Speaker by Various Artists

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Speaker: Funny, sexy and ours

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  • Tom Beard,

    Things moved very fast in the eighties, partially as a result of the massive changes in NZ, and partially as the result of the huge musical revolutions that followed the punk and post-punk electronic and rhythmic (including the things happening in Detroit & Chicago) explosions.And then there was hip hop too, which had a huge effect on white indie rock'n'roll. What was radical in 82 was very old school in 85.

    They were heady times around the world, NZ included.

    Yes. I remember moving to Wellington in the late eighties, and being to shocked to read in the Radio Active magazine that dance music was cool. Dance music? Cool?! Isn't that just for sleazy people in shiny shirts who drink Pina Coladas in chrome & neon clubs and dance to Stock Aitken Waterman? Surely the cool thing to do was wear a black jersey and live in Castle St drinking bad beer (wasn't all beer bad back then?) and sneering at people who knew four chords?

    You're right to point out the dynamism and diversity that underlies that monolithic construct "80s music". Before the recent revival of 80s music as the office party pap du jour I used to think I liked 80s music, because to me "80s" meant "British synth pop and a bit of electro". I was recently in the unfortunate position of being forced to join in a Sing Star party, and thought "oh, at least Sing Star 80s will be more my cup of tea than endless boy bands and R&B". Ha! There were only two tracks on the entire thing that didn't induce instantaneous retching.

    Having said that I never got into the whole FN, thing, I'd love to see someone take over an 80s night at the local cheesefest bar and play some Verlaines or The Clean. Not to mention some Chris & Cosey, Cabaret Voltaire and "Boing Boom Tschakk".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hey, this gives me an idea for the Flying Nun competition.

    Well, you'd better hurry up. I'm getting my judging hat on tomorrow night.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    those Dunedin bands got their own "NZ" bin in the local record stores on Telegraph in Berkeley

    Amoeba Records in San Fran still has dividers with various FN band names in their vinyl bins - it made me go "awww you probably can't buy those records in NZ anymore". Not that you could there either as those sections were empty. But nevermind.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 726 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    I took my very conservative workmates (and boss) to see SJF at the Gluepot. I didn't know why at the time. I had a thing for She Speeds...

    The workmates left early, heads shaking disapproval. I stayed on and it happened. I left my job (big money, silly clothes), left the country (not to the UK), grew my hair and became the fool I always knew I was.

    My boss said to me at the gig..."I don't get it".
    I said...She Speeds.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Doh! Wrong thread, but I'm guessing you knew that.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    i think FN music made me appreciate other kiwi bands more. in '89 a mate from [roto]vegas gave me a tape of dunedin highlights that opened eyes previously focused on the crap that passed for music on bay of plenty radio.

    it included a tune by a vegas band called the booga dagas. sublime. the tape got knicked with a car i had in melbourne, and i'll readily admit to getting a little teary. i thought, "screw the car... i'll never hear that song ever again".

    it was called 'reverend petrol head'. if anyone had a copy, big favours owed.

    next story. i walk into the old cafe bodega in the very early 90s and there's these people sitting in a booth. one goes, "oh, gidday che. how's your uncle and your mum?", we chat, i walk off.

    my girlfriend of the time asks, "who's that?". i say, "oh, that's tony nevison and the headless chickens."

    she was very impressed.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    sure I have a cassette somewhere in my clutter of the Booga Dagas - they did their own homebrew if memory serves (I know some band from that aprt of the country did) - fowl stuff it was, just the thing to get one in the mood for standing around listening to music

    If I can find it (don't hold breath - I have boxes ands boxes of cassettes) I'll find a child to digitalise it :)

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 325 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    WHUU-WHOO!! you.bloody.legend.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    The Rheineck Rock Awards gave us Stunt Clown. Enough said.

    The Chooks would have made it anyway, but with less money I guess...I must dig out my copy and see how it sounds these days (bearing in mind I only own a portable record player with a speaker the size of an old 50c piece. Great for the old Chills 7"s(how do you pluralise 7"?))

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 558 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    I'd actually had John Campbell down as more a Rick Astley type, but he is clearly a huge fan of this stuff....

    If you were outside the main centres - as I was for much of the early 1980s - but had had some exposure to bands like the Clean, Verlaines, Chills etc...hearing this stuff was like hearing something you understood, instinctively, and beting able to get those singles and EPs was a lifeline to a life less, well, dull...I'm raving too much here and I've even been inspired to blog on the subject...

    the Rheineck awards - yeah, remember those, was in Auckland by then, the award sort of hurt the Headless Chooks because it was seen as a sort of selling out...

    Crappy beer, too.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'd actually had John Campbell down as more a Rick Astley type, but he is clearly a huge fan of this stuff....

    You're seriously saying you've never come across one of John's spirited reveries about the NME, the Postcard sound of Young Scotland and/or the Clean?

    Although I'll grant you he does look a bit like Rick Astley. In fact, he looks more like Rick Astley than Rick Astley does now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Chooks would have made it anyway, but with less money I guess...

    If I recall correctly, the prize money was weirdly structured. A lot of it had to be spent on marketing, rather than actually recording, which wasn't really what they needed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    If I recall correctly, the prize money was weirdly structured. A lot of it had to be spent on marketing, rather than actually recording, which wasn't really what they needed.

    trying to remember who the judges were...Doug Hood and Colin Hogg come to mind but I can't remember who else

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Glaister,

    In the spirit of Robyn Gallagher's post: "Whilst"?

    Anyhow, *while* Campbell is correct that parochialism plays a part in the FN phenomenon here, as does certain amounts of catchiness etc., for my money the core appeal is just some sort of weird inner integrity - the FN bands sounded like something, and the something they sounded like wasn't much like anything else. Sometimes that's enough in pop music.... so (especially early) FN is not lyrically distinguished, and is neither rhythmically nor melodically inventive (except for the Verlaines a little), and that's... OK. On any objective level, one would trade the whole lot for half of Temple of Low Men or of Tallulah, to mention two down-under records that meant and continue to mean much more to me than FN. But you still can't write the history of 20 C popular music without mentioning the Dunedin sound. You can't seriously understand, for example, Beck or Pavement or the Strokes or (my faves) The Magnetic Fields without knowing a bit about FN. Cool kids all over the world gradually discover this and track FN down... Be uninfluencably yourself (eschewing all sorts of customary musical pleasure if you have to) and have a long tail. It's a plan!

    Since Nov 2006 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Stephen Glaister wrote:

    Anyhow, *while* Campbell is correct that parochialism plays a part in the FN phenomenon here, as does certain amounts of catchiness etc., for my money the core appeal is just some sort of weird inner integrity - the FN bands sounded like something, and the something they sounded like wasn't much like anything else.

    There is that. I had an impassioned argument with a fellow journo a few years ago about whether NZ and Australia had different cultures. He reckoned not. The strongest thread in my argument was that Australia would never produce a group of bands like those Flying Nun ones [the closest they got was the Go Betweens] and NZ would never produce a band like Cold Chisel. [this will get me flamed, perhaps, but I love Cold Chisel as well]

    Another friend, during her PhD in Edinburgh, pleaded with me for a NZ music tape - she reckoned there was a sense of distance and isolation in the music she didn't hear anywhere else. The Nun bands featured prominently [as did groups like the Muttonbirds].

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    >>NZ would never produce a band like Cold Chisel.

    ah, Dragon, Th Dudes, the feelers....

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    If I recall correctly, the prize money was weirdly structured. A lot of it had to be spent on marketing, rather than actually recording, which wasn't really what they needed.

    Not being an expert on NZ recording facilities of the 1980s that does strike me as odd, although I do recall that we were desperate for some band to carry on where Split Enz had left off in 83-84 in terms of overseas success. That might explain the emphasis on marketing etc. (The Crowdies never struck me as a kiwi band as such, no matter how much I love them). Checked Stunt Clown last night, still sounds great. As does Gaskrankinstation...

    NZ would never produce a band like Cold Chisel

    I'd let off th'Dudes & Dragon (Chisel could never have written anything as [something] as Be Mine Tonite!) The same cannot be said of bands today though. After 6 years away I was amazed at how much NZ music was in the mainstream, but it had ditched any of the uniqueness of old which was ultimately holding the likes of the Chills, SJF, Verlaines, JPSE back. (__Back in my day__, etc)

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 558 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    I would never say the Chickens were NZ's equivalent of Depeche Mode etc.

    Far from it.

    Keyboards and Flying nun bands not a happening thing?
    Er, the Skeptics were at the forefront of using samplers and synths so that myth goes out the window.

    It always amazes me that the synth era in local music was overlooked and still is.
    It pisses me off that we always crap on about FN bands, the 'guitar' sound etc etc.

    Even today when synths are back in vogue NZ bands still don't 'get it'.


    Bob Daktari - YES - the Boogadaggas were an amazing band.
    They were from Rotorua along with the Calamari Bushmen and the Adult Mayflys (and Rotovegas ex-pats Book of Martyrs). I have master tapes in my possesion of all these bands and I do plan to transfer and remix/remaster them in teh future.
    It was the combination of home brew, small towns and music originality that band these bands great.
    Possibly the bands Flying Nun SHOULD have signed up in the late 80s/early 90s (and I did try!). If they were from Port Chalmers or Dunedin they would have been.
    They kicked the crap out of alot of the medicore Nun bands, song-wise and for their 'indieness' (new word?).
    These guys wrote songs from a NZ small-city/rural perspective - drinking homebrew in the misty bush, taking mushroom trips down the back of the farm and getting D.I.C.'d.

    Flying Nun was cool but it wasn't the be all and end all of NZ indie music. Neither was Xpressway or any of the other 'cool' labels.

    It's about time we got to hear what else was going on.


    Interesting note: The Calamari Bushmen recorded an EP with AC/DC's Phil Rudd at his Tauranga Studio.

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    Note to moderator: Get that damn edit function happening!

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    The same cannot be said of bands today though. After 6 years away I was amazed at how much NZ music was in the mainstream, but it had ditched any of the uniqueness of old which was ultimately holding the likes of the Chills, SJF, Verlaines, JPSE back. (Back in my day, etc)

    Just have a listen to the NZ On Air Hit Discs to see how lacking NZ is in 'decent' music.

    Mediocre 'hip-hop', lightweight pappy 'RnB', paper-thin 'punk', yet another female 'singer/songwriter'.

    Noticable lack of melody and songwriting ability all-round.
    And they wonder why it doesn't go far overseas?
    Most of the Hit Disc stuf wouldn't make it past the rubbish bin of any A&R dept outside Pitcarn Island.

    A&R is doesn't exist in NZ either.

    I don't care if it's pop, rock, hip-hop, - whatever.
    Can you NZ bands please start writing some decent songs and PLEASE, bands, stop trying to 'produce' your own records.
    Control freaks are not objective record makers.

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    After 6 years away I was amazed at how much NZ music was in the mainstream, but it had ditched any of the uniqueness of old which was ultimately holding the likes of the Chills, SJF, Verlaines, JPSE back

    Perhaps that's partly inevitable (if you're too unusual or distinctive, almost by definition you won't be part of the mainstream), and partly not quite true. Some mainstream NZ music (The Feelers, Bic Runga, The Bleeders) could be from anywhere, but there are some big successes that have a distinctively NZ (or at least Pacific) sound. Acts like Rhombus or Fat Freddy's Drop take inspirations from all around the world, but produce a sound that is certainly unique and (to use a loaded term) "indigenous".

    But you're right that the rise in profile of NZ music has been quite remarkable. Back in '95 when the "Harmonic 695" compilation came out, I was shocked to know that anyone in NZ was making electronica/IDM at all! Now I'd say that, without any conscious decision and without any cultural nationalism, maybe 90% of my music purchases are by local acts.

    Perhaps that's due to the affordability of technology. Back in the 80s, it would have cost hundreds of thousands to set up the sort of studio required to make the sort of music I was interested in and produce it to a professional level (I used to dream of winning lotto so I could afford a Fairlight). Now all you need is a laptop and some affordable (or often stolen) software, and you've got your instruments, studio and marketing machine in your backpack.

    To get marginally closer to the topic, what are the important NZ music labels of the last ten year? For my tastes, they'd include Pulse, Kog Transmissions, Involve (hearing Aspen & Jet Jaguar got me back into making music again) and of course Loop. Who else?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Gunn,

    Just came across this while idly flicking - Da Booga Dagas...creative force is Jamie Pickernell of Rotovegas and yes he still lives there making art/furniture/installation in the same vein as Reverend Petrol Head (if you can imagine that)...email him on artfurniture@xtra.co.nz. I'm sure there are still a few copies of those songs kicking around somewhere!

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    tomorrow!!! make sure you add me to the list to get digital copies of those bands.

    man, the calamari bushmen.... my first thought was "Wedding Present", but if someone had taken acid to watch them in a cheesy pub in tauranga in '90, then many weird thoughts would wander through their head.

    not that i ever did that.

    and the boogadagas. i think they were the first band to make me think, "you don't have to do bad pop to be great". it was almost as big a shock as the time someone said, "listen to this. no... stop listening to lloyd cole and commotions and just f...ing listen to this tape".

    the sex pistols.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • Tomorrowpeople,

    Cool - nice to see there are a few people on here who know abou these bands.

    I guess the Calamari Bushmen were a bit like The Wedding Present- yep!

    The Craps tables at the B… • Since Nov 2006 • 188 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    Tha Calamari Bushmen

    Fantastic name, has just replaced The Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos as my fave band name!

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 558 posts Report Reply

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