Will Edmonds / Out Of Kilter [October 2006]

[Originally published in A Low Hum October 2006]

Will Edmonds is eager, passionate and luckily for Christchurch, one of the founders of Out of Kilter, an all ages orientated community that focuses on promoting bands and events. Out of Kilter is just about to put out their first proper release- by Wellington band The Henderson, so I asked Will how Out of Kilter came about:

A few years ago I started a website where I could host the reviews I was writing about local shows and CDs as well as have and interviews with bands I liked. A year or so after I began the webzine, a friend of mine, Josh, asked me if I wanted to start a record label with him to help put out the music of some of the local bands that were beginning to flourish here in Christchurch. We decided to take the name from the webzine just because it was easier and we thought it sounded cool.

About a month after getting together to start up the label we started putting on all ages shows. I think it was mainly because there was nobody else was putting on the type of rock shows we wanted in Christchurch…we were pretty much just filling the gap.

Will recalled the start of Out of Kilter’s foray into putting on events as being a huge learning curve for the enthusiastic pair.

The first shows we organized through Out of Kilter were kind of hit-or-miss. The very first one was awesome – there was a big turnout, the bands were cool, and costs were easily covered. The second gig though, was a bit of a shambles …we were bringing down our friends from Wellington- [the] band The Red Carpet Murder to play a show here in Christchurch. In the end we lost a few hundred dollars, and had a small turnout. That show was probably one of the most important for me though, because it taught me a lot about how NOT to run a show!

When asked about what Out of Kilter really does he admits it’s a bit ambiguous, now days Will spreads what OOK does much beyond the initial idea for a record label.

It started with the intent of being a record label but kind of morphed into a bit of an all ages community. At first we started putting on AA shows with bands that we were friends with, but word kind of spread that there was this burgeoning all ages scene happening in Christchurch and we had quite a few bands from up north asking for help with all ages gigs.

Out of Kilter may have become seasoned pros at putting on live shows now, but they’re about to embark on a new adventure by putting out The Henderson’s In Miracle World EP. But the question begs how did a guy from Christchurch hook up with a band from Wellington and eventually agree to put out and promote an EP for them?

I met Mark (the Henderson’s front man) over the internet ages ago when I was like 14 and posting on NZMusic.com as DJ Will. We didn’t really talk all that much until he sent me some mp3s of his band via email a year or two ago and which I ended up loving. It pretty much just developed from there.

For Will, being involved with putting out The Henderson’s EP has been a bit of a waiting game, and as he knows, good things come to those who wait, and by the sounds of things good things are what he’s got.

Originally the Henderson EP was actually meant to be released in April this year. The artwork was completed ages ago by Hadley [AKA Wellington graphic artist, Autistk] and we were all pretty excited to be getting the EP out as fast as possible…

I loved the recordings and was looking forward to releasing them, but with the band’s line-up changing [and with] their style of music evolving quite drastically, they decided to completely re-recorded the EP as a three piece with Tim Shann – who had recorded the original EP – taking over on bass.

The new EP took about two months to be recorded [again by Tim] and at first I was slightly wary about a whole new EP [Because] I lived in a different city to the band and hadn’t had a chance to check them out live as a three-piece.

However, I did get a chance to hear some recorded band practices and was stoked! The new material and dynamics in the band was incredible.

Once the final version of the EP arrived in my mailbox to be sent off to the printers I was fully in love with the band. The new recordings were more powerful, more interesting and just generally in a completely different league to the original recordings and I was over the moon.’

So, Out of Kilter’s first big release will be from a Wellington band, but what does Will, think of the scene in his hometown?

‘The level of talent in Christchurch in terms of high school bands is fucking incredible! There has always been something in the water down here – I think Out of Kilter has probably helped bring kids out to shows that normally wouldn’t go – but in terms of great bands – they’ve always been here, although right now does seem like a bit of an AA revolution with cool new bands appearing out of the woodwork pretty frequently.
I’d say the best part for me as far as all ages shows go is the feeling of community at the gigs and on the Out of Kilter web forum…and getting to see great bands so early in their career is definitely exciting too.’

Out of Kilter has been treated well by the all age’s scene but what about the R 18 crowd?
It’s almost like a 50/50 split between R18 cats who think what we’re doing is stupid or ‘cute’, and people who are genuinely excited about what’s going on.

When I first started putting on shows it definitely seemed like a LOT of the R18 bands weren’t interested at all in being involved with us. I remember approaching a couple of bands early on and getting some pretty rude responses which turned out to be good for me because it gave me the resolve to show them up.

On the other hand there have been some R18 bands who have been really involved in all ages shows. The first show we ever put on had The Leper Ballet onboard which was excellent. There are also bands like House of Dolls, A Flight to Blackout and Frase+Bri who are really active in the AA scene.
This experience has allowed Will to also connect with people who are involved with the Christchurch live scene outside of All Ages events, proving themselves to be worthy allies for Out of Kilter. He cites Joe Veale [of the defunct Creation, now manager of the Jet-set Lounge] and Chris Andrews [thebigcity.co.nz] as driving influences.

I met them at the first and second [Out of Kilter] shows I put on respectively…and they’ve both been really instrumental in making Out of Kilter a success, and getting more good shows happening here. I’d say that the best part of all of this for me has definitely been meeting great people. That’s what keeps me going most of the time.

Although Will has been a focused on the all age’s scene, essentially his peer group, he’s about to come of age, could this mean Out of Kilter will change its direction, and move away from putting on shows for kids at high school?
“I’m hoping to keep doing what I’m doing. I might put on more R18 shows since I’ll be spending most of my time at uni and going to gigs but I’ll definitely keep up the all ages thing. I know how boring it is to be a kid in Christchurch, and to deny kids the chance to see amazing bands play just because I’m like a year older than them would be ridiculous.

The one thing that I think will drastically change will be releasing records! We’ve been very slow putting out stuff, so I think I want to do 2 or 3 releases next year!”
The Henderson EP will be out in Christchurch at the end of the month with a couple of release shows, but should be in stores around the country very soon. If you want to see what goes on in the world of OOK check out www.outofkilter.net

Leper Ballet [April 2005]

The Leper Ballet burnt so brightly and so quickly that it’s astonishing they didn’t garner wider acclaim. Like Iggy and his Stooges during the epochal hey-day, the group were a writhing, for-the-moment ball of energy, engulfing rooms with pulsating sound and an engaging, contagious enthusiasm – i have never seen audience take to new bands like they did they Leper Ballet, they just drove the kids insane.

Basically the initial idea came about one night when Janus and myself were at the wunderbar watching this punk-metal band called Fisting Mary. I pretty much thought they where a whole lot of messy shit, and hardly anyone was watching them, but still the good folk at the Wunderbar where dishing them out free beer after free beer. I was still at school at the time and didn’t have all that much money to buy beer, so i said to Janus that we should start a band just for the purpose of getting it for free.
For a year the only thing that came of that was the band name, we thought it was great and celebrated by buying beer (still not quite understanding the concept of ‘getting out what you put in’, or whatever it is).

So it went until the christmas of 2003 when this dude (his name was Delaney Davidson, from a band called the Dead Brothers who are signed to a Swiss label called Voodoo Rhythm; all of which are fucking amazing, look them up on the net) came back to his home town of Christchurch and set up a couple of gigs. Being it the holy celebration of Christmas Jani and i where drunk enough to tell this guy we were in a band and would gladly play at his show in two weeks… And so it went. In those two weeks we managed to write five songs and do a couple of covers and find some pretty nifty looking suits at the salvation army op-shop.
– Herbert Palmer

Though their debut didn’t quite go as expected (as they don’t give out free beer at the Media Club), the seeds were sewn. Over the next couple of years the boys gathered steam, eventually fleeting to Berlin – ‘a city where the beer is only 30 cents for a 500ml bottle and all the homeless alcaholics look like pirates’.

After a couple of fumbling steps the group fell into a tight 4-man permanent line-up. Janus Currie produced warped and slanted rants, sprinkled with obscure references and loaded language, adding to the dark feeling of their songs – a touch of Mark E Smith via Elizabethan-era gutter poetry. Meanwhile Herbert Palmer rushed through a literate, complicated and frenetic set of nasty guitar riffs – sprinkled with his rock-a-billy, old-timey country and gothic-pop influences. Herb’s grasp of guitar styles and approach is hugely impressive, not to mention his song-writing and additional musicianship. Strung together by a fantastic, upbeat rhythm section in the form of Kris Taylor and Rush Jopson, the group was the most unlikely of dance sensations!

My initial impressions of the group seemed to revolve around the visual look of the group – in particular their striking ‘dirty suits’ dress style and Herbs’ resemblance to a young Nick Cave, which was thoroughly appropriate considering the sound his guitar made on their more gothic numbers. Tracks like ‘The Cabaret’ and ‘I’m Ian’ spewed forth the kind of cataclysmic noise and rhythmic orgasms that prime era Birthday Party channeled (though without the heroin addiction and leather pants).

You never knew what you were going to get with the Leper Ballet – their songs swung wildly from gothic poem’s over a slow and dirgy beat, through sea-shanty carnival romps (thanks to Herb’s secret weapon – the piano accordion) to full-on, full-tilt assaults, usually hastening a messy ending to the set. The group wasn’t afraid of covers, choosing to completely destroy ‘these boots are made for walking’ (complete with an introduction ‘This ones’ for Nancy!’, and bringing things to a close with what almost became there theme – a free-for-all take on the stooges ‘I wanna be your dog’. Usually an indicator that Janus was opening up the stage to crowd participation.

Janus was certainly a polarizing front-man – possessing a down-on-his-luck showman look and comical approach to fronting the band, he never really saw himself as a musician in the group, but rather an entertainer in the Tom Waits mold. It almost seemed as if Janus was a host for the groups’ events – and as Leper Ballet performances often divulged into hands-on and frenetic finales, it’s pretty succinct.

Over the course of just over a year the group played a huge amount of shows, often rushed in approach and result – and no wonder! Herb was double-timing as the Shocking Pinks 5th generation guitarist, often leaving for out-of-town sojourns (which included a memorable show up in Auckland; known for the interaction of a certain 8 Foot Sativa member), whilst Rush took a couple overseas holidays – leading to my own hasty initialization into the group as backup bassist. Eventually Herb, Kris and I formed our own retro-rock-a-billy covers group we dubbed Herb and the Spices – supporting the real group proper as the band wound down.

Though hastily produced, they did manage to get some recordings together – a single session in a home studio produced some (admittedly slightly underwhelming) results, but later live recordings and a bit of remixing allowed the group to produce a pretty strong (if messy) parting album. A limited edition cd-r with striking artwork in the Ralph Steadman tradition captures some of the feeling of Leper Ballet shows – with all the grandstanding and pomp, not to mention the carnage.

In May 2005 the boys played a series of shows that both defined them as a live force, but also signaled an end to a chaotic 18 months. Raising some funds through their final hurrah, Janus and Herbert left our shores for England and then Germany – taking in the music of their idols in London before settling in Berlin. It’s unclear what plans the boys have for the future, though their partners in crime back in Christchurch have been keeping themselves busy.

Rush Jopson has spent some time trying to get his own project up and running, along with a reunion of his old band Spankdirt, meanwhile Kris Taylor has made a tremendous impact on eclectic locals the House Of Dolls; filling out their sound with some punchy, rumbling drums and turning them into one of our cities finest almost over-night.

I still anticipate a triumphant return for the Leper Ballet – though i can imagine Janus and Herbert fit in perfectly in the bizarre Berlin underground. When they eventually return they’ll come back to a strong all-ages environment that’s developed in their absence – a scene they helped spark.