Capture by A photoblog

72

Don’t Point Me Out In A Crowd

by Jonathan Ganley

A trip through 1980s Auckland

A fat gut in a studded belt / My God I think he thinks he’s something else / When he’s just another zombie / Probably made out of needles and plastic” 

—The Doublehappys, Needles and Plastic

 

From (one of) The Clean: “Most of the Dunedin people despise what’s going on in Auckland because the Auckland bands come down acting like rock stars. They talk a load of rubbish and their music is a load of old rubbish. The most commonly held perception that emerged of Auckland was of a city with a ska band around every corner. In Dunedin they didn't want to know about ska or the New Romantics. The isolation of that city has produced a very insular and suspicious group of people with an over-riding attachment to '60s music …”

—from “Do They Have McDonalds Down There?”, a feature article by Michael Higgins, published in Rip It Up, April 1982.

 

Celebrity DJ: “So, your new songs … you going to put the Funky Drummer in there?”

A bemused Robert Scott: “No. I think you should … play to your strengths.”

—excerpt from an interview with Robert Scott of the Bats on 95bFM, sometime in the early 1990s.

 

What made Flying Nun move north? Dunedin had the Kaleidoscope World and a Sad Eyed Lady, and Christchurch had the Gordons. What of Auckland in the 1980s? Was Auckland an Antipodean post-punk powerhouse, or just a load of fat guts in studded belts hanging out at Quays? I reckon it was the former, and here is my photographic evidence – a personal journey across the Auckland of those years, viewed through my vintage tortoiseshell frame rose-tinted spectacles.

We have giveaways.  Check the comments section for details.

It has recently been pointed out elsewhere on Public Address that the early Flying Nun recordings would have been very different without the involvement of sound engineer and producer Doug Hood. In the photo above he joins Chris Knox (on the right) and Craig Scanlon (centre) of The Fall at the Sounds record store on Queen St, Saturday August 22 1982. Doug and Chris recorded The Fall’s set at Mainstreet that night, which was released on Flying Nun in 1984 as the Fall In A Hole LP & 12” EP. Mark Smith was very unhappy when copies began turning up in the UK. Was it the sight of Smith’s nemesis, ‘Happy Fall Guitarist’ Marc Riley, on the cover? Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

Eight Living Legs (Huw, Robert and Bryn, above) and Flak shared a practice room on the Shore, and also shared a 12” EP on Flying Nun – Emigration. Both groups also shared a spiky sound and attitude, and their bass and drum driven music, combined with smart personal / political lyrics, was completely different from any clichéd idea of what “the Flying Nun sound” should be. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

Dieneke of Flak. Photographed at SPAM on Symonds St in December 1983. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

Auckland also had the experimentation with sampling, sequencers, sound manipulation, video and visuals of Fetus Productions (Jed Town, above) and the Headless Chickens. Both bands released some of the best music to appear on Flying Nun. Timeless songs like ‘Desert Lands’ and ‘What’s Going On’ from Fetalmania, and ‘Monkeyjar’ from the Headless Chickens’ eponymous debut mini-LP, and ‘Donka’ and ‘Soulcatcher’ from the Stunt Clown LP. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

The Headless Chickens: Michael Lawry and Chris Matthews at the Happy Accident, 1987. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

Grey Lynn became home to many of the Flying Nun roster, including a couple of Verlaines. Bassist Jane Dodd and drummer Robbie Yeats are pictured above. The Verlaines were about to release their second LP Bird-Dog, and plans were underway for a compilation of early material, Juvenalia. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

The Cakekitchen, Robert Key and Graeme Jefferies photographed in Crummer Rd in 1988. They were set to release their first 4-track 12” EP, including the story of the amoral Dave The Pimp, with its distinctive ringing guitar riff, and the beautiful Witness To Your Secrets. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

The Able Tasmans (above) may have immortalised Grey Lynn in a song, but in 1987 I photographed them in a place even closer to Graeme Humphrey’s heart – the Biology Laboratory at Auckland University. Graeme was very insistent that evening that we get the shot with the bird ‘flying’ overhead. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

In late 1984 I went over to Summer St in Ponsonby with Chris from Radio B, to interview and photograph Chris Knox (above) for a feature on ‘Auckland music’ that was published in the Auckland University student rag Craccum. We knew we had arrived at the right house because one of the Androidss was outside smoking a joint. The photo shows Chris, the TEAC 4-track that was used for so many early Flying Nun recordings, and other clues – a Fender Twin Reverb, the cardboard box from Shoprite on Ponsonby Rd, Syd Barrett looking out from the cover of the first Pink Floyd LP, the filing cabinet drawer marked ‘Flying Nun’ and a pile of Netherworld Dancing Toys posters. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

The Maidment Theatre at Auckland University was the venue for two of the best multi-media shows of that era – the Nitpickers Picnic in 1985 and the Happy Accident in 1987. The lighting at the Nitpickers Picnic was mostly ultraviolet, which made photography difficult, but fortunately my camera had a multiple exposure switch. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

Martin Phillipps of the Chills, photographed from mid-audience at the Gluepot, with Justin Harwood on bass. That line-up dates the photo at around the time Brave Words was released in 1987. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

I was in awe of the songs and powerful live shows of the Straitjacket Fits and this shot was taken in late 1988. They had just finished recording their debut LP Hail, and plans were underway for their first trip to the United States and Europe. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011

Appropriately enough, as Flying Nun’s birthday month comes to a close, and I sit here trying to finish this post, the Clean and the Subliminals are playing to a full house at the Kings Arms. Photo: © jonathan ganley 2011