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 Records released 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 vandalised overnight with the words Roy Division spray-painted across the shop front, apparently not the work of the band and greatly embarrassing MontgomeryRob 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 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 GladstoneRob Mayes
Peter Stapleton passed away in March 2020 and Mary Heney passed away in September 2020.
- Roy Montgomery (Dadamah, Dissolve, Hash Jar Tempo, The Blanking Machine, The Shallows, The Somerville Players, Torlesse Super Group, guitar, vocals)
- Peter Stapleton (Cobweb Iris, Dadamah, Eye, Flies Inside The Sun, PSN Electronic, Rain, Scorched Earth Policy, Sleep, The Terminals, The Vacuum, Victor Dimisich Band, drums)
- Desmond Brice (The Chance, bass, vocals)
- Ross Humphries (Bailter Space, The Great Unwashed, The Terminals, bass, vocals)
- Mary Heney (25 Cents, Scorched Earth Policy, The Shallows, Victor Dimisich Band, guitar / vocals)
- Peter Fryer (The Vacuum, violin)
- ‘Ambivalence’/’Columbia’ 7″ Single (1981, Flying Nun Records, FN001)
- ‘Coat (“Stalking Slowly”)’/’Jim (“Even Though, Scrape Scratch”)’ 7″ Single (1981, Flying Nun Records, FN003)
- Go To Town 12″ EP (1982, Flying Nun Records, FN1967)
- 11 years after 7″ single (1992, Siltbreeze, SB23)
- The Pin Group (compilation, 1997, Siltbreeze, SB63)
- Live At The Gladstone Hotel, 4 July 1981 (2011, Flying Nun Records, FNCD520A)
- Ambivalence (compilation, 2012, Flying Nun Records, FNCD520)