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.

The Great Unwashed – Born in the Wrong Time

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.

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!

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]

Flying Nun 30th birthday: The Clean, Subliminals, T54

T54
T54

Another stunning Flying Nun birthday show at the CPSA! T54 we’re a great start to the night, showing why they’re one of Flying Nun’s latest signings with great rollicking tunes propelled by Joe Sampson’s Flying Nun-influenced guitar riffs. Meanwhile some very unusual independent short films we’re playing behind the bands, care of Stuart Page.

Subliminals
Subliminals

The Subliminals ‘United States’ album is one of my favorite 90’s Flying Nun releases, and seeing them last night bought back a flood of memories. ‘Uh Oh’ went off like no other, what a great, driving rock song from one of the label’s most under-appreciated acts.

The Clean played an epic set of songs that stretched from the earliest EPs, through to (almost) now, with the crowd singing along to all the early stuff, and some of the later songs making for surprise highlights too. Hamish was very vocal behind the kit, expressing his disgust at the nights election results, though most of this seemed to fly right past the packed audience.

 

The Clean via Stuart Pages IPhone
The Clean via Stuart Pages IPhone

See the rest of my photos from this show here.

Robert Scott

Bass player for the Clean and highly prolific singer-songwriter for the Bats (whom he formed while the Clean were on hiatus in the mid 80s), Rob Scott released his own solo album in 2000, and took the albums name (Creeping Unknown) as his moniker for subsequent tours around New Zealand, Europe and the United States.

However closely linked to the Bats, The Creeping Unknown was a darker album aimed at being an organic cross-pollunation type release (it encompassed a lot of electronically produced soundscapes and texture) than any of his Bats recordings. It faired pretty well, being a pretty clean progression towards a more modern sound (though not quite as effectively as say, Shayne Carters’ Dimmer project).

Scott made his start as an underground tape enthusiast, forming the Every Secret Thing cassette label in the late 70s, and releasing a handful of albums from his own projects (primarily Electric Blood) and many others by the likes of Michael Morley and Denise Roughan (including a very rare Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos release).

Since 2002 Scott has become increasingly prolific once more, with a variety of home-recorded releases appearing on the low-rent Powertools label, on more professional efforts on Flying Nun, and a couple of joint singles.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Black Forest 7″ [w/ Alastair Galbraith 1998 Self-Released]
  • The Creeping Unknown [2000 Flying Nun FN447]
  • Tudor Gates EP [2002 Self-Released]
  • @Radio One CD-r EP [2003 Self-Released]
  • Songs of Otago’s Past CD-r [2004 Powertool Records]
  • Tascam Hits [2004 Powertool Records PT065]
  • Moonlighty Potato [w/ Ginna Rocco 2006 Powertool Records PT065]
  • Too Early 7″ Single [2010 A Small Number of Things]
  • Moonlight Potato [w/ Ginna Rocco 2006 Powertool Records PT044]
  • That’s What I Heard 7″ [w/ Adalita Srsen and the Puddle 2010 Fishrider Records]
  • Ends Run Together [2010 Flying Nun FN507]

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

Snapper

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 1992s 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 90s 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 occassionally ventured out with some live performances, now reportedly focusing on keyboard based songs.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Snapper Ep [1988 Flying NunFn110]
  • ‘Dark Sensation’/’Snapper And The Ocean’ 7″ Single [1990 Avalanche]
  • Shotgun Blossom [1992 Flying NunFn216]
  • ‘Vadar’/’Gentle Hour’ 7″ Single [1993 Flying NunFn264]
  • Adm [1996 Flying NunFn294]
  • ‘Hammerhead’/’Alive’ Live 7″ Single [2002 Crawlspace]

See-Also

Stephen

David Kilgour’s post 2nd break-up of the Clean band – a more laid-back attempt at West-Coast psychedelia-influenced pop-rock outfit. Joined by Flying Nun long-stayers Stephen Kilroy and Alf Donaldson, along with Geoff Hoani, Stephen put out a well liked debut EP, then didn’t resurface with a full-length release until 1993.

By the time of this release, Kilgour had started a prolific solo career, and had casually enlisted his Stephen buddies for backing on the releases – eventually naming them the Heavy Eights (long after Stephen had officially split).

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

The Weeds

[Profile thanks to Tim Davey]

The Weeds were around for about a year in the mid-80’s, formed with the intention of having fun and seeing just how stupid they could be, while also entertaining people. The band provided a great distraction for its members from the more ‘serious’ music they were making in other groups at the time. The name supposedly came from the fact that all the members were quite skinny at the time.

Robert Scott and Michael Morley had been playing together in the Pink Plastic Gods in late 1984. Following the end of the group Scott (Bass, Vocals) And Morley (Guitar, Vocals) got together with Jeff Harford (Vocals) and Chris Healey (Drums) and The Weeds was born. All except Healey had had much experience in other bands; Scott had been in The Clean and was frontman with The Bats, Morley was in Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos and Harford had played with Bored Games. Following the tragic end of Doublehappys in mid-85 Shayne Carter (Guitar , Vocals) And John Collie (Drums) were also added to the line-up. An odd feature of the group was that they had two drummers.

Every gig they played involved some sort of dress-up theme which the whole band would participate in. One night they would be playing draped in foliage and weeds, another would be in glam gear or bad taste clothes. Their most outrageous ‘dress-up’ was playing in their underpants on the town hall stage as support to the Verlaines and the Rip at a 4XO dance. Their only out-of-town gigs were at the Gladstone in Christchurch as support to Look Blue Go Purple and in Auckland at Windsor Castle. The latter gig didn’t go down very well and the band realised that dressing up stupidly and playing music was best done only around people who knew you.

The essence of the weeds was not about serious music or writing meaningful lyrics but about having a good time. A review by Sharon Guytonbeck following a gig at the empire spelt this out:

with a couple of friends helping out The Weeds were a lot of groovy fun. Who needs ‘Live Aid’ when you can have this. Yes, The Weeds confirmed my belief that Dunedin is where it’s all happening musically. We don’t need the rest of the world when we can be at The Empire with The Weeds.

– Critic 6/8/85

Band rehearsals were for the sole purpose of writing new material which gave their on-stage sound a very fresh feel. In mid-85 the band made some recordings at Dockside Studios on Wharf St which emerged as the Flying Nun single ‘Wheatfields’, a very Velvets-influenced piece that buzzed along with the chorus line ‘It’S Been A Hard Day On The Wheatfields …’. further recordings were made later in the year at Chippendale House which to this day remain unreleased.

By late 1985 the members of The Weeds were being pulled away by their other musical projects and the band faded away. Scott continued with The Bats and Carter And Collie went on to form Straitjacket Fits. Morley was later involved in Dead C, Gate and This Kind Of Punishment while Harford became part of My Deviant Daughter.

The Weeds played only around 15 gigs but will almost certainly be remembered by everyone who saw them for their mix of shock, humour and good music.

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

Sugarbug

Originally an Auckland based indie-pop outfit that formed in 1996, and showed a lot of promise, before dissappearing in the early 00s after half their members relocated to Dunedin. Originally comprised of Gillian Craig (Bass, Tenor Horn), Paddy (Keys, Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass), Sean O’Leary (Guitar, Vox) and Frank (Drums), their 2nd (circa 2000) line-up was comprised of Tom Donovan (Keyboard, Guitar), Gillian Craig (Bass, E-Flat Tenor Horn), Oksana Zinenko (Drums) And Sean O’Leary (Vocals, Guitar). The band’s profile was raised by an appearance on the excellent God Save The Clean tribute album (for the Clean).

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Slipped And Gone Lathe-Cut 7″ [Self-Released]

See-Also