The Palace Of Wisdom

The Palace of Wisdom originated in 1999 when well established Christchurch rock’n’roller Ben Johnstone (Guitar/Backing Vocals – Hi-Tone Destroyers, The Incisions) got together with intimidating vocalist Andrew ‘Ox’ O’Connell, adding hooky guitar riffs to O’Connell’s hurricane force vocals. The resulting recording was released as part of the No Thanks To New Zealand On Air compilation in 2000. Matt Alien (Hi-Tone Destroyers, Black Panthers, Space Dust, Slavetrader) joined on drums, with the line-up complete by English bassist Ian Lloyd.

With Lloyd’s departure in late 2000, ALC5 (yet another Hi-Tone Destroyers member) joined the group on Bass, however after a year with the group he was also replaced, this time by the legendary Mick Elborado (Scorched Earth Policy, The Terminals, Gas, The Axemen, Drowning Is Easy etc), who became a mainstay in the group and is responsible for the bands huge, over-driven bass sound on the excellent Pills EP.

The group then started to rotated through a number of drummers with Nick Harte (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks, Black Albino, CM Ensemble, The Urinators) in February 2002, Tim MacDonald (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks) in March 2003, Simon Nunn (Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine, The Undercurrents, Kate in the Lemon Tree, Weaponized, Hi-Tone Destroyers etc) in December 2003, and then Chris Andrews (a million lights, Mysterioball, Idols of Eve, Pop Hits City, O’Lovely) in November 2004.

This line-up was the longest of the group, though recordings from this era (which lasted almost 4 years) are limited to Stuck In The Suck. After a disastrous recording session at Christchurch’s MAINZ, and other internal issues – Mick Elborado left the group. Jared Kelly (The Pickups, Blue Moon) then joined in May 2008, with Andrews and Kelly switching instruments after their first practice.

2008 was a particularly important year for the group, recording the Common Threads EP with the lineup of O’Connell (Vocals), Johnson (Guitar), Andrews (Bass) And Kelly (Drums) Before Stink Magnetic‘s Bad Evil joined as a 2nd guitarist, moving down from Palmerston North. This was an important change for the group as in late 2009 founding guitarist Ben Johnstone left to raise a family in Canada, and Aiden Moody (Bad Evil, Grand Chancellors) took over his lead guitar duties.

Both Kelly and Andrews left for other towns in 2010, however Ox enlisted the help of drummer Michael Summerfield (The Undercurrents, Cowboy Machine), before Andrews rejoined in early 2011 on bass guitar. The group played the very last show at historic Lyttelton venue El Santo Porteno, just 2 days before the February 2011 earthquake. This disrupted the progress the group had been making, with guitarist Moody moving on to form surf group The Grand Chancellors. The group resurfaced in early 2012 with Jared Kelly once again playing drums (replacing a departing Summerfield), with John Harris (Lonely Harris Club, Doctors, BnP) quickly establishing himself as their latest guitarist.

Of the course of the last 13 years the group has played a string of high-profile support slots, including The Chills, The Datsuns and of particular note – US group Dead Moon, who the group cover (‘Unknown Passage’) and are of particular importance to vocalist O’Connell with their never-say-die attitude to Rock’n’Roll. The Palace of Wisdom’s set is augmented by a number of re-interpreted covers, often quite removed from the originals, or obscure in their origin – this includes The Great Unwashed‘s ‘Born in the Wrong Time’ (as ‘Sending Him Away’), and Joy Division’s ‘Sound of Music’.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The ‘P’ EP [2001 Self-Released]
  • Candy Pants [2002 Self-Released]
  • Pills EP [2003 Self-Released]
  • Stuck In The Suck [2006 Self-Released]
  • Burnside EP [2008 Self-Released]
  • Common Threads EP [2009 Self-Released]

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

O’Lovely

O’Lovely began as a duo (originally named The O’Lovelys) consisting of Laura Lee Watson (Synth/Vox – also of Pop Hits City) and Brooke Singer (Keys – formerly of the Ragamuffin Children and now French for Rabbits). In 2007 the pair were joined by Matt Scobie (Drums – formerly of Black Market Art and now T54 etc) and Joe Sampson (guitar – formerly of Charlie Bones, now front T54).

Sampson left the group to be replaced by Lee Devinish, but with the groups impending tour of Europe in mid-2008 (where they would be performing as a 3-piece), the line-up was then reverted back to Sampson on guitar for their final few shows. The group were the focus of a lot of attention in late 2007 and 2008, and eventually released their debut self-titled album with distribution through Global Routes.

Around this time the group fractured, with Singer leaving to pursue different avenues, and Watson establishing more authority, quickly building a new line-up. At the same time Watson had been playing in Pop Hits City with Ross Heath (formerly of Bang! Bang! Eche!), Will MacFarlane, Chris Andrews (Bass – Palace of Wisdom) and Tim Woods (Drums). The new O’Lovelys took the rhythm section of Woods and Andrews, and added Perry Mahoney (also a former Bang! Bang! Eche! member) on guitar.

This line-up recorded the ‘Lost Love’ EP with Dale Cotton in Dunedin – songs that eventually made their way onto the groups 2nd album ‘Constellation’. However by the release of the album the group had relocated to Auckland, had cycled through a small handful of supplementary bassists and had been renamed ‘O’Lovely’.

discography

picks in bold

  • The O’Lovelys [2008 Self-Released]
  • Lost Love [2009 Self-Released]
  • Constellation [2011 Self-Released]