Our Interview with Little Doomsdays Creators, Nic Low and Phil Dadson

Little Doomsdays
Little Doomsdays by Nic Low and Phil Dadson on the library catalogue
Little Doomsdays by Nic Low and Phil Dadson

Little Doomsdays is a lavishly illustrated collaborative art book between musician/painter Phil Dadson and writer Nic Low. It’s the fifth in the ‘kōrero series’ of books, conceived and edited by Lloyd Jones.

In Little Doomsdays, legendary musician and painter Phil Dadson responds to a wildly innovative text by Ngāi Tahu writer Nic Low that’s steeped in te ao Māori. Together they play with the notion of ark and arc in a manner that is at once beguiling and challenging.

Nic Low, head and shoulders shot, against a brick wall backdrop
Nic Low

Nic Low (Ngāi Tahu) is the partnerships editor at NZ Geographic magazine and the former programme director of WORD Christchurch. A prize-winning author of short fiction, essays and criticism, his writing on wilderness, technology and race has been widely published and anthologised on both sides of the Tasman.


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Tripping the light fantastic: Nick Bollinger interview Pt. 1

Nick Bollinger is on record as saying  his life  changed at the age of five, when he heard the Beatles’ recording of ‘Twist and Shout’. He went on to become a bass player and a member of many bands, such as Rough Justice, Ducks, Pelicans,  and Living Daylights as well as  Wellington’s iconic Windy City Strugglers.

After working as a postie and training as a teacher, Nick’s musical obsession found full fruition as a record reviewer and rock journalist. Contributing to the likes of  New Zealand Listener, Mojo, Rhythms, International Arts Manager, Rip It Up, The New Zealand Herald and many other national and international publications.

Since 2001 he has presented the music review programme The Sampler for New Zealand’s National Radio.

Nick was also the curator for Sound Design, Kiwi Style an exhibition of New Zealand record cover design, which toured the country from 2002 to 2004.

Nick has  written several books including  his fabulous coming of age musical memoir Goneville, How to Listen to Pop Music and 100 Essential New Zealand Albums and just released is  Jumping Sundays his wonderful  new book about  the counter culture scene in New Zealand in the 1960’s and 70’s. The book is a major historical work about that time that is also a thoroughly  enjoyable read.

When Nick agreed to be interviewed by us about Jumping Sunday , and the counter cultural scene in Aotearoa in the 60’s and 70’s, we leapt  at the opportunity. The resulting interview (which we have had to split into two parts) is wide-ranging, covering the major seismic changes in culture and society at the time at almost every level.

BLERTA perform their children’s show, image copyrighted.
Hamish Horsley Collection, Sarjeant Gallery

And as such some adult themes are covered such as sex, drugs and rock n roll !

Our  heartfelt thanks to Nick for taking time out of his busy schedule and for such a fabulous, fascinating, and informative interview. Keep your eyes peeled for the second exclusive bonus content video coming soon .


Jumping Sundays : The Rise and Fall of the Counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand / Bollinger, Nick
“Award-winning writer Nick Bollinger’s deep history of the transformation of New Zealand life wrought by the counterculture in the 1960s and ’70s.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.



Goneville : a memoir / Bollinger, Nick
“Goneville is at once a coming-of-age memoir and an intimate look at the evolving music scene in 1970s New Zealand. It show how this music intersected – sometimes violently – with the prevailing culture, in which real men played rugby, not rock. Nick Bollinger draws on his own experiences and also seeks out key figures and unsung heroes to reflect on the hard, often thankless and occasionally joyous life of the career musician.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

100 essential New Zealand albums / Bollinger, Nick
“Compiled by one of New Zealand’s most popular music columnists, this listing will delight pop music fans everywhere. The choices included cover a broad range and present an eclectic taste. Each entry is accompanied by some of the most entertaining writing about music and musicians, ranging from personal accounts of youthful encounters with music legends as well as passionate responses to renowned albums. Guaranteed to surprise and intrigue, this reference is a must-have for all music lovers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


How to listen to pop music / Bollinger, Nick
“This comprehensive and illuminating guide explores the entire spectrum of pop music, from Beatlemania and the long-playing record to Eminem and the iPod.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Vinyl Arrives at Waitohi!

Exciting things have been happening of late at Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Hub, with this week heralding the arrival of part of the libraries’ vinyl collection at their branch. They have been working hard behind the scenes to present this collection, a majority of which has been in storage since the closure of the Central Library.

The idea of having a vinyl collection at Waitohi came about as a result of their recently established Vinyl Club, which meets on the last Saturday of each month. Vinyl Club is a place to share and appreciate music on wax and is open to all. Unfortunately, they have had to postpone meetings for the last few months in light of COVID-19 alert level changes, however they hope to resume meeting when Wellington returns to Level 1.
For further details, keep an eye on our Events Calendar.

The vinyl collection at Waitohi comprises approximately 300 records of varying genres, from Jazz to Hip Hop to local music from Wellington and around New Zealand. The collection is located on the Lower Ground at Waitohi in front of Tūhura HIVE Makerspace, which hosts their Vinyl Club sessions. Records may be taken out for $1 each for a loan period of 7 days and are issued in retro bespoke turquoise sleeves for style and ease of carriage!

Thanks to Sam from Opium Eater who generously agreed to model with one of our Vinyl satchels…

Free book giveaway! The Empire City: Songs of Wellington by Andrew Laking

Recently author Andrew Laking very generously gifted us some free copies of his wonderful book The Empire City: songs of Wellington.

Andrew’s book traces the history of Wellington from the mid 19th century to the present day and is beautifully illustrated using photographs and specially commissioned paintings by Bob Kerr. It also contains a free C.D. featuring some of Aotearoa / New Zealand’s finest musicians including Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords, Riki Gooch from Crowded House and Toby Laing from Fat Freddy’s Drop.

We only have a few copies for each branch, so this freebie offer is strictly on a first come first served basis. All you need to do to be in with a chance of picking up a free copy of this book is pop into one of our branches on Friday 22nd Oct  and look for the display of free give away copies of this fabulous title left. EASY AS.

(Limited to one copy per patron whilst stocks last. )

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Andrew for his very kind donation.

The empire city : songs of Wellington / Laking, Andrew
“The Empire City traces the history of Wellington, from the middle of the 19th Century till the present day. Stories are told through song, text, paintings and photographs … The book includes a CD with original songs by Andrew Laking … The songs are given context by historical notes and illuminated through a number of previously unseen archival photos, and over 20 new paintings by Bob Kerr” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dance Prone and Invisible Mile author David Coventry in conversation

I was staring out a window
I was standing by the sea
Standing by the sea.

Grant Hart From Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü

We are totally stoked to announce an exclusive interview with Dance Prone and Invisible mile author David Coventry, in conversation with his friend and fellow New Zealand musician Greg Cairns.

David had a rich and fascinating career in the New Zealand music industry before taking a right-turn and becoming an award-winning author. His first book, The Invisible Mile, is about the rigours of cycling in the Tour de France, and his second novel is about the hard core punk scene in America (you’ll hear more about this in the video). At first glance you might think these themes are poles apart, but — as David discusses — not so far apart as people may think.

In Dance prone David captures lightning in a jar by describing the psychological, physical and visceral experience of playing live in front of an audience — a remarkable feat many authors have tried and with a few notable exceptions have largely failed.

David and Greg in coversation is entertaining, insightful, wide-ranging and free form. It encompasses many topics, including David’s writing process, life on the road, and first hand recollections of legendary New Zealand bands, gigs and musicians, not to mention the genius of Husker Du.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to both David and Greg for such an entertaining, frank, and insightful behind-the-scenes conversation.

Watch the full extended  version of their discussion below:

David also put together a Dance Prone Spotify playlist.

You can catch David at his upcoming Verb Wellington Festival event on the 8th of November.

Below are just a few of the Bands and albums mentioned in the David’s  interview:

Dance prone / Coventry, David
“During their 1985 tour, two events of hatred and stupidity forever change the lives of a band’s four members. Neues Bauen, a post-hardcore Illinois group homing in on their own small fame, head on with frontman Conrad Wells sexually assaulted and guitarist Tone Seburg wounded by gunshot. The band staggers forth into the American landscape, traversing time and investigating each of their relationships with history, memory, authenticity, violence and revelling in transcendence through the act of art.” (Catalogue)

The invisible mile / Coventry, David
“The 1928 Ravat-Wonder team from New Zealand and Australia were the first English-speaking team to ride the Tour de France. From June through July they faced one of toughest in the race’s history: 5,476 kilometres of unsealed roads on heavy, fixed-wheel bikes. They rode in darkness through mountains with no light and brakes like glass. They weren’t expected to finish, but stadiums filled with Frenchmen eager to call their names. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

This is Memorial Device : an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986 / Keenan, David
This Is Memorial Device, is a love letter to the small towns of Lanarkshire in the late 1970s and early 80s.It follows a cast of misfits, drop-outs, small town visionaries and would-be artists and musicians through a period of time where anything seemed possible, a moment where art and the demands it made were as serious as your life.  Written in a series of hallucinatory first-person eye-witness accounts that capture the prosaic madness of the time and place.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ready to fly / Verlaines

Doolittle. / Pixies (Musical group)
“After 1988’s brilliant but abrasive Surfer Rosa, the Pixies’ sound couldn’t get much more extreme. Their Elektra debut, Doolittle, reins in the noise in favor of pop songcraft and accessibility. Their most accessible album, Doolittle’s wide-ranging moods and sounds make it one of their most eclectic and ambitious. A fun, freaky alternative to most other late-’80s college rock, it’s easy to see why the album made the Pixies into underground rock stars. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Horses. / Smith, Patti
“It isn’t hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on her debut album, which anticipated the new wave by a year or so: the simple, crudely played rock & roll, featuring Lenny Kaye’s rudimentary guitar work, the anarchic spirit of Smith’s vocals, and the emotional and imaginative nature of her lyrics — all prefigure the coming movement as it evolved on both sides of the Atlantic. Smith is a rock critic’s dream, a poet as steeped in ’60s garage rock as she is in French Symbolism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Evol. / Sonic Youth

The last few titles are not currently available from our collection, but we hope to have them available very soon!

The Frozen Borderline, by Nico.

Land Speed Record, by Hüsker Dü.

Zen Arcade, by Hüsker Dü.

Johnny Cooper, ‘The Māori Cowboy’

Johnny Cooper, hero of early New Zealand rock’n’roll, died earlier this month in Lower Hutt, aged 85.

Born in 1929, Cooper grew up on an isolated farm near Wairoa. He was gifted a ukulele by his uncle, who played saxophone in a Gisborne dance band. He began playing along to 78s, and would play in woolsheds to entertain the shearing gangs.

Johnny Cooper in the early 1950s.
Source: Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: PAColl-10069-18-08

Cooper won a scholarship to attend Hawkes Bay’s illustrious Te Aute college. After attending for a time, Cooper was desperate to leave. However, his elders were insistent that he stay in school. So Cooper boarded the train to return to school from Wairoa, and instead stayed on-board and ran away to Wellington. This resulted in Cooper being disowned by his parents: “They said, you’re on your own.”

Cooper stayed in a boarding house and got a job at Karori cemetery. On Sunday nights he sang at cinemas and suburban halls. He dug graves during the day, and met bass-player Willy Lloyd-Jones. In 1953 they formed The Ridge Riders with guitarist Ron James and Don Aldridge on steel. The group wore cowboy style outfits and became known at talent quests and live shows on radio, with appearances in Wanganui and at Linton and Waiouru.

On Sundays they recorded in Alan Dunnage’s Island Bay studio, inside an old shop. A duet by Cooper became the number one 78 of 1954; Look What You’ve Done produced a double-sided hit. Cooper had written most of the song in a day: “I heard someone say ‘look what you’ve done’ and thought that was a crazy thing to say, that it would be good to sing something like that.” The song became a continual request for The Ridge Riders: “Shearing shed or anywhere, every party you went to in that period that was all you heard them play.” The song became a well-known Kiwi party song and was famously sung by Jake and Beth Heke in ‘Once Were Warriors’.

In 1955 Cooper started a solo career in rock’n’roll at town hall jamborees. He made New Zealand music history by becoming the first singer outside of the United States to record a rock’n’roll song when he recorded Rock Around the Clock with a group of Wellington jazz men at HMV’s Lower Hutt studios in 1955. As a country singer, Cooper had originally balked at the idea of recording a rock’n’roll track, and had said “What’s this rubbish? I’m not singing that.” Within a year Cooper was touted as the “undisputed king of rock’n’roll whose record sales are now far in excess of a hundred thousand.” Cooper also recorded New Zealand’s first original rock’n’roll song, Pie Cart Rock’n’Roll in 1955.

F W Larcombe Ltd. Harry Fagin proudly presents New Zealand tour Variety round up, headed by Johnny Cooper, H.M.V. recording and television star. Johnny Cooper rocks ’em! Regent Theatre Greymouth, Wed Thurs Fri Oct 2, 3, 4. Larcombe Print [1957]. [Posters collected by Charles Cabot, for variety, comedy, and music-hall shows and performances in New Zealand. 1950-1959].. Ref: Eph-E-CABOT-Variety-1957-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22699643

Cooper’s musical talent saw him travel around the world, leading three concert tours during the 1950s to entertain Kiwi troops in Japan and Korea.

In 1957, The Ridge Riders drifted apart and Cooper started holding talent shows around small towns, including Give It A Go! Through this, he coached some of New Zealand music’s well-known names, including rock’n’roll idol Johnny Devlin, Midge Marsden (who played in Bari and the Breakaways) and the Formulya, whose song Nature was to be judged the greatest New Zealand rock song of all time.

Cooper moved into entertainment promotion in the 1960s. Good friend and fellow musician Midge Marsden says he did not so much fall from the limelight as ease himself into the shadows. “His private life was exactly that – private.”

Cooper, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, died at his home early in September.

Neighbours of Johnny Cooper knew him as a friendly pillar of the community, who tidied the area and mowed lawns for free. Friends knew him as a warm, modest and humble man, and hold many fond memories.

Syndetics book coverBlue smoke : the lost dawn of New Zealand popular music, 1918-1964 / Chris Bourke.
“Bringing to life the musical worlds of New Zealanders both at home and out on the town, this history chronicles the evolution of popular music in New Zealand during the 20th century. From the kiwi concert parties during World War I and the arrival of jazz to the rise of swing, country, the Hawaiian sound, and then rock’n’roll, this musical investigation brings to life the people, places, and sounds of a world that has disappeared and uncovers how music from the rest of the world was shaped by Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders into a melody, rhythm, and voice that made sense on these islands. The accompanying audio CD wonderfully brings to life the engaging text, underscoring seminal moments in New Zealand’s musical history.” (Syndetics summary)

Early rock & roll from New Zealand. Vol. 5 & 6.

Pie cart rock ‘n’ roll : New Zealand rock ‘n’ roll 1957-1962.

Waiata : Maori showbands, balladeers & pop stars.