Bruce Russell on ‘Time To Go’ [Volcanic Tongue]

Of all the profound ways in which my life had changed in that epochal year (and since the preceding Christmas I’d become an enemy of the state, among other things), seeing the Clean was the biggest. I can still recall the certainty with which I knew then that they were at that moment the best fucking band in the world. I still don’t understand how I knew it, and in many ways I’ve spent a significant portion of the last three decades trying to disprove that hypothesis, but I haven’t done it yet. Maybe the Fall were better that year. But the fact that the last sentence contains ‘the Fall’, and starts with ‘maybe’, should alert informed readers to the enormity of what I was experiencing. It was like falling in love.
– Bruce Russell – From Volcanic Tongue

Bruce Russell (The Dead C, Gate, A Handful Of Dust etc) has put together a short but witty (and mighty acerbic!) article on the Volcanic Tongue: Underground Music Mail Order and Shop website detailing the back-story to ‘Time to Go – The Southern Psychedelic Moment: 1981-86’ – a terrific compilation Bruce put together for Flying Nun capturing some of the lesser-heard treasures from New Zealand’s South Island in the early to mid 1980s. Have a read, it’s a nice little insight into how the compilation came about and the general enthusiasm Bruce has for music of the era.

It’s that kind of ‘it came from the sky’ vibe that frankly defies categorisation. You can smell the reality. These people were very literate in rock music terms, they were literate in literary terms too, and they took drugs. It was what we did to rebel. Listen to ‘Russian Rug’. You don’t produce that kind of whacked-out blending of Pierre Henri with ? Mark and the Mysterians, without engaging in the desperate ‘datura-to-San Pedro’ sub-sub-culture which characterised the South Island of New Zealand at that time: and we invented home-bake heroin, don’t forget.

– Bruce Russell – From Volcanic Tongue

And If you haven’t already; checkout/pick up the compilation itself. Contains some of my favourite tracks by the likes of Pin Group, The Gordons, Scorched Earth Policy and Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos – not a dud in the lot!

[wp_bandcamp_player type=”album” id=”2309377459 ” size=”grande3″ bg_color=”#FFFFFF” link_color=”#4285BB”]

The Palace Of Wisdom

Biography

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), Johnstone (Guitar), Andrews (Bass) And Kelly (Drums) Before Stink Magnetic‘s Aiden Moody (Bad Evil, Grand Chancellors) 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 Moody 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. Summerfield would eventually find himself back in the group after a hilarious stage moment at the (now bull-dozed) New Brighton Tavern which saw Kelly replaced mid-set by multi-instrumentalist Rhett Copland, and this line-up played quite a few shows over the next couple years.

Which Palace’s recorded output completely stagnant Ox formed a new group with guitarist Dave Branton named The Ruling Elite, which eventually picked up Andrews (switching to 2nd guitar). Eventually both groups began utilizing talented free-form drummer Rory ‘IRD’ Dalley – with the new group quickly writing and recording a whole swag of new recorded output, whilst Palace remains a tight live-act-only type of group.

Over the course of the last 15 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’.

 

Members

  • Andrew ‘Ox’ O’Connell (Vocals, 1999-)
  • Ben Johnstone (Guitar, 1999-2009)
  • Matt ‘Alien’ Johnstone (Guitar, 1999-2002)
  • Ian Lloyd (Bass, 1999)
  • Alan ‘ALC5’ Cameron (Bass, 2000-2001)
  • Mick Elborado (Bass, 2001-2007)
  • Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson (Drums, 2002-2003)
  • Tim MacDonald (Drums, 2003)
  • Simon Nunn (Drums, 2003-2004)
  • Chris Andrews (Drums/Bass, 2004-2010, 2011-)
  • Jared Kelly (Bass/Drums, 2008-2010, 2012)
  • Rhett Copland (Drums, 2012)
  • Aiden Moody (Guitar, 2008-2010)
  • Michael Summerfield (Drums, 2010-2012)
  • John Harris (Guitar, 2010-)
  • Rory Dalley (Drums, 2015-)

Discography

  • 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]

    Links

  • MySpace
  • BandCamp
  • Facebook
  • LastFM
  • Photo’s on Flickr

The Renderers

The Renderers are New Zealand’s prime example of southern-fried country, and are indeed one of our finest ever bands. Brian Crook formed the Renderers with his partner Maryrose in early 90s christchurch when the Max Block Group failed to go anywhere. He was already part of the Scorched Earth Policy / terminals sequence of bands that was picking up wind again – but the Renderers were the Crooks band (they’ve cycled through line-ups, with John Billows, Peter Mitchell (also of squirm and Hiss Explosion), Denise Roughan (the 3Ds, Look Blue Go Purple et all), Robbie Yeats Dead C, verlaines) and Haydn Jones, whilst the Crooks’ have always remained consistent.

Their early recordings stuck to a strictly country approach and seemed a bit too forced and distant, it wasn’t until the band relocated to port chalmers, a small bay just outside of dunedin that the Renderers really found their sound. Maryrose’s vocal on the 7″ sincle ‘a million lights” is like a defining moment in New Zealand rock. An achingly beautiful, brief song that has since featured on many Flying Nun and xpressway compilations, the song typified the Renderers new found dark and country-tinged rock sound.

Over the course of the 90s, the Renderers albums grew stronger and stronger – culminating in the masterpiece that is 1998’s dream of the sea. Featuring a wonderful cover of Ritchie Venus forgotten gem forbidden planet and a swagger of fine, dark songs themed around the sea, it was welcomed with open arms by the u.s. Underground music scene, whilst going mostly ignored in New Zealand. The Renderers are still going strong, touring sporadically, whilst both Maryrose and Brian have released their own solo material (most notable Brian’s 2002 album as Bible Black, and Maryroses contributions to the Arc Life series of dunedin music compilations).

In early / mid 2004 during the process of organising a christchurch show with the band, i managed to conduct an interview with the duo, and have kept up to date on their schedule for future releases. Since the recent demise of arc life, plans are now intact for the Renderers to start their own label. With Maryrose’s first solo release, a further solo release from Brian in a form similar to that of his fractured solo debut bathysphere under his current Anti-Clockwise performing alias, and perhaps the 5th Renderers release on the way, to boot.
circa mid-2005 the group made further line-up changes, this time coinciding with a possible move back to christchurch. Original bassist john bellows was reinstated, and drummer mike daly (also of Eskimo and formerly YFC) become the groups rhythm section for a one-off christchurch show, still preceeding the highly-anticipated 5th album.

discography
picks in bold

  • trail of tears [1991 Flying Nun fn184]
  • ‘bigger than texas’/’revival radio’ 7″ single [1991 Flying Nun fn185]
  • ‘a touch of evil’/’howling at the moon’ 7″ single [1993 Flying Nun fn254]
  • that dogs head in the gutter gives off vibrations [1995 Ajax ajax042]
  • surface of jupitor [1996 Ajax]
  • dream of the sea [1998 Siltbreeze]
  • ghost of our vegas lives [2005 as ‘Maryrose Crook’ Tinsel Ears]

recommended songs

download from mp3.co.nz

  • dream of the sea
  • i hear the devil calling me
  • pure poison
  • a million lights
  • forbidden planet
  • dimmer waters

See-Also

Scorched Earth Policy

Legendary early Flying Nun band (1982-6) that would later reform to become the Terminals, marking the debut of a young Brian Crook (later to form the Max Block and the Renderers). They put out a couple of highly sought after EP’s which contained some of the original versions of Terminals songs such as ‘Lolita’ and ‘Mekong Delta Blues’.

Initially they seemed more pop focused (well pop in the way that say, the Verlaines are pop) but the dark, rattled approach of Peter Stapleton soon turned them into something far more nefarious and disturbing. The Keep Away From The Wires compilation was put out by Medication in the late 90s and collects all their recorded material, along with live out-takes (though they’re of questionable quality). Pick up anything you can find from these guys.

Initially Stapleton (drums / lyrics) was flanked by a young Mick Elborado (bass / vocals – who carried a few songs from his Drowning Is Easy days) and Mary Heney (guitar, vocals, organ and drums – came from 25 Cents, a short lived ‘party band’, along with short stints in both the Victor Dimisch Band and the Pin Group) and Mick’s old bandmate Ian Blinkinsop – though he left before their first public appearance. Andrew Dawson soon joined to replace Ian on vocals, and brought around recently arrived ex-hastings lad Brian Crook who…

Was into German music at the time, y’know, Can and Faust and that sort of stuff. Some weird hybrid between German music and the Beach Boys I think I was kind of thinking about. Yeah, when i finally got to the Scorched Earth practice, the songs were y’know, two minutes long, or something. And Peter was really into that ‘Pebbles’ thing. And Captain Beefheart. Y’know, just, every practise, out would come the Captain Beefheart album.
– Brian Crook, taken from Wade Churton’s ‘Glam, Punk and Scorched Earth Policy’

Over the course of the bands 2 year run, Onset/Offset label-founder Campbell McClay (bass) and Catherine Upson (backing vocals) made contributions to their recordings.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Dust To Dust 12″ Mini-Lp [1984 Flying Nun Fn028]
  • Going Thru’ A Hole In The Back Of Your Head 12″ Mini-Lp [1985 Flying Nun Fn042]
  • A.D. Cassette [Live Recording 1986 Passage Passage10]
  • Foaming Out Cassette [1991 Xpressway X/Way 20]
  • Keep Away From The Wires [Compilation 1999 Medication Med04]

See-Also

Sheep Technique [01/07/2008]

My very last Sheep Technique (kiwi music show on student radio station RDU); with Paul, and with an aborted interview with Cindy (previously known as Sandra) from former Flying Nun single band 25c.

Bible Black – Hell of a Woman
The Renderers – Low to the Ground
The Clean – Point that Thing Somewhere Else
25c – The Witch
Front Lawn – A Man and a Woman
25c – Don’t deceive me
The Good Housewives – Concerto in D Minor
The Stones – See Red
Spacedust – Too Much Action
3Ds – Outer Space
Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine – Woman By My Side (Mexican Man)
Ticket – Mr. Music
Shaft – The Downhill Racer
Scorched Earth Policy – Sunset on the Loading Zone
Scavengers – Mysterex
Toy Love – Bride of Frankenstein
Reduction Agents – Urban Yard
Blam Blam Blam – There is No Depression in New Zealand
Pop Art Toasters – What Am I Going to Do
Tomorrows Love – 7 and 7 Is
King Loser – 76 Comeback
Straitjacket Fits – Life in One Chord
Palace of Wisdom – Found and Lost
Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos – All of This
the Bats – Block of Wood
Snapper – Snapper and the Ocean
Bitch – Wildcat
Die! Die! Die! – Sideways Here We Come
The Androidss – Auckland Tonight
Lawrence Arabia – Half the Right Size

Spacedust

Wonderfully loose rock’n’roll band that seem to exist more as an every now and then collective of friends than an actual band per se. Based around Pat Faigan (aka Duane Zarakov, one of the many drummers for the brilliant King Loser) and his sister violet – a vocalist who had previously never sung before. Joined by excellent bassist John Christoffels (Terminals et all) and a multitude of others (they seem to have a problem holding down guitarists, with Mick Elborado, Matt Alien, John Segovia and Lynton Denovan all taking up the reigns on the odd occassion, along with several keyboardists, such as Matt Middleton (Aesthetics, Crude etc). Their last Christchurch line-up (mid-2003) was Violet (Vocals), Duane (Drums), Elborado (Guitar – Scorched Earth Policy), Christoffels (Bass – Terminals) and Lisa Preston (Yamaha Electric Organ – Snort / Lo-Liners).

They’ve been a bit invisible over the past 5 or so years, occassionally resurfacing in either Dunedin or Christchurch (and occassionally Auckland) – sometimes sharing a multitude of members with whoever Brother Love is using at the time, other times re-uniting the original line-up. No Kissing In Public isn’t that hard to find, but their other albums (of which, only Beatle! has officially been released) [Note: This has now changed, as a small pile of 1st To The Future LPs were recovered from their original American label in 2004, and have since been distributed across the country, and its an album well worth finding].

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Cool Car’ 7″ Single [1994 Homebacon]
  • No Kissing In Public [1996 Kato]
  • Beatle! [1996 18 Wheeler]
  • First To The Future [1996 Self-Released]
  • Live 93 Cassette [Stink Magnetic]

See-Also

Victor Dimisich Band

Stephen Cogle, Alan Meek, Tony O’Grady, Peter Stapleton and (for the later period) Mary Heney – most of whom also formed Scorched Earth Policy with Brian Crook (em>The Renderers, Bible Black, Bathysphere) and eventually made their mark with the legendary Terminals. The Victor Dimisich Band’s recordings (an original Flying Nun EP and the extremely lo-fi live document Mekong Delta Blues – a cassette only Xpressway release) are highly collectable and very hard to find (despite being reissued with bonus tracks in 1997 on the Medication label), and show Cogle and Stapleton just developing their dark and morbid style (after spending time with Bill Direen‘s many bands).

Contemporaries to Christchurch’s Pin Group and the early rattlings of Bill Direen‘s Bilders, in fitting with the “Christchurch sound” at the time they favored something of a denser and darker than their southern Dunedin neighbours, expressed through a bleak vision and Velvet Underground inspired abandon.
Dan Vallor: Taken from Popwatch #9

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Native Waiter 7″ EP [1982 Flying Nun]
  • Victor Dimisich Band 12″ Ep[1983 Flying Nun Fnvd001]
  • The Mekong Delta Blues Cassette [1988 Xpressway Xway08]
  • Native Waiter 7″ EP [Reissue Crawlspace Space005] Rn
  • My Name Is K [Compilation Medication Med002]

See-Also

Xpressway

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).

Compilation Discography
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 [1991]
  • Whats That Noise? 7″ album [1992]
  • I Hear The Devil Calling Me 7″ album [distributed by drag city 1993]

Contact Details

The Terminals

After a 12-year recorded absense, the Terminals finally return! One of Christchurch’s most-loved underground bands, the Terminal’s have laid dormant, playing one-off shows every year or so since their Flying Nun days, but with Brian Crook resurfacing back up in Christchurch, it was just a matter of time before a new album would resurface – that being ‘Last Days Of The Sun’ on American label Last Visible Dog.

The Terminals were an outgrowth of the legendary Scorched Earth Policy (well techinally, they were a reunion that stuck) that ended up putting out some of the best, and darkest pop-rock songs this country has ever produced. I can’t imagine describing the terminals without the phrase ‘rolling thunder’ coming to mind, as they play paranoid, disturbed songs full with doom and gloom (care of Peter Stapleton) over a backing of musical anarchy.

Revitalising scorched earth policy’s early 80s songs like ‘lolita’ and ‘mekong delta blues’, the terminals have released 3 albums under Flying Nun and an assortment of limited distribution releases on their own Medication imprint, and continue to play live on rare one-off occassions (with members spread across the country).

Comprised of Stapelton (Stand-Up Drums), Crook (Guitar), Mick Elborado (Keyboards), John Christoffels (Bass) and the Booming, Charismatic Voice of Stephen Cogle.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Disconnect 12″ Ep [1987 Flying Nun Fn091] Rn
  • ‘Do The Void/Deadly Tango’ 7″ Single [1990 Xpressway X/Way17] Rn
  • Uncoffined [1990 Flying Nun Fn116] Rn
  • Disease [1991 Xpressway X/Way19]
  • Cul-De-Sac [Compilation 1992 Flying Nun Fn239]
  • Touch [1992 Raffmond Raff001]
  • ‘Medusa’ 7″ [1993? Roof Bolt]
  • Little Things [1995 Raffmond Raff014-2]
  • Last Days Of The Sun [2007 Last Visible Dog Lvd-116]

See-Also

Christchurch in the 80s [By David Swift]

The Christchurch scene of 1980-82 is pretty legendary, and rightly so. This was most fertile period of rock’n’roll in the city since the beat-boom days of Chants RnB circa 1966.

There were some very good Christchurch punk bands (notably the Vauxhalls) in 1978/79 and a picky audience of 200 or so original-school three-chords hipsters, but it was only as the punk phenomenon flowered into postpunk that the number and quality of bands blossomed.

Think of it as the difference between The Enemy and Toy Love. It was cooler to say you had seen The Enemy in a small crowd, but Toy Love were a better band packing out 800-capacity bars.

Christchurch was second to Auckland in 1980 for the passion of its punk/new wave crowds. Toy Love, the Swingers, the Features would travel down and regularly pull 500-800 people at the DB Gladstone or the Hillsborough Tavern. Occasionally the Aranui Tavern on Brighton road [edit: Pages Road, on the way to Brighton] would also host these kind of bands.

The primo local groups in 1980-1982 were the Pin Group (because leader Roy Montgomery – now a lo-fi legend in the USA – was an essential cog in the city’s cool – he was manager of the EMI shop on Colombo St that was totally given over to NME-approved sounds….the company wasn’t that keen, but it was just about the most profitable EMI shop in NZ as a result), The Gordons, The Newtones, The Androidss, Scorched Earth Policy, Victor Dimisich Band, The Playthings, Kaza Portico / The Builders (Bill Direen’s bands), The Volkswagens, 25c, Yeah, Mainly Spaniards were a bit popular too. I may have missed a few out….(at the same time there were kids in punk covers bands, pub rock bands, etc). But the above names were the central musical identities in a community fired by the Velvets/Stooges/Jonathan Richman/1960s USA Garage Punk/Pere Ubu/Wire – yet compelled to make their own music.

Roger began Flying Nun in early 1981 (i was the first journalist to write about the label, in the Press) because it seemed to him that if no one recorded these groups they would be lost to history.

At the same time, bands from Dunedin began forays to Christchurch where they knew that their original music would go down well with a knowing crowd that held no truck with punk covers bands. The Clean’s first big gigs were at the Gladstone and their reputation sprang from there by word of mouth. Roger was so blown away by them he instantly marked them down for a 45 – Tally Ho.
The Verlaines, The Stones, The Chills and Sneaky Feelings also ploughed that furrow. At the time no one in Christchurch was in thrall to any ‘Dunedin scene’; in fact there wasn’t one as such. As far as we knew, there was just a few really good bands down there who had been blown away by The Enemy /Toy Love and wanted to make their own contribution. And to have it recognised in Christchurch as there wasn’t enough support for their originality down there.

Some ChCh bands quickly carved out a reputation in Auckland too. The Gordons are probably the best example. I saw their first ever gig at the Hillsborough Tavern in early 1980 (supporting Toy Love, or was it the Swingers, can’t recall exactly) and they had only been together a week and only had five songs but played them twice to rapturous acclaim from 600 people.

The Gordons did it different – offering a discordant wall-of-noise with some melodies years before Sonic Youth. Years later, in fact, SY professed huge admiration for the three, two of whom i went to school with at Ashburton College. I remember the Gordons doing three sell-out nights at the Gladstone in 1983 and just being excited at the sheer size of the Marshall stacks they had shoehorned onto and around the stage in that tiny pub. It was incredible the passions that a local band playing original music inspired – one of the great legacies of punk.

At the other end of the scale, Bill Direen was a huge talent, playing the rawest nuggets flavours in his bands The Vacuum / Kaza Portico / The Bilders yet he never made any commercial headway. The Bilders’ Schwimmin In Der See EP (Flying Nun 1982) remains one of the label’s very best discs and the retrospective ‘Max Quitz Vol 1’ (1994 Flying Nun CD) is pretty essential to understand all that was good about garden city garage rock in the early 1980s.

In january 1986 i made my first trip back home after 18 months in the UK and was delighted to see that Sneaky Feelings were to play the Gladstone on a saturday night while i was home. But unlike four years earlier, the pub wasn’t full and i only knew three people in there. Sneakies were still great, but that was the end of the era for me.