The Subliminals

Short-lived group containing Simon Mclaren (Gat/Vox – Loves Ugly Children, Sleepers Union), Brendan Moran (Drums – Hasselhoff Experiment) Steven Reay (Gguitar) And Jared Johnson (Bass) that put out one of the best albums of 2000 with the driving, enthralling United States on Flying Nun.

Simon retained the Loves Ugly’s knack for catchy songs and added one of the most explosive music backings available thanks to one hell of a strong rhythm section. Moran is already famous for being one half of the incredibly loud duo known as The Hasselhoff Experiment, and The Subliminals allowed him freedom for more diverse drumming – instead of the freight-train-straight-to-hell approach of the Hasselhoffs’.

The star of the album, though is Jared Johnsons driving bass – essentially the lead instrument on a number of the albums best tracks – they could survive on being just an insturmental band. But to make things even better, both the vocals and the guitar were top notch, they’d put on a scorching live performance were everybody in the house would scream along and dance to their groovy numbers. Sad then that early this year they called it quits – all the boys moving on to their own new project.

The group did however re-unite for Flying Nun’s 30th Birthday Celebrations, playing shows up and down the country with The Clean.

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

Tall Dwarfs – The Sky Above, The Mud Below

2001, Flying Nun, FNCD456

After 20 years of continually releasing dynamic, independent and thoroughly inventive music – the Tall Dwarfs have released perhaps their most laid-back and restrained full length with ‘The Sky Above, The Mud Below’, their 13th album. Wearing their influences on their sleeve, the album varies between shades of the Beatles and Beach Boys brands of pop, and the Tall Dwarfs trademark lo-fi inventiveness. For the first time, the group incorporates digital techniques (which might send some shivers down the spine of the purest of listeners – don’t worry it’s only for editing purposes!) to modify their endless collection of loops, sample snippets, tape-effects and found sounds.

The warmth of their previous recordings is still very evident, this time being far more reflective than their previous albums. Both Bathgate and Chris Knox (who has now reached the ripe old age of 50) seem at peace with themselves, and how they make music – no longer concerned with the “lost opportunities” that their other recent albums such as ’50 Flavors Of Glue’ and Knox’s solo release ‘Beat’ portrayed.

The album starts with the chirpy, upbeat tribute to the late great George Harrison “Meet The Beatle” inspired by Chris’ accidental run-in with Harrison a couple of years ago. “I know that guys like me are a drag, you must have had it up to here with fans” – a lyric typical of Knox’s content throughout the album. He’s playing for himself now, and songs like “Meet The Beatle” and the follow-up “Beached Boy” demonstrates he knows his place in the (music) world. Knox absolutely dominates the vocals on the first half of the disc, creating an introspective flow based around timid, tentative instrumentation – it’s hard to believe this is the same duo that raised so much hell as The Enemy back in the late 70’s.

“Room To Breathe” again recalls long lost beatles numbers, with Bathgate’s first vocal outing sharing a great deal of character with long lost Lennon classics. As the understated (and undervalued) member of the duo – Bathgate has a great deal of talent for playful melodies that goes unrecognized. “Melancholy” sees Knox bring out the oven trays (for percussive effect) along with some gentle wilting Mellotron from Bathgate – a sickly sweet ditty that’s already burnt its impression on my brain – imminently hummable.

Bathgate’s given the job of pulling off the album’s one true radio hit, though, with the self-effacing sing-a-long “Baby, It’s Over”, featuring some of the best organ and synth the Tall Dwarfs have ever committed to tape. Similar to the catchy (and somewhat revolting) singles from last album ’50 Flavors Of Glue’, it’d be a surefire hit if only pop songs were judged on merit rather than marketing ability!

“You Want Me Shimmy” is the prime moment of humor on the album, Knox trying his hardest to pull off an allman brothers impression, but comes off somewhere between captain Beefheart and Tom Waits! Definitely the result of many whiskey soaked nights behind the mixing board, it serves as a great foil to the more serious songs on the album.

The album concludes with an additional 8 tracks (described on the cd as a free EP) under the ‘International Tall Dwarfs’ moniker to coincide with material collected from international fans, called The Weidenhausen Impediment. The EP features Graeme Downes guitar work, a loop from Jad Fair (of Yo La Tengo), vocals, clarinet and guitar from Jeff Magnum and Laura Carter Of Neutral Milk Hotel (and Elf Power) and instrumentation from the entire Clean crew, along with a loop from unknown Dutch band ‘Mongrell’. Following on from the International Tall Dwarfs stunning debut ‘Stumpy’ — considered by many as the Dwarfs best album.

It’s quite evident that digital recording hasn’t made too much of a difference to the way the boys make music, the album still showcases the Dwarf’s disdain for flashy production – and it takes until the trailing EP before their trademark tape manipulation comes into play. all in all though, the many guest stars (and occasional stolen sample byte) blend perfectly into the dwarfs lo-fi madness – with even the guests from neutral milk hotel being relegated to merely impersonating possums on ‘possum born’. one of the best albums of the year so far, filled to the brim with catchy sing-a-long choruses, strange lyrical bents and references.

The Clean – Getaway

2001, Flying Nun, FNCD459

The Clean are something of an enigma to me – i’ve just caught them live on the Getaway tour and they still show the qualities that hold them in my heart as perhaps the finest live rock act i have ever seen. I’ve grown up with their music and they were an integral part of my continuing obsession and devotion to the New Zealand music scene. Getaway is only their fourth full-length album proper (along with their seminal early release album compilation) in 23 years of existence and sees the band attempting to further refine their sound.

If your familiar with The Clean’s past, you’ll know that their 80’s material was quite lo-fi and raw in its delivery. Since then they’ve managed to develop a strong jangle-rock presence through their first two albums and then exploited a more pop-centric and quirky side on the somewhat chaotic last album unknown country. The 5-year gap leading into Getaway has seen David Kilgour deliver a spate of fine singer-songwriter albums of quirky intent, brother Hamish has been keeping himself busy in New York with expatriate kiwi band Mad Scene, whilst Rob Scott has continued performing with his outstanding band The Bats.

Though maybe not as immediately grabbing as their earlier singles, the best tracks off of Getaway posses excellent melody and the natural flow that The Clean has made all their own. Album highlights like the opener ‘Stars’ and the Rob Scott-led ‘e-Motel’ show what can be done with a minimal amount of chords and perfect execution of guitar feedback. The album differs from their earlier punchy efforts, concentrating on developing strong grooves laced in reverb and echoes at a leisurely-relaxed tempo.

I think this album is more of a consolidation of the changes each of the bands three members have gone through over the past 5 years than a well-defined album. It does hold up very well as a collective piece though, as the songs (often just short vignettes of creative instrumentation, as they tried and failed somewhat on Unknown Country) posses a common laid-back and quirky vibe. Instrumental tracks like ‘Twilight Agency’ find the band experimenting with less traditional instrumentation, as each of the band members have partaken in on their other musical outlets, particularly Robert Scott’s 2000 album The Creeping Unknown, which was complemented by a great deal of lush electronic soundscapes.

Guests Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley (both of Yo La Tengo) lend a hand on two tracks, adding guitar and drumming contributions, without really having much of an effect on the general scope on the sound. I’d like to see The Clean produce an album that captures the somewhat ethereal magic that they produce as a live unit, as they’re still missing an album that pushes the sonorous noise-rock limits as their live show does.

The album does, however stand as an enjoyable, relaxed addition to their catalogue, but is by no means a leap forward in the style they had previously developed. As a point of note, it’s probably their most cohesive and effective of their actual full-lengths (as their albums always tend to be somewhat reunion efforts) and is a fine purchase if you’re looking for melodic rock without pretense. To get a firm reflection on what The Clean are about, i’d suggest tracking down the (compilation’ album first (or catching their amazing live show), but Getaway is still a fine purchase.

The Clean – Compilation

1986 Compilation, Flying Nun, NORMAL51

In 1978 the New Zealand underground scene was on the verge of explosion. The Enemy, Bored Games, and The Spelling Mistakes were showing that New Zealand could produce great punk music, and all with a great ‘do-it-yourself’ gusto. The Enemy later developed into seminal early 80’s punk outfit Toy Love, and with their eventual collapse, guitarist/vocalist Chris Knox formed the infamous lo-fi pioneer duo the Tall Dwarfs with fellow Toy Love member Alec Bathgate. David Kilgour was a great fan of the Enemy, and had developed a relationship with the musicians that made up the Dunedin scene at the time. In 1978 he set about learning guitar, then forming a band that would eventually capture the essence of the 2nd wave of New Zealand underground music, the so called ‘Dunedin Sound’.

After a period of almost 2 years and a plethora of line-up changes, Kilgour settled on his brother Hamish on drums and original bass-player Peter Gutteridge (who after leaving the band before the majority of their output was an original member of the Chills, The Puddle, and then eventually his own band Snapper). This formation would go onto write a handful of The Clean‘s early songs, and eventually resurface in 1983 as The Great Unwashed (for a short tour and subsequent album), but it was Robert Scott (also of The Bats) who secured The Clean’s line-up in late 1979.

After touring haphazardly for there first three years of existence (often supporting The Enemy), Kilgour was propositioned by young upstart Roger Shephard, who had come up with the idea of forming a record label to release The Clean’s noticeably inspirational music to the masses. Shephard put together Flying Nun records in 1981, and The Clean’s breakthrough single Tally Ho! Was the label’s 2nd release (following The Pin Group‘s ‘Columbia’). Featuring a young Martin Phillips on organ accompaniment and recorded for no budget whatsoever, the single rocketed into the New Zealand charts – which was considered impossible for a self-distributed minor label recording at the time. Phillips’ catchy, driving organ and the gentle sing-song nature of Kilgour’s vocals had immediately struck a chord with the New Zealand public, but the band failed to fully capitalize on this early success.

Over the course of the next two years, the clean only put out two EP’s, Boodle Boodle Boodle was recorded by Doug Hood and features a stunning array of pop-classics (“Anything Could Happen”, “At The Bottom” and the Gutteridge penned classic “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”) and the equally superb ‘Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good, So-So Sounds So-So, Bad Sounds Bad, Rotten Sounds Rotten’ EP (track highlights included the instrumental “Fish” and jangly masterpiece “Beatnik”).

This complacency with relative seclusion eventually led to a number of self-imposed band break-ups, and delayed their eventual debut album release till 1990, which brought Vehicle – by which time the Clean had become a part time band for all three members, due to the demands of their various other musical exploits.

Compilation documents the high-times of the early Clean. Released by Flying Nun as an LP (then re-released during the 90’s CD reissuing phase), the album gathers together Tally Ho! And the original 2 EP’s, several tracks from the ‘Oddities’ self-recorded album, as well as live material recorded crudely on a fan’s cassette recorder.

The quality of the recording is of no concern though, as it becomes immediately apparent on listening to these lo-fi masterpieces that the Clean were on to something special. From the twin-guitar and bass onslaught of pounding pop opener “Billy Two”, the chugga chugga bass and steaming lead-guitar of “At The Bottom”, through to the quirky pop highlights of “Beatnik”, “Oddity” and “Hold On To The Rail” – there isn’t a single dud in this wonderful archive of one of pop-rock’s truly great bands.

Ear-marked by a stunning live rendition of signature tune “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”, the live tracks are murky, but show the band in full flight. Waves upon waves of guitar distortion, pounding bass and drums and kilgour’s enigmatic, hushed vocals characterize a band that did more for the New Zealand live scene than any other band has done before or since.

Rough and ready, this is a compilation of the most well-honed, dynamic guitar music your ever likely to hear. Simmering solo’s, bass that gets your foot tapping, and primal, aggressive drumming lead to a winning combination. Though the Clean may have since failed to live up to the expectations that this album documents, they have become a crowning monument for New Zealand in the history of pop-rock, and i’d recommend anyone with more than a passing interest in music to give this classic a try.

The Clean – Anthology

2002 Compilation, Flying Nun, FNCD468

Anthologies are funny things. As extended ‘best-of’ collections they seem to gather more respect than their antiquated siblings. Sometimes however, an anthology comes along that just gets everything so right – it doesn’t really matter that a majority of the source material was already available. The Clean‘s phenomenal early (1980-1983) material was originally collected on vinyl (and then extended and reissued on CD in an extended form) as the seminal ‘compilation’ album. A breathtaking summation of The Clean’s diverse, rugged and hearty sounds – but it was never the complete collection it deserved to be, despite being one of the most solid batch of songs ever committed to 4-track.

The Clean’s ‘Boodle Boodle Boodle’ and ‘Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good.. ‘ EP releases, and the original Tally Ho singles are exquisite rarities seldom surfacing in their homeland of New Zealand, let alone stateside. Thoughtfully compiled by David Kilgour (lead guitar / vocals) himself, the Anthology is a two-disc monster broke up into pre-83 early material on the first disc, and a collective summation of their three albums released prior to 2001’s Getaway, including several b-sides from 1994’s Modern Rock on the second disc.

Obviously the first disc covers a lot of the same ground covered by Compilation – but adds venom by including all the original EP tracks, along with several unreleased songs, a couple of newly mixed retakes, and a track off of the oft ignored Oddities compilation. The end result stands more cohesive, dynamic and (thankfully) at a level of fidelity that The Clean have seldom been heard before.

With the delightful glee Martin Phillips church organ on the original Tally Ho single, things are off to a cracking start – one that actually managed to chart in New Zealand, quite an achievement for a $50 recording. A real sing-a-long number, the guitars are at the back of mix, whilst Phillips’ cameo absolutely makes the song. It’s then followed by the stop-start b-side derived from a live recording ‘Platypus’ – which showcases Kilgour’s brilliant guitar playing, even in these early recordings.

The absolute pinnacle of The Clean’s performances, Boodle Boodle Boodle manages to squeeze so much character, emotion, and texture out of five simple two-riff masterpieces. The delightful shuffle of ‘Billy Two’ leads into the first Robert Scott vocal song – ‘Thumbs Off’, which while not quite up to the vocal standards of Scott’s work in the bats, chugs along following a decidedly whimsical narrative. The EP just gets stronger and stronger, with ‘Anything Could Happen’, containing the immortal line ‘Well here I am in the Big City / I’ve got no heart and I’ve got no Pity’, possibly the most intriguing comment ever made about Dunedin – a student city of just 150,000 people in those days! The downbeat ballad ‘Sad-Eyed Lady’ makes way for The Clean’s inimitable centerpiece ‘Point that thing Somewhere Else’. A simple one-riff monster encompassing two layers of brutal, rolling guitars, pounding bass, primal drumming and lithe vocals – it’s the song that defines the entire ‘Dunedin sound’ movement, an anarchistic mix of raw energy, melodic guitar textures and a dark, sense of mystery to the lyrics.

The brilliant (and superbly named) great sounds great, good sounds good, so-so sounds so-so, bad sounds bad, rotten sounds rotten EP expands on The Clean’s sound by encompassing south-style instrumental country (‘Fish’), anarchistic folk-punk leanings (‘Side On’) and jolly pop in the form of another organ-based chirpy number, the anthem-like ‘Beatnik’. ‘End of my dream’ and ‘On Again/Off Again’ are possibly hints at what would follow with The Clean’s spin-off band The Great Unwashed, being more of an acoustic, lo-fi project. The great unwashed toured and recorded several EP’s in Robert Scott’s absence during 1983, using original bass player Peter Gutteridge (now of Snapper).

A new recording in the form of a re-working of the driving groove-based instrumental ‘at the bottom’, clearly demonstrating that in a live capacity the boys are still up to their former greatness with a scorching effort. The first disc concludes with a multitude of tracks from various sources, encompassing the classic post break-up track ‘Getting Older’, along with several other tracks found on either the compilation CD reissue or the oddities collections.

Between their second break-up in 1983 and eventual reforming in 1989 (for the release of the full-length debut vehicle, which opens the second disc), the three members of The Clean had traveled down very different paths. Hamish Kilgour had developed his noisier, brasher side with the post-Gordons initial line-up of Bailter Space. Scott had developed his folk-pop side with the bats, becoming quite an astounding pop-song writer during the process of recording daddy’s highway. Meanwhile David Kilgour was hard at work creating earthy, modern pop songs with his own solo material. Vehicle tries quite hard to capture the spirit of their earlier recordings, and with left-over songs such as ‘drawing to a whole’ it works to a point – but on other tracks, even in this compressed format, a great deal of the magic is lost.

Thankfully though, The Clean have always been a fun band, and from vehicle closer ‘Big Cat’, to the demented modern rock album, things are very fun indeed. The Clean experimented with all sorts of conditioning into their production of modern rock, which comes across as one part The Clean, one part Jean-Paul Sartre Experience and a great dollop of Monty-Python for good measure. Keyboards really make an impression on the album, a reflection of the bands then new found kraut-rock influences. Vocals are also far more prominent in the mix, drilling in their collective attitude to vocal leads (which by then were almost evenly shared). Scott sounds even more melloncollie and demure than on his bats recordings, particularly the wistful ‘Secret Place’. Accompanied by a number of modern rock out-takes, the second disc takes a demented turn with the aptly named ‘psychedelic ranger’, pitting bizarre (German’) vocal doodling with matching percussion effects, and then concludes with the jokey, wandering narrative ‘Ludwig’.

Finally concluding with extracts from 1996’s pop-based effort unknown country the second disc has so much variation and fine moments, that it doesn’t matter if it’s a little on the uneven side. Probably my favorite album of their latter era, unknown country is a decidedly ‘studio’ album, a marked change from their lo-fi origins. The textural introduction ‘Wipe me i’m lucky’, melodic ‘Franz Kafka at the Zoo’ and novelty sing-along ‘Twist Top’ are full of vitality – which again earns the album a comparison to their countrymen the Jean Paul Sartre Experience‘s earlier material. Strings, novelty toys, keyboards, backwards guitar and singsong vocals all make appearances on out-takes, which often (‘Wipe me i’m Lucky’, ‘Balkans’, ‘Chumpy’) seem more like short musical vignettes that the rock songs of their past.

It’s a thorough and diverse collection of the bands highlights and prolific early days. Well packaged and presented – it’s probably the best way to delve into The Clean’s remarkably simply, yet powerful sound. Though the second disc falls short of revelation, anthology replaces the ageing compilation package as the definitive document of the band, and deserves genuine classic status for the first disc alone.

The Gordons – 1st Album And Future Shock EP [Reissue]

2003 Reissue, Flying Nun, FNCD099

As part of Flying Nun’s initial installment of classic album reissues (celebrating the labels 21st birthday), The Gordons first album had otherwise been selling for astronomical figures in its rare original vinyl issue. The reissue brings together the original 1980 Future Shock EP, along with their classic 1st album – the bands full-length debut. Eventually mutating into Bailter Space, this trio of Alister Parker, John Halvorsen and Brent Mclachlan that was forged from the same Christchurch, New Zealand scene that spawned the Clean, are probably most famous for their incredible sonic extremes.

They play loud. Very loud. Guitar-Wolf on a particularly noisy day loud.

Needless to say the first recordings were an attempt to recreate their powerful, ear-destroying live performance on tape, and although a recording could never represent the true fury of an over the top live performance, it’s a pretty damn good effort. Guitars ring out of key in a churning, aggressive fashion, falling like shards of ice to create a disjointed, messy and thoroughly ‘rock’ sound. Like their countrymen the Clean, they succeed at every opportunity in turning simple, churning guitar riffs and primal fury into the most cerebral of rock music. Opener ‘Spik And Span’ has a slacker delight recalling the Fall’s most caustic performances with parker performing the most devastating vocal snarl possible.

But the Gordon’s didn’t follow anyone else’s lead, they were true originals, ahead of their time. Over the years Bailter Space managed to clean up their sound, bringing on a more ‘indie’ sound to their paranoid, delusional tales, but it was the Gordon’s first album that sees the band in their most raw, effective state. The songs are presented with beautiful clarity (a godsend for those of us trying to maintain an aging Flying Nun vinyl collection), carrying every nuance and gritty sonic texture from the original recordings.

Halvorsen and Parker manage to create some of the most unusual sounds a bass and guitar have ever combined to make. ‘Right on time’ features some utterly bizarre bass from Halvorsen, popping and rolling while Parker lays out explosive, convulsing guitar. ‘Coalminers Song’ posseses a lethargic, pulsing intro hints at all manner of destruction on the rise, but when Halvorsen finally chimes in with his vocals it all seems perfectly unified. That’s what the Gordon’s do best, they unleash vehement sonic noise, ready to explode – and yet somehow contain it all within effective, catchy song structures. It’s hard not to sing along to the simple chorus of ‘Spik And Span’ or the Future Shock EP closer ‘Adults And Children’ in all their demented glee.

‘Growing Up’, in particular, opens with such a menacing, downbeat guitar it’s a wonder the album hadn’t been reissued earlier – it’s such a vital, authoritative representation of the early Flying Nun sound. Parker’s vocals have a charm all their own – he seems to invoke a paranoid, dysfunctional existence in a mumbling, sing-shout approach that leaves you wondering what he’s on about, but humming along anyway.

Thankfully the Future Shock EP shows all the same qualities of the later debut, with a slightly more lo-fi recording. The title track shows the bands original punk leanings, flying through a churning guitar and bass driven number at considerable speed with Parker’s nonsense lyrics punctuating the aggressive attack of the song. The closer, ‘Adults And Children’, is something of a kiwi punk classic. Pummeling guitar and bass riffs immediately allow parker to scream maniacally over top. It makes for one hell of a great, gleeful pop number, on line with the Clean’s own ‘Tally Ho’.

Though Bailter Space have gone on to considerable success with their future albums, they never did it better than their original debut as the Gordon’s, which stands out as an absolute classic from the early Flying Nun years. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better and more eagerly awaited re-issue this year – i’d suggest picking it up immediately.

The And Band

Extremely discordant and unusual Christchurch-based 4-piece comprised of George Henderson, Susan Ellis, Richard Sedger and Mark Thomas. Put out a joint untitled and notoriously hard to find EP with Perfect Strangers in 1982, before Thomas left the band for their sister outfit, replaced by Lindsay Cooke.

The And Band – We Are Right (1982)

The And Band were an outgrowth of influential but undiscovered Wellington punk-oddities the Spies. When feed up with the limitations of the Wellington scene, the band, along with several of their friends relocated to a small Christchurch flat, sharing a recording space (and the actual 4-track) with the perfect strangers. The And Band and Perfect Strangers basically shut themselves inside for 6 months, working together to pool their resources and struggling to find any opportunities to play live (their and in particular Perfect Strangers free-form approach to playing was hardly a crowd-pleaser).

Both bands essentially split on the release of the EP, with members scattering across New Zealand. Henderson soon established the long-time underground favorites the Puddle and has achieved a bit of cult celebrity for his unusual approach to making music. The EP stands as an intriguing document of two notoriously outcast bands.

Discography
Picks in bold

Bailter Space

Biography

Starting life as the Gordons, Bailter Space were one of the most abrasive aggressive and (primarily) loudest bands to ever emerge out of Christchurch and the Flying Nun scene of the early 80s. Comprised of Alister Parker on guitar/vox, John Halvorsen on bass and Brent Mclachlan on drums, the Gordons were the sonic exploration end of the dunedin sound, creating tremendous walls of weedback and distortion, never seen before on the New Zealand scene. Parker’s deadpan monotone growl was the icing on the cake in these early albums, and the Gordons were reasonably successful as a local act before disintegrating in 1986, releasing two solid albums on Flying Nun.

Parker formed Bailter Space in 1987 (initially as Nelsh Bailter Space), retaining his role from the Gordons years, but bringing in the Clean‘s Hamish Kilgour on lead guitar, the Pin Group‘s Ross Humphries on bass and Glenda Bills on drums. This line-up never seemed to settle though, with Kilgour switching to drums, Humphries and Bills leaving the group to make way for original Gordons bass player John Halvorsen to resume the bass playing role. This line-up recorded their stunning, ear-bashing debut Tanker, but once Kilgour had rejoined the Clean full time again in time for 1989’s Modern Rock, Brent Mclachlan was brought back in to complete the original Gordons line-up.

Through out the 90s, Bailter Space continued to release brilliant, dense rock albums, cultivating their wall-of-sound to the point of My Bloody Valentine comparisons, but Bailter Space were always more aggressive and indeed louder than their Irish cousins. After several impressive North American tours, Matador signed the band for American distribution, releasing the 4 song ep The Aim to a burgeoning US audience. The positive feedback that Vortura and Wammo (their mid 90s classics) receieved led to the band relocating to New York.

After adapting to a looser, more ‘Indie’ sound with 97s Capsul, the band then set about a less hectic schedule, gradually developing their sound at a more relaxed pace, taking several years between Capsul and Solar.3, even after the more considerable amount of press these albums receieved. In 2004 the (newly coporatized) Flying Nun / Festival Mushroom Group issued a best-of compilation compiling the history of Bailter Space. Though put together and designed by the band themselves and contains many classic character-defining Bailter Space songs, the compilation skimps on any band info or details along with some of the more direct and obvious compilation choices, leaving their albums (particularly Tanker and Wammo) much better starting points for the band.

After a lengthy hiatus whilst the members were living in various cities in New Zealand and the United States, Bailter Space re-emerged in 2012 with new recordings on the Arch Hill label – previewing tracks on-line before the new albums eventual release in August 2012 – some 14 years since Solar.3 was released!

Members

  • Alister Parker (Guitar/Vocals/Bass, 1987 -)
  • Hamish Kilgour (Guitar/Drums, 1987 – 1989)
  • Ross Humphries (Bass, 1987)
  • Glenda Bills (Drums, 1987)
  • John Halvorsen (Bass, 1987 – )
  • Brent Mclachlan (Drums, 1987 – 1989)
  • Todd Lindner (Bass, 2012)

Discography

  • Nelsh Bailter Space EP (1987, Flying Nun Records, FN094)
  • New Man 7″ Single (1987, Flying Nun Records, FN096)
  • Grader Spader 12″ Single (1988, Flying Nun Records, FN106)
  • Tanker (1988, Flying Nun Records, FN107 / FNE31)
  • Thermos (1990, Flying Nun Records, FN142 / FNE32)
  • The Aim Ep (1992, Flying Nun Records, FN232)
  • Shine 7″ Single (1992, Clawfist)
  • Robot World (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN259)
  • B.E.I.P. EP (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN284)
  • Vortura (1994, Flying Nun Records, FN295)
  • Splat EP (1995, Flying Nun Records)
  • Retro CD Single (1995, Flying Nun Records)
  • Wammo (1995, Flying Nun Records)
  • Capsule (1997, Flying Nun Records/Turnbuckle, FN375/TB005)
  • Capsule 7″ Single (1997, Turnbuckle)
  • Solar.3 (1998, Wildside/Turnbuckle, TB017)
  • Photon EP (1998, Turnbuckle)
  • Bailter Space Compilation (2004, Flying Nun Records)
  • Strobosphere (2012, Arch Hill Records/Fire Records, AHR052)
  • Trinine (2013, Arch Hill Records/Fire Records, AHR056)

Links

 

The Bats [February 2006]

Over the last 20 years The Bats have garnished a label of dependability – and with good reason. Though now taking a little bit of time between releases (one might jump to the conclusion that ‘At The National Grid’ is more like a reunion album than simply their first in 11 years), The Bats continue to write, record and perform scores of catchy, poppy tunes – jangly, homely and folky tunes filled with images of Bob Scotts‘ Central Otago past and propelled by one hell of a dynamic rhythm section.

One of the longest surviving Flying Nun groups still with their original line-up (the other would be the Tall Dwarfs), The Bats have continued to be a live fixture over the past decade, particularly in Christchurch; where the majority of the group now resides.

The story goes that when The Clean initially broke up in late 1982, Bob was flatting and jamming with Paul – who had been quite active with the great Toy Love, and various groups round Christchurch such as seminal pre-punk outfit The Detroit Hemroids and Jay Clarkson’s Playthings. Eventually Malcolm Grant (who had sat behind the kit for a later incarnation of Bill Direen‘s The Vacuum and local popsters The World) was brought into the fold, with Kaye completing the line-up by 1983.

I met Bob at the clash concert in the Christchurch town hall in the early 80s, he had moved from Dunedin and was looking for a flat, and my flatmate was leaving so he introduced me to Bob. Then we both ended up moving in to longfellow street with Paul and Malcolm among others, they had drums and amps set up in the living room and that’s when we started playing as a band. I didn’t have many expectations of The Bats, i’m pretty sure I didn’t think ahead much at all in fact but i’ve always loved playing Bob’s songs and playing live in all kinds of places.
– Kaye Woodward

During the hey-days of Flying Nun The Bats could do no wrong, with catchy singles such as ‘Made Up In Blue’ and ‘Block Of Wood’ and the critically-lauded debut LP ‘Daddy’s Highway’ all being perennial underground favorites. However the group never really garnished any popularity – The Chills were a bit of a one-off in terms of stardom for New Zealand bands, and so groups such as The Bats settled for creating fine tunes – and often. In the decade to 1995 the group amassed a terrific body of work – some 5 albums and a handful of eps and singles. Of course the other side of the dice was their live show, an exhilarating experience full of catchy sing-a-long numbers, and some cracking instrumentation – Paul’s a bit of a hero of mine in terms of bass-playing (he’d perfected the chugga-chugga sound by 1985), and they’ve always exuded a homely friendliness that few bands seem to match.

In recent years the garden city trio of Kaye Woodward, Paul Keen and Malcolm Grant has built The Bats side-project Minisnap up from the ground, performing a whole new collection of catchy, wistful pop tunes – with Kaye leading the way as vocalist. Meanwhile Dunedinite Bob Scott took a few years to reunite with his buddies in the clean whilst formulating new tunes for the stellar new LP – and of course everyone in the group has the odd day job, too.

We had been talking about doing a new Bats album for 2 or 3 years before actually doing it. Everything takes ages now of course because of everyone’s jobs and children. Bob came up from Dunedin for the main session at the national grid (which is John Kelcher’s 8 track studio in Cashel Street) over Easter 2003, the view was across to all the mannequins in Ballantyne’s lingerie department but the people/mall action down below was quite entertaining.
– Kaye Woodward

Although the studio experience with John Kelcher was a friendly and natural one, with an opportunity to jam and flesh out ideas, Bob described a handful of the new tunes as ‘complex’ to write, which combined with an unfortunate incident only compelled the delay in the albums development:

After that session Paul got busy over the winter digitizing, loading and eq’ing the tracks at home; but in August our computer (and a whole lot of other stuff) got stolen. We had to go back and re-digitize the 8 track, but were too busy and couldn’t really get into it until after summer. We did a final over dub/mixing session at home with Bob in Oct 2004. More mixing, the artwork and mastering was done and labels pinned down over the next 6 months, then we did preparation building up to a New Zealand and U.S. Release in October 2005.
– Kaye Woodward

Eventually the album was released in late 2005, with critical acclaim spreading across from the States, along with reports of brilliant college radio support – after a matter of weeks CMJ (a chain of radio stations across the USA) had reported ‘At The National Grid’ as one of the top ‘adds’ across the country – rising up the charts in nearly all of CMJ’s 200 stations. The group plan to bolster this support by playing the famed South By South-West festival in Austin Texas, then a quick tour around the main centers.

The plan is to go for 2 weeks and try and play to as many people as possible and give the album a boost. We are doing some in-stores too and they are great for getting through to people. The album seems to be going really well so doing these shows should help a lot. It will be interesting to see the mix of old and new fans. Emails have proved to be a great way of keeping in touch with and making contact with new fans.
– Bob Scott

With an impending European and UK release through Little Teddy and Egg Records, the group are looking forward to a successful 2006, though they’ve got a relaxed approach to touring these days after their previous overseas experiences:

We could have perpetuated our career overseas by touring a lot more and our labels would have liked that but I hated the tour bus style touring we did in Europe and the US In 93. Up till then we had always driven in vans or flown and stayed in hotels or with friends. We did some dates with Radiohead on that 93 tour, they were a big successful band but even they were traveling round in tour buses so I thought that if success meant spending months every year in a tour bus I didn’t really fancy it.
– Kaye Woodward

Bored Games

Biography

Before Dimmer, before Straitjacket Fits, before even the Doublehappys, Shayne Carter was in a Flying Nun-type punk band called Bored Games, who opened for the likes of the Clean and Toy Love before the lads had even left high school.

The conduit was the Pistols doing ‘Pretty Vacant’ on TV some time in 1978. A blast of white light – so exotic, primitive and powerful – it blew me away. Lesley Paris (later to become a member of Look Blue Go Purple, and at one time even head up Flying Nun) informed me that her neighbor, Robin Siatanga, had a tape of the entire ‘Nevermind The Bollock’ album and we’d pass it among ourselves like this chalice of purse gold. I can still remember the cassette – White with thin gold stripes. At home i’d listen to it on headphones, cranked up beyond distortion, the music like an avalanche in my ears. That’s when I began writing songs. – Shayne Carter

At the age of 15, Carter (the ever-vocal front-man) formed Bored Games with Kaikorai High School buddies Wayne Elsey (bass) and Jeff Harford (drums) drafted in Logan Park High Schoolers Fraser Batts (guitar – brother of Jeff, making his name in The Same) and Jonathan Moore (guitar).

That was the beginning really. Two tribes from opposite sides of the city interlocked, bringing together the 20 or so kids who made up the town’s original young punk scene. By this point The Enemy had left for Auckland – along with the original Clean – and assumed a shape of mythic proportions. – Shayne Carter

Bored Games started forming songs and ideas, Lesley helping out as their primary supporter, and the band indulging in such influences as “The Buzzcocks, The Saints, The Stooges, The Ramones, The Damned and The Pistols. AK79 came out and we loved The Scavengers tracks and would later cover Proud Scum’s ‘I Am A Rabbit’…”, and listened intently to bootleg’s of The Enemy, provided by (‘Records Records’ owner) Roi Colbert.

Going from making their debut at Kaikorai High School talent quest to supporting heroes Toy Love (and even upstaging them by playing ‘Pull Down The Shades’ in the more primal, slow 10 version The Enemy used to play), things quickly fell into place – the band playing community halls to armies of Dunedin youngsters, though violence somewhat curtailed this option and being too young for pubs the started to run out of options. A possible support slot with Lip Service fell through:

…Mr. Batts said no. We didn’t bother telling Lip Service we weren’t turning up because they were from Auckland and besides they looked old. We thought they were probably fakes. The Knobz came and played a lunchtime concert at school. The covered The Members’ ‘Solidarity Confinement’ and dedicated it to Bored Games but we were unmoved. We thought The Knobz were fakes as well. Afterwards my next door neighbor would plaster “Knobz wank dogz” posters all over the city. -Shayne Carter

By 1980 the band had started thinking about recording, with a back catalog of some 20 originals to work with. Mike Chunn overlooked the group, taking on the young Dance Exponents instead. Wayne Elsey grew tired, leaving to form The Stones and was replaced by Terry Moore, and the band won the 1980 KVHS talent quest on second attempt. In 1981 the band slid away, half the members resurfacing in Martin Phillips re-christened sequel to The Same – The Chills.

The group would (with the birth of Flying Nun, later in 1981) record the ‘Who Killed Colonel Mustard’ EP (which included the brilliant ‘Joe 90’ – unmistakably the bands signature song) posthumously a year after their break-up, and Carter would go on to re-unite with his school chums in The Doublehappys. The EP is now tragically hard to find, but the boys material is easily obtained on the ‘..But I Can Write Songs OK’ compilation on Yellow-Eye records.

[Quotes from Shayne Carter taken with permission from ‘Mysterex: Kiwi Punk And Beyond #3”]

Members

  • Shayne Carter (vocals, 1978 – 1981)
  • Wayne Elsey (bass, 1978 – 1980)
  • Jeff Harford (drums, 1978 – 1981)
  • Fraser Batts (guitar, 1978 – 1981)
  • Jonathan Moore (guitar, 1978 – 1981)
  • Terry Moore (bass, 1980 – 1981)

Discography

  • Who Killed Colonel Mustard EP [1982 Flying Nun LUDO001]

Links

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