The Sneakies were a young and naive pop band discovering the world of music from a distinctly dunedin perspective. In original member Matthew Bannisters’ Positively George Street book, which describes their experience and neglectance to accept the ‘Dunedin Sound’ that had been labelled around them, he was quick to point out how they differed from other bands.
Whilst the clean and the Chills were indulging in Toy Love inspired post-punk, raised on a diet of the Velvet Underground and West-Coast psychedelia, the Sneakies were more accessibility orientated troubadores, attempting to ingulf pop, country, folk and blues influences into their simple, gritty rock – and with some success. ‘Theres A Chance’ is one of the landmark tracks from the brilliant Dunedin Double album that brought together the Sneakies with fellow Dunedin City up-and-comers the Chills, the Stones, and the Sneakies eternal brother band, the Verlaines.
Though Bannisters book tries to say elseward, the Sneakies would never quite raise to the level of Graeme Downes talented troupe, but through-out the years (they eventually broke up in the late 80s, Bannister going on to form the Dribbling Darts Of Love) they did produce the odd great pop track (the hit single ‘Husband House’ being another stand-out), and some solid releases. Unlike their contemporaries, the Sneakies went through few line-up changes, original bassist Kat Tyrie leaving as the band started to gain speed, but Bannister, Martin Durrant, John Kelcher and David Pine survived the majority of their existance.
Discography (picks in bold)
- Dunedin Double 4xep [1982 W/ The Stones, The Chills, The Verlaines Flying Nun Dun1/2] Rn
- Better Than Before 7″ Single [1982 Flying Nun Fnfeed1]
- ‘Be My Friend’/’Amnesia’ 7″ Single [1983 Flying Nun Fn015]
- Send You 12″ Mini-Lp [1983 Flying Nun Fnfeel1] Rn
- Live At Windsor Castle Cassette [1984 Industrial Tapes Industrial017]
- Take Sides Cassette [1985 Compilation Flying Nun Fnmcfeel001]
- Husband House 12″ Ep [1985 Flying Nun Fnfeel2] Rn
- ‘Better Than Before’/’Wouldn’T Cry’/’Here’S To The Other Six’ 12″ Single [1986 Flying Nun Fnfeel3]
- ‘Better Than Before’/’Wouldn’T Cry’ 7″ Single [1986 Flying Nun Fnfeel3]
- ‘Coming True’/’Wasted Time’ 7″ Single [1986 Flying Nun Fnfeel5]
- Sentimental Education [1987 Flying Nun Fnfeel6 / Fne14]
- ‘Trouble With Kay’/’Its So Easy’ 7″ Single [1987 Flying Nun Fnfeel7]
- Waiting For Touchdown [1987 Au Go Go / Flying Nun Fn Anda / Fnuk2]
- Hard Love Stories [1988 Flying Nun Fn112 / Fne26]
- Long Time Gone 7″ Single [1988 Included W/ Fn1192Flying Nun Fn119]
- Send You [1992 Reissue Flying Nun Fn205]
- Positively George Street [2000 Compilation Flying Nun Fn441]
The Stones were an anarchic, anything goes rock band – in Matthew Bannisters’ Positively George Street novel on the Dunedin scene, Bainnister recalls Wayne Elsey (The Stones brilliant singer / guitarist) exclaiming in disgust that Sneaky Feelings think about their music, an idea that seemed foreign to the Stones. But then, the Stones didn’t need to think about the music they made, they were primal, raw, things just fell into place.. But they weren’t by any stretch of the imagination a simple band.
Their contribution to the Dunedin Double release were 4 starkly contrasting songs – one more than each of the other contributors to this seminal document of the birth of Flying Nun as a movement. On ‘Something New’ a huge pulsing wall of guitar slows just out of sync with the songs rhythm creating a beautiful shuffling melody, on ‘Surf’S Up’ they ripped apart a piano, wildly plucking the inner workings of the piano to create a rising crescendo of noise.
They had a detached irony that was never forced – their name and the sleeve for the Dunedin double piece both a brash play on their british name-sakes. Unfortunatley The Stones (who were completed by fellow former Bored Games member Jeff Bats along with Graeme Anderson) were far too short lived – Elsey’s life ended by an accident while travelling by train with the band.
Discography (picks in bold)
Graeme Downes’ long-standing song-writing vehicle, and one-hell of a brilliant, literate band at that. With the classic line-up of Downes on guitar and vocals, Alan Haig on drums and Jane Dodd on bass, the Verlaines released excellent singles such as ’10 O’Clock In The Afternoon’ from the EP of the same name, and of course their signature tune ‘Death And The Maiden’, which stands as one of the true kiwi classics.
Intricate, visionary song-writing and dynamic, unusual instrumentation (Downes approached composition from a more angular classical perspective, yet their songs could still Rock), along with a high quality thresh-hold mean that pretty much all Verlaines releases have strong, discernable qualities and are well worth getting hold of. They survive several line-up changes under Downes’ lead, and continued to make albums right up to 00s, re-uniting in 2003 for a short NZ tour.
Discography (picks in bold)
- Dunedin Double quadruple EP [1982 W/ Sneaky Feelings, The Stones, The Chills Flying Nun DUN1/2]
- ‘Death And The Maiden’/’C.D. Jimmy Jazz And Me’ 7″ Single [1983 Flying Nun FN014]
- Ten O’Clock In The Afternoon 12″ Ep [1984 Flying Nun FN022]
- Hallelujah All The Way Home [1985 Flying Nun FN040]
- ‘Doomsday’ single [1985 Flying Nun]
- Bird Dog [1987 Flying Nun FN077]
- Juvenilia [1987 Flying Nun FNCOMP02]
- Some Disenchanted Evening [1989 Flying Nun FN129]
- ‘The Funniest Thing’ single [1985 Flying Nun]
- Ready To Fly [1991 Slash C30718]
- Way Out Where [1993 Slash D31032]
- Over the Moon [1996 Columbia 486880.2]
- You’re Just Too Obscure For Me [2003 Flying Nun FNCD476]
- Pot Boiler [2007 Flying Nun FNCD501]
- Corporate Moronic [2009 Dunedinmusic.com]