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.

The Palace Of Wisdom

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), Johnson (Guitar), Andrews (Bass) And Kelly (Drums) Before Stink Magnetic‘s Bad Evil 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 Aiden Moody (Bad Evil, Grand Chancellors) 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.

Of the course of the last 13 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’.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • 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]

See-Also