Born Celia Patel (and at one stage known as Celia Pavlova), Celia Mancini was a smart, creative, talented and volatile musician. A born front-woman and general icon within the music community, who was never afraid to speak her mind, and unfortunately passed away at a far too young age.
Patel was born in Auckland but her musical history started in Christchurch, playing in a number of bands in the mid to late 1980’s, as well as managing seminal Christchurch sonic explorers Into the Void.
She was the original front-woman for legendary scuzzy lo-fi group The Axel Grinders (and writing their most excellent single ‘Apparatus of Love’ – Rita Le Quesne replaced her on the recording), fronted the fantastic all-girl group The Stepford 5, and kept things mellow in the lounge group The After Dinner Mints with Bill Vosburgh (formerly of Perfect Strangers).
By 1992 Celia was in Dunedin where she met Chris Heazlewood – kicking off the next phase with what must be her most well known group; New Zealand’s boundary-pushing surf-kings King Loser. For a period the duo also pulled double duty in Peter Gutteridge’s wonderful Snapper.
The group were relentless prolific in the early years – recording all their practices to 8-track tape and expanding their overseas connections with a handful of 7″ releases plus the original King Loser LP – ‘Super Sonic Hi-Fi’. The album caught the attention of Flying Nun – however Celia noted they never considered themselves a Flying Nun group, and at times conflicted with individuals within the label as it reached its commercial apex in the late 1990’s.
Celia released a solitary 7″ under her own name in 1996, and by late 1997 King Loser were no more. However she did resurface (at least temporarily) in the hard-rocking Auckland group Mother Trucker, plus created a handful of online videos under the moniker ‘Slightly Delic’, including documenting the bFM music awards, where she stormed the stage after failing to be nominated for the ‘Foxiest Chick’ award…
As the 90’s became the 2000’s, Celia disappeared from view. It wasn’t until April 2015 before she was back in the public eye – with a video performance of a reunited King Loser at Audio Foundation in Auckland. Celia sports casts on both arms, but the group rip through the classic ‘Morning Dew’ like they’d never been away.
Further live performance and a short tour followed in 2016, with director Andrew Moore releasing a promo video for a promising upcoming documentary on the band, which seems to shed a lot of insights in to what was going on with Celia (and the other King Loser members) at the time.
Celia passed away in September 2017, the news sent shock-waves through the online community. She was a bright spark and will be greatly missed.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
On Monday, September 15th I saw an innocuous Facebook post by Doo Ragnarok, aka Duane Zarakov, aka Pat Faigan – a fairly typical post by Pat, who spends a great chunk of the day posting excellent youtube clips of classic songs – in this case The Great Unwashed‘s ‘Born in the Wrong Time’, which is one of my all time favorite songs, Kiwi or otherwise.
However the responses to this wonderful song were different than usual – a whole heap of sad comments. This is how I found out Peter Gutteridge – founding member of The Clean, The Chills, The Great Unwashed and his own group Snapper – had passed away that morning.
Pretty soon the rest of the world had caught up on Peter’s passing – Simon Sweetman seemed to have the first story online about his passing, and this interview from Mess and Noise back in April last year seems to be the most informative insight online in to who I believed to be New Zealand’s greatest song-writer.
I took the photo above back in 2012 after catching Peter play a live acoustic set at Christchurch’s Darkroom Bar back in 2012 – Peter was very conscientious about his appearance, making sure I drew as much of the ample character in his face as possible. I got just two shots; the above color shot which seems to portray fire and brimstone, a swaggering but downtrodden character. However the 2nd shot I took (below) seems to show another side of Peter – there is warmth and frailty in his eyes – a complete transformation.
Considering the depth of Peter’s music, this transformation is not surprising. Though known for the huge walls of feedback and straight for the jugular approach of songs like The Clean’s ‘Point That Thing somewhere Else’ (which he was always keen to remind us – he wrote at the age of 17), he also had a deeply emotional, quiet side – Snapper’s ‘Gentle Hour’ and several of the Great Unwashed’s song hint at this.
I managed to catch Peter playing a couple times in the past 2 years, with the reformed Snapper playing at the 2013 Camp A Low Hum being a particular highlight – it was great to see Peter passing the baton to a new generation of Dunedin kids, with a backing band that included Bad Sav‘s Hope Robertson and Though Creature‘s Danny Brady.
So Monday was a very sad day in New Zealand Music. We’ve lot one of our greats, a fantastic song-writer that has just begun to resurface after a long absence from the public eye.
Apologies to Brother Love for missing their set – though I did talk to ‘the Brother (aka Martin Henderson) and the long-time ex-Christchurch sludge-rockers are back in the garden city again, with more shows on the horizon. You might remember Brother Love and the Homebacon Gang, playing shows with the likes of Space Dust, Ape Management and King Loser throughout the 1990s.
It was a rare treat to see legendary Dunedin-based songwriter Peter Gutteridge too; It’s been ‘more than a decade’ since the Snapper frontman last played a show in Christchurch, and according to Gutteridge he hasn’t been playing live in Dunedin either, although he still continues to write and plans to record new songs.
With Snapper known for pulsating Synth and Heavy Guitar drones adding a hypnotic rhythm to essentially dark pop songs, Gutteridge surprised the ample Darkroom crowd by starting his set with folky acoustic versions of his songs. The set began with a sober, melancholy performance of ‘Born in the Wrong Time’ (a song Gutteridge had written whilst in the Great Unwashed) played in a very minimal, stripped back acoustic style, ringing out repetitive individual notes on his guitar akin to the droney sound of his Snapper recordings.
As a founding member of several of New Zealand’s finest bands (The Chills, The Clean, The Great Unwashed and Snapper), Gutteridge’s back catalogue is full of involving, heady and evocative songs, but Snapper’s signature pseudo-hit ‘Buddy’ seemed to be the most recognized by the crowd, enticing a few upfront to sing-a-long.
He finally switched up a gear with the last handful of songs – playing with ear-piercing electric guitar and pulsing synth and understated bass from Henderson in support. I was transfixed by the duo’s sound in this configuration, much akin to the solo Gutteridge recordings I’ve heard (there’s an Xpressway tape from the 1980’s called ‘Pure’), which makes sense as he opened this 2nd set with ‘Dry Spot’, a song he’d released on a 7” for Crawlspace Records in 2000, culled from a live recording.
Great to see one of New Zealand’s best underground musicians back and playing music again, and I would definitely look out for future recordings.
Over the years the Chills have released a number of brilliant pop songs, right from the outset their material has been catchy and melodic, and have a certain eerie quality to them that separates them from most mainstream pop outfits. All their brilliant early material such as the Dunedin Double split EP (shared with the Verlaines, Sneaky Feelings and the Stones), and the Rolling Moon and Pink Frost singles were compiled in the mid 80s on the Kaledeiscope World album, which was later reissued with bonus tracks once released as a CD. Probably the best example of the Chills vast catalog, it must be considered a vital purpose, unless you can get your hands on the very rare original New Zealand-only Flying Nun vinyl copies releases.
The Chill’s brilliant young drummer Martyn Bull became ill with leukemia in 1982, passing away in early 1983. Band leader Martin Phillips almost brought the band to an end, but after a hiatus of sorts he decided to carry on, replacing a number of band members (which became a habit for the Chills – over 20 years, Phillips is the only surviving member out of over 40 musicians).
By this time they had developed a rather large fan base in the UK thanks to the signature hit ‘I love my leather jacket’, and Phillips decided to write their first full-length album Brave Worlds in Britain, after picking up a record deal with rough trade to release the (now dedicated to Martyn Bull) compilation album Kaleidescope World. Brave Worlds was a great success – being one of the Chills most consistent yet dynamic releases, the simple beauty of ‘Wet Blanket’ showed that Phillips had nearly reached a level of pop perfection in his song writing.
In the succeeding years the chills continued their trend of recycling contributing members, and producing quality pop tunes. After the brilliant follow up albums Submarine Bells and Soft Bomb (which saw considerable success, especially with the aptly named single ‘Heavenly Pop Hit’) the Chills went into somewhat of a decline, with Phillips working through a number of emotional and dependency problems. Most of the later nineties dragged for the Chills, as only the somewhat lukewarm Sunburnt was produced in the later half of the decade.
Around the turn of the century Phillips formed a new band, with new members Todd Knudson (drums), Rodney Haworth (bass) and James Dickson (keyboards) going on to become Phillips’ long-serving accompanists. This line-up has continued to tour and produce new songs, even unleashing lost material from his plentiful songbook (through several rarity compilations, and the intriguing Sketchbook album) in a solo capacity [see Phillips solo entry].
In 2004 the ‘Stand By’ EP was released – 8 songs the now established Chills touring group had been performing alongside their classic repertoire. This remained the last original material the group would release for almost a decade until new single ‘Melted Gold’ appeared as a streaming song on the popular Pitchfork magazine.
Martin Phillips (Vocals/Guitar, 1980 -)
Peter Gutteridge (Bass, 1980)
Martyn Bull (Drums, 1980 – 1983)
Dunedin Double 4xEP [1982 W/ Sneaky Feelings, The Stones, The Verlaines on Flying Nun DUN1/2]
‘Rolling Moon’/’Bite’/’Flame Thrower’ 7″ Single [1982, Flying Nun, COLD001]
‘Pink Frost’/’Purple Girl’ 7″ Single [1984, Flying Nun, COLD002]
‘Doledrums’/’The Hidden Bay’ 7″ Single [1984, Flying Nun, COLD003]
The ‘Lost’ 12″ EP [1985, Flying Nun, COLD004]
Kaleidescope World Mini-LP [1985/6, Flying Nun, COLD005 / FnE13]
‘Green Eyed Owl’/’I’ll Only See You Again’ 7″ Single [1986 Bonus With FNE13, Flying Nun, FN47 1/2]
‘The Great Escape’/’I Love My Leather Jacket’ 7/12″ Single [1986, Flying Nun, COLD006/7 / FNUK]
‘House With A Hundred Rooms’/’Party In My Heart’/’Living In The Jungle’ 12″ Single [1986, Flying Nun, FNUK11]
Formed in 1978 by David Kilgour (gat/vox) and Peter Gutteridge (bass / vox), and eventually settled on Hamish Kilgour (drums / vox) as the permanent 3rd member after an assortment on configurations came and went (Doug Hood enjoyed a short tenure as vocalist, before leaving town as Toy Love‘s sound man, and Lindsay Hooke featured in several configurations).
Gutteridge was a major force in the band until artistic differences saw him leave (later forming Snapper), to eventually be permanently replaced by Rob Scott in 1980. They were at their prime when touring in the early 80’s, and the compendium of these years (entitled Compilation) documents this period beautifully.
The Clean developed what was dubbed the Dunedin Sound. A somewhat dark take on noise rock that incorporated elements of classic pop, driving rock’n’roll. Sardonic and almost creepy take on lyrics, with vocals to match. David Kilgour employed open guitar tunings and Rob Scott produced rhythmic, repetitive bass lines, that Hamish Kilgour would compliment with pummeling, primal drum rhythms (though role changes were common, all 3 members sung and played guitar) – all tinted by the Kilgour brothers penchant for psychedelic and scratchy lo-fi.
Over the course of the next 20 years, the band would go on long breaks and split a number of times for the members to form their own bands (most notably Rob Scotts’ the Bats and David Kilgour‘s solo outfits). After original single Tally Ho shot up the New Zealand chart in 1981 – simultaneously establishing The Clean and the Flying Nun label that had formed around them, The Clean released the pinnacle of their recorded out – the hugely influential Boodle Boodle Boodle ep. The EP managed to actually better the singles success, eventually reaching number 5 in the New Zealand singles chart (astounding for an independent release in the early 80s) and remaining in the charts for a full 6 months, easily reaching gold status.
The follow up EP ‘Great sounds great, Good sounds good..’ was another success, but by now the band were tiring of their new found fame, and worried about the effect success would have on their music. Needless to say The Clean disbanded at the top of their game in 1982 with the release of the momentous Getting Older single (a genuine perfect pop song). It wasn’t long though before the original clean line-up (with a returning peter gutteridge) reformed as the Great Unwashed – a poppier and more acoustically based approach than their early recordings. The Great Unwashed never quite reached the peaks of The Clean and again they disbanded (after a mere 2 EP’s yet again), with each member going back to their subsequent side-projects.
Thankfully, throughout the later 80s and into the 90s, The Clean never really stayed apart for too long, and after a while the (now cemented) trio of Kilgour, Kilgour and Scott were back to a more permanent existence (or at least productive between variable lengthed hiatus). Their first album proper Vehicle was a well rounded example for the band, if lacking a bit of the spark from their early eps. After establishing a reputation on the us college scene in the early 90s – yet another reunion album was planned. Modern Rock came out in 1994, and was a fairly wild departure from The Clean’s signature sound, being somewhat fragmented and often unfocused. It did however show that The Clean were capable of a wider scope, with strong pop elements and less heavy-handed lyrics than its predecessor’s.
Unknown Country – which could probably be considered their first comeback album seems to divide their fans more than any of the other albums. Its poppy where their previous albums were rocky, and quirky where they had been driving and somewhat chilling. I like the change in direction, but i know a lot of other people see the album as a band caught in two minds (usually attributed to their on again / off again history).
In 1996 Flying Nun started work on a tribute album to The Clean as part of their own 15th anniversary celebrations, gathering together a number of the musicians that define the New Zealand music scene, as well as those that have been influenced by The Clean with their own work. Overseas artists Pavement, Guided by Voices and Barbara Manning added their own tributes along side those from not only Flying Nun acts, but also the likes of a number of current electronic acts and other significant kiwi artists and bands. The album (titled God Save The Clean) was a success, and the release culminated in a gigantic gig in Auckland where The Clean were joined by a great deal of the artists who paid tribute – making a great night all round, and putting The Clean back into the limelight on the New Zealand scene.
This rekindled interest may have been a wake-up call to the boys, as they quickly became a semi-regularly touring band, and eventually began focused recording again. The result – Getaway is something of a triumph, a successful reformation by all counts and an excellent taster of The Clean’s current sound, check out the full review for more detail. The trio followed up their positive press in the United States (The Clean’s releases are now tied to David Kilgour’s US home – Merge Records) with Anthology, another document highlighting The Clean’s seminal earlier material on the first disc, but now accompanied by a well-constructed summary of their subsequent release on a 2nd disc.
Currently the band still remain mostly in hiatus. Hamish firmly resident in New York (with the Mad Scene and his own solo career), David seems to be forever gaining in stature as a solo musician in Dunedin – the Nashville recorded Frozen Orange album being a particular success. Rob Scott has always been a bedroom musician back in Dunedin (outside of the mostly-Christchurch based The Bats), though its taken Powertool Records till just recently to finally put one of his home releases out in to the market, with Tudor Gates arriving in 2004.
David Kilgour (Guitar/Vocals, 1978 -)
Hamish Kilgour (Drums/Vocals, 1978 – )
Peter Gutteridge (Bass/Vocals, 1978 – 1979)
Doug Hood (Vocals, 1978)
Lindsay Hooke (Drums, 1979)
Debbie Shadbolt (Bass, 1979)
Jessica Walker (Bass, 1979)
Rob Scott (Bass/Vocals, 1980 -)
‘Tally Ho!’/That Platypus’ 7″ Single [1981 Flying Nun Fn002 / Ying One]
Boodle Boodle Boodle 12″ EP [1981 Flying Nun Fn003]
Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good.. 12″ EP [1982 Flying Nun Fn Good001]
‘Getting Older’/’Scrap Music/Whatever I Do It’S Right/Wrong’ 7″ Single [1982 Flying Nun Last1]
Odditties [1985 / 1995 Flying Nun / Cleano Productions Fn Odd One / Fn223]
Live Dead Clean 12″ EP [1985 Flying Nun Fn Ldc 001]
Odditties 2 [1987 W/ The Great Unwashed Flying Nun / Cleano Productions Fn Odd 2]
the kilgour brothers formed the great unwashed during one of the clean‘s many 80s break ups, and decided a different focus was necessary. they ended up performing in a more acoustic approach, with warped little psych-influenced numbers of increasing strangeness.rnafter an ep the band added original clean bass player peter gutteridge and ross humphries (ex-pin group) for a large scale tour of new zealand and another ep. the ep was released in 3 seperate prints, one version being a double 7″ incased in a shower-curtain, that had been painted in a jackson pollock type manner (watch out for this rather rare version, my own copy has suffered badly from the plastic and has an inordinate amount of surface noise).rnpretty soon they had again split, only to reform once more as the clean towards the end of the 80s. a lot of the material from this period was collected on the clean’s oddities 2 compilation, though the great unwashed collection is an essential (and of far greater fidelity) release. discography picks in bold