The Hit-Machine are a quirky 4-piece rock outfit from Christchurch with a fairly large profile in local underground music circles, dating back to the late 1990s. With Steffan van Soest up-front, the original line-up of the band was completed by Simon Nunn (drums), Paul Glubb (bass) and Matt Bullimore (guitar) – a solid trio who encompassed the spin-off group the Exercise Machine when without van Soest.
For me the precursor band would have been Stove (Me, Nick Lynch aka ‘Shaggy‘ and Brent Dowson). That’s where (Hit Machine song) ‘Drunk and Stoned‘ came from. It was a very eclectic band with songs like ‘Sex Toys‘ (to the tune of the Cops theme), ‘Moby Vader‘ (a 10 minute version of the Star Wars Imperial March done in the style of Led Zepplin’s ‘Moby Dick‘) with a few songs that would be more recognised as the Hit Machine sound like ‘Cactus in the Sunshine‘ and ‘Hammernun Hammernun‘.Steffan van Soest
Stove were around for approximately 6 months, Steffan then performed solo for a period before the Hit Machine came together on Easter weekend 1998, in what Matt Bullimore described as ‘a big accident’. Playing on van Soest surname the band billed their first gig as that of a touring Dutch group – pulling a good crowd.
Recording their jammed song ideas straight to 4-track, they’d amassed 30 songs within a couple weeks. This hyper-productivity lead to them recording and self-releasing the majority of the bands 4-album and an EP catalog in just 2 years.
Their debut album was ‘Here comes…’; an immediate classic, and the only pressed CD in their catalogue – a short run paid for by winning local Student Radio Station RDU’s ‘Round Up‘ band competition. The resulting album opens with their stage-setting introduction track ‘Here comes…’, and the album is full of student radio hits – ‘Dolly, you are the one’, ‘Go harness racing’, ‘Hey, Motherfucker’, ‘Selling out fast’, ‘Woman by my side (Mexican man)’, ‘Al Jardino’, ‘Boat’, and ‘Golfin’ USA’ were all staples that stayed in their live setlist over the next couple decades.
The group used former multiplex cinema Hoyts 8’s ‘Make your own music video’ service for their song ‘1980’s investigation’, convincing the operators to allow their own music and dressing up in fake beards and a Godzilla mask, all loaned by from the Court Theatre (thanks to employee Paul Glubb). The result is a pretty funny clip, not bad for just $25 spent:
The group went through major changes with the departure of Glubb and Bullimore for overseas sojourns, Van Soest and Nunn performing then performing under the U.S.S. Hit-Machine moniker as a reduced power-duo for a period.
Dave Murphy (Seaworlde) replaced Matt for a bit and there are a bunch of photos from a gig at the Dux with this line up. Shannon Boyd (Seaworlde) played with us for the Power Machine 2nd reunion. Chris Tate played a bit. Simon #2 (Humble Wagon) can’t remember last name… Jol Mulholland (Cowboy Machine) joined in frequently. And we had a drummer called Malo for one gig. He didn’t get us!Steffan van Soest
Around 2004 Simon Nunn took the next step towards becoming a professional musician, which severally limited his ability to play shows with the group, so ‘Heavy Metal’ Simon Leigh-McKenzie becoming the permanent drummer. William Daymond (bass / guitar) was then drafted in, with Nunn occasionally filling in on guitar or bass.
The group basically disappeared from regular live appearances when Daymond moved to Wellington and Leigh-McKenzie to Tauranga, however they do occasionally resurface for reunion shows when their departed members are in town.
More recent spin-offs of the group include Simon Nunn’s Monsta Machine (featuring prosthetic wizard Chester ‘Grubby’ Dextar on vocals) and van Soest solo project The Steffan van Soest Smoke Machine.
- Steffan Van Soest (The Steffan van Soest Smoke Machine, vocals / guitar / bass)
- Paul Glubb (Exercise Machine, The Flying Sorcerers, Annual Leaf, bass / vocals)
- Matt Bullimore (Exercise Machine, Legs, Lenz, The Mantles, Seaworlde, guitar / vocals)
- Simon Nunn (Exercise Machine, The Hitone Destroyers, Monsta Machine, The Palace of Wisdom, The Undercurrents, Kate In The Lemon Tree, drums / vocals)
- William Daymond (Terror Of The Deep, The Flying Sorcerers, Axemen, The Pickups, The Sweethearts, The Winebox Inquiry, Cougar Cougar Cougar, guitar / bass)
- Simon Leigh-McKenzie (How to Kill, Stress, drums)
- Dave Murphy (Seaworlde, guitar)
- Shannon Boyd (Seaworlde)
- Chris Tate (The Pedalling Machine Gunner, guitar)
- Jolyon Mulholland (Fuce, Gasoline Cowboy, Mulholland, The Mots, The Reduction Agents, Pablo Vasquez)
- John Va’afusuaga (drums)
- Here Comes… (1998, Self-Released)
- Ocean Safari CD-r (1998, Self-Released)
- Golden Age Of Piracy CD-r (1999, Self-Released)
- West Up Holmes EP (1999, Self-Released)
- ‘Musical Grand’ New Zealand Music Week CD-r single (2000, Self-Released)
- Night Stingers CD-r (2001, Self-Released)