The Vacuum (originally formed as ‘Vacuum Blue Ladder’) formed when Bill Direen joined Stephen Cogle (Bass / Vocals) and Peter Stapleton (Drums / Lyrics), who were also making music as the duo Victor Dimisich Band – a group that would later release an EP on Flying Nun Records, and can be seen as the starting point for the more recognized Terminals, plus Stapleton and Cogle’s many variations. However – The Vacuum were quite different from these future groups, as Direen was an important creative force in the group who added his own color to their sound and songwriting.
The members took advantage of their connections to the album importing business, encompassing inspiration from the most obscure (in New Zealand’s mid 70s environment) corners with the likes of the Velvet Underground and West Coast U.S. psychedelic artists the 13th Floor Elevators (along with the staple Nuggets bands). The very best in gritty, noisy and creative garage rock.
Like before we were in Vacuum we had a backyard band sort of thing. We used to play in this room down the back of my parents’ house. A woman called Theresa played guitar with us and we wrote songs. The ones we did with the Vacuum, most of the songs were written by Bill, which was a source of conflict eventually, and so we took our songs and did them with the Victor Dimisich Band.Peter Stapleton (taken from Have You Checked The Children?)
Guitarist / Vocalist Theresa Mcquire joined and left in 1976, making way for Direen to front the band, and soon Peter Fryer had joined on violin. The combination of Direen and guitarist Allen Meek created a rift in the band, with Cogle and Stapleton restricted to the side-lines.
…They got pretty close. Peter and I would come along (to practice), and Bill and Allen would’ve spent a long time working things out. In the end, it sort of goes, that I got fired, by Bill. ‘Cause I didn’t mix with him. I remember.. Peter meeting me over the Christmas period, we sort of had a Christmas break, and he said oh, Bill wants me to tell you that you’re out (laughs). And I said oh, that’s fine, it suited me. And I was replaced by Segovia.Stephen Cogle (taken from Have You Checked The Children?)
Jon ‘Segovia’ Markie (soon to make his name with The Axemen and later Shaft) joined Direen, Meek and drummer Malcolm Grant (The Bats) on bass to complete the final line-up of the Vacuum in 1979. The band eventually dissolved in the very early 1980s, but resurfaced with the short-lived Kaza Portico – Segovia in the mostly-covers outfit the Volkswagens, and later in Ritchie Venus‘s Blue Beetles.
Direen eventually took the shortened Vacuum as the name for his theater group, and continues to write, act and perform to this day.
American independent Stiltbreeze released 2 archival singles (Cogle/Stapleton compositions) from the group in 2011 – 2012.
Peter Stapleton passed away in March 2020 and Allen Meek passed away in 2022.
- Peter Stapleton (Victor Dimisich Band, Pin Group, Scorched Earth Policy, Dadamah, Flies Inside The Sun, Cobweb Iris, The Terminals, Rain, drums)
- Bill Direen (vocals / guitar)
- Stephen Cogle (Victor Dimisich Band, The Terminals, Minus 2, Dark Matter, bass / vocals)
- Allan Meek (The Builders, The World, Victor Dimisich Band, organ / guitar)
- Peter Fryer (The Pin Group, viola / organ)
- Tony O’Grady (Victor Dimisich Band, guitar)
- Brendan Arnold (drums / vocals)
- John Markie (Ritchie Venus and the Blue Beetles, Shaft, bass)
- Malcolm Grant (The World, The Bats, drums)
- Vacuum 7″ (2011, Stiltbreeze, SB-110)
- Walking Slow 7″ (2012, Stiltbreeze, SB-155)