I was heading south for a few days work in the mid-90s. So, I jacked up a friend to stay with. A few quiet evenings of quality time with some cobbers and their new baby, and perhaps a chance to explore Port Chalmers?
Shortly after arriving, we had a cuppa, sorted out beds, and started preparations for the evening meal. Dave announced that the neighbour was having his birthday party that night, and we were obliged to help him celebrate.
It was agreed that we’d pop over for a few beers and a slice of cake. The baby was feed, bundled and put to sleep. We took a detour past the bottly, and trundled back up the hill to the neighbour’s place.
There was a hum of chatter from the back of the house. A familiar looking woman welcomed us in, and helped settle the babe into a quiet room up the front. A few more familiar faces arrived, and I realised I was standing amongst the local rock royalty.
Introductions were made in the hall in the hall. “I’m Mary-Rose, this is Brian, this is Norma, Alf, and Bob’s outside fetching some wood”.
Bob Scott came in with an armload of firewood, gave a cheery welcome and continued on his way, while bearers of casks and cakes continued to smother the tiny kitchen table.
As the house warmed up, so did the stories: conversations had with the local JW’s, cheap aussie reds vs thin local whites, gossip and tantrums from the Loser’s recent tour, rumours of a WINZ dobber-inner, strange and magical fans at equally strange venues, road patrol duty at the local school, new directions for paintings, the strange orange fungi appearing in George’s armpits... with candle-lit gestures, animated on the walls.
More guests arrived, including Michael, who looked to have taken a shortcut through a gorse hedge. He was greeted with standing applause, followed by a round of “Cheers, Creative New Zealand” - his funding success wasn’t just a triumph for experimental noise…
“So, is Michael a challenging neighbour?”, I asked Dave. “He’s considerate. If someone gets the lawnmower out, he’ll sometimes entertain the street with a weird harmonic to accompany it”.
While I pondered community-minded noise-cancelling, I couldn’t help thinking of Port Chalmers like some kind of Flying Nun/Xpressway Biosphere. I just hoped no one got injured.
The glasses were charged. It was time for cake, and a rousing old song that everyone knew the words to. We congratulated Bob, made our farewells, collected the babe, and headed up the road.
Guess I should chip in, ineligible as I am for the prize. This is a bit of an insider story, but hey ...
Late 80s, hitching onto a Chills tour in Europe for the second time. We're passing from Belgium (where the promoters had very generously laid on huge steaks and plates of fish for the whole touring party, despite having only had a smallish crowd) to the Netherlands.
It's an open border, on a weekend, but the band has to check through its carnet, so we stop at the border. I need a pee, can't see any toilets, so I pop around the back of a prefab building. As I'm doing that, I notice some small mushrooms in the grass. They can't be ... but they are. Magic mushrooms!
I fill my pocket with every one I can find, and we proceed to Nijmegen, scene of the next gig. That evening, I decide I should conduct some trials on my harvest. I can't recall the gig, but I do recall mysterious creaks and knockings in the walls and floor of the hotel, which is reckoned to be haunted. After the gig we're sitting yarning in one of the rooms and there's a sudden bang, which seems to come from directly under the floorboards. The next morning, Janet says she woke suddenly in the night with the distinct impression that someone was standing at the foot of her bed. No, I don't believe in ghosts, but it was probably the spookiest place I've ever stayed.
Next night: the big gig at the Paradiso in Amsterdam - and it's a real cracker. Time for some fun. I break out the shrooms in earnest and we head off for a few drinks afterwards with some Dutch friends. They take us to a sort of speakeasy, where I decide I should get a round of drinks - and proceed to monumentally embarrass myself.
I sit at the bar thinking that my body language, every part of my being, is saying Mr Barman, Sir! I need some drink for me and my friends, I have some of your fine Dutch money and I desire service at your earliest convenience!!
In reality, I am sitting immobile at the bar like a complete egg, staring into space and wondering why on earth no one will serve me. For some time, I suspect. It gets worse when I eventually realise that my friends are sitting in the corner of the bar, laughing at me. The barman is chuckling too. So is the barman's friend. I am deeply confused.
Eventually, the barman puts me out of my misery, asks me whether I want something and I get my round in and reach the merciful sanctuary of the table. I do not buy any more drinks that evening.
Okay....there's so many stories and most involve some kind of alcoholic misfortune on my part so here's a couple of 'em....
1994(?) at the uni cafe in auckland about to witness the very first incarnation of Dimmer - Peter (hope I'm right!) Jeffries was on drums (sorry I can't remember the bass player's name) and Crystalator was shattering the bfm airwaves with an air of mystery....I'd started my evening very liquidly with some grosvenor st residents and the schmidts from crawlspace on what was a very cold and wet night. Consequently the uni cafe was surrounded by mud....
After watching a glowing Jeffries solo set to open I decided to slip out for a wee puff. At the time I had on a pair of old docs doing their best to imitate ice skates...I stepped outside past the two bouncers, off the concrete and into the mud. All of a sudden the night went into slow motion.....simultaneously both feet went out from under me and I remember thinking "Noooo....How can I go back in if I'm covered in sh*t" as I went down. Somehow (and to this day I have no idea how) I managed to twist and land in a full pressup position, hands on the concrete, tips of boots in the mud to the applause of the bouncers....miraculously no mud on me clothes and despite how out of it I was they let me back in to see a storming Dimmer...
Fast forward to 1999/2000 nye on the 10th or so day of a sth island road trip. Pulling into Dunedin it was looking grim so we stopped at Records Records and asked if anything was going on that night - only the Renderers out at Port Chalmers!
We pulled up outside Chicks and were reacquainted with the subtle art of big bots (swappacrate), being the strangers in town mixing with the locals, and the lovely Renderers.....over far too soon. On return to the Octagon we were just in time to be overrun by munters and someone throwing a rubbish bin through a leather shop's window.....
My favourite Flying Nun moment…when 6 of us went from Christchurch one night in 1985 in a Vauxhall Victor down to a back blocks booze barn in AshVegas to see The Chills - when the Phillipps, Moore, Allison and Haig lineup was in full flight. These were the days of ‘Juicy Creaming Soda’, ‘Silhouette’, and many more gems that never made it to vinyl. Well, it took some prompting to get action from the leaden-footed locals – they were interested but introverted. I enquired of Terry Moore can you play ‘Shake Your Shoes to the Scorpions’? His gobsmacked response ‘How on earth do you know that one’? The Chills obliged and we 6 got our shoes shaking …and that was the cue, the locals lowered their collective carapace and put the sting into a great night!
Straightjacket Fits blowing The Jesus and Mary Chain off the stage at Sammy’s in 1988
That was a highlight for me as well. We passed the JaMC van on the road the next morning as they headed to the airport. We slowed down alongside them and gawped at them but they looked as listless and bored then as they had the night before.
My FN moment was "managing" The Strangeloves for a weekend in 1991. They were Rex Bourke (Dellburgoes), Tane Tokona (David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights), Noel Ward (David Kilgour, Pop Art Toasters etc.) and Tom Mahon at the time.
I'd seen them play a shambolic but brilliant set at Sammy's once and raved about it in an issue of Garage 'zine. Maybe on the strength of that they thought I'd be a good contact to help out when they wanted to play in Invercargill where I lived at the time. They set up an all age show on a Friday (nobody came) and played the Glengarry tavern on the Saturday. Rex had told me said David Kilgour was going to come down and open for them. I passed all this info on to the music editor at the local newspaper and he organised some publicity and the pub ad.
Somehow the overzealous paper guy got his wires crossed and the Saturday ad was for "Two Top Bands from Dunedin - The Clean and The Strangeloves"! To make matters worse David pulled out (if he was ever in...you never know with Rex...).
There was a good crowd (funny that) and despite the sign on the door apologising for the Clean stuff-up no-one walked away (apart from 3 tossers from a local band who demanded their money back after watching most of the set and declaring the strangeloves "unprofessional"!). They played a great set of their trademark lowbrow Beatlesque jangling pop tunes.
I looked after the door for them and took a few hundred dollars. At the after-gig party I handed Rex the money and he looked stunned and muttered something about not usually getting much of the door takings... He asked me if I wanted to look after all their gigs. A bit impractical and the stress of one weekend with The Strangeloves was enough for me. One of the photos I took while they were down for that weekend is on the inner sleeve of the album - still one of my favourite FN albums today - not sure why they missed out on a slot on the FN box (along with The Puddle) though... (another) one of life's little mysteries...
I saw the 3Ds play at Waikato Uni in 1994 and they were quite good, yeah.
There're a few things come to mind.
The 3Ds doing a two night stint at The Empire in 1993. The Friday show was a blistering set; so blistering in fact that David Mitchell's aged and troublesome Orange amp burst into flames. Nonchalent as you like, the weird-haired one casually doused the blaze with his pint of (what else?) Black Mac. Perfect. Buggered if I know what he used for an amp the following night.
Or did I tell you about the time I was to interview those Losers Heazlewood, O'Reilly and Strickland for Critic in Dunedin? They took one look at me and wrote me off as some wannabe student tosser type - tattoo, long shorts etc. Which resulted in a gruelling, unpleasant 20 minute duel. The only high point of that for me was when I asked which guitarists they liked - apparently an offensive question. After a few sarcastic suggestions - Yngwie Malmsteen - they turned the question back on me. John McLaughlin, I replied. With more incredulity than I've experienced anyone muster before or since, Loser O'Reilly intones, "YOU like John McLaughlin???"
I printed the interview verbatim.
One more. BDO '94. Straitjacket's last show, not that we knew it then. I bump into some guy I know from Dunedin, and he asks me to look after his car keys as I have a bag. Sure. Then he charges off into the moshpit for, I think, the Smashing Pumpkins. I spend the majority of SJF's set trying to find the bastard, hence missing a chunk of what Shayne reckons is one of the best they ever did. Never did find him, but if I do I'll kill him.
I might also add that I tend to have a "moment" pretty much every time I listen to 'Point That Thing Somewhere Else".
I also have fond memories of visiting Dunedin just after 'Pink Frost' came out. It seemed like that song was everywhere. You'd hear it wafting out windows, at people's flats and on the (student) radio. It seemed quite special.
In the 80's I bought up FN records by the score, enjoying every single one of them, but also thinking that I would make a killing when they become collectors items.
Yeah, right. FN titles continue to be produced and listened to 20 years later.
I'll never forget Look Blue Go Purple, although I never saw them, the EP is great.
I'll never forget Look Blue Go Purple, although I never saw them, the EP is great.
They were great. And Lesley Paris was an awesome drummer. Women just play rhythm instruments differently from men.
Anything could happen and it could be right now.
It's a beautiful Sunday,circa January 2006.
For the previous week hundreds of vintage cars have been gracing the streets of Invercargill.
Today they are lined up majestically in a massive sports reserve.It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and thousands are enjoying the spectacle.
One of these thousands absorbing the unique and intricate craftmanship is Chris Knox,multi-talented creative person & stalwart of Flying Nun.
On reflection I couldn't help but think that the same spirit and raw creativity was evidenced in the early auto industry,as well as in the inception of the Flying Nun label.
There is also a durable legacy with the FNun operation,as The Clean played their first ever gig in Invercargill 4 or 5 years ago.And just last weekend up-and-coming Dunedin band Gestalt Switch played in the town & performed a stunning version(slowed down) of Tally Ho
Whne Shayne Carter was getting Dimmer together in Dunedin circa-94, there were (understandably) a bunch of us who looked upon him as something of a deity. You'd see him wandering around with that perma-scowl and feel blessed. Or something. Anyway, that whole thing dissipated instantly when a friend of mine saw him trip over the footpath while crossing the road. If that isn't an abject lesson in the fact that 'rock stars' are as human as the next guy I don't know what is.
Well, it is a bit of a stretch, but my best week as a single person came in the mid-90s when a friend & I drove down to New Plymouth to see Peter Jeffries, Alistair Galbraith & Sandra Bell. Peter's brother & mother were there but I most remember an empty niteclub reverberating to Peter's piano. The next day we drove to Palmerston North to see them there. The highlight was standing at the bar talking to Alistair and him mentioning how he'd heard that some guys had seen them last night and followed them down, he's was trying to track them down...
That gig in Palmy was fantastic (even better than the Chills at Madison's niteclub, 1992), the audience sitting on cushions, so it was the most hippie gig I ever went to (the only other one similar is Funny Business at Massey Uni Caf in 1989) but it was so rocking. Peter & Alistair played some Palgal Grind at the end after I had suggested the idea to Alistair. I saw Peter Jeffries about half a dozen times in the mid nineties and he was always superb, but Alistair Galbraith was a revelation all three nights.
Just in case this isn't FN enough to be in contention, I was at Squid the night that Straitjacket Fits blew the PA ("do you want us to carry on? We'll be way out of tune" Fuck yeah). and they have to be the hardest rocking band I ever saw...
A strange one, back in the mid 1980s (1985?) Hawkes Bay was a dreary rock backwater (AFAIK, the only musical prodigies from HB are Phil Judd, Michael Morley & HDU, named by my brother) but they held an all day rock festival, headlined by Hello Sailor & Peking Man. ABout halfway through the day, to little fanfare, were two bands whose energy was dissipated in the sunlight - The Verlaines & Sneaky Feelings. I'd like to say they fired an interest in me to seek out this strange "Dunedin Sound" but instead I sat in the sun & waited for Hello Sailor. Quelle shame...
Shingle Creek rises from rocks
A mutter rumbles around the bar
We sidle through singlets and stubbies
Kenny wails about Lucille
First jug doesn’t hit the sides
Slowing down and winding up the pool arm
Check out the jukebox
D7 its Squeeze!
We dance the music around the walls, it dances us out the windows and just like that, here we are here we are here
I dispute this. I may have fallen over in Dunedin streets in my blurry younger days but in the mid 90's I was steady of gait. However I do notice my walk goes funny whenever a bus pulls up alongside me or if I have to walk past a group of people congregated in the Octagon. Thanks...
Now I think about it, said 'friend' has been known to embellish and exaggerate... so, sorry for the false memory.
Maybe it was Gutteridge?
Anyway, I thought it illustrated how it's actually a good thing to have those fanboy illusions shattered. Makes you realise that, after all, music is made by real people.
Sometime in late 1993, around the time 'The Venus Trail' was released, the 3D's played the Gluepot. It was a great show and one magic moment has stuck in my mind. Mid-song, a punter scrambles out of the mosh and onto the stage, beer aloft. He dances next to a heads-down David Mitchell for a few seconds. Something must have passed between this fan and the hairy master of strum and braaaaang. Was it a look, a raised eyebrow, a gesture with the bottle? Who knows. The crowd went wild as the punter leaned over and poured beer from his stubby straight down the parched guitarist's gullet. He drank it down while continuing to play like a man possessed.
Two key moments....
1. 1981 or 1982 I think. Shirley Boys' High. The Gordon's playing a lunchtime set with a reasonable amount of volume (for a school assembly hall) to the utter horror of all the teachers - and the delight of many of us...
2. A year later or so. Fetus Productions at The Gladstone. Didn't know what I was getting myself in for - music + video! complete with shocking visuals. I bought the cassette and booklet at the gig and still have it in the bookshelf... the images of deformities inside are still pretty shocking... but I was becoming hooked on zombie movies anyway...
I agree about her drum skillz. In fact, here's a story about a time when she might have had some kind of plans to test interesting new rhythms on a friend of mine...
We were down at the Grey Lynn Park half-pipe in the early 90s, all Vision Street Wear and Bad Boy Club spikey nonsense hair, going through our Faith No More period and generally being single, young and smelly. Suddenly David dived off the side of the ramp and started trying to clamber under it... he'd spotted what he thought was Ms Paris heading our way, and was convinced not only that it was her, but that she'd been harrassing him at a party the night before; and now he wasn't sure if anything had happened... I had no idea who she was, or whether she was interested in skinny smelly boys, or if indeed it was her walking towards us all leather jacket and purple hair, but later that afternoon when Phil put LBGPEP2 on the stereo by way of explanation. That weekend we saw Faith No More at the Town Hall (a disappointingly aggressive gig), and ended up out at Bob with Billy the Bass Player and Roddy the Keyboard Guy, both of whom were really very boring. I remember wishing David had pulled after all so we could be friends with the amazing Lesley and her Cactus Cat instead of hanging out with these Hollywood borons. LBGP, what a sound...
I recall seeing Toy Love at a poky little underground club near the Auckland Town Hall around 1980 when still very much underage. A mate's friend ran the club, and we were let in and told to look inconspicuous. It would have been the first time I saw anything non-mainstream live, and I was completely in awe of the energy in the place.
I grew up listing to old Stones, Dylan and Beatles music, and when Toy Love did a hundred mile an hour cover of Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" I think my jaw hit the floor about the same time as my eyebrows hit the ceiling.
Imagine the contrast. Twenty years ago -- okay, maybe a bit more -- in the pit at the Powerstation, being buffeted by thrashing bodies from all sides as Mr Downes and his inimitable Verlaines launch into a blistering version of Maiden.
Then, a few years later, the same crew does the same thing, this time at the lost lamented River Bar in Gisborne. And this time there were only about 20 of us. But so what? The song still took off the tops of our heads and, despite that okay-but-not-really-up-to-it cover of recent years, is still one of the best (in this Nun-lover's opinion).
Some things change, some stay the same.
Sometime in late 1993, around the time 'The Venus Trail' was released, the 3D's played the Gluepot.
Hi Jonathan, i was at that gig, man you bring back memories. Was that the same night that a heckler climbed on stage and gave David Merritt a blast before being told to fuck off in no uncertain terms? I would have seen the 3Ds about three times at the Gluey just after I moved to Auckland. Happy days...
Oh, and what about The Happy Accident, Auckland's Maidment Theatre, circa 1985-ish.
Behind a screen were the Headless Chickens (pre-Fiona McDonald, because we all know that was the beginning of the end) so all you could see was their silhouettes and all you could head was a War of the Worlds-like cacophony of sound.
Later, Chris Knox -- wrapped from head to toe in bandages, Mummy style -- sets up in front of a projector screen and, guitar/vocals-only --launches into 15 minutes of grinding grief.
Maybe it was Gutteridge?
Sounds more likely ...