The Pin Group

The birth of Roy Montgomery as a creative force (at least in terms of recorded groups), the Pin Group were a discordant cog that wouldn’t fit in the Christchurch scene of the early 80s. Recording the very first Flying Nun release single, ‘Ambivalence/Columbia’ – an agitating and badly recorded epitome to post-punk heroes Joy Division – with 2 fine songs struggling to make their way through the murk of the ultra-lo-fi recording.

The group originally formed as ‘Compulsory Fun’ with Montgomery on Guitar, Ross Humphries on Vocals, Tony Green on Drums and Dave McKenzie on Bass. When McKenzie departed the group became ‘Murder Strikes Pink’, with Humphries switching to Bass and Paul Champion filling the vacant vocalist slot. Neither of these line-ups lasted particularly long though on the group ‘went in to recess’ when Champion left the group. Montgomery then started collaborating with local Christchurch poet Desmond Brice, with Brice initially playing bass as well as supplying some of the Pin Groups early lyrics – before the classic line-up took shape.

The band were nicknamed Roy Division for their like of dark moody music a la Joy Division. Singer Roy worked in Christchurch’s main record store – EMI, and the shop was notoriously vandalized overnight with the words Roy Division spray-painted across the shop front, apparently not the work of the band and greatly embarrassing Montgomery
– Rob Mayes

Since disbanding in mid 1981, they’ve become more well known for their history than their music, which is a shame as the 3-piece of Montgomery (guitar – later of the Shallows, Dadamah, Dissolve, Torlesse Supergroup), Ross Humphries (bass – Great Unwashed, and a short stint in Bailter Space) and Peter ‘Buck’ Stapleton (drums – Scorched Earth Policy, the Terminals, A Handful of Dust et all) released some truly eclectic, original and most of all harrowing rock. Thankfully the long overdue retrospective released on Siltbreeze in 1998 provides everyone the chance to discover one of New Zealand’s most under-rated bands, and in much more accommodating (and audible) form.

The band presented a pretty gloomy image live with the members dressing predominantly in black, Montgomery playing guitar in black gloves with the fingers cut off. For all that most of their songs are far from gloom laden, being mostly melodic riff based music. The band have the distinction of having the first release on Flying Nun records, a 7″ single with black labels, and a matte black on gloss black cover, no track listings, no band name. Another 7″ followed, then an ep and later on a regroup and another recording. ‘Low Rider’ (a cover of US-group War’s classic single) was taken from a live recording of one of only about 8 performances, this one at the Gladstone
– Rob Mayes

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Ambivalence’/’Columbia’ 7″ Single [1981 FlyingNun FN001]
  • ‘Coat (“Stalking Slowly”)’/’Jim (“Even Though, Scrape Scratch”)’ 7″ Single [1981 Flying Nun FN003]
  • Go To Town 12″ EP [1982 Flying Nun FN1967]
  • Retrospective [1998 Siltbreeze SB-68]

See-Also

Maryrose and Brian Crook [April 2004]

It’s been a year since Christchurch last saw The Renderers play live, what have the group been up to meantime?

The band (well, Maryrose and I) has been baby-sitting. After that show we spent 6 months in Invercargill, Maryrose painting and travelling and interacting with students, which will culminate in an exhibition at the Southland Art Gallery under the Southland Art Trust. During that time Brian was doing mixes on Maryrose’s solo album that was recorded just before we left town. We only did 2 days of recording so there were some takes that needed repair, but were too good to leave off. The album is close to finished with just the final vocals to go on. It will probably be billed as Maryrose Crook and the Renderers, since that’s exactly what it is. Currently Maryrose is painting for a follow-up show to her last years Brooke-Gifford exhibition, also she is trying to get a new work finished for the prospect show up in Wellington in May, so art has been the main devourer of time.

(Brian’s side-project) Bible Black released an excellent self-titled release on Arc Life in 2002 – can we expect a follow-up?

He (Brian) is currently finishing another solo album, this one is a more computer based thing called Anti-Clockwise, referring to the lack of danceable rhythms over the whole thing. Its shaping up as the best of the solo recordings so far, and manages to get quite rocky in parts, though not many.

The Renderers last album was 1998’s ocean-themed Dream of the Sea – a sprawling and dark album (which I would consider your finest moment) that came out on American independent label Siltbreeze

We have been back in touch with Tim Adams who ran the Ajax label the mid 90’s albums were released on. He semi shut down Ajax in 1997, which was why we went with Siltbreeze, but he has a new label enigmatically called 3 Beads of Sweat, so we’re looking forward to working with him again. It also means we can get copies of the older titles again.

With the recent and saddening death of the Arc Life label front-man Michael Brassell, how do you see the Dunedin label’s future?

Yes Mikes death was a real shock – Brian had been talking to him just a couple of days before, and had had a lot to do with him in his capacity at Arc Life. Besides the loss of one of the more luminescent performers it has definitely hit the local releases situation hard with the label splintering, it won’t affect us so much as it will the newer bands that don’t have the contacts that the older bands have.

Aside from being a noted musician Maryrose, you mentioned you’ve been busy with artwork. Is there a parallel between your music and painted works? where do you draw inspiration?

As far as painting and music go, i think that the main link is that i tend to write lyrics with visual imagery in them anyway and this made it easier for me when i took up painting because there was already a lot of imagery for me to draw on.

I think that’s why my painting style developed relatively quickly – i was already thinking in those terms anyway. As far as inspiration goes, after completing a group of songs or paintings i try not to think about creating anything at all for a while (sometimes too long in Brian’s opinion!) and just wait to see what will set me off. I hang around the library and read a lot, watch films etc and last year after the William Hodges in Invercargill we traveled round the south for nearly a month taking photos and looking around.

Ultimately I find that after a while things will start to jump out at me, either things I’ve read or images in photos we’ve taken etc, but mixed up in there with images that have set me off are always things relating directly to my life – feelings, emotions etc – in the Renderers we have tended to specialize in turning difficult times into songs but I guess lately that i have also tried to paint my way out of holes.

I do try not to think too hard about what to paint or even what i am painting when i’m doing it because when i don’t have my brain too fully engaged i do much more interesting things and the final painting or song or whatever will often mean a lot more to me once it’s finished if i haven’t planned it to the nth degree. I listen to music obsessively when i’m painting – i did two whole shows on the soundtrack to Deadman and still find it hard to replace that one – I’ve almost left it long enough to play again now! Eraserhead was close and God Speed You Black Emporer almost worked as well but it wasn’t the same.

The Renderers played Christchurch on Friday April 23rd at Creation along with the Terminals and an acoustic performance from Hamish Kilgour (the Clean / Magick Heads etc).