RIP Peter Gutteridge

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.

Peter Gutteridge
Peter Gutteridge, After performing at the Darkroom in 2012

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.

Peter Gutteridge at Darkroom Bar 2012
Peter Gutteridge at Darkroom Bar 2012

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.

Peter Gutteridge with Snapper
Peter Gutteridge with Snapper at Camp A Low Hum 2013

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.

Rest in peace Peter.

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

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos

Biography

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos were a Dunedin-based duo consisting of Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals – before forming the Dead C, 2 Foot Flame, Angelhead, Tanaka-Nixon Meeting, The Weeds) and Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals) – though in an early video recording Morley states the group had formed ‘Up North’ before heading to Dunedin. The duo released a handful of handmade cassettes and had an affiliation with Bob Scott’s Every Secret Thing label, with both album releases and compilation appearances. Their most well known material is the River Falling Love EP which was released on Flying Nun in 1986 before being expanded and re-released by US label Ajax in 1993. Morley formed the Dead C in 1987, effectively bring an end to Wreck Small Speakers.

Featuring performances from other Dunedin musicians: Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals – Look Blue Go Purple, The 3Ds, Ghost Club), Ivan Purvis (Guitar – Love In A Gas Oven, Alpaca Brothers), Lesley Paris (Drums – Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, Olla), Bruce Blucher (Drums – Cyclops, Trash, Fats Thompson, Brown Velvet Couch, Alpaca Brothers) and Martin Kean (The Chills, Doublehappys, Fats Thompson, Stereolab). The groups recordings are based around strong rhythm tracks – usually plucked bass guitar and drum machine, with shout-sung vocals, fractured guitar riffs and organ squeels, with samples and other sound manipulations added into the mix. Though experimental, Wreck Small Speakers retained a high level of musicality and accessibility.

Both their creative genius and the quality of their songs really shines through on the groups lo-fi cassette recordings. The slinky, funky bass and proto-rap vocals on ‘Over My Skull’, the low-key beauty of River Falling Love highlight ‘All Of This’, and Denise Roughan’s wonderful appearance on their most well-known song ‘Rain’. Small scraps of the bands fairly substantial discography have appeared in the digitally archived era, however if ever there was a Flying Nun associated act that could use an anthology release it would be Wreck Small Speakers – its been almost two decades since Morley’s Dead C band mate Bruce Russell released A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers on his own Xpressway label.

Members

  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals, 198?)
  • Lesley Paris (Drums, 198?)
  • Ivan Purvis (Guitar, 198?)
  • Bruce Blucher (Drums, 198?)
  • Martin Kean (198?)

Discography

  • My Blue Fairy Godmother [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK14]
  • 3.V.M. EP [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK20]
  • Over My Skull Cassette Single [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 06]
  • Cave Cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 21]
  • Worlds Fall Apart cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 24]
  • A Summer In Taradale Cassette [1985 self-released]
  • River Falling Love ep [1986 Flying Nun FN068]
  • A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers Cassette [1988 Xpressway XWAY03]
  • River Falling Love Reissue [1993 Ajax AJAX 029]

Links

Peter Gutteridge (and Brother Love) at the Darkroom

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.

Peter Gutteridge at the Darkroom
Peter Gutteridge at the Darkroom

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.

[Published in the Press 5/4/2012]

Snapper

Biography

After several false starts as a founding member of (get this) the Clean, the Chills and then the Great Unwashed, Peter Gutteridge was struggling to find an outlet for the sounds pent up inside him. Recording at home with a 4-track recording unit, he formed a new sound quite removed from the loose acoustic ramble of the Great Unwashed.

These recordings were created primarily solo, but with the occassional assitance of Alan Haig (Drums) and Ex-Bird Nest Roy Dominic Stones (Guitar) – culminating in a live support show for the Delawares featuring Gutteridge on Keyboards. Delawares guitarist Christine Voice was impressed and soon replaced Gutteridge on keyboards (and backing vocals), leaving Gutteridge free to lead the band (now officially named Snapper) on guitar.

The sound of Snapper grew and grew – Gutteridge began experimenting heavily with distortion and layering voices keyboard, adding thick, dense drones to their live and recorded sound. the debut self-titled ep was released and garnished critical acclaim, as the outside world was by now discovering the delights of the new zealand underground. the concept for their releases were to treat each instrumental passage as a layer of sound, songs rolled on and coalesced into a continious amalgam of sound. this continued on 1992’s Shotgun Blossom – the bands first full-length release (after the best part of 5 years).

With the band taking their time between releases they eventually lost Haig (to be replaced by former Toy Love Drummer Mike Dooley) and Stones (who went on to form the 3Ds) in the process. ADM finally surfaced in 1996 to pretty much universal adoration – whilst some critics compared them to the departed art-punk (and synth pioneers) duo Suicide, others cited them as the inspiration for the new wave of drone-popsters such as Stereolab.

ADM was recorded with something of a revolving support line-up – Stones was replaced by Gutteridge’s old pal David Kilgour, whilst a young Demarnia Lloyd (yet to make her name with Mink or Cloudboy), Celia Pavlova (Aka Mancini – of King Loser) and Voice provided backing vocals, with Dooley staying on as drummer.

Since then, not much has been heard from Gutteridge – despite Snappers reputation growing in retrospect. In the late 90’s he played tribute to his old band the Clean, playing guitar on High Dependency Unit‘s excellent cover of the Gutteridge-penned Clean classic ‘Point That Thing Somewhere Else’, and occasionally ventured out with some live performances, now reportedly focusing on keyboard based songs.

Members

  • Peter Gutteridge (Guitar/Vocals/Keyboards, 1985? – 2014)
  • Christine Voice (Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals, 1985? – 2000?)
  • Alan Haig (Drums, 1985? – 1992)
  • Dominic Stones (Guitar/Vocals, 1985? – 1992)
  • David Kilgour (Guitar, 1992 – 1993?)
  • Mike Dooley (Drums, 1992 – 2000?)
  • Martin Phillips (1992)
  • Chris Heazlewood (Guitar, 1993?)
  • Celia Patel (Keyboards/Vocals, 1993? – 1995?)
  • Maxine Funk (2000?)
  • Demarnia Lloyd (Vocals, 1996)
  • Thomas Bell (2000?)
  • Roddy Pain (Guitar, 1997?)
  • Tristan Dingermans (1997?)
  • Danny Brady (Keyboards, 2012? – 2014)
  • Hope Robertson (Drums, 2012? – 2014)
  • Jack Reid (Guitar, 2012? – 2014)

Discography

  • Snapper EP (1988, Flying Nun Records, FN110)
  • Dark Sensation 7″ Single (1990, Avalanche, AGAP010)
  • Shotgun Blossom (1992, Flying Nun Records, FN216)
  • Vadar 7″ Single (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN264)
  • ADM (1996, Flying Nun Records, FN294)
  • Hammerhead Live 7″ Single (2002, Crawlspace, SPACE010)

Links

 

The Stones

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)

See-Also

Throw

Biography

The strange and confusing career of Throw has spawned some of the more successful and impressive releases for the Failsafe label. The band sprung from Failsafe boss Rob Mayes desire to create a studio based song writing ensemble which would have a transitional line-up as the song required.

In late 91 Mayes enlisted drummer Steve Birss again, the pair having patched things up (once again) after Birss’s split from Dolphin in early 1990. Birss had been playing in British influenced four piece Elevation (with David Hunt – guitar, Dylan – bass and Jeremy Talyor – guitar and vocals).

Taylor was enlisted for Throw to add vocals and guitar and in mid 91 Throw did their first ‘rehearsal’ , nutting out a few ideas which were to spawn the tracks ‘Honeyblonde’, ‘Time untied’ and ‘Blinder’. The next week the band recorded their practice and sent away the three songs to the QEII Arts Council for grant consideration.

At the end of that week Throw performed their first gig in support of Naked Lunch at a private party, followed the next week by supports for The Bats and Breathing Cage. Throw quickly built up a strong set of material and in the space of a few weeks had penned the 17 songs which became their stable set.

A month later Throw were headlining their own show at the Dux de Lux followed by a trip to Wellington with co-Christchurch bands Naked Lunch and Loves Ugly Children, playing a gig at the new Carpark to average attendance, and an Upper Hutt show to 6 locals and a bunch of locals who hung out in the other bar, who didn’t like anything you couldn’t ride your motor bike to. Throw also picked up one extra show at hip and happening venue Bar Bodega with ex-Christchurch man Nigel Mitchell’s new outfit, now Wellington based.

This proved to be a luck move for Throw, impressing the local crowd and particularly bar owner Fraser McInnes who took a strong liking to the band and immediately booked them to perform again. McInnes championing of Throw would spill over to Taylor’s post Throw project Cinematic, resulting in Bodega releasing the bands first album.

The Throw project in effect snowballed away from the original intention of keeping the line-up fluid and studio based and the Mayes/Birss/Taylor line-up found themselves heavily occupied with recording and performing over the next 12 months. After the initial rush had died down the band hit some internal political problems with singer Taylor wanting to claim full song writing credit for all material.

Mayes objected to this on the grounds that at least half of the bands music was written or originated from Mayes ideas, and all the material the band performed was worked on and contributed to by all members. Taylor being somewhat of a jukebox for modern pop songs, if he has heard a song he can most times play a version of it.

Taylor later conceded sometimes he couldn’t remember which stuff he’d written and which stuff he’d memorized from music he’d heard. This proves to be somewhat of a problem for the band during writing stages for the group as tunes initiated by Taylor sometimes bore strong resemblance’s to music Taylor had recently heard, and in some cases to Mayes own material he had presented at previous rehearsals.

After a few months of heated contemplation the songs were eventually registered with 1/3 credit to taylor/Mayes/Birss, but the situation had led Birssto limit his commitment to the project and Birsswould now only perform in Christchurch, and for recordings. Mayes enlisted Caroline Easther to drum for the bands North Island shows, Mayes being a fan of Easther’s drumming since her days in Beat Rhythm Fashion, through to The Chills, Verlaines, and Easther’s own band.

Relations with Taylor continued to strain, perhaps due to Throws instant success, something both Mayes and Birss had been used to with their work in Dolphin, but the young Taylor (20) had difficulty with, falling foul of the rock and roll ego syndrome.

Taylor, Mayes and Birss shoot a video for the lead track ‘Wishes from her heart’ on the forthcoming ‘All different things’ EP at the picturesque Castle Hill, the band perched precariously on rock top, during intermittent snow and sunshine. Throw continued to perform around the country working to ward their Arts Council Fund debut EP release. Throw’s work with Taylor culminated in a series of concerts building up to the release of the ‘All different things’ EP.

Taylor and Mayes played shows in Hamilton and Auckland (Powerstation with Semi Lemon Kola and The Nixons) with Easther drumming. These shows were followed by a Wellington date with Easther and a Palmerston North show as two piece with drums on backing tape, at the Feast of Stevens own EP release party. Throw were joined by Feasties drummer Glen Fletcher for the last song of their set away, a tense controlled number.

Fletcher had that day committed himself to a psychiatric hospital for mental stress, leaving the Feast of Stevens to spring him for their gig. Throw started ok with “away” but by the end of it the song was racing out of control, leaving everyone present much amused.

Taylor and Mayes drive back to Wellington straight after their Palmerston North set and find themselves at Bar Bodega with a small crowd of people and so play their two piece line-up set to excellent response. Mayes and Taylor return to Christchurch to prepare for their EP release concerts which entail a release party at Mainstreet Cafe where the band were to perform in a stripped back fashion as opposed to their normally full on power gigs, and a concert at the Dux de Lux.

Tension between Mayes and Taylor had been brewing progressively over the previous few gigs and the situation came to a head on the day of their Mainstreet Cafe release party, resulting in Taylor refusing to attend. Throw played their last performance in the original line up at the Dux at the end of September with the band not saying a word to each other throughout the gig. Mayes takes the next few months to work on the album, finishing off the songs the band had laid the basic tracks down for at the time of recording the EP.

The album is finished in mid 1994 with initial singles being released to New Zealand on Air for inclusion on the ‘Kiwi Hit Disc’ series. Taylor’s desire to pursue his solo song writing leads him to form Cinematic and he recruits bassist James Gutherie, guitarist – and drummer Steve Birss. Cinematic go on to record and release a debut album with that line-up, followed by a further two albums in the mid to late 90s. ‘Falling inside me’ is released as a single backed with ‘Freefall’ and receives a video grant from New Zealand on Air.

The video is directed by Jonathon King and features Auckland actress Rebecca wandering round Auckland rooftops looking pouty and plaintive. The finished video is some way away from the brief given to King. A still from the video is used for the ‘Rememory’ album cover. In march 95 the ‘Rememory’ album is released. ‘Nowhere near’ is released as a single backed with ‘Time untied’, a track with it’s origins in Taylor and Birss’s previous band Elevation. The track also receives an NZ on Air video grant, the video being directed by film maker David Reid.

Mayes is again unimpressed with the directors interpretation of the bands music, the finished video result being some sort of a yuppy pool room love story. In June 95 Throw get another video grant this time for the track ‘Honeyblonde’. Mayes decides to work with camera man Brett Nicols and director and animator Gregg Page who had worked on the springloader video. Mayes also attends the film shoot and assists page on the video which is an animated claymation performance based video, showing the band performing as clay figures.

The video was nominated for a New Zealand music award as best music video, along with videos from Supergroove and Shihad. In August 95 ‘All different things’ receives a video grant and Page and Nicols again make a video for this track, based on the story of a scientist who creates a three piece band to perform a love song to impress a girl.

Mayes shifts to London in November 95 and continues to work on material for the follow-up album, ‘Dream baby good-bye’, which features unreleased re-worked material from the original 1992 sessions as well as recently recorded material.
– Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records

Members

  • Rob Mayes
  • Jeremy Taylor (Guitar/Vocals)
  • Steve Birss (Drums)
  • Caroline Easther (Drums)

Discography

  • Falling Inside You Single (Failsafe Records)
  • All Different Things EP (1992 Failsafe Records)
  • Rememory (1995, Failsafe Records)
  • Nowhere Near Single (1995, Failsafe Records)
  • Dream Baby Goodbye (1995, Failsafe Records)

Links

The Verlaines

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]

See-Also

Straitjacket Fits

Dissonant kiwi pop-rock that at times verged on shoe-gazer (the band were known for incredibly loud live performances), often hiding their delicate melodies and concise, heartfelt lyrics behind a wall of feedback. Based around Shayne Carter and Andrew Brough (who eventually split from the band after the Melt tour to form Bike) both on guitar and vocals, David Wood filling the bass role, and John Collie at the drums. Shayne Carter was always the man in the spotlight, he had come from Dunedin band the Doublehappys and was known as a bit of an enigmatic front-man, as well as being quite the temperamental artist type. Andrew Brough however (formerly of the Orange), represented the quiet and caring, under-appreciated side of the band – his single ‘Down In Splendor’ is one of the best examples of melodic kiwi pop, a fragile, love song with a killer sing-a-long chorus.

But Carter is one hell of a songwriter also, practically carrying the first album (the classic Hail) with his singles ‘She Speeds’ and ‘Life In One Chord’. During the first two albums, the Fits were at the fore-front of kiwi rock, challenging the Chills and the Headless Chickens for the most popular of local bands, and along with the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience as the pick of the New Zealand underground scene. When the Melt tour wound down in early ’92, Brough decided it was time he formed his own band, as little of his material seem to work its way into the Fits cannon. He was replaced by Mark Peterson for the disjointed album Blow, released later in ’92.

Although Blow contains some excellent pop singles in ‘Done’, ‘Cat Inna Can’ and my personal favorite, and an excellent moot point for The Fits – ‘If I Were You’, the album was too inconsistent to support an attempted break into the burgeoning American market, and the band broke up to persue their own interests.

Carter now performs under the Dimmer moniker, releasing the brilliant, decade in the making I Believe You Are A Star last year to unanimous critical acclaim, and with a follow-up to be released shortly! Brough’s band Bike made one of the great New Zealand pop albums of the mid 90s, drawing a great deal of radio play for what was basically an all-hit album.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Life In One Chord 12″ Ep [1987 Flying Nun Fn080 / Fne25]
  • Hail [1988 Flying Nun Fn105]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 12″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn108]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 7″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn114]
  • Hail [1990 Extended U.S. Edition Flying Nun Fn142]
  • ‘Sparkle That Shines’/’Grate’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn151]
  • Melt [1990 Flying Nun Fn174]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’In Spite Of It All’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn175]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’Skin To Wear’/’In Spite Of It All’/’Hail’ (Live) 12″ / Cd Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn176]
  • ‘Down In Splendour’/’Seeing You Fled’/’Missing Presumed Drowned’/’Cave In’ Double 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn180]
  • Down In Splendour Video Cassette [1990 Flying Nun Fn D16011]
  • Done Ep [1992 Flying Nun Fn242]
  • Blow [1993 Flying Nun Fn251]
  • ‘Cat Inna Can’/’Sycamore’/’Satellite’ Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn265]
  • ‘If I Were You’/’Brother’s Keeper’ (Demo)/’Burn It Up’ (Demo) Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn285]
  • Best Of Double-Cd [1998 Compilation Flying Nun Fn406]

Awards Etc
Rianz Awards 1990


  • Music Video Of The Year – Bad Note For A Heart
  • Cover Design Of The Year – John Collie

Rianz Awards 1993


  • Album Of The Year – Blow
  • Top Male Vocalist Of The Year – Shayne Carter

See-Also

Beat Rhythm Fashion

Biography

Fashionable Wellington-based post-punk from the early 1980’s that featured Caroline Easther (The Chills, Verlaines, Spines etc), but formed by British ex-pat brothers Nino and Dan Birch.

Initially formed as a studio-based outfit in august 1980, and heavily indebted to the sound of the Cure, the Birch brothers had been around the Terrace scene for a while, playing in both the Westown Quintet and The Mixers.

No Great Oaks 7″ Single

Beat Rhythm Fashion eventually started playing live in 1981, taking their place in a vibrant and expanding scene.

They survived a bit longer than many of the formlative Wellington punk outfits featured on ****, releasing several singles packaged in distinctive 2-color sleeves and were recorded as part of the 4-band live album Wellingtonzone, that marked the debut of the soon-to-be-huge Mockers. The band had more of a pop-friendly new-wave edge than their harder-edge contemporaries, but saw little exposure outside Wellington.

In 2007 Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records finally released Bring Real Freedom – a collection of songs culled from out of print vinyl releases, live recordings and unreleased material as part of his ongoing reissue series.

The group received some retrospective exposure in 2017 thanks to Salmonella Dub – The Christchurch dub group were due to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, however they declined involvement after their pick of Beat Rhythm Fashion (as an influencing group) were deemed too obscure.

Members

  • Nino Birch (Guitar/Vocals, 1980 – 1982)
  • Dan Birch (Bass/Vocals/Drums, 1980 – 1982)
  • Glen Stewart (Drums, 1980 – 1981)
  • Caroline Easther  (Drums, 1982)
  • Peter Kaio (Drums, 1982)

Discography

  • **** [1980, w/ Life in the Fridge Exists, Wallsockets, Naked Spots DanceSausage]
  • Beings Rest Finally 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk008]
  • Turn of the Century 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk012]
  • No Great Oaks 7″ Single [1981, Epic, ES751]
  • Bring Real Freedom [2007, Failsafe Records]

Links