Victor Dimisich Band was formed in Christchurch by Peter Stapleton and Stephen Cogle in 1980.
Victor Dimisich was actually Stephen’s partner’s sister’s husband … he was Victor Dimisich … he was possibly Yugoslav and it wasn’t quite spelt like that. It was Dumicich or something. But anyway he came to see us practice one time … we didn’t have a name at that stage … and he just sat there and didn’t say a word and then after a while he got up and walked out. We thought ‘oh we should name ourselves … that’s a good reaction … we should name ourselves after him’ and so we became the Victor Dimisich Band.Peter Stapleton – Oral History (Zoe Drayton – Audio Foundation)
The duo had been developing their own song-writing axis whilst in The Vacuum (and continued writing and recording together in a succession of bands, until Stapleton passed away in 2020); but found a level of conflict with Bill Direen, who had his own vision for the group (and his own partner in Alan Meek).
Meek would eventually join Cogle and Stapleton, with Tony O’Grady (guitar) rounding out the line-up.
I saw this band a few times back in pre 1981 times and the recollections are of being awestruck in a misty Old Testament way. The band didn’t so much rock as roll on primal rhythms and connect with the deeper notes. Singer and guitarist Steve Cogle had the presence of a prophet and a voice that predated religion. A man solidly built and fiercely bearded with a voice that demanded respect. A deep resonating baritone like no other I have ever heard. You took notice.Roger Shephard – The Story of The Victor Dimisich Band 12” EP 1983
The group broke up in 1981, but after Stapleton had some success with The Pin Group Cogle and Stapleton decided to reconvene to record their old songs. Recorded at Tandem Studio’s in Christchurch with Eric Johns (a former member of the International band Heatwave, responsible for big hits like the single ‘Boogie Nights‘) engineering the records. Mary Heney replace Tony O’Grady on guitar:
Tony O’Grady in the meantime had become a born-again Christian and had sold all his music gear and all his records and didn’t believe in playing un-Christian music anymore. So we got in Mary Heney who could also play guitar … she played guitar on the Victor Dimisich Band EP.Peter Stapleton – Oral History (Zoe Drayton – Audio Foundation)
The Victor Dimisich Band’s recordings (an original Flying Nun Records EP and the extremely lo-fi live document ‘Mekong Delta Blues‘ – a cassette only Xpressway release) are highly collectable and very hard to find (despite being reissued with bonus tracks in 1997 on Stapleton’s Medication label). They show Cogle and Stapleton developing their dark and morbid style, which would resurface in Scorched Earth Policy and The Terminals. This is probably the birth of what would later be dubbed Christchurch’s ‘Southern Gothic‘ sound.
The Victor Dimisich Band were over by the time I had got started with Flying Nun but they thought they had something that was worth documenting so got back together in 1982 and recorded this EP. Five songs often inspired by the darker side of 1960’s music. Mostly 60’s garage bands from the dull awkward American mid-west that had one great song that few ever got to hear in anglophile New Zealand. These garage bands were usually distinguished by presence of a strong and unique vocalist who could really belt out that one regional hit they had in them. Peter Stapleton loved and collected this stuff.Roger Shephard – The Story of The Victor Dimisich Band 12” EP 1983
Contemporaries to Christchurch’s The Pin Group and the early rattling’s of Bill Direen‘s Builders, in fitting with the “Christchurch sound” at the time they favored something of a denser and darker than their southern Dunedin neighbors, expressed through a bleak vision and Velvet Underground inspired abandon.Dan Vallor: Taken from Popwatch #9
Peter Stapleton passed away in March 2020, Mary Heney passed away in September 2020 and Allen Meek passed away in 2022.
- Stephen Cogle (The Vacuum, Victor Dimisich Band, The Builders, The Terminals, Minus Two, Dark Matter, Roy Montgomery and Friends, bass / guitar / vocals)
- Alan Meek (The Builders, The World, The Vacuum, guitar / organ)
- Tony O’Grady (guitar)
- Peter Stapleton (Cobweb Iris, Dadamah, Eye, Flies Inside The Sun, PSN Electronic, Rain, Sleep, The Pin Group, Scorched Earth Policy, The Terminals, Vacuum, drums)
- Mary Heney (25 Cents, Victor Dimisich Band, The Pin Group, The Shallows, Scorched Earth Policy, The Terminals, guitar)
- Victor Dimisich Band 12″ EP (1983, Flying Nun Records, VD1)
- The Mekong Delta Blues cassette (compilation, 1988, Xpressway, XWAY08)
- My Name Is K (compilation, 1997, Medication, MED002)
- Native Waiter 7″ EP (1998, Crawlspace Records, SPACE005)
- The Victor Dimisich Band (compilation, 2013, Siltbreeze, SB153)