’s, with Kaye Woodward providing taking the lead.

Members

  • Robert Scott (Vocals/Guitar, 1982 -)
  • Paul Kean (Bass/Guitar, 1982 -)
  • Kaye Woodward (Guitar/Bass/Vocals, 1982 -)
  • Malcolm Grant (Drums)
  • Michael Summerfield (Live Viola, 2017)
  • John Christoffels (Live Cello, 2017)

Discography

  • By Night 12″ EP [1984 Flying Nun FN024]
  • And Here Is Music For The Fireside 12″ EP [1985 Flying Nun FN031 / FNe22]
  • Made Up In Blue/Trouble In This Town/Mad On You 12″ Single [1986 Flying Nun FN060 / FNuk1]
  • Daddys Highway [1987 Flying Nun FN079 / FNe23]
  • Block Of Wood/Calm Before The Storm/Candidate 7″ Single [1987 Flying Nun FN084]
  • 4 Songs 12″ EP [1988 Flying Nun FN104]
  • Compiletely Bats [1988/1990 Compilation Flying Nun FN Bat001 / FN143]Rn
  • Law Of Things [1989 Flying Nun FNd30239 / FNe33]
  • Smoking Her Wings/Mastery/Passed By 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun FN124]
  • The Black And The Blue/Watch The Walls 7″ Single [1991 Flying Nun FNk11013]
  • Boogie Man/Jetsam/Mama Come Watch Cd Single [1991 Flying Nun FN K11033]
  • Fear Of God [1991 Flying Nun FN217]
  • Silverbeet [1993 Flying Nun FN260]
  • Courage/Mind How You Run/Slow Alright/The Wind Is Sad Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun FN261]
  • Live At Wfmu 7″ EP [1994 Merge Mrg058]
  • Under The Law/Spill The Beans/Sir Queen(Live) 7″ Single [1994 Flying Nun FN291]
  • Spill The Beans Cd EP [1994 Flying Nun FN291]
  • Couchmaster [1995 Flying Nun FN301]
  • Afternoon In Bed EP [1995 Flying Nun FN341]
  • Thousands Of Tiny Luminious Spheres Compilation [2000 Flying Nun FN413]
  • At The National Grid [2005, Pocket Music]
  • The Guilty Office [2008, Arch Hill, AHR036]
  • Free All The Monsters [2011, Flying Nun, FNCD513]
  • The Deep Set [2017, Flying Nun, FNLP568]

Links

 

Minisnap, Pine [17/12/06]


minisnap and pine, 100 year anniversary of longfellow street [17/12/06]
see more photos from this show at flickr
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Minisnap – In My Pocket EP

Self-Released, 2002

Self-releasing seems to be the way to go in New Zealand at the moment.

Minisnap have finally put out their long awaited ‘In My Pocket’ EP, the title track of which has been garnishing RDU playtime for quite a while now. It’s a nice production, 4 original sparkling pop gems (which includes a hidden bonus track) and the obligatory dance remix, produced by fellow Christchurch native Jolyn Mulholland (aka Gasoline Cowboy).

Featuring Kaye Woodward’s distinctively upbeat vocals and guitar and the fine rhythm backing of Paul ‘Superbass’ Kean and Malcolm Grant on the drums. Expect thick grooves, off-kilt rhythms and some lovely flowing guitar, just in time for summer.

 

Minisnap

3/4 quarters of the Bats (minus Rob Scott), all under Kaye Woodward’s lead. Creating great pop tunes in the garden city, they’re thoroughly under-appreciated by Christchurch’s notoriously apathetic gig-going crowd. Its a pity as Kaye’s become quite the song-writer in Rob Scott’s absence.
Lately Marcus Winstanley (Barnard’s Star and the Undercurrents) has been joining in as an additional guitarist on some tracks along with helping out on the mixing board. Their follow-up ep March Hare was released mid 2004.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • In My Pocket Ep Ep [2002 Self-Released] Rn

  • March Hare Ep [2004 Self-Released]

See-Also