Sorry, I spelled scene wrong. What a dork!
Just one more observation, before I shut up:
I've read through this wonderful thread, and it's fantastic to read all these stories about people who experienced the early FN magic first-hand. And I find it amazin that I, an American who frankly didn't know shit about New Zealand when I was growing up (and to be honest, still doesn't know nearly as much, music aside, as I should), and you all, people raised on the other side of the world, could hear the same magical sounds and both fall in love with them in such a life-changing way.
Music really does bring together, and it really is a common language--the cliches are true. Hearing all your stories, I feel like you people are almost friends or even family. Or perhaps more accurately, you're alternate versions of me. Meaning that, if by some twist of fate I'd been born in New Zealand instead of the U.S., I'd have EXACTLY the same stories to tell as you do.
I guess rather than In Love with These Times, I've always felt In Love with THOSE Times, or In Love with YOUR Times, but rather than feeling like an outsider--I love soul music, but I have almost nothing in common with Steve Cropper, even though we were both born in the same state, not to mention William Bell--I in many ways feel like part of the FN seen, despite living on the other side of the globe. And that's a great feeling.
I should hasten to add that she was in Chicago at college at the time!
Congrats, manakura, and thanks, Russell!
I should also thanks my fellow t-shirt winner, for it was he who told me about this thread.
He also enabled the Terminals/VDB moment that scored me a shirt, and many other moments, too.
Goes something like this, since we're taking a trip down memory lane...
I arrived in Auckland in 1992 not knowing a soul. I tracked down FN HQ, met Lesley, and was kindly given a brief interview with Doug Hood, who also managed the Chills. That got me down to Dunedin for the Chills gig the next day, as I relayed. There, I met a cool FN freak from Invercargill named Stu , who took me under his wing and took me shopping the next day, including a stop at not only the justly legendary Records Records, where I met the uber-cool Roi Colbert, but also Echo Records, where a friendly clerk named Mihi Harris kindly invited me to the after-party at Martin's parents' house after the second Chills gig that night--which I relayed above. Mihi and I saw quite a bit of each other over the next week, which resulted, among other things, in her and her roommate calling into a local radio show, telling their DJ friend about the American FN fanatic who'd come all the way to NZ just for the music, and they convinced me to go on air and chat with the guy. The next day, I was in a video store chatting to the proprietor (I'm not only American, but a born extrovert, if you couldn't tell by now), when a customer walked up to me and said, "You were on the radio last night, weren't you? I'm a huge fan of Flying Nun music too!" It was Grant McDougall, a supremely fine fellow who ALSO took me under his wing and took me drinking with his friends and showed me other cool places in Dunedin. We kept in touch after I went back to Japan, where I was living, and in 1994, I returned to NZ, and this time Grant (and Roi) really went the extra mile, introducing me to many NZ luminaries or setting up meetings so I could meet them myself.
So thanks to Grant, from whom I received just yesterday a Christmas card with a little ride-along enclosed: another Christmas card from my ultimate FN hero, Graeme Downes! What a guy, that Grant. Thanks also to Stu, Mihi, Roi, and so many other cool New Zealanders who showed me so much kindness and hospitality. And now Russell's part of that wonderful lineage!
Now, as I've been jabbering long enough, I'll leave you with a bizarre small-world story: in 1989, while at the University of Maryland, I became a huge FN fan and turned my best friend Rick onto a few of the bands while I was at it. A decade later, he sent me a picture of him with a group of friends of his in Chicago, where he had moved, and I mentioned that one of the girls was quite pretty. He said that that was a coincidence, because she was a girl from New Zealand who's father owned a record store. I replied that it was a pretty huge fucking coincidence, because not only did I know her father, I'd slept in her bed when her parents put me up for a week's time! AMAZINGLY small world, huh?
I'm an American who in 1989 chanced upon a used cassette of Bird-Dog and in very short order became obsessed with the Verlaines, with the other Dunedin bands, and with Flying Nun in general. That lead to two trips to your fair country, which resulted in any number of amazing moments: meeting with Doug Hood at FN HQ and subsequently posing as him to use airling ticket to fly down to see the Chills in Dunedin; tracking down people like Denise Roughan and Martin Kean *at their places of work* to chat with them; partying at Martin Phillipps' parents' house and two years later interviewing Martin at the same place; having Roi Colbert and his lovely wife as hosts the second time I was in Dunedin; driving with a bunch of people I didn't know to a Peter Jefferies gig somewhere in a podunk town way outside Auckland; even mentioning to someone that Straitjacket Fits were my least favorite of the Flying Nun bands, only to have him tell me he was their bass player! (Hope this last bit doesn't disqualify me!)
But the best Flying Nun moment of all was this: Dunedin, Winter 1994. The Terminals are about to play a rare gig outside of Christchurch and before the show, I'm introduced to Stephen Cogle. Being fairly drunk, and let's face it, American, I feel no shame in gushing fan-boy style at him. I even ask if they could do VDB's Native Waiter, but he replies that they can't because they don't all know how to play it. I tried to be gracious about it, but I guess my disappointment must have shown, because after an absolutely rocking set, they launched into a brutal version of Native Waiter. I was even drunker by that point, but absolute rapture cut through the alcohol haze. I was in heaven. Thank you New Zealand, thank you Flying Nun, thank you Terminals, thank you Stephen Cogle!