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

Rose Quartz: Christchurch EQ Relief Comp

RQ EQ '11
RQ EQ '11

Awesome blog Rose Quartz have put together a compilation to raise funds for Christchurch in the wake of the earthquake. Rose Quartz have a couple of ex local lads on their writing team, so this is all jolly good stuff. Plus the comp features material from local outfits like Wet Wings, the Canterbury Rams, Mount Pleasant, Shocking Pinks etc, plus the mighty Thurston Moore. Keen! here’s the blurb, and click the link for the download at the bottom: Continue reading Rose Quartz: Christchurch EQ Relief Comp

Shocking Pinks

Formed by Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson in mid-2003, The Shocking Pinks are one of the most exciting and memorable bands to spring out of Christchurch in the last 5 years. New Zealand’s exponent of the dance-punk revitalisation – The Shocking Pinks encompass a vast variety of styles into their (utterly original) sound, blending disco, shoegazer guitar, new wave keys and vocals and punky rhythms into a mish-mash of undeniably danceable funk.

Valentines day 2004 sees The Pinks release their debut full-length ‘Dance The Dance Electric’ on Tim Baird’s Christchurch-based and usually house-orientated Pinacolada label. Reduced down to a four-piece (though their stylist Antonia De Bere gets a credit) of Harte, Tim McDonald (keys / percussion), Johnno Smith (bass / vocals) and Danny Bare (guitar – Ex-Substandard), the debut is startling different from their early 4-track attempts (though most of the recordings were done in such a lo-fi manner), with their heavy A Certain Ratio influence shining through on a number of tracks, which are now very varied and dynamic.

Though now somewhat missing a front-person (the album features vocal cameos by the Brunettes Heather Mansfield and original vocalist Mel Smith (Emerald Green, The Greenmatics) their sound has indeed fleshed out, and the band intends to sort out a relationship with the American DFA label.

More news came about with their January 2004 pre-release tour – after internal squabbles, the returning news was that the band had called it quits – though the album was still to be released on valentines day. After a couple of weeks, Harte re-appeared, announcing the band would march on – now with a completely new line-up featuring Harte taking both drum and bass roles, with newcomers Kit on guitar, and Marie on synthesizers (while advertising for a new drummer).

Things turned a little bizarre from this point on, with members of the original line-up reinstated for one-off gigs, then yet another new line-up and an eventual New Zealand tour (which ended unceremoniously with yet more departures). Finally, with The Pinks profile rising substantially both nationally and internationally, Harte took over sole responsibility of the group, signing a contract with Festival Mushroom (through Flying Nun), with plans for an EP and sophmoric EP in the works.

Circa 2004-5 The Shocking Pinks are a one-man recording project, though he has a new and established live band of Herbert Palmer (guitar – also of the Leper Ballet), Gareth (synth, vocals, percussion), and Tom (bass). In September 2004 Harte formed a new duo as a sideline to The Pinks, Black Albino – making their debut supporting touring US troop Hawnay Troof and high-flying Aucklanders Die! Die! Die!. Black Albino are somewhat closer to Harte’s previous outfit the Incisions, and featured former Pink and Incision Tim McDonald.

The Pinks gradually spaced out their live performances during 2005 and early 2006, after Herbert Palmer left the group for foreign shores. However in mid 2006 Harte finally got word of his impending US record deal, signing to DFA records in New York City. The group played a supposed final Christchurch show in August 2006, with Harte heading stateside for the re-release of Infinityland under DFA, with a four-record deal in the wings.

However it took almost a year for the DFA to actually release their first stateside material – a white-label 12″ record; whilst Nick was actually still in Christchurch, and even continued to play shows and house party’s before eventually leaving mid 2007. By the end of the Pinks New Zealand lifetime the group was essentially Nick fronting (on guitar) the Tiger Tones (less bassist Ashlin Raymond) – a local group the Pinks have had a strong influence on.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Dance The Dance Electric [2004 Pinacolada Pinacd02]
  • Sway [2005 Self-Released]
  • Mathematical Warfare [2005 Flying Nun Fncd494]
  • Infinityland [2005 Flying Nun Fncd497]
  • Smokescreen 12″ [2007 DFA]
  • Shocking Pinks [2007 DFA]

See-Also

Shocking Pinks – Mathematical Warefare

2005, Flying Nun, FNCD494

Mathematical Warfare is an album with a heavy back-story and variety of disclaimers. Almost completely removed stylistically from the sound the band became known for just last year, the Shocking Pinks have gone through so many changes and dynamic shifts that some people have written Nick ‘Harte’ and his schizophrenic musical tendencies off all together. In his home town of Christchurch the current band is subject to a completely split reception, and not without reason.

Nick lost a lot of friends during 2004. Driving musicians from his band, a variety of ill-advised relationships, an eventual descent into depression and a short stint with drug addiction just fueled the fire. Nick was lost – and made things worse with his own off-hand statements (interviews where Nick laid out his recent sexual exploits and how he thought his heroin overdose had helped him as a musician), not to mention their gigs were at times downright embarrassing, or even worse downright boring.

Somehow in the middle of this spiraling doom, the Pinks reputation (and material) had started to spread. A favorable high-profile overseas review and Nicks continuing attempts to tour his down-trodden band drew label interest from Flying Nun, and suddenly things were falling back in to shape. As the Pinks 3rd generation band was starting to become established, Nick decided that the band was now his own on-going concern – essentially contracting the help of his backing troop for live performances.

Understandably with all this tension and resolution, the album plays out like a bit of a diary piece, from a particularly open individual. Where-as previously Nick’s vocals were hidden under layers of searing guitar and synths, he’s now pushed right to the front laying down hokey romantic gestures for all to hear. Nick played all the instrumentation on the album, and its no surprise he favors the drum kit through-out the album, almost every track (and it’s a lengthy 17 song album) has a skittery, shuffling beat and heavy cymbal accents.

Mostly recorded in a home 4-track environment with studio over-dubs, the album has a claustrophobic, lo-fidelity charm to it – which makes me think of brilliant former Flying Nun oddball Matt Middleton, who’s album inner city guitar perspectives (as crude) looked particularly out of place on a label heading closer towards mainstream visibility in the mid 1990s. On the other side of the coin mathematical warfare is also full of glossy pop moments – including early single ‘Emily’ – the first of many relationship based tunes on the album. Nick is particularly off-colored with just a touch of inflection in his voice. It’s a song that gets better with each listen, thanks to some camouflaged guitar (now totally scaled back from the Pinks previous recordings) and a buzzy, electro sounding bass line.

Elements of the Pinks old sound still linger through-out the album, as reverberant, pitch-bending guitar notes float in and out of songs, and the occasional stab at funky bass riffs will please fans of dance the dance electric. I think Nick has done remarkably well constructing the album. He’s well aware of his limitations (vocally he never stretches, perhaps stressing the albums electro or new wave overtones), and pushes his strengths to the fore-front, even managing to use guitar just as a highlighting factor, rather than a prominent sound.

Some songs sound so familiar to me i try to place where they came from – the drug-centered and slightly hammy ‘Secrets’ veers between a familiar new wave introduction and a drawn out shoegazer ending, whilst ‘I Want Ice’ seems to borrow a guitar line from the Pinks past. Lyrically the album is quite limited, following a fairly standard love-song or drug story template, with Nick choosing repetition and catchiness over introspection – i think generally it works well and adds to the pop appeal of the album.

I’ve come to the opinion that i dig the album – after initial reservations. Song like the transitional ‘broken lens’ jump out as a new direction that the original (and in my view – best) incarnation of the band would never have come to. Despite all his flaws, Nick has actually managed to forge something creative – though maybe not always to my taste. Funnily enough, despite his more lucrative backing, the album seems less polished than ‘Dance the Dance Electric’ – perhaps reflecting the 4-track recording environment and untested material on offer.

The Shocking Pinks started out as something of a cult live-band who made a quick stab at some stella recordings – here we see a song-writer going for broke on his various ideas. I think the major downfall of mathematical warfare though is that it doesn’t really gel as an album per se. It’s a closely themed array of songs – and a quite lengthy one at that. Hopefully by the time Nick’s next album comes together (and at his productive rate, that should be before the end of the year), we’ll see a much more together and total-experience-orientated Shocking Pinks album – the Pet Sounds to this their Today! Overall though, it’s a relieving step in the right direction, and not a bad variation on the Pinks signature sound.

Silo

Two-piece Christchurch instrumental outfit based around Danny Bare (Ex-Substandard / Shocking Pinks – Guitar) and Rustle Covini (Ex-Aesthetics – Drums), who originally formed as Electric Slipper in March 2004. Bare’s an enthusiastic Post-Rock and Krautrock fan, and Silo display a firm grip on the Motorik approach of Can and (in particular) Neu! – whom they cover in their live set.

Bares’ an etheral guitarist, having a firm grip on tone and dynamics, whilst Covini is a rolling, rumbling drummer – they make for an effective duo. Both members currently split their time between multiple bands (Lome, the Beautiful Losers etc) and are fairly prominent fixtures in the current Christchurch underground live scene.

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

Substandard

Biography

Excellent instrumental 3-piece out of Christchurch in the Post-Rock vein.

Comprised of Danny Bare (also of The Shocking Pinks) on guitar, Andrew Robins (also of Luge) on drums, and Gareth Heta on bass, they formed in 2002 and quickly built a very strong set of songs built around Robins’ excellent drum-work and Heta’s slinky, powerful bass-playing.

Bare’s an excellent guitarist – totally in control of his tone and resonance, which he lets loose live, creating huge walls of sound from his assortment of foot-pedals.

In late 2002 they released a couple of brilliant EP’s, all packaged in very classy hand-made sleeves and in very limited numbers – before re-recording most of the material (with the help of Rob Mayes and his label Failsafe Records) as part of their debut full-length.

Simply put, Global Research Systems is a stunner. One of the most dynamic, concise and free-flowing textural albums around, Substandard show grace and maturity in their truly catchy songs. And they are songs too – avoiding Godspeed! Your Black Emporer’s unfortunate (yet highly skillful) habit of recreating a rising crescendo over and over again, Substandard’s songs are loose, and at times funky – with definite start and ends.

Quality live act too, faithfully recreating their recorded tracks in front of live audiences. With Heta taking a bit of time off from the band in late 2003 (getting married), Bare formed the side project Electric Slipper, whilst Andrew spent more time in Luge.

Members

  • Danny Bare (Guitar, 2002 – 2004)
  • Gareth Heta (Bass, 2002 – 2004)
  • Andrew Robbins (Drums, 2002 – 2004)
  • Matt Craw (Guitar, 2004)

Discography

  • Substandard (2002, Failsafe Records)
  • ..Low Electric City Pulses EP (2002, Failsafe Records)
  • Global Research System (2003, Failsafe Records, SAFE054CD)
  • Elite Mini Album (2014, Failsafe Records, SAFE104CD)

Links

A Flight To Blackout

Excellent instrumentalist trio from the garden city formed by Matt Craw (Guitar), James Musgrave (Bass), and Jared Kelly (Drums) in early 2005. Taking cues from a variety of informed directions, the group were prolific features of the local live scene, and attached themselves to both r18 and all-age crowds with varying success. Playing an involved instrumental sound heavy on dynamics, the group enlisted ex-Substandard bassist Gareth Heta as a 2nd guitarist for a short period before reverting back to their original configuration. However, this was soon broken when Kelly left to play with the Pickups full-time, so Cam Walker was recruited to carry on where Jared left off.

Throughout later 2005 and early 2006 the group had a strong association with fellow garden city instrumentalists Coal, with Walker sitting at the throne for both groups for a period – however this was halted by problems with the tendons in Walker’s wrist, which caused him a great deal of pain during a show with the touring groups Jakob and American outfit No Funeral.

After losing Walker, Craw and Musgrave added Thomas Lambert (synth/guitar – aka i.Ryoko) in order to create a fuller sound than the rock trio lineup. Through him they found a great replacement drummer in Adam Jack, who picked up the groove of the songs quickly and added his own heavy hitting style. At this time, Gareth Heta again showed an interest in being part of the band, so he was recruited on guitar (and bass when James swaps to guitar). These changes have lead to further creativity within the group, with new songs eventuating at the start of 2007 (including for the first time, a song with vocals provided by Musgrave).

More live shows followed, a highlight being a gig with the Enright House, Pandora’s Bucket, and Wellingtonians Donatello. Towards the end of 2007, A Flight To Blackout entered the RDU Roundup band competition without any expectations of success, and came away with 2nd place, pipped by the more RDU-friendly (but by no means lesser) Bang! Bang! Eche!

As seemed to be the rule by now, Jack left the group at the end of 2007 to travel to Canada, and Lambert left for Wellington. This allowed the remaining members to focus on the tracking of their debut release, which is currently being mixed and produced by Thomas for release on his and partner Matt Faisander’s ‘Sonorous Circle’ label before the end of 2008.

In early 2008 Hayden Williams and Josh Black (both also of Neil Robinson) made fine replacements on drums and synth respectively, their first show with the band being the farewell/fundraiser of friends The O’Lovelys.

Discography (Picks In Bold)

  • No Releases

See-Also

Black Albino

a one-off return to more caustic noisy sounds from nick hearte (the troubled figure behind the shocking pinks), black albino was the name of a trio harte fronted as guitarist for a single show in 2005, reuniting last-generation incisions members tim mcdonald (drums) and carl (bass) for a balls-to-the-wall explosion of noise – excellent stuff and an indication of what harte can do given the context.
discography
picks in bold

  • no releasesrn

Emerald Green

emerald green is mel smith, the formerly christchurch, now auckland-based vocalist and producer who sprung up in a solo capacity after leaving the very first line-up of the shocking pinks in late 2003. mels’ approach is closer to a new-wave electro-pop sound, with home-made beats built upon synths and computer gadgetry that alludes to the sound of early new order or (perhaps more accurately) ladytron.
though smith uses a simple, no-frills approach to recording her songs (so far, they’ve all been home recordings) the songs have a poppy gloss, highlighted by strong, affected vocals – that saw her excellent debut single ‘why wait then’ rise to the top of the new zealand alternative radio charts.
discography
picks in bold

  • why wait then cd single [2004 self-released]
  • in limbo cd single [2004 self-released]

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