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    New Album: Gold Medal Famous

    23.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By











    ‘New Album’ is where a band or artist answers some questions about their latest release. Up next is Gold Medal Famous, whose new album ‘Activity’ came out last month via Powertool Records in Auckland.

    When/where was the new album recorded?
    “Activity” was recorded between March 2016 and March 2017. It was recorded at Vorn’s (one of the members of Gold Medal Famous) flat in Mount Pleasant, Wellington.

    Who produced/engineered the album? How did the tracks come together in the studio, or at home?
    Gold Medal Famous recorded and engineered the album “Activity”. It was mastered by Daniel Mañetto in April 2017, at 0 Studios in New Lynn, Auckland. The tracks came together in Vorn’s home studio with Tamsin, Vorn and Chris working together. We used the “firing squad methodology” which is explained below in this quote from the liner notes:
    “We created the sounds on this album on electronic devices that we each took turns to generate sounds then passed on the device to another member of the group. This generated a sound file library that we used as source material for the album. The sounds were then arranged into the songs you hear on this album. We do not which one of us originally generated the sounds that we arranged into the songs on this recording. Just as members of a firing squad do not know which one of them fired the fatal bullet.”

    How did the songwriting happen? Are there any overall themes within the songs/album?
    The songwriting was mostly done at same time as tracks were recorded. The album’s overall concept is about doing things – all kinds of things e.g. like buying a house, thinking and having a sick day.

    Were you going for a different sound/approach on this album?
    We limited ourselves to using only sounds captured in the “firing squad methodology”. We had about two and half hours of sounds in our sound library. I have a bunch of electronic instruments that we sampled as well as some instruments we borrowed from the Wellington Electronic Music Library.

    Was there any specific gear you used to capture that?
    We used quite unusual instruments. Here they are listed:
    “Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator Arcade and Pocket Operator Rhythm, Stylophone Beatbox, Drone Lab*, Nebulophone*, ‘Rollz-5’ Percussion Synthesiser* (built by Pat Kraus) Thingamakit*, Moon Cake Noise Synthesizer* (built by Pat Kraus), Rucci Electronics 8-Bit Synthesizer, Rucci Electronics Drone Jar, Pickletech Mega Berkatron Pedal, M.A.S.F Ma.s Model OSC03, Electro-Harmonix RTG Random Tone Generator, Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano, Synthrotek Chaos NAND, TC Helicon voicelive, cell phone message of crowd noise recorded at the launch of Hit and Run by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson published by Potton and Burton, 21 March 2017 at Unity Books, Wellington, human voice, music stand.”
    *Instruments borrowed from the Wellington Musical Electronics Library.

    Is there a particular single/track that you feel captures the essence of the album?
    “We bought a house” because it’s about the now “newsworthy”(irony marks) activity of buying a house. New Zealand is definitely on the wrong track with newspapers full of “miracle” property stories about 25 year olds that bought a house because their parents gave them lots of money or they bought before the current housing crisis cranked up.

    Is there a physical copy available? If not which digital platforms is it available on?
    Yes the album is available on CD. It has a sweet cover image drawn by our friend Dr Geoffrey Roche and the album layout is by our friend Aaron Mackle. You’ll also be able to see the rear cover photo by Kalee Jackson and the CD tray photo by Dr Roche. The physical copy also contains notes about the songs, an album bibliography, a rider request and a stationary request. You can purchase a physical album here from our label Powertool Records.

    Are you working on a video/videos for any of the songs?
    We’re keen to do a couple of videos this year, starting with “We bought a house”.

  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD – May: Thomas Oliver/Teeth/Lord Echo/Into Orbit/Meech Brothers/Ebb/Fazerdaze

    21.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Floating in the darkness.
    Thomas Oliver has such an amazing voice that just glides along making it easy to just get lost in the textures of his falsetto, and not really pay attention to all the quality musicianship on display on each track on his new album ‘Floating in the Drakness’. Oliver’s Weissenborn/slide playing is a key element of course, but there is plenty of acoustic textures, some cool organ from Ed Zuccollo, Louis Baker lends some electric guitar to ‘Shine like the sun’, some nice backing vocs from the likes of Lisa Tomlins &Bella Florence & strings on a few tracks. The songs revolve around relationships and love and the losing of both, but there is a broader meditative focus on tracks like ‘Let it Be This One’ & the coming of Age tale ‘Boy’, a collaboration with Rhian Sheehan. Just a classy album all the way through. Facebook here. Website here. Bandcamp here. Wireless interview.


    Welcome to your new favourite band. When you heard that Luke Buda & Tom Callwood (Phoenix Foundation) were teaming up with David Long (The Mutton Birds), & Anthony Donaldson (The Labcoats) you could be forgiven for thinking that the result would be more along the experimental spectrum. But Teeth turn up the indie guitar dynamics to just rock out, in a straight ahead way that differs from its members previous bands. You get the feeling that the entirety of Teeth is a great palette cleanser for everyone involved. Trippy guitars, riffy bass lines, shimmery reverby vocals, songs that bounce from the cosmic to the angsty to tongue in cheek and back. Every song is so catch & melodic it’s hard to pick highlights but ‘Glass Ceiling’ & the wry ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’ are both super fun. Facebook here. Buy a copy from Slow Boat here. Nick Bollinger review here.


    Super funky new album from Lord Echo. A melange of analogue dance floor grooves that take in everything from ‘Rebirth of the Cool’ Acid Jazz, Caribbean disco vibe, African funk, classic American R&B and back. The ever awesome Mara TK takes vocal duties on 4 tracks, with Lisa Tomlins on 2, and Toby Laing & Echo himself on one each. Lucien Johnson’s sax & flute float around the beats with Daniel Hayes synth’s. It all somehow meshes into a groove that becomes more than the sum of its parts and the funky retro-ness always seems genuine and never a deliberate pastiche. Bandcamp here. Facebook here.


    As with listening to Into Orbit’s debut album ‘Caverns’ it still seems amazing that the group just consists of two people, guitarist Paul Stewart and drummer Ian Moir, as their immersive soundscapes sound so epic. The hybrid post-rock/metal/experimental template of the first album is expanded on. Elements shift up against each other, heavy guitar riffs meld into moments of calm and delicate playing, only to explode into crushing drums. But it’s not just a series of loud/quiet/loud moments tied together as ‘tracks’. Into Orbit never seem to be welded into a particular set definition of what each track should be in terms of sound and atmospherics, and the subtle layering of complex patterns & textures make each track a unique experience. It would take someone with a greater musical knowledge than me to analyse just all the intelligent nuances and technique on display here, but just know it all sounds awesome. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Website here.


    Brown owl.
    Clint and Gareth have been producing indie folk-pop under the Meech Brothers moniker since 2007. When not working on Meech Brothers material, Clint also plays in Matt Hay & the Makers and Anxiety Club. He also played keyboards on Matt Langley’s critically acclaimed Featherbones album. New EP ‘Brown Owl’ was recorded mostly in Clint’s study with some parts of the EP’s centrepiece, “Diving Bell” coming from sessions that took place towards the end of their tenure at the Toi Poneke Arts Centre in Wellington. Acoustic guitar and piano underpin the tracks, with more synthy keys and electric flourishes mix the sound up a bit, but overall the EP has low key intimate feel. A reference point musically might be Americana heavyweights The Jayhawks, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Blog here. Youtube here.


    Plush bomb EP.
    Out of print limited edition EP from Loop group Ebb, who were a project of vocalist Lisa Tomlins, with musicians Iain Gordon (Fat Freddy’s Drop) and Reuben Sutherland. A big presence on the local electronica/dance scene, the EP release part for ‘Plush Bomb’ in 2001 was a sold out audio-visual extravaganza at The Embassy Theatre. The 5 track EP melds organic instruments and dance floor beats, with Lisa’s sultry vocals gliding over the top of an amalgamation of break-beat rhythm’s, techno, house & soul-dub.


    Fantastic new album from Auckland based Amelia Murray (AKA Fazerdaze). Fuzzy guitars, programmed drum patterns and the odd sinewy keyboard line make up the sonic palette of most tracks, but her sweet airy vocals soar over all of it. The shimmery reverby guitars invoke a summery sense of well being, but the ‘poppy’ musical framework hides a lyrical disillusionment and uncertainty. A pervading sense of anxiety permeates nearly every track, inhabiting every relationship and interaction, and hovering cloudlike over the future itself. While signed to Flying Nun the album eschews the archetype Dunedin sound, and seems to draw influences from the 90s with shoegazy Britpop reminiscent of the Sundays or Lush, or US Sub Pop bands like Velocity Girl or The Spinanes. While there is not a lot of musical variation on the 10 tracks it only clocks in at 31 minutes, so never overstays its welcome. Short but super sweet. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. The Spinoff interview.

  • General

    New Album: Rei

    21.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By











    ‘New Album’ is where a band or artist answers some questions about their latest release. Up next is Auckland-based rapper Callum McDougall aka Rei Music, who has just released his new album ‘A Place to Stand’.

    When/where was the new album recorded?
    The album was recorded at my home studio and at Kog studio in Auckland.

    Who produced/engineered the album? How did the tracks come together in the studio, or at home?
    I produced the album myself. I’ve been making beats for about 10 years now, and have been rapping for just as long. I produce best when I’m in the comfort of my own home and there’s no pressures around me. If I’m producing at a studio, it feels like I’ve got to come up with something great then and there. At home though, I can feel free to make something stupid, knowing that no one will ever hear it if I don’t want them to. This album was produced at my home studio. It was mixed and mastered by Chris Chetland of Kog Studio. He’s an awesome engineer to work with and always takes the time to teach his clients various tricks and tips of the trade.

    How did the songwriting happen? Are there any overall themes within the songs/album?
    The idea of rangatiratanga is central to all my music. I want people to feel like chiefs when they listen to my music. I want them to know that they can be chiefs of their own environments also. When I call myself a chief in my music, I’m only trying to be a chief of my own destiny. Most of my songwriting comes from this kaupapa, and the various struggles and victories that come my way as a young man chasing his goals.

    Were you going for a different sound/approach on this album?
    I use a lot more melody on this album than the I did on C.H.I.E.F. Rap and Hip Hop is heavily dominated by catchy melodies now, so it’s a natural progression to keep up with I guess. That being said, I started writing music as a singer/songwriter, writing songs with my dad’s guitar. So melody does come very natural to me.

    Was there any specific gear you used to capture that?
    A plug in called Melodyne is pretty crucial. It’s a vocal tuning software that lets you edit the pitch and tone of every note. It’s so much more accurate that just slapping an autotune plug in on a vocal track. A lot of hours of melodyining went into this album, that’s for sure!

    Is there a particular single/track that you feel captures the essence of the album?
    Right now I’m most proud of ‘Mix’. ‘A Place to Stand’ is all about me being comfortable in my own skin, and being at peace with who I am. It’s also about embracing where I come from and knowing where I’m going. ‘Mix’ embodies this journey to me. It’s one of my most honest tracks yet, and I still feel kinda vulnerable playing it to people. I like that feeling though, it just means that the track is special to me. I even played guitar on that song. I had to edit it pretty hard to get it fully in time but still, not many rappers play the guitar as well!

    Is there a physical copy available? If not which digital platforms is it available on?
    I’m working on getting a few physical copies made up. Till then though it’s available on all good online platforms. iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp etc..

    Are you working on a video/videos for any of the songs?
    Yup, I’ve got a music video for ‘Deep’ coming out this Friday, which I’m really excited about. You’ll see why very soon. Will probably shoot about 2 more videos after that. Just seeing which tracks people like the best to help decide which tracks they should be for!

  • General

    New Album: Grayson Gilmour

    13.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By










    ‘New Album’ is where a band or artist answers some questions about their latest release. Up next is Grayson Gilmour, who has a new album ‘Otherness’ due for release in July.

    When/where was the new album recorded?
    Aside from the drums and strings (which were recorded with James Goldsmith at the Blue Barn), I recorded much of the album at home in my studio. I’m lucky enough to have a space dedicated for music making.

    Who produced/engineered the album? How did the tracks come together in the studio, or at home?
    I usually write from my studio, building tracks out of samples from rough demos. I’ll try out different arrangements, swap out instruments and process sounds until I figure out what it was that I had in mind – this takes forever because I’m obsessed with exploring all the potential ways to present a song! ‘Remix, Rework & Rearrange’ was a mantra that I had posted in my studio
    while this album was coming together. Once I’d settled on the track list for ‘Otherness’ I took my sessions to Simon Gooding (who I’d met at Roundhead studios in Auckland) and mixed the album with him in Wellington.

    How did the songwriting happen? Are there any overall themes within the songs/album?
    Much like how they came together! A gradual process/evolution over time, piecing ideas together until they form a song. The theme across ‘Otherness’ is basically shifting ones perspective for the better; seeing things differently, more positively. I think this came from dropping the anxiety of my 20’s and being ok with life!

    Were you going for a different sound/approach on this album?
    ‘Focused’ would be the best way to put it. I’ve definitely expanded my sonic palette, but I chose to practise a little more restraint on this album when compared to Infinite Life! My last album relied quite heavily on samples/found-sounds/textures, and while the same could be said for
    ‘Otherness’ it’s different in that I made most of the sounds myself; self-sampling in a way! I also wrote string quartet arrangements for all the songs, which really transformed the recordings.

    Was there any specific gear you used to capture that?
    I picked up a secondhand ‘Tempest’ drum machine which I used to make tonnes of odd sounds/textures on the album – definitely not what it was designed for, but it sounds great to me!

    Is there a particular single/track that you feel captures the essence of the album?
    Probably the first single ‘Hundred Waters’ – it begins with the Tempest, ends with the string quartet and has all of the woozy signature sounds of the album within it. Plus a great beat from Cory Champion!

    Is there a physical copy available? If not which digital platforms is it available on?
    Yes! There are limited edition LPs available for pre-order which include bonus artwork/tracks. Also available on CD, a special Japan-only CD with remixes and all the usual digital formats.

    Are you working on a video/videos for any of the songs?
    Yes! Another animated 360° video with spatial audio for the next single/title track of the album, as a follow up to Hundred Waters. It’s being made by a great team of animators over in Taiwan!

  • General

    The Eighth Note: Curlys Jewels

    08.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By









    ‘The Eighth Note’ is 8 quick Questions with Wellington Musicians.

    A chance for us to catch up with people & see what they’re up to, or introduce you to a new musician/band and their music.

    Today’s guest is Janelle, vocalist from Rock outfit Curlys Jewels.

    Who are you? Tell us a bit about your music:
    We are Curlys Jewels, 4 piece original rock band hailing from Welly, NZ. Deconstructing us into a genre is always a bit of a challenge, so today I shall describe our noises thus: We bring a tight aural mash of lady-lung grungy banshe-esque melodically thumpy hard rock to our beautifully diverse audiences earholes. 

    What have you been working on lately? Any new tracks or albums on the way?
    We are stoked to have recently released our EP ‘The Skin We Shed’ and are currently touring in promotion of that with Auckland bands Coridian and Armed in Advance, such fun, great lads. Once that’s all done and dusted we should hopefully have time to get some new tunes rolling along, with the goal of getting back into studio asap to whack out a brand spankin’ new single before the year is out.

    Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
    We have a lovely Website & Facebook Page. Follow us on Spotify,
    iTunes, Google Play & Deezer. Or stalk embarrassing old vids of us on YouTube.











    What were the 3 most influential albums to you growing up?
    I have had such a crazily eclectic musical mix in my life that it’s not an easy task to choose just 3! I’m not sure if these are influential or if they are just faves, but:
    A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms
    Michael Jackson – History
    Incubus – Make yourself

    Which other Wellington musician (s) would you most like to work with?
    We have already had the pleasure of working with SO many talented musos in Wellington and beyond, I couldn’t possibly pick one… We are pretty lucky with the amazing people we have come across doing this thing. The more fantastic folk I get to meet whilst flouncing about in this creative scene, the better I reckon. 

    What’s your favourite Wellington venue to play in?
    There are so few to choose from these days unfortunately, but I gotta give some mad love to Valhalla. It may not be your 5 star fancy pants venue, but it’s a great size, great sound and it’s a stalwart of Wellington heavy music. Thank god we still have that place and its awesome owner Ben, supporting local music.

    In your songwriting or composing (or the band’s songwriting) how do the compositions and songs take shape?
    We sort of just hiff it together… Aaron and I will often jam the bones of a song and take it to band praccy. The boys sprinkle their flavours all over it and it either evolves into something we deem ‘playable to public’ or it gets chucked in ‘B-sides’ pile.

    Where/when is your next gig?
    We are looking forward to playing The Cabana in Napier next Sat 10th June, as part of our ‘The Skin We Shed’ tour. Two weeks later we are hitting Backbeat Bar in Auckland, we have been waiting to get to Auckland for at least 5 trillion years so cant wait to lay a foot upon a stage up there soon.

  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD & Vinyl Jan-Apr, Part 2: The All Seeing Hand/The Nudge/Cave Circles/Deathgasm/Dave Lisik/French For Rabbits/Julie Lamb/Jeshell/Teeth & Tongue/Lake South

    01.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Mechatronics / The All Seeing Hand. [VINYL]
    Vinyl version of the band’s 2nd album. Deane Hunter adds guitar to three songs but the massive soundscapes of the rest of the tracks are just (amazingly) the drums of B. Michael Knight, the turntables of Alphabethead and the throat-singing of Jonny Marks. A dark percussive collision of spooky grunts and doomy metal riffs, avant stylings and structured playing. Intense and other-worldly, it sounds like an end point conglomeration of all places other musicians from differing modes of sound wanted to get to but never could. Bandcamp here. Facebook here.

    Dark arts / The Nudge. [VINYL]
    The 2nd album from The Nudge only has 3 tracks, one of which clocks in at 13 minutes, the other at 24. The four minute opening title track (and single) is just a hint of the genre mashing that is about happen, but provides a basic reference point for the bands diverse sound. If you’re not enamoured with anything vaguely ‘prog’ and hate tracks that are basically longer that 3 and half minutes, be prepared to have your opinion changed by this addictive record. With relatively few vocal interludes, it’s all about the structure of the sound here and they manage to weave in out of different styles and atmospheres within the same track with nothing feeling overly laboured or obvious. All the tonal shifts seem like smaller songs within the larger canvas of the track and by the end of 13 or 24 minutes they leave you wanting more not less. Bandcamp here. Website here. Facebook here.

    My heart is a beating drum. [VINYL]
    Cave Circles is the moniker of drummer/producer Riki Gooch (Trinity Roots,Eru Dangerspiel). A merging of drums and electronica as a concept seems insular but Gooch manages to create a warm funky techo vibe as the tracks percolate along happily, with melodies burbling out of the faulty Drumtrax and synthy blips. The 12″ EP has four tracks, with an extra track on Bandcamp here.


    Deathgasm : original motion picture soundtrack. [VINYL]
    Onslaught of local & international Metal from Kiwi film Deathgasm. Watch the movie here. Buy vinyl here. Features tracks from Wellington bands Bulletbelt, Razorwyre and Beastwars.




    Machaut man and a Superman hat: the music of Dave Lisik.
    Canadian composer and trumpeter, Dr. David Lisik teaches jazz composition, arranging, theory and pedagogy at the New Zealand School of Music. Recorded in 2012 at Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, New York & mixed by Dave Lisik in New York City and Wellington the compositions on this album were collected over several years, a few older originals and others written recently specifically for this recording. Some quality playing by pros who are clearly enjoying bringing out the different facets in Lisik’s explorative writing, the tunes wind in and out to the point of collapse before being brought back into the structure of the song. Bandcamp here. Elsewhere review here. Website here. Facebook here.

    The weight of melted snow.
    Lovely new meditative album from French For Rabbits based around the dissolution of the romantic relationship of band members Brooke Singer and John Fitzgerald. Male vocals provide a counterpoint to Singer’s softly lilting voice, and the dreamy atmospheric ambient sounds that the fully fleshed out band provides. Previous albums have drawn inspiration from nature and the physical, but ‘The Weight of Melted Snow’ while not short of imagery of the natural world is all about the internal, the dynamics of the heart and how to keep it beating when you lose part of it. Bandcamp here. Website here. Spotify here. Facebook here.

    Ordinary days.
    Is there a more consistent singer and band on the scene than Julie Lamb and her group? With each release you know you are going to get a set of melodic bluesy rockers that tackle everything from personal relationships to social issues and the quirkiness all tightly played by a group of total pros. The combined talent, the time and gigs they have played together, and the respect everyone has for each others contributions all come together in the subtle flourishes on each track. This album seems to have a specific focus on the increasingly pervasive influence of the digital in all its mediums on our everyday lives, and just how ordinary people and relationships of all kinds cope in response. Plus did I say it rocks….Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Website here.

    Illinois-born American has a had a highly significant impact in various fields of endeavours, including law, academia and activism and as a published novelist and poet and reborn singer-songwriter. He led the Rank Strangers Bluegrass Band in Australia for many years, with awards at Australia’s Country Music Festival in Tamworth and a tour of the USA, appearing at top Bluegrass venues. The Rank Strangers put out a series of award-winning LPs in the late 1980s and 1990s. As a lawyer, he has taught ethics at various universities around the world most recently, 10 years at Victoria University. Taking songs from 2015 album ‘Alma Rose’ he has added 10 more to create a double album of sparsely arranged country folk that mixes a few covers with his folky straightforward Americana narratives. Bandcamp here. Wikipedia entry on him here. Listener article here. Stuff article here.

    Melbourne based, Teeth & Tongue’s (Jess Cornelius) 3rd album, Grids was released in 2014. It was named Album of the Week on RRR FM, Radio Adelaide, and Beat Magazine, and Feature Album on ABC’s Double J and RTR Radio. The album led to three The Age Music Victoria Award nominations, for Best Band, Best Album and Best Female Artist. If ‘Grids’ isn’t quite as good as what was to follow with 2016’s Give Up on Your Health it’s probably because all the musical elements she has in play here hadn’t quite yet coalesced the way they would on the outstanding 2016 follow up. The textured layers often bump up against the more traditional pop & folk leanings and the album lacks a sense of cohesiveness in the different styles. Shades of uncertainty and a search within oneself filter through the lyrics. The destination is unknown, but the beats impart shifting lights in the grandiose gloom. Wikipedia here. Bandcamp here. Website here. Facebook here.

    If you’re born on an island the ocean heals you.
    Great new album from Lake South before he departed our shores for a new home in Canada. With the exception of bass and drums on a few tracks and backing vocals everything is played by Lake, along with all the writing and arrangements. The synthy pop structure of a lot of the tracks enfold the layered vocals (and lovely backing voices of Seamus Maguire, Penelope Esplin, Felicity Herbertson and Nadia Reid) with a sense of warmth rather than cold beats. He uses a distinctively ‘kiwi’ voice on the brilliant ‘Good Keen Man’ that cleverly updates a series of iconic NZ images with the realities of the now. A mini-album exits within the larger work, with ‘Renters’ & ‘The Cost of Living’ addressing what he sees as the social crises’ facing people in NZ today. A love of nature, the land and the beauty that surrounds us pervades against the avarice and capitalism of modern life. Really good. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Website here.

  • General

    NZMM: Favourite Wellington Music Moment – Hex

    31.05.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Last year for NZ Music Month 2016, we asked bands/artists for a favourite memory of making music in Wellington.

    It could involve a favourite gig, a funny story from the recording studio, a moment that led to the inspiration for a song, the fond recollection of a defunct venue, or the piece of music or lyric that they were most proud of creating.

    We really enjoyed the stories people told us, so we are doing it again this year. The last of these for this year is Liz from Hex.











    When Hex first started playing music together, we used to catch a bus to island Bay and walk round the south coast to get to our practice space at the nautilus. We wrote our first song prayer for the ocean crashing on the rocks and the power of nature.

  • General

    NZMM: Interview – Damien Wilkins on Music

    31.05.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Damien Wilkins is familiar to Wellington music fans with his band The Close Readers. But before his return to music, his career as an award winning novelist and Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters, he was in another band, The Jonahs, and also grew up amongst the fertile and legendary Wellington punk scene of the early 1980s. He was kind enough take the time to answer some questions about that time in his life, and that period in Wellington’s music history.















    Music was an early passion of yours I believe, and you began going to punk gigs when you were 17 or 18? Can you set the scene for us a bit as to what the Wellington Music scene was like in the 80s?
    If you can bear it, I might start a little earlier . . . I shared a bedroom with my older brother and we had a little mono record player. At night we’d put on a record to go to sleep to. He was into Led Zeppelin, Santana, Little Feat. He always bought the NME and suddenly they were covering this thing called punk. One day he came home with 77, the first Talking Heads record. I was shocked at how it looked – a block of pinky red and the name in green. Where was the picture of the waiscoated long-haired band lounging on leather sofas in their castle? I would have been 14 or 15. That was a key record for me and it still jumps out of the speakers. Going to sleep listening to David Byrne singing about stock brokers making bad investments and buildings on fire. Quickly we were listening to the first Clash record, first Ramones, first Wire. The Santana albums were put to the back of the cupboard – vanquished! Then my brother left home and I was on my own. Given the options, it was some kind of miracle that I saw Talking Heads play at the Wellington Town Hall in 1979. I’ve looked up the set-list – they were playing a lot of stuff from Fear of Music. So strange, so life-affirming!

    1980 was my last year at Hutt Valley High and a group of us were regulars at the punk venues in town. Dave Maclennan has a good piece on these places here. We weren’t ever part of the scene – none of us played in gigging bands at that time or lived in the city. But the time was vastly influential on my character or on my relationship to the world. Hearing The Gordons or Shoes This High in some dark scuzzy place such as Billy the Club seemed like being let in on a terrible secret about How Things Really Were. (The Springbok Tour the following year was all of a piece – NZ was broken and we were righteous in our fury.) We also fiercely believed that these bands were the equal of anything we read about in the NME.

    There was a nasty side of course – boot boys with all their Nazi rubbish. And, as I wrote earlier on this site, there was that depressing punk/disco division which ran along race lines. The other place to name-check is Silvio’s second-hand record store on Cuba Street. As I remember it, the staff were members of the Famularo family – mainly middle-aged women who were very kind and rather puzzled by their clinetele’s purchases: the Slits, X-Ray Spex, Penetration, the Raincoats. They also had dreadful security measures and a good deal of the stock walked out the door.


    Who were some of the big names around in that period? Where did you go to see ‘punk’ acts at that time – which would have been pretty marginalised I imagine?
    Two out-of-town visits which sort of rearranged the furniture were Toy Love at the Rock Theatre 1980 and The Clean two years later. I don’t think we were used to a show, or actual songs, so Chris Knox in his cut-off shirt and with his actual good voice were a real shock. Footage here. The Clean are my favourite NZ band. My friend and I saw them in Wellington and then immediately decided to follow them up to Auckland, driving his aunt’s Morris 1000 up State Highway 1. The car had no wipers and no handbrake. Good times! This clip is from the same tour.

    How did a love of music turn into a desire to be in a band of your own? Was that something that was always in the back of your mind?
    I had no musical training so obviously that was a help! I bought my first amp from Braeburn’s in Cuba Street. I was still living at home in Lower Hutt and I remember carrying it through the streets to the railway station and then another 15-minute walk home. It almost killed me but I also thought, Look at this—I have an amp! My first band experience was singing with friends’ groups in living-rooms.

    How did The Jonahs begin? Did you have a regular gig somewhere? A newspaper piece says they originated from a group called ‘The Vegas Kings’ in 1985? In the newspaper piece drummer Philip Hartshorn recalls seeing an ad for a drummer on the Victoria university Library wall.
    I’d forgotten that name! We started in the garage of the Guillosson family in Wainuiomata – Grant Guillosson was learning bass and our drummer was Victor Foon, who worked on Grant’s father’s milk truck. Laurence Tyler, who was musically literate, was the guitarist. We jammed covers and then started writing our own stuff. I would usually come up with some kind of riff and then Laurence would tell me what chords I was playing, tutor Grant, and away we went! Victor was an extremely good drummer – very precise and sympathetic. There were no reguar gigs as such but we played at the Cricketers Arms, Clyde Quay Tavern.







    Jonahs not drowning but waiting on new EP / Bruce Stirling
    THE JONAHS are a Wellington band which makes fine music. Five well-crafted songs are skilfully delivered on this their debut EP. Previously they appeared on the local compilation, When the Wind Blows. Then they were described as having a “certain sprawling charm.”
    They’ve tightened up and Bills of Happiness is a polished and confident record. The Go-Betweens are one reference point for The Jonahs’ music but they have a distinctly New Zealand flavour, lyrically and musically. The guitars are more up-front with a strong rhythmic acoustic also used. Even a slide guitar comes in to highlight the title track. It is a fast-paced bass-driven song which comes closer to their live sound than the other tracks.
    The rest of the record ranges from the slow lament, Doctoring, to the hook-laden Short Letter Long Farewell that jumps along irresistibly. Somewhere in between is So Leisurely which moves as gently and easily as the title suggests.
    The vocals are sometimes a bit tentative and a stronger voice would help a couple of tracks. Even so what the singing occasionally lacks the lyrics more than accommodate. Some are wry observations of foibles such as the lion’s rock ‘n’ roll revival clubs. Others are personal perceptions of life and love that go beyond cliché without getting too cryptic.
    It’s an intriguing and likeable debut from a talented band. The Jonahs perform live at the Cricketers at the end of the month which leaves you three weeks of good listening if you buy Bills of Happiness now.


    You apparently has some recorded some four-track demos, one of which was included on the Skank Records compilation of Wellington artists ‘When the wind blows’ ? Do you recall how that came about?
    No I don’t. The Jonahs were a tiny blip, beyond the recall of most people around at that time. It’s also completely right that we’ve disappeared. We didn’t make an impact, we didn’t get signed, we didn’t change lives, except maybe our own. We gigged around Wellington for about a year, and then I left for London, and the band carried on for another year and then broke up. Our story was and is the story of any number of bands. Part-timers, fans.
    We did, however, have a manager. And we did make a record. The EP ‘Bills of Happiness’ came out in 1987. It was engineered by Nick Roughan, who has gone on to a full career, producing for David Kilgour, Dimmer, Die Die Die etc. (We played gigs with Nick’s band The Skeptics.) And the EP was mixed by Brent McLaughlin, drummer for the Gordons, Bailter Space etc. We got a small recording grant ($500, I think) from the QEII Arts Council. So we did actually have, I don’t know, credentials. And Colin Hogg gave the record 4-stars in the Herald and said we had a promising career ahead of us. Ha! I see the record is selling for $150 online. I’m not selling mine yet.









    There seemed a strong DIY ethos that permeated the local music scene in the early – late 80s. Was it easy to get recording time in a studio back then, or release singles or EPS?
    There was a route but it still cost a bit of money. It was outward – you had to go to a studio. Things are so inward now – bedroom studios, internet releases. But it was still very cottage industry – hand-delivering things, friends taking photos and so on.

    A newspaper piece on your debut EP cites The Go Betweens as an influence. Were there any other bands particularly influential on you at the time? Anyone from the local scene that you looked up to?
    I think REM was in there too. Not just the jangle but the suggestive vagueness of Stipe’s writing and singing. I don’t think I wrote very good lyrics. They were extremely literary. ‘Short Letter Long Farewell’, which is the first song on the EP, is named for the Peter Handke novel. No one knew what the hell I was going on about and no one asked or ventured an opinion. After I left the band, there was an interview in a local paper in which Laurence said he thought my lyrics weren’t very direct. I totally agreed with him – indeed it was one of the best things anyone has ever said to me about my work (well, said to me sort of behind my back, in the fucking press). Anyway, there’s a breakthrough song on the EP—for me at least—called ‘Doctoring’ which I still don’t mind. It has my best vocal performance, some of the band’s loveliest playing, and an urgency of feeling which took us by surprise, I think. We played it live once only, as I remember, and that was at the biggest gig of our careers. In January 87 we supported the Chills at Victoria University. 600 people.


    You left the band to go overseas, I think, shortly after the EP came out, is that correct? Your career took a direction away from music after that, as everyone is familiar with, but after 25 years you decided to start another band. Do you want to talk a little bit about how that came about, and what drew you back into music?
    One day I opened up Garageband on my Mac, pressed some things and you had a drum track. Cute. Then I had a electronic keyboard for the kids to learn piano on and I hooked up that via a midi cable. Again, cute. But zero ambition to do more. I started doing ‘songs’ on the keyboard – wordless things but melodic. Later I found an old mic and saw that I could record stuff via Garageband, not just play with their samples. In the attic I fished out my old acoustic guitar, unplayed for years, and started adding treated guitar to the songs. Still no singing. Finally, I thought, what the heck, try singing some words. Quickly I started investing in other gear – guitars, amps, real mics etc. A while later, with lots of songs written, David Long put me in touch with the wonderful Craig Terris, who has drummed on all the Close Readers stuff. Craig was my route finally to the Phoenix Foundation guys – Luke Buda and Tom Callwood – who play on the last record and make everything a whole lot more legit.

    What interested me from the lyrics side of things is that I seemed to have a lot of things to write about. My breakthrough song (personal breakthrough, nothing else!) was ‘Iris DeMent’ – a song about sleep-deprived parents.

    Another song which made me think I wasn’t just dicking around was ‘December’, which is about a friend, Ian Hancock, who took his own life when we were in our early twenties. I felt a new kind of freedom because I was looking back. I won’t say ‘wisdom’ but at least a way into experiences that had always seemed too mysterious to approach.

    Ian wasn’t bipolar but in retrospect I think he was depressed. He was also an extremely chirpy, irrepressible character, with a great and eccentric record collection: Motorhead, the Clash, Madonna, Adam Ant, Husker Du, PiL, the Fall, W.A.S.P., Human League, Iron Maiden. He’d spent a year in the UK when punk was first happening and he had a fondness for bands like Crass and the UK Subs. Ian always looked great, didn’t care what people thought of him. Those hostile to difference – and there were plenty in Lower Hutt – sought out Ian for punishment. With his slight build, his dyed hair, the occasional pair of tartan trousers, English brothel creeper shoes, he was a ready target. He had good stories of being chased and beaten. He was brave and reckless. Next he bought a motorbike and took up motorcross. Surprisingly, he was a good mechanic, and a natural, fearless rider.

    We’d been to school together, though he was a year younger. I used to go around to Ian’s house a lot and we’d make music. This was before the Jonahs. Ian played bass a la Genesis P Orridge from Throbbing Gristle, and I’d scratch on a guitar and intone words. We also made our own tape loops by sellotaping cassette tape together. Ian owned a Korg Synth which had a small keyboard and patches, and he also had a Dr Rhythm drum machine. At one point we called ourselves The Emperor’s New Clothes and we made a stencil, spray-painting our name on the platform at the Woburn railway station. I’m really annoyed he’s not around.

    What’s next for The Close Readers? Are you working on any new music?
    I have an album’s worth of demos and I’m hoping to record them some time this year. I continue to chip away at Lower Hutt. There’s a song called ‘Trees of Lower Hutt’ which I think is pretty good.
    With the third record, The Lines Are Open, I had enough chutzpah to send it to Robert Christgau, the great rock critic, whose columns I’d read for a while. He gave me an A- and the record snuck on to his famous Dean’s List at #83 for 2015. More or less overnight, on the basis of that, the CD sold out. There are quite a few people who buy every Christgau A- record. I should probably retire again.











    All images courtesy of Damien Wilkins except ‘Shoes this High’ poster from Onechordisenough Blog & ‘Silvios’ record store advertisement from ‘Rip It Up’ No. 8 – Feb. 1978 (Thanks to Chris Bourke for sourcing this issue for us).
    ‘Jonahs not drowning but waiting on new EP’ article courtesy of Fairfax Media. Used with permission.

  • General

    NZMM: Favourite Wellington Music Moment – DoubleG

    31.05.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Last year for NZ Music Month 2016, we asked bands/artists for a favourite memory of making music in Wellington.

    It could involve a favourite gig, a funny story from the recording studio, a moment that led to the inspiration for a song, the fond recollection of a defunct venue, or the piece of music or lyric that they were most proud of creating.

    We really enjoyed the stories people told us, so we are doing it again this year. Up next is Producer/Rapper DoubleG.











    When You go into the studio with nothing planned me and long time friend #PointChad back in the day would simply freestyle random and funny words and phrases, This always lead to us completing full tracks.

    #DoubleGmAkeAbangA- #8Ball Challenge

    Shout out to every one has jumped on to the #ICEMAN #8BallChallenge here my take ! Done and Dusted ! Enjoy✌✌

    Posted by Double G #GG on Saturday, 27 May 2017

  • General

    NZMM: Favourite Wellington Music Moment – Bakers Eddy

    29.05.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Last year for NZ Music Month 2016, we asked bands/artists for a favourite memory of making music in Wellington.

    It could involve a favourite gig, a funny story from the recording studio, a moment that led to the inspiration for a song, the fond recollection of a defunct venue, or the piece of music or lyric that they were most proud of creating.

    We really enjoyed the stories people told us, so we are doing it again this year. Up next is Bakers Eddy.










    We used to practice about 20 mins from the city in South Karori, the wops. A peaceful and serene area until Bakers became a thing. We were born here and so was the band. Things have changed a lot in terms of gear, sound and looks (we got ugly) but the first time we plugged 2 gats and a mic into a 10 watt busking amp will always be a cherished memory.


    Bakers Eddy:

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