Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: Christchurch, Legacy of Strange

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  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment Attachment

    Strange Days…
    Strangely enough, the last Chchch / NZ Music poster exhibition that the late John Greenfield organised was upstairs in Strange’s Building – now rebuilt and a jumping joint by all accounts…

    <source pic 1>

    <source pic 2

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Stupid,

    Quite a lot of Christchurch '80s music scene history here... not just about AXEMEN...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    John Greenfield , gosh, yes I think he died in 1996 or 97 in a car crash in Nth Canterbury. There’s not a lot on John online but I did come across a downloadable Flat City Sounds – the 1997 version. Tony Mitchell argues

    … the predominantly sedate, bland , conservative and British university town image of Christchurch hides an underbelly of angst, revolt, and antagonism which frequently finds expression through music

    There’s far too much to digest in one sitting. The ‘southern Gothic’ musical beginnings of Christchurch were defined by the 1950's Parker-Hume murder, that ‘dark underside’ maintained through the 60s and into the 90s, e.g. the country noir of the Renderers. Roy Montgomery says

    ...the best local Christchurch music since the 1980s came from a very small group of musicians...who all played to very small audiences of "friends and relations (including the household canines), tended to have low public profiles and were generally comprised of people who were not well-adjusted socially."

    Has it changed much in the intervening 18 years? Hard to say. I’d argue the recently emerged ‘Lyttelton scene’ is tinged with more than a little post-quake noir.

    I also came across another name from the 80s, Jim Wilson, and his contribution to ‘Strange Christchurch’. Dating back to 2010, there’s this: The Ballad of Phantom Billstickers which is another take of the late 70s / early 80s Christchurch. He says, and it’s as apt for Christchurch post-quake as it was in those grim Muldoon-era days,

    A poster on a wall is flora for the concrete jungle and might save us from grim moods as we swan about Christchurch in the cold of winter

    Posters became an art form and regardless of the merits of the band, the posters drew in the punters. He adds:

    Many of us got caught up in the excitement of it all and many fine bands gathered an audience because of simple postering. The Androidss come to mind - they had some of the finest street posters I have ever seen.

    In a follow-up piece The Ballad of Phantom Billstickers – (Part Two), he talks about the old days of bill-stickering in Christchurch

    I have worked with a number of very good poster put 'er uppers. The name Harry Sparkle comes to mind first. Harry did the posters for the Hillsborough and Gladstone Taverns in Christchurch during the late 70s to the mid 80s …

    There’s more about Harry

    Harry's band was called "The Baby Eaters" and often crashed the stage at the Hillsborough during a touring band's break. They cavalierly just picked up the headlining band's instruments without permission and started playing Iggy Pop's "Cock in my Pocket." Several punks crowded around the mixing desk as another mate turned the volume Right Up. Pogo-ing was a thing.

    Who remembers them?!

    Getting back to Wade Churton, Greg Ryan informs me he hasn't heard from him in a few years though Ian referenced his (two) PA contributions. I note Wade said this (responding to a critique of his own works):

    …come to think of it, one way to get a Kiwi rock book together which might satisfy most people would be to farm out specific projects (or cast for contributions), and print the work of a selection of authors. Somebody’s bound to get it right in amongst a whole bunch of them.

    That’s probably still largely true. It would be nice to 'corral the horses' The basis of a ‘project’ is with us already, can I suggest, in the form of the various writer contributions to Audiocuture plus Failsafe, etc.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Andrew Schmidt’s ‘mysterex’ blog was the go-to for Chch 80s music scene writing, but it seems to have disappeared :(

    All of Andrew's NZ music articles for Mysterex have been absorbed into the excellent audioculture.co.nz website.

    Russell's friend Blair Parkes also has a blog with several very good, highly-detailed features on the many Chch bands he's been in since the early '80s. If you just google his name it should come up.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Of course, Blair Parkes and Chimneybook, his project about his experiences in post-quake New Brighton / Christchurch. Not forgetting the musical heritage he's given us including - All Fall Down, Creely and the fab L.E.D.S,

    All Fall Down with Black Gratten

    Creely with Grunty Falcon

    and L.E.D.S with Rumba

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Mike O'Connell,

    Attachment Attachment

    John Greenfield


    1995. R.I.P.


    Saltwater Creek bridge
    - driving home from working on an Auckland Big Day Out (or similar event).

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Mike O'Connell,

    Parkes and Recreation…

    Blair Parkes ... Not forgetting the musical heritage he’s given us…

    ahem … and is giving us still (in many genres and mediums):

    RangeBeach Colours

    SaturationsKittens
    (turn up the volume and kick back the furniture)

    SaturationsRun Away

    SaturationsSuperphased

    and lest we forget his ‘barleycorn project’ with Dr David Haywood (read here) –– Bridle Path (download here) a suite of songs swapped for several slabs of the sponsor’s product, beer with me, heck, Kim Hill played a song last Saturday – that shameless Dr Haywood milking these talk shows for publicity…
    (keep up the good work )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Mitchell,

    9781442516328_CH13_175-194.pdf

    Since Mike has mentioned it, I'll try to upload my book chapter on Christchurch music, which was written before the earthquake. It's in a book on NZ music I co-edited in 2011 with Glenda Keam, now head of music at Canterbury uni, which didn't get much exposure because the publishers went out of business about a year after it appeared. And the design was pretty dreadful, as you'll see.

    cheers, Tony Mitchell

    Sydney • Since Mar 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,


    a reminder that The Bats
    headline the Nostalgia Festival
    at Ferrymead Heritage Park
    this Saturday ~ 7 March

    ...joined by Auckland ten piece, Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes, a swing rhythm and blues act who are back for another Nostalgia Festival.
    Also on the bill this year, Fabulous Arabia. Fabulous Arabia is a collaborative project between Lawrence Arabia and Mike Fabulous (Black Seeds)
    Read more:

    (something to do after the TPPA rally of course)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tony Mitchell,

    Since Mike has mentioned it, I’ll try to upload my book chapter on Christchurch music, which was written before the earthquake.

    Thanks Tony, much appreciated.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    One thing that struck watching this was how tidy, relatively speaking, the ruins were when this was filmed (ca. 2012?) It's got pretty scruffy around some of those same sites today, e.g. the High / Tuam / Manchester Street triangle and the long forgotten catholic basilica.
    Which if I'm correct was the haunting ground (well, the associated schools were) of many of those early Chch musicians. It made me dig out Roy Montgomery's quote in Tony's redux chapter:

    ...Montgomery describes the Christchurch scene of the early 1980s as: composed principally of lapsed or collapsed catholics, and introverted, slightly puritanical misfits ... .

    I note too some longing shots directed at the Shades Emporium. Which was saved, or so I’d thought. It had been moved by developer Antony Gough to the middle of the same block with the buyer expected it moved ‘in reasonable time’ to a new location ex-CBD. Well that hasn’t happened and now, since the WC cricket started, it’s trapped behind the extended the tram circuit; and a 10m high building and removable truck won’t fit under a 6m (at best I’m told) stretched tram cable! An expensive range of moving options (including crane and cutting the wire) now awaits that buyer. Sadly, its heritage value has been compromised by its being moved in the first place so demolition is a threat.

    The next Montgomery generation is BTW alive and starting to kick. It’s late notice but at the Porthole in Lyttelton tonight, there’s this:
    <q>… A Night With a Future Star from 8:30pm. Listen to the incredibly talented Jack Montgomery, his deep fast rhythmic voice will make you feel like you’re listening to Johnny Cash live…<q/>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Here’s Wade in his own words about it all on Public Address a while back…

    Ah yes. Good on him for standing up for himself there. Rob tried to pull the "you weren't even there at the Gladstone" thing on me too, after I wrote the Audioculture article about the place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Mike O'Connell,

    the Shades Emporium. Which was saved, or so I’d thought. It had been moved by developer Antony Gough to the middle of the same block with the buyer expected it moved ‘in reasonable time’ to a new location ex-CBD. Well that hasn’t happened and now, since the WC cricket started, it’s trapped behind the extended the tram circuit;

    Oh no. (Should have been called Shades, not Shand's.)

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Goody,

    Amongst all other suggestions RE reading on ChCh scene, I highly recommend Roy Montgomery's "The Scene that Never Was" article that he wrote for Popwatch in mid-90s. Sums things up very well.

    Also, if we're talking strange, then surely Ritchie Venus deserves a long mention as being a truly original and out-there figure at that time.

    Toronto • Since Mar 2015 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Mike O'Connell,

    The next Montgomery generation...

    ...yer actual 'Roy Division'?
    ;- )

    </coat>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Hebe,

    (Should have been called Shades, not Shand’s.)

    Now likely to be the shade of Shand's Emporium...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Pu-lll down the Shand's?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Yep, of the Thin Group. We Porthole regulars sometimes refer to Jack as 'Jack Division'. He was in good form last night, does a fine version of Neil Diamond's Solitary Man. Some fine harmonies later on with new-on-the-scene singer Candice Milner.

    Roy and Jack are both in the (Volunteer) Lyttelton

    Fire Brigade

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Hebe,

    Of course Shand's, Shades was that dreadful arcade nearby. As mentioned, Shand's sits there still, nothing much has changed since it was up for grabs in Aug 2013

    There had been "incredible interest" in the building, he said [Anthony Gough], with at least five "really good prospective owners looking at it"

    Interest has evaporated and not sure why but anyone doing anything in CCDU-controlled territory faces, shall I say, 'challenges'.

    Meanwhile, (Don't) Pull Down the Shades

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And it keeps coming!

    Audioculture has a great interview with Eugene and Eric from Desperate Measures:

    Eric: “I grew up with Radio With Pictures on Tuesday nights and that was the highlight of the week. Doctor Rock playing The Clash and Sex Pistols. The Scavengers and Suburban Reptiles. I’d tape it onto my tape deck with a microphone. I said that’s what I want to be. I used to see these guys. They used to put on New Wave Raves in halls and charge fifty cents or a dollar. They put on The Androidss and a great Christchurch band called Nameless. So there were System X and The Products. The first time I saw this guy, right? The band’s onstage waiting to play. Where’s Eugene gone? He’s out on the road bloody banging some guy’s head on the concrete.”

    Eugene: “I remember the first one we put on, me and my mate, we made about $300. At the England Street Hall. And the next one we put on the Mongrel Mob came, stole the cash register and someone got shot at with a slug gun.”

    Eric: “That was me. I got shot at.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Audioculture has a great interview with Eugene and Eric from Desperate Measures

    Those days could be quite intimidating at times, the 'boots' and 'skins' on the streets and at the gigs. No more so than when No Tag came to the Star and Garter in 1983. There was a real dichotomy at that place; the boots and skins in the lounge bar while in the equally intimidating public bar through a thin partition, the Mongrel Mob would 'take over' (there was also the curious oval pool table!)

    The Johnnies is another band of the time that springs to mind. The 'J' in the circle, Janarchists... never saw them play but went to primary school with their guitarist Vince Haughey. Their singer Rik Tindall went on to become a short-term regional councillor (one of the Creech Report '14'), and currently on the the Spreydon/Heathcote community board.

    (Christchurch) Musicians who became politicians, another thread perhaps? Worth noting too that Paul Lonsdale of the Solatudes is now a Christchurch City Councillor.

    Russell, I happened upon this post of yours from 2011 Heads Up For Music and mention of the pre-quake Wunderbar gig, the 1981 Christchurch Reunion Night after which this compilation emerged. Solatudes' Home Again is on that.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Mike O'Connell,

    No Tag came to the Star and Garter in 1983 ... the boots and skins in the lounge bar

    I remember this one cos some of the 'Auckland Skins' came to an after party at our flat and were shamelessly stealing anything not nailed down. In the ensuing fracas on the stairs, one of them broke a full beer-bottle over my skull.
    Didn't even hurt. Without a pause we continued til we'd pushed them out the door. Combed the glass out of my hair and kept going.
    A little hungover, but not even a headache next day :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Didn’t even hurt.

    Cor! What sort of hair gel were you using for that effect?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Hebe,

    What sort of hair gel were you using for that effect?

    A Simonized Barnet?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Hebe,

    What sort of hair gel were you using for that effect?

    Adrenaline and beer, I guess :)
    (And a big dollop of luck, it broke over the hard top of the skull. And because the skins lost confidence when that move had no effect :) It definitely wasn't down to any special fighting skills me and my flatmate had.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

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