p artists

The Palace Of Wisdom


The Palace of Wisdom originated in 1999 when well established Christchurch rock’n’roller Ben Johnstone (Guitar/Backing Vocals – Hi-Tone Destroyers, The Incisions) got together with intimidating vocalist Andrew ‘Ox’ O’Connell, adding hooky guitar riffs to O’Connell’s hurricane force vocals. The resulting recording was released as part of the No Thanks To New Zealand On Air compilation in 2000. Matt Alien (Hi-Tone Destroyers, Black Panthers, Space Dust, Slavetrader) joined on drums, with the line-up complete by English bassist Ian Lloyd.

With Lloyd’s departure in late 2000, ALC5 (yet another Hi-Tone Destroyers member) joined the group on Bass, however after a year with the group he was also replaced, this time by the legendary Mick Elborado (Scorched Earth Policy, The Terminals, Gas, The Axemen, Drowning Is Easy etc), who became a mainstay in the group and is responsible for the bands huge, over-driven bass sound on the excellent Pills EP.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=1333288725 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

The group then started to rotated through a number of drummers with Nick Harte (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks, Black Albino, CM Ensemble, The Urinators) in February 2002, Tim MacDonald (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks) in March 2003, Simon Nunn (Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine, The Undercurrents, Kate in the Lemon Tree, Weaponized, Hi-Tone Destroyers etc) in December 2003, and then Chris Andrews (a million lights, Mysterioball, Idols of Eve, Pop Hits City, O’Lovely) in November 2004.

This line-up was the longest of the group, though recordings from this era (which lasted almost 4 years) are limited to Stuck In The Suck. After a disastrous recording session at Christchurch’s MAINZ, and other internal issues – Mick Elborado left the group. Jared Kelly (The Pickups, Blue Moon) then joined in May 2008, with Andrews and Kelly switching instruments after their first practice.

2008 was a particularly important year for the group, recording the Common Threads EP with the lineup of O’Connell (Vocals), Johnstone (Guitar), Andrews (Bass) And Kelly (Drums) Before Stink Magnetic‘s Aiden Moody (Bad Evil, Grand Chancellors) joined as a 2nd guitarist, moving down from Palmerston North. This was an important change for the group as in late 2009 founding guitarist Ben Johnstone left to raise a family in Canada, and Moody took over his lead guitar duties.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=3257728625 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

Both Kelly and Andrews left for other towns in 2010, however Ox enlisted the help of drummer Michael Summerfield (The Undercurrents, Cowboy Machine), before Andrews rejoined in early 2011 on bass guitar. The group played the very last show at historic Lyttelton venue El Santo Porteno, just 2 days before the February 2011 earthquake. This disrupted the progress the group had been making, with guitarist Moody moving on to form surf group The Grand Chancellors.

The group resurfaced in early 2012 with Jared Kelly once again playing drums (replacing a departing Summerfield), with John Harris (Lonely Harris Club, Doctors, BnP) quickly establishing himself as their latest guitarist. Summerfield would eventually find himself back in the group after a hilarious stage moment at the (now bull-dozed) New Brighton Tavern which saw Kelly replaced mid-set by multi-instrumentalist Rhett Copland, and this line-up played quite a few shows over the next couple years.

Which Palace’s recorded output completely stagnant Ox formed a new group with guitarist Dave Branton named The Ruling Elite, which eventually picked up Andrews (switching to 2nd guitar). Eventually both groups began utilizing talented free-form drummer Rory ‘IRD’ Dalley – with the new group quickly writing and recording a whole swag of new recorded output, whilst Palace remains a tight live-act-only type of group.

Over the course of the last 15 years the group has played a string of high-profile support slots, including The Chills, The Datsuns and of particular note – US group Dead Moon, who the group cover (‘Unknown Passage’) and are of particular importance to vocalist O’Connell with their never-say-die attitude to Rock’n’Roll. The Palace of Wisdom’s set is augmented by a number of re-interpreted covers, often quite removed from the originals, or obscure in their origin – this includes The Great Unwashed‘s ‘Born in the Wrong Time’ (as ‘Sending Him Away’), and Joy Division’s ‘Sound of Music’.



  • Andrew ‘Ox’ O’Connell (Vocals, 1999-)
  • Ben Johnstone (Guitar, 1999-2009)
  • Matt ‘Alien’ Johnstone (Guitar, 1999-2002)
  • Ian Lloyd (Bass, 1999)
  • Alan ‘ALC5’ Cameron (Bass, 2000-2001)
  • Mick Elborado (Bass, 2001-2007)
  • Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson (Drums, 2002-2003)
  • Tim MacDonald (Drums, 2003)
  • Simon Nunn (Drums, 2003-2004)
  • Chris Andrews (Drums/Bass, 2004-2010, 2011-)
  • Jared Kelly (Bass/Drums, 2008-2010, 2012)
  • Rhett Copland (Drums, 2012)
  • Aiden Moody (Guitar, 2008-2010)
  • Michael Summerfield (Drums, 2010-2012)
  • John Harris (Guitar, 2010-)
  • Rory Dalley (Drums, 2015-)


  • The ‘P’ EP [2001 Self-Released]
  • Candy Pants [2002 Self-Released]
  • Pills EP [2003 Self-Released]
  • Stuck In The Suck [2006 Self-Released]
  • Burnside EP [2008 Self-Released]
  • Common Threads EP [2009 Self-Released]


  • MySpace
  • BandCamp
  • Facebook
  • LastFM
  • Photo’s on Flickr
d artists

Drowning Is Easy


Formative and short-lived Christchurch post-punk band featuring Ian Blenkinsop (Scorched Earth Policy, The McGoohans, Gas) and Mick Elborado (Scorched Earth Policy, The Terminals, King Loser, Palace of Wisdom etc) along with Craig Davison and Andrew Vallance.

Formed in early 1981, and split in late march 1982, originally leaving behind only a split 7″ EP left to document their brief existence.

However in 2014 German label Unwucht (who have also released recordings from the likes of Bill Direen and Ritchie Venus) put together a retrospective 7″ EP release compiling their 2 Tandem Studio recordings alongside 2 songs taken from a live at the Star and Garter pub in Christchurch, 1982.


  • Ian Blenkinsop (Guitar/Vocals, 1981 – 1982)
  • Mick Elborado (Bass/Vocals, 1981 – 1982)
  • Craig Davison (Drums/Vocals, 1981 – 1982)
  • Andrew Vallance (Keyboards, 1981 – 1982)


  • You Explode Me! Woman 7″ Split EP (1982, w/ Erich Zann and The Zeds, Tandem PR2012A)
  • Drowning Is Easy (2014, Unwucht, UN022)




g artists


from the gas webpage:

“gas began in 1995 in an upstairs room in columbo st. three multi-instrumentalists, gene-pool belmondo , ian blenkinsop, and mick elborado began to melt down a number of influences in belmondo’s living room. among the early precepts was a staunch dictum that no live drums be used. this meant finding different methods for establishing rythms, including cassette samples (provided by belmondo’s peavey delay pedal and blenkinsop’s casio sk-1) and manual analogue keyboard drums. many of elborados tended towards an all-guitar lineup. during this fertile period many songs were written. one of their first was blenkinsops “do the cobain”, a piece of black-humoured punk-pop set to a sped-up joy division drum-sample. songs came quickly; for instance “cubicle” (immortalised on the peculiar atmospheres cassette and on televisions catv) was put together by blenkinsop and elborado in the time it took belmondo to make some coffee. there were many which didnt make it much past this era, including belmondos lengthy drone-out “the worlds a balloon”. gas first live appearance was in a bedroom at a friends party. in a strong prefiguring of the problems the band would face with their low-tech approach, at the crucial hour the tape recorder didnt work and the cassette rythms gas were working heavily with at the time were abandoned perforce.
from the first, gas recorded their music on four-track machines. despite many recording sessions over the years, the bands recorded output remains slim. in 1996, gas released a 10-song cassette entitled peculiar atmospheres. the next project was a contribution to a mooted but unrealised local tribute album to australian punk pioneers the saints. a long-time favourite band of scollays, the song chosen was “erotic neurotic”. rather than try to out-punk the original, gas interpretation kept the brutal buzzsaw guitars (played by belmondo and elborado) and ramone-bass (scollay) but deviated wildly with a theremin-like sci-fi synth (blenkinsop), half-serious wagnerian vocals (by the whole band) and in place of guitar solos, elborado filled the sound-space with wild squalls of free-synth rasp, hiss, rumble and squiggle. all of the above was anchored to a steady, massive heavy-industrial clamping sound provided by a swans sample. the album was never compiled, and so gas unique translation of “erotic neurotic” was shelved.
another shelved project was a one-sided geraldine single. this was to have featured some of the bands shortest songs and in a packed five minutes offered scollays “league of the golden maidens”, a sound-collage by belmondo, elborados “town called anger” and blenkinsops minimalist masterpiece, “fearhide” with its infectious bicycle-pump rythm. the single was never released and again, the contents were shelved. scollay amicably departed the band a few months later. gas only other actual release was 1998s gas, a seven-song 10-inch geraldine ep recorded early in the year and engineered by dave khan of the experimental kkrrkk label.
while never exactly frequent, gas live appearances continued to be entertaining if problematic in terms of equipment, particularly in the rythm department. although not a new development (the concept was first unveiled at the short-lived his lordships hotel venue back in december 1996) increasingly, real drums featured in live appearances. while gas had plenty of original material, many cover versions were performed live, including “ambivalence” (the pin group), “are “friends” electric?” (tubeway army), “books” (teardrop explodes/echo and the bunnymen), “love will tear us apart” (joy division), “fraulein love” (space waltz), “let it all hang out” (the hombres), “the green manalishi” (fleetwood mac), “thanks to you” (mr. lee grant) and “trash” (both robin hitchcock and suede).
a curious interlude in gas history was the bands temporary mutation into the masons. for much of 1998 belmondo, blenkinsop and elborado were joined again by guy scollay, this time to play an entirely-original set composed exclusively of scollays songs, and in a fixed two-guitars (elborado and scollay), bass (blenkinsop) and drums (belmondo) beat-group lineup. despite belmondos initially-uncertain drums, the band had power and songs (“augury”, “the human torch”, “my example”) to burn. unfortunately, the masons concept was abandoned when the mercurial scollay lost interest in music altogether. there were a few live appearances but aside from two-track cassette practice-room and live tapes, no recording was attempted.
gas continued to record and play live, gradually assimilating new forms of technology in the course of their work. in 2000, live audiences were treated to a new version of “hinged and unhinged” which did away with all the tactile instruments entirely and instead utilised the band’s acapella vocals (and bad dancing) over a midi simulation. the effect was a parody of the plethora of boy and girl bands which made the pop-charts an adult-free zone at the time. audiences were also faced with an odd situation when the growing section of the set featuring traditional live drums eventually separated late in the year and on the 4th of november gas performed an entire hour-long foot-on-the-monitors rock’n’roll set.
in late 2000, gas recorded for the first time with computer technology. the results were blenkinsop’s “peculiar atmospheres” a long-time live favourite (and no relation to the tape cassette) and “we have nothing”. the latter was a spontaneous three-way collaborative effort in which a simple rythm-track was concocted out of two beats sampled from a 1960s dave dee, dozy, beaky, mick and titch song (“hold tight!”) and a wash of white synth-noise, with a long litany ( we have nothing to shit but shit itself/we have nothing to humour but humour itself ) chanted over it. a layer of synth and harmonica-texturing later it was finished. and for 2001? no dumb puns. more gas and better at it.
stop press!
gas have been appearing as unannounced support band playing a virtually full rock’n’roll set, their equipment for playing back up tapes being somewhat unreliable at this time!!!”
picks in bold

  • peculiar atmospheres [1996 self-released]
  • erotic neurotic [unreleased]
  • dark side of the cusp lathe-cut 10″ ep [self-released]