Metropolis

NOTE: This post probably contains quite a few errors and an inaccurate timeline – there is very little info online about old Christchurch venues, so I welcome all corrections and additions!

Also known as: The Green Room, Hofbrauhaus Restaurant, Honeypot Pizza Bar

Location: 112a Lichfield Street, Central Christchurch – Above the Honeypot Cafe

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Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake

Active as a live music venue: Early 90’s (Metropolis), 1997 – 2000 (The Green Room)

Capacity: 50?

Though I have no experience of 112a Lichfield Street when it was in its prime as a venue – i.e. when known as Metropolis – I did see a couple shows upstairs from the Honeypot Cafe when the venue was known as the Green Room.

112 Lichfield Street from Kete Christchurch

In fact my debut as a performer was here in 1998, playing Bass guitar in Mysterioball – a grotty punk band that at that stage was just a duo (along with guitarist/vocalist Kyle Denovan). We had been invited to perform by our pals the Davidson Collective, in a show that was part of Christchurch Art Week – somehow we came on after a stage-play!

The Green Room (and presumably both Hofbrauhaus and Metropolis before it) was a tiny upstairs Cafe/Bar, with a small area in the corner allocated for performers. Eventually the Cafe would become the Honeypot Pizza Bar before being claimed by the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010/2011.

The live music performance that sticks out in my memory was that of Nick Hodgson (later Harte) in his pre-Shocking Pinks group The Incisions, absolutely TEARING THE ROOF off the place by double-amp’ing his guitar in such a tiny space. Needless to say The Green Room had noise complaint before the first song had even ended, presumably from the Honeypot downstairs.

History

  • ?: Hofbrauhaus Bar
  • ?: Metropolis
  • 1997: Venue becomes The Green Room.
  • 2000: The Green Room shuts, becomes Honeypot Pizza Bar / Hofbrauhaus Restaurant.
  • 2010: Building damaged and eventually demolished after the Canterbury earthquakes.

Links

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

Shocking Pinks

Formed by Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson in mid-2003, The Shocking Pinks are one of the most exciting and memorable bands to spring out of Christchurch in the last 5 years. New Zealand’s exponent of the dance-punk revitalisation – The Shocking Pinks encompass a vast variety of styles into their (utterly original) sound, blending disco, shoegazer guitar, new wave keys and vocals and punky rhythms into a mish-mash of undeniably danceable funk.

Valentines day 2004 sees The Pinks release their debut full-length ‘Dance The Dance Electric’ on Tim Baird’s Christchurch-based and usually house-orientated Pinacolada label. Reduced down to a four-piece (though their stylist Antonia De Bere gets a credit) of Harte, Tim McDonald (keys / percussion), Johnno Smith (bass / vocals) and Danny Bare (guitar – Ex-Substandard), the debut is startling different from their early 4-track attempts (though most of the recordings were done in such a lo-fi manner), with their heavy A Certain Ratio influence shining through on a number of tracks, which are now very varied and dynamic.

Though now somewhat missing a front-person (the album features vocal cameos by the Brunettes Heather Mansfield and original vocalist Mel Smith (Emerald Green, The Greenmatics) their sound has indeed fleshed out, and the band intends to sort out a relationship with the American DFA label.

More news came about with their January 2004 pre-release tour – after internal squabbles, the returning news was that the band had called it quits – though the album was still to be released on valentines day. After a couple of weeks, Harte re-appeared, announcing the band would march on – now with a completely new line-up featuring Harte taking both drum and bass roles, with newcomers Kit on guitar, and Marie on synthesizers (while advertising for a new drummer).

Things turned a little bizarre from this point on, with members of the original line-up reinstated for one-off gigs, then yet another new line-up and an eventual New Zealand tour (which ended unceremoniously with yet more departures). Finally, with The Pinks profile rising substantially both nationally and internationally, Harte took over sole responsibility of the group, signing a contract with Festival Mushroom (through Flying Nun), with plans for an EP and sophmoric EP in the works.

Circa 2004-5 The Shocking Pinks are a one-man recording project, though he has a new and established live band of Herbert Palmer (guitar – also of the Leper Ballet), Gareth (synth, vocals, percussion), and Tom (bass). In September 2004 Harte formed a new duo as a sideline to The Pinks, Black Albino – making their debut supporting touring US troop Hawnay Troof and high-flying Aucklanders Die! Die! Die!. Black Albino are somewhat closer to Harte’s previous outfit the Incisions, and featured former Pink and Incision Tim McDonald.

The Pinks gradually spaced out their live performances during 2005 and early 2006, after Herbert Palmer left the group for foreign shores. However in mid 2006 Harte finally got word of his impending US record deal, signing to DFA records in New York City. The group played a supposed final Christchurch show in August 2006, with Harte heading stateside for the re-release of Infinityland under DFA, with a four-record deal in the wings.

However it took almost a year for the DFA to actually release their first stateside material – a white-label 12″ record; whilst Nick was actually still in Christchurch, and even continued to play shows and house party’s before eventually leaving mid 2007. By the end of the Pinks New Zealand lifetime the group was essentially Nick fronting (on guitar) the Tiger Tones (less bassist Ashlin Raymond) – a local group the Pinks have had a strong influence on.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Dance The Dance Electric [2004 Pinacolada Pinacd02]
  • Sway [2005 Self-Released]
  • Mathematical Warfare [2005 Flying Nun Fncd494]
  • Infinityland [2005 Flying Nun Fncd497]
  • Smokescreen 12″ [2007 DFA]
  • Shocking Pinks [2007 DFA]

See-Also

Black Albino

Biography

A one-off return to more caustic noisy sounds from Nick Hodgson (The Shocking Pinks).

Black Albino was the name of a trio Hodgson fronted as guitarist for a single show in 2005, reuniting last-generation Incisions members Tim McDonald (Drums) and Karl (Bass) for a balls-to-the-wall explosion of noise – excellent stuff and an indication of what Hodgson can do given the context.

Members

  • Nick Hodgson (Guitar)
  • Tim McDonald (Drums)
  • Karl Jensen (Bass)

Discography

Links

 

The Brunettes

Biography

Sunshine and candy-canes, The Brunettes were a hard-working and extremely promising, genuine kiwi pop band – a rare thing in this day and age.

Forming around Heather Mansfield and Jonathan Bree’s girl-boy vocals and a plethora of instruments used both on record and live (Heather being a rather talented multi-instrumentalist and Bree taking on the role of recording whiz Svengali), the band expanded to a 5-piece for the release of their brilliant 2002 release Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks – a Beach Boys / 50’s girl-group pop inflected album which was to be released independently, before EMI scooped them up for distribution at the last minute

After the albums release they furiously beavered away at new material, putting out the charming (and often bizarre) Boyracer EP and making low-key tours both nationally and internationally.

The Incisions‘ Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson joined as drummer in early 2003, as the band entered the studio for their follow-up release. Harte left the band on the brink of 2004, concentrating on what would become his signature group, The Shocking Pinks.

By mid-2004 The Brunettes had once-again cemented a new line-up, and their sophomore release Mars Loves Venus (taking the name of their ultra-rare debut lathe-cut 7″ EP) was completed with the line-up of Mansfield, Bree, James Milne (aka Lawrence Arabia) and new drummer Ryan McPhun (soon to find fame with his own group The Ruby Suns).

With the success of their 2nd album the group once again departed for foreign shores, taking in South-By-Southwest and building an overseas audience.

Over the course of the next 3 albums the group would court US audiences (releasing their 2007 album Structures and Cosmetics through legendary US indie label Sub Pop), go through a myriad of line-up changes and some internal conflict.

Paper Dolls and the Red Rollerskates EP would be their final releases – both put out via the Lil’ Chief Records imprint in 2009. Bree would go on to release his debut solo album The Primrose Path in 2013.

Members

  • Jonathan Bree (Guitar/Vocals/Bano/Sitar/Keyboards/Drum Machine/Percussion/Arrangement, 1998 – 2009)
  • Heather Mansfield (Vocals/Glockenspiel/Harmonica/Marimba/Organ/Piano/Clarinet/Arrangement, 1998 – 2009
  • Jia Xin Cheng (Cello, 2002)
  • Kari Hammond (Drums/Percussion/Vocals, 2002)
  • Scott Mannion (Guitar, 2002)
  • Dominic Blaazer (Harmonica, 2002)
  • Tom Dale (Saxophone, 2002)
  • Kingsley Melhuish (Trumpet/Trombone, 2002)
  • Peter Wood (Vibraphone, 2002)
  • Andrew Gibson (Violin, 2002)
  • John Fennell (Violin, 2002)
  • James Milne (Guitar/Bass/Vocals/Chamerblin/Vibraphone/Percussion, 2004 – 2007)
  • Ryan McPhun (Drums/Percussion/Vocals, 2004 – 2007)
  • Mike Hall (Bass, 2005)
  • Amee Robinson (Saxophone, 2005)
  • Nick Hodgson (Drums, 2004)
  • Harry Cundy (Trumpet, 2005 – 2007)
  • William Cotton (Vocals/Saxophone/Celesta, 2007)
  • Dionne Taylor (Guitar, 2007)
  • Jamie Power (Drums, 2007)

Discography

  • Mars Loves Venus 7″ Lathe EP (1998, Self-Released)
  • Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks (2002,  Lil’ Chief Records, LCR001)
  • The Boyracer EP (2003, Lil’ Chief Records, LCR002)
  • Mars Loves Venus (2004, Lil’ Chief Records, LCR007)
  • When Ice Met Cream (2005,  Lil’ Chief Records, LCR010)
  • Structures and Cosmetics (2007, Sub Pop/Lil’ Chief Records, LCR019)
  • Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth CD Promo (2007, Sub Pop, PROCD122)
  • Red Rollerskates EP (2009, Lil’ Chief Records)
  • Paper Dolls (2009, Lil’ Chief Records, LCR025)

Links

 

The Incisions – Let Terror Rain

2003, Self-Released

Wow, this is loud, caustic stuff.

The 2nd album from the ever-changing Christchurch 3-piece The Incisions blow the current crop of rock’n’roll revivalists out of the water. Its pure fire in a recording, scratchy, loud, abrasive and rude – more in the style of Japanese noise merchants Guitar Wolf or (particularly) Teengenrate than The Datsuns (who seem positively polished in comparison).

An excellent set of explosive songs fueled by the standard rock’n’roll metaphors (girl’s play a big part lyrically – with vocal duties split between Nick Heart and former Hi-Tone Destroyer, bassist Ben Johnstone), but maybe with something else a little special underneath the wall of feedback and grit.

From the very first blast of opener ‘Axis of evil’ – which actually mimics the driving and distorted bass rhythm of the Velvet Underground’s debauched ‘The gift’, the album feels like a homage to its musical heritage. And things don’t just stop there.

The album concludes with a number of acoustic based tracks, showcasing Heart’s vocal and guitar talents along with some excellent sugary sweet accompanying vocals from Mel Smith (reminiscent of The Brunettes merely for their shared Beach Boys influence).

It may not be hi-fidelity (tape noise and hiss drench the album), but it’s certainly a very distinctive and effective album – highly recommended.

The Hi-Tone Destroyers

Biography

During the mid 90’s, no man represented the Christchurch underground rock movement more than Matt Alien (aka Matt Johnstone).

As the leader of blue-revivalists The Black Panthers and his long-surviving scuzz-rockers The Hi-Tone Destroyers Matt was the equivalent of Iggy Pop to Detroit, Jim Morrison to California or (perhaps) Chris Knox to Auckland.

He managed to combine a little bit of each into his stage-performer, a drug-fueled, leather-pant wearing masochist who would bait his audience, sing lewd lyrics and absolutely roar on the guitar – totally encapsulating rock’n’roll at its dirtiest.

The Hi-Tone Destroyers were a little less raunchy than their Black Panther brothers – despite sharing half the same members, but had the swagger of the MC5 at full-force and could deliver the goods at any moment – usually at a punishing volume.

They spent a good decade playing parties and self-releasing scuzzy, amateur recordings, until the rock’n’roll revival hit full swing in 2002, resulting in Matt’s abandonment for Auckland (and warmer shores) to chase success., forming the group Slavetrader.

Members

  • Matt Johnstone (Guitar/Vocals/Drums, 1995 – 2002)
  • Ben Johnstone (Bass/Vocals, 1995 – 2002)
  • Pat Faigan (Drums, 1995 – 1996?)
  • Don Campbell (Keyboards, 1995 – 1998?)
  • Simon Nunn (Drums, 1996? – 2001?)
  • Alan Cameron (Keyboards/Guitar, 1996? – 2001?)
  • Nick Hodgson (Drums, 1998?)

Discography

  • ‘Icepick’/’Motorcity Rumble’ 7″ Lathe-Cut Single [Solarphonic]
  • Play The Music Of The MC5 7″ Lathe-Cut Single [Solarphonic]
  • ‘I’ll Put A Spell On You’/’Sonic Reducer’/’Now I Wanna Be Your Dog’ 7″ Lathe-Cut Single [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Headache Head Headache’/’No Way Son’ 7″ Single [1996, Kato Kato2]
  • Born WithoutAn Off Switch [1996]
  • Enter The Lair Of The Black Flame Cassette [High Tension House HTH016]
  • Light Up Your Life [2001]
  • Modern Rock Can Kiss Our Ass Cassette [2001 Stink Magnetic]
  • Calling All Destroyers [2005 Archival Compilation, Kato]
  • Burn In The Fire Of… [2011 Archival Live Release from 2008 show at Venus Cafe]
  • Stay High! [2011 Archival Compilation]

Links

 

The Incisions

Biography

Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson’s loud rock’n’roll outfit.

Started life as Tony Valens and the Incisions in the mid 90’s and were mostly concentrated on harsh primal dirges and noisy guitar flourishes – creating some absolutely brilliant sounds far outside the commercial scope of rock’n’roll.

Self-titled Lathe Cut

Band competitions, a short-lived lead singer and the rock’n’roll revival brought changes to their sound, reverting to a more pop (but still incredibly loud) rock format, but Nick was unhappy and soon the band was changing again.

The result was the manic Let Terror Rain – Nick’s first attempt at adding vocals to his old blend of sonic mayhem, and it worked.

Thick guitar-dirges and sound-checking The Velvet Underground was the order of the day, and it looked like the band was onto a promising direction before Hodgson split the band (and Christchurch) to seek his fame with Auckland-based popsters The Brunettes, eventually settling with his own new band The Shocking Pinks.

The Incisions template did resurface again in 2004 as Black Albino, however this seems to have been a short-lived reunion of sorts (the group featuring Hodgson on guitar and MacDonald on drums played a support slot for Die! Die! Die! at the Jetset Lounge).

Members

  • Nick Hodgson (Guitar/Vocals/Drums, 199? – 200?)
  • Ben Johnstone (Bass/Vocals, 199? – 2003)
  • Brett Croft (Guitar, 199?)
  • Tim MacDonald (Drums, 199? – 200?)
  • Lynton Denovan (Drums, 200?)
  • George Gossett (Keyboards, 200?)
  • Karl Jensen (Bass/Vocals, 200?)

Discography

  • Tony Valens and the Incisions Lathe-Cut 7″ EP (High Tension House)
  • All the Greatest Hits of.. cassette (High Tension House, HTH015)
  • Tony Valens and the Incisions (2002, Kato, KCD3)
  • Let Terror Rain (2002, Kato, KCD005)

Links