s artists

Skank Attack

Skank Attack were stalwarts of the new zealand music scene in the late 1980’s, becoming known for high energy live performances, and their tireless support of local musicians.

The group formed in the winter of 1985, when Phil ‘Scrub’ Simpson and Jeff Eden were bored and freezing in a drafty wellington flat. There was nothing good on telly, so they began messing about with guitars, as much to be distracted from the wind chill factor in their bedrooms, as from any defined musical aspirations. To their own surprise, they had soon written a handful of songs and become so excited about the idea of forming a band, that they immediately recruited drummer steve cochrane and skank attack was formed.

Within weeks they played their first gig, a private party, where they appeared alongside the Primates. Dave Nendick made his debut on vocals, but upon his departure soon after, Simpson took over and the band continued as a three piece, quickly gaining a reputation for the energy and enthusiasm of their live shows.

Simpson and Eden remained the creative engine of the band, constantly writing new material (they steadfastly refused to play anything but originals). Meanwhile Cochrane exhibited a flair for promotion and set the group a punishing schedule of gigs, which meant that they evolved quickly into a tight unit. Inspired greatly by certain UK bands of the day, they set out to create a sound that relied on a driving, propulsive beat, overlaid with a rhythmic dynamic between the instruments and their intelligent, socially aware vocals. A review of a show they played with the Bats said, ‘the songs were built up layer by layer, until it was almost difficult to believe that only three people were responsible for such an overpowering aural assault’.

Skank Attack were always interested in creating an element of visual interest to their performances and public image and they became known for projecting abstract visuals over the stage, while eden’s developing involvement in graphic design led to some striking poster designs.

Although they quickly developed a loyal following, their music was ultimately too intense to appeal to mainstream audiences and too ‘arty’ to be accepted by many in the post-punk, concrete bunker era wellington music scene. Their time came however, when they began embarking upon the first of several national tours, trolling around the country in a huge ford impala, affectionately known as ‘the skankmobile’. Bfm were supportive in airing their demos whenever they arrived in auckland and camaraderie developed with fellow musicians in the city, like Fish For Life, the Warners and Cicada.

In the spirit of self reliance that was so much a part of the time, the group released an ep under the banner of ‘Skank Records’, which received positive reviews from influential figures like Colin Hogg, but ultimately failed to capture the fullness of their sound. Skank Attack were always about supporting other musicians and while Phil Simpson championed local music on his weekly NZ music show on radioactive, Steve Cochrane released a compilation of wellington bands entitled ‘Where The Wind Blows’, on the Skank label. The two date release party organised by the group (this time operating under the tongue in cheek moniker ‘Skank Undertakings’) broke attendance records at the cricketers and was a huge success.

Skeptics Nick Roughan became important in shaping the group’s sound and a love-hate relationship developed, based on his incessant demands for ‘Skank Beer’ and the groups irritating perfectionism. The acrimonious banter that resulted, livened up many a tour journey in the skankmobile.

Incidents that the band recall most vividly, include playing to a bunch of immobile, monged-out mushroom heads at a New Plymouth pub, run by hairy local motorcycle gang ‘The Magogs’. The total silence between songs was the most unnerving thing they had ever experienced-even the unflappable Roughan got fidgety. The lads were traumatized further, after a Dunedin gig with David Kilgour. He kindly offered to let them crash on the floor at the venue, but failed to remove the local mad person before he shut them in for the night. She proceeded to ride her bicycle in circles around the dance floor for the remainder of the evening, muttering darkly about murder. Then there was the time the back of Phil Simpson’s trousers and underwear began to dissolve on stage in front of a full house. Realising (as his naked butt became totally exposed) that he had sat in battery acid at a car repair yard on the way to the gig, he had to brazen it out as if it was all part of the show. The crowd loved it.

Always game for a laugh, the band once infamously set up at 9am in the morning (with power from a generator) outside the NZ music convention and played a raucous set in support of a New Zealand music quota on radio. By a typically Wellington coincidence, the office of the councils’ noise control officer was directly opposite and said official wasted no time in summoning the police and swiftly writing out a noise control order. The resulting photographs finally got the band some press attention and while the event itself was witnessed by only a few bemused passers by, influential figures like Karen Hay and Mike Moore were among them.

By 1988 the group had evolved into a tight professional outfit and the highlight of their live performances came when doug hood booked them to play support for Hunters And Collectors at the Union Hall, Wellington in 1988. The group relished the opportunity to play through a kick-arse sound system to an audience of thousands rather than hundreds and despite initial heckling they won the crowd over with a totally committed performance. It was one of the last times the band played together.

Before going their separate ways, the group determined to record an album. A number of sessions took place at ‘Writhe Recordings Studios’, with Bailter Space‘S Brent Mclachlan and Roughan doing the business on the controls. The bands sound was finally captured in a way that did it justice. Local filmmaker Grant Lahood shot a promotional video for the track ‘Limbs Akimbo’, but sadly the group’s momentum and cash had run out (Roughan now had it all) and while the video was screened on radio with pictures, the record it was intended to promote was never released.

For the past ten years Jeff Eden and Phil Simpson have lived in london. Eden is a graphic designer and has recently been making short films and soundtracks. Simpson works as a photographer and has shot many musicians including John Cale, Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals. They remain unclear about what became of their former drummer. Steve Cochrane-where are you now?

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Glass And Skank Attack Live! [Live Recording W/ The Glass 1986 Skank Skank001]
  • Skank Attack Ep [1987 Skank Skank002]


s artists


Hugely popular and influential New Zealand industrial rock act. Known for their grinding sound and one particularly visual music video – the incredible and universally banned ‘Affco’. The video shows some rather graphic freezing-works footage, and was directed by Stuart Page – also known for his band the Axemen. The video has since had several one-off showings, and is actually available directly from page – but it is far too graphic to ever receive any kind of commercial release.

David D’Ath (vocals / keyboards) and Robin Gauld (guitar) formed The Skeptics in Palmerston North way back in 1979, with Don White (drums, percussion and samples) and Ian Reiddy (bass) soon joining to complete their original line-up, heavily influenced by the first wave of British punk. After a few fruitless practice sessions and recording efforts in their high school, Gauld’s old friend Nick Roughan (who was considerably more technically adept) was brought in as a new bassist and things started to gel.

The Skeptics are set apart by the transcendent intensity of their performance. It’s uplifting by way of the band’s sheer force of will. Punishing and cathartic in the extreme, the skeptic’s noise is demanding and confrontational

– Paul Mckesser, taken from a live review in Rip It Up, 1990

Support slots and eventually their own headline slots soon showed a quickly rising fan-base – the band were growing very popular. The Pyronnists Selections EP was recorded for Ripper recordings, but a stolen master tape delayed their debut release (though the track ‘Last Orders’ was included on the Three Piece Pack compilation). After a close finish in the Auckland battle of the bands (finishing 2nd to the short-lived Gurlz) they finally made their debut with the EP Chowder Over Wisconsin, a distinctly collaborative album.

The band continued to build a strong following, running the Palmerston North venue ‘Snail Clamps’ – and started releasing material through Paul Lurkers Industrial Tapes , including a release from spin-off act the Amazing Charlton Heston. Once palmy had been conquered the band relocated to Wellington, losing Gauld to overseas study and gaining the Gordons / Bailter Space‘s John Halvorsen as his replacement, and Brent McLauchlin lent a hand as mixer (and eventually a part-time 2nd drummer).

2nd album Skeptic III and the subsequent ‘Affco’ video were produced in 1987, cementing the bands notoriety, but TVNZ refused the piece, even with digital editing to mask the gore:

The graphic scenes of animal slaughter are unnecessarily detailed and prolonged, and despite the fact that they may be everyday scenes at freezing works, this does not imply that visuals of this nature may be screened on television
– Gerry Ryan, ‘Radio With Pictures’ producer

Come 1989, work on the third album Amalgam was disrupted by D’Ath’s health. It was quickly apparent that D’Ath had leukemia, but despite rushing the albums production, D’Ath never saw it completed. He died on Tuesday, September 4th 1990, dissolving the band. Post D’Ath’s death, the band released archival and live material and compiled their work on a Flying Nun released boxed-set, though Roughan, White and Gauld’s attempt at a reunion (as hub) never really got off the ground.

The focal point was david with his slight stature, his hooked nose and his deep-set eyes. He looked like some strange, punch drunk bird and the veins in his neck bulged as he forced mysterious words and noises from his throat
Chris Matthews, taken from D’Ath’s obituary in Rip It Up, 1990

Discography (picks in bold)


f artists

Feast of Stevens


Their sound was definitely New Zealand – melodic and human, but their tight playing and dynamic punch set them in their own space, related to but different from other NZ guitar bands. The Feasties began performing in December 1989 and hailed from Palmerston North. They made several low-key jaunts around the country including an Orientation tour to the South Island.

They released their own independently distributed 7 song cassette in November 1990 and contributed 2 songs to the Yellow Bike Records ‘Dynamite Groove’ CD compilation of Palmerston North bands in 1991. The band consisted of two guitarists / vocalists in Andrew Coy and Hamish Anderson, with Glen Fletcher on drums and John Trimble on bass.

In March of 1992 they met up with Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records and successfully applied for an Arts Council Grant which with renewed enthusiasm lead to the ‘Etch’ EP.

The band performed a release party in their home town of Palmerston North with fellow label mates Throw performing as a 2 piece for the event.

The concert did not go without problems when on the morning of the event drummer Fletcher went missing and could not be found. Fletcher had checked himself into a psychiatric hospital, and the band had to retrieve him narrowly making the band’s show.

Further recordings were done in January 1993 at Auckland’s York Street Studios with Nick Roughan (Bailter Space, Skeptics, David Kilgour, Writhe Studios). Nine tracks were completed of which three have been released on 7″ single. Soon after the recordings Hamish Anderson made a departure from the band leaving the band a three piece.

– Rob Mayes on Failsafe Records

The band would go on to record the debut release (a 7″ single) for the excellent Crawlspace label.


  • Andrew Coy (Guitar/Vocals, 1990 – 1993)
  • Hamish Anderson (Guitar/Vocals, 1990 – 1993)
  • Glenn Fletcher (Drums, 1990 – 1993)
  • Andrew Leslie (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 1990 – 1992)
  • Jon Trimble (Bass, 1992 – 1993)


  • Etch EP (1992, Failsafe Records, SAFE021CD)
  • Amsterdam 7″ Single (1993, Crawlspace, SPACE001)


Feast of Stevens on Failsafe Records website