Hard News by Russell Brown

8

Friday Music: Staying Okay

One of the more welcome developments in the local music business in recent years has been a better focus on the welfare of people who work in it. That focus was given form a year ago when the New Zealand Music Foundation Wellbeing Service was launched at the Silver Scroll Awards.

This week, I was given the numbers of the service's first year. The 0508 MUSICHELP line has received 80-odd calls from 45 people in the industry. Those numbers might seem modest, but it's not a huge industry – and it's one person a week who had someone to reach out to.

The calls get people through to triage counselling, which might be enough in itself – many "minor" calls have lasted longer than an hour – or lead to a reference to specialised help, including in-person counselling.

More than a quarter of people who called have  subsequently been diagnosed with a mental health or mood disorder – bearing out the findings of the survey that led to the service's creation. Issues have ranged from anxiety and "industry stress" to that perennial peril of a life in music, substance use problems.

People who used the service seem to have strongly appreciated talking to someone who "got" music. The foundation's general manager Peter Dickens deserves huge credit for first identifying the need, then acting to meet it. 

A separate but equally welcome development has been renewed attention to the issues faced by women in music – up to and including sexual harassment and assault. Coco Solid kicked off Equalise My Vocals with the assistance of The Spinoff.

This week, Girls Rock! Camp Aotearoa – a local version of an initiative that launched in Portland, Oregon, in 2001 – announced itself with a crowdfunding campaign on Boosted. The "camp" (nb: no actual camping) for young women and girls will be held at MAINZ in Auckland from January 15 to 19. They'll learn instruments, write songs, form bands – and get good advice.

Its founders have already been backed by APRA, Recorded Music New Zealand, the New Zealand Music Commission and MAINZ, but they're looking for an additional $7000 from the public to keep costs for participants as low as possible.

Here's their video, which has more information from the organisers:

And finally, there's Sing It Sister: Sexism in the Music Industry, the last of this year's LATE at the Museum season. The moderator is Rose Matafeo and the panel is Ladi6, Dianne Swann, Geneva Alexander-Marsters and Jessie Moss. I also know who the guest performer is, but I'm not allowed to tell you yet. Let's just say it looks like a great evening.

–––

Speaking of women in music: Julia Deans is back!

She played a little industry showcase at Golden Dawn this week to preview songs from her first album since 2010, We Light Fire, and play a couple of favourites from her last one, Modern Fables. And it was hugely, brilliantly impressive.

Julia's singing is better than ever – which figures: she recorded Modern Fables over time while she was working in a fashion store, but in recent years she's been singing for a job in various settings – and the new songs sound compelling. Cool band too: Richie Pickard on stand-up bass, Tom Broome on drums and (for one night at least) Anika Moa and Anna Coddington on backing vocals.

The first of those new songs, the surging single 'Walking in the Sun', is out today on your favoured streaming service and in the iTunes store.

I just wanna hear more. So I'm delighted to say that the last Orcon IRL event for the year is back at Golden Dawn on Sunday, November 19 and amid the chat, Julia will be playing a few songs for us out in the courtyard. Mark it down, y'all.

PS: For actual good photographs of the show see Libel Music's page.

–––

The crowdfunder for the forthcoming Chills documentary has less than a week to run – and it's almost there to its $60,000 target. A bunch of new rewards has been added and you really should consider getting in to help the story of Martin Phillipps, his band and their long, strange journey be told. There have been multiple bids to tell that story – this looks like it can be the one that gets there.

–––

Moana Maniapoto is one of the better storytellers in New Zealand music – she has a lot to tell – and was basically a cinch for the latest in the series of video interviews by Ross Cunningham for Audioculture.

The interview was published this week and the page features the full 55-minute korero and nine parts covering everything from music and activism to Mo's memories of the southside club scene, which thrived in the 70s and 80s but was basically invisible outside South Auckland:

You can watch Ross's interviews with Peter Jefferies and Karl Steven on Audioculture too.

Also worth a look: Graham Reid's Audioculture article on Golden Harvest, freshly updated to mark the re-release of their eponymous album.

You can read much more of Graham's writing about music (and other things that take his interest) on his Elsewhere website.

–––

Red Bull Music Academy this week published a really good chronological guide to the music of Fela Kuti, with observations on famous and lessr-known albums that I think would be of interest to anyone who's ever enjoyed Fela's music. It's extensively linked to YouTube instances of the tracks in question (in Fela's case, "track" usually meant a whole side of a vinyl abum). This 1986 Roy Ayers collaboration is one I'll be further investigating.

Coincidentally, Vulture did much the same thing with Sun Ra, with Spotify links to selected albums, including the fascinating 1978 album Disco 3000, which saw the Arkestra underpinned with a drum machine:

Both artists are fairly well represented on the streaming services – and it's worth noting that there are a couple of dozen Sun Ra albums available to buy in high-quality formats on Bandcamp – and pretty much all Fela's records too, including both volumes of the Black President best-of compilation.

–––

Neil Young is still cool. As evidence, this clip from Farm Aid 2017 of him playing 'Cortez the Killer' with Promise of the Real, the California band he's been using as a touring band for the past couple of years. (Two of whom are the sons of Willie Nelson.)

–––

At the end of this month (the 27th and 28th) Whammy bar celebrates 10 years of trouble underground with Whammyfest 2017, which features a big lineup including Disasteradio, Echo Ohs, Queen Neptune, Silicon and more.

Congrats to Rohan Evans for first opening the doors and Tom Anderson and Lucy Macrae for keeping it rocking. In a town where venues are closing down it's nice to know one venue has a long lease and no plans to go anywhere.

Lawrence Arabia has a series of solo shows under the banner An Evening Alone With Lawrence Arabia early next month (disclaimer: there may actually be other people there).

And Sneaky Feelings round off their Progress Junction tour with shows at the Cook in Dunedin on Saturday and Meow in Wellington next Thursday. Tickets here at Under the Radar.

Oh, and also: Electric Avenue headliners Primal Scream are playing an Auckland show too: at the Powerstation on Febuary 23.

–––

Tunes!

It's been out a couple of weeks, but still highly noteworthy: Silicon (aka Kody Neilsen) has remixed Bic Runga's 'Drive to mark its – deep breath – 20th anniversary. It's on your streaming service and also here on YouTube:

Bic's national tour starts in Christchurch a week from today.

Estère literally releases half an album today. The six-track My Design will be partnered by the other half, On Others Lives in May. It's on the streams and in iTunes and Google Play and it's strikingly eclectic. Here's the Prince-ish single 'Control Freak':

And with Nina Simone finally making the longlist for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame this week (along with another long-overdue pioneer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe), here's a great dancefloor rework (free download) ...

–––

0

Out of sight, out of mind: how we forgot about synthetics

Update: This week's Media Take looks at and compares the twin news stories of synthetic cannabis and "methamphetamine contamination" with social activist Denis O'Reilly, public health expert Papa Nahi, journalists Tony Wall and Baz Macdonald, treament professional Kohe Pene and the former chair of Ban Synthetics NZ, Stephanie Harawira.

The episode is available on demand along with an additional 15-minute discussion with all the panelists.

–––

There was "a certain dishonesty" in government actions after synthetic cannabis products were removed from shops in 2014, says former Associate Health minister Peter Dunne.

The comments come from a feature to be published in Matters of Substance, the magazine of the New Zealand Drug Foundation on October 25.

Dunne's Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 was amended in the heat of the 2014 election campaign to foreclose a system of interim approvals that allowed some existing products to continue to be sold under regulation. The amendment also banned animal testing, making it almost impossible for any other product to be approved under the law.

A wave of deaths and emergency presentations in recent months has underlined the fact that synthetic cannabis did not go away when it was blanket-banned – and that while the products are less widely used, the toll on those still using has become far worse.

"I wouldn't say we took our eye off the ball," says Dunne. "I think that more what happened was that as a result of the 2014 changes, there was a prevailing feeling that we had sorted the problem.

"There was a certain dishonesty there. I fought to maintain the integrity of the Psychoactive Substances Act. The National Party fought to get psychoactive substances off the shelves, and they weren't too fussed about the integrity or otherwise of the act.

"I continued doing my work, but it was in an environment where as far at the National Party was concerned, and in particular the leadership of the National Party, that all had been resolved. It was off the shelves and we'd dealt with it. 'Yeah, yeah, you can get your act in place, but frankly that doesn't matter. The stuff's off the shelves and that's all that counts'."

Henderson-Massey local board member and Unitec lecturer Paula Bold-Wilson, who led a campaign to end retail sales in West Auckland in 2014, "left the community to tidy up the mess, really."

"We always knew that the synthetics would go underground," she says. "We were pretty realistic about that. It's similar P, it's going to be sold. But you have to do education stuff, you have to raise awareness around the risks of smoking this product."

There were some indications that the problem had not gone away. The government forensic agency ESR said in 2015 that it was testing many more synthetic cannabinoid samples from the Police and Customs – including chemicals that had never been legally sold in New Zealand – contradicting assurances from Dunne that any cannabinoids on the black market had been stockpiled from the regulated period.

The Illicit Drug Monitoring Survey conducted by Massey University's SHORE Centre also picked up a shift to the black market in 2014 and 2015. At the same time, the survey found that the availability of natural cannabis had declined.

"One explanation might be that the people previously involved in cultivating cannabis have moved to synthetic cannabinoids because they're much easier to produce," says the survey's director, Dr Chris Wilkins. "You don't have to cultivate them for four months and then have a chance of the police swooping in. The fact that natural cannabis availability is declining indicates it's coming from the supply side. So someone previously involved in producing natural cannabis doesn't do it any more."

Wilkins also says that IDMS and its partner survey NZADUM (Arrestee Drug Use Monitoring) recently lost their funding, which came largely from the Police budget.

"Part of the problem with drug policy in this country is that they've got no research so they don't know what's going on. That's becoming more and more clear to me. So they tend to rely on the media – and synthetic cannabinoids was a classic example of that."

––

This report is based on a Matters of Substance cover feature to be published on October 25.

20

Cycle infrastructure: the blessings are not evenly shared

To say that cycle infrastructure has improved over the past five years in the part of Auckland where I live is almost understating the case.

We've had a significant upgrade to the northwestern cycleway, the westward spine that links everything up. My route into the CBD has been blessed by the "Pink Path" and the Nelson Street cycleway – and that link will soon be further enhanced when the cycleway lands at Upper Queen Street, taking out the irksome climb to Newton Road.

Thunderous middle-class grumbling has not reversed progress on our local network, where the greatly-improved path through Grey Lynn Park is being joined by paths along Richmond and Garnet Roads, along with traffic-calming requested by residents. Before too long, all that will join up with new paths through Point Chevalier and the high-stakes daily crapshoot of riding on Meola Road will be but a memory. Karangahape Road is coming too.

And, of course, there is the Waterview shared path, which opened on Friday morning, and connects with the "southern path" through a reimagined public space at the south end of the Waterview tunnel. It's a harbour-to-harbour link – across the country! – for walkers and riders, and it revitalises green spaces that have been poorly-used for decades. It's a safe, chill route from the northwestern to Avondale. It's a quaxing plan for me to get to Pak 'n' Save. It's transformational.

Now, that last one is a quid pro for the Waterview Connection – one that was fought for by Cycle Action Auckland (now Bike Auckland). The northwestern upgrade itself is also an NZTA job. But the other improvements I've noted aren't – they're part of a network plan funded from rates and, crucially, from the national Urban Cycleways fund.

And as grateful as I am, all that is making me start to think about whether the blessings are being evenly shared. Because they aren't. A new blog called Great South Ride is one woman's story of leasing an e-bike and trying to do the right thing by riding to work in the CBD from South Auckland.

That is really not an easy thing to do. I have ridden on Great South Road and it's a nightmare. My immediate thought was to try and find somewhere to ride which was not Great South Road. Which is what the author did, sitting down with Google Maps and Auckland Transport’s cycling map "to try and find a route that was less likely to make me a traffic statistic."

She was only marginally successful. As she explains in her latest post, Four kilometres, four years:

You’ve probably noticed that there are three main routes crossing this isthmus south from Manukau to north and the city. One of these is the Southern Motorway, four lanes of either thundering traffic or a gridlocked hell, depending on the time of day and your luck. The middle option is the Mount Wellington highway, and the far left road is my route, Great South. There’s no “back road” option here. No sneaky route. A motorway, or one of two trunk roads with lots of heavy industries on them and the trucks that service those industries.

Not one of these three routes has any, and I mean ANY, provision for cyclists. So I asked the council what their plans were. The answer was pretty bleak.

Basically, Auckland Council will not even investigate a safe southern route until 2021. It does offer her this:

While we regret that we cannot provide more positive news on the short term link between Otahuhu and the city, we can advise that there is planning for improved cycleways as part of other projects on an east west axis across the isthmus. This includes improved cycleways between Mangere and Sylvia Park and Otahuhu and Sylvia Park – both routes via Otahuhu.

So, basically, the only "good" news here is tied to the construction of the East-West Link, a stupendously expensive truck road with no benefit-to-cost analysis that does very little to get anyone to work. You may well think the use of $2 billion in these circumstances seems reckless, but if National forms a government, it will be built. And to make it worse, National is still yet to confirm a commitment to less than 1% of that amount to continue the Urban Cycleways programme. Never mind 2021, the whole vision could could be dead before then.

This isn't good enough, and the people of South Auckland deserve a hell of a  lot better. The South should be a great place to ride – and it shouldn't have wait years for that to be the case.

Update: Useful context from from Eden-Albert local board chair Peter Haynes, via Facebook:

You probably know this, but the traffic planners decided to start in the centre, where the population is densest and the usage greatest, and then move outwards from there. (It is certainly true that Waitemata Local Board has by far the highest population density in NZ, and the Albert-Eden Local Board the second highest in the region.) Where I think they got it wrong, and where the argument against the traffic planners' thinking is strongest, is that there are far higher numbers of car accidents and people killed and injured by traffic in the south than others parts of Auckland.

–––

That said, I do want to share some photographs of the Waterview path from Friday. Perhaps this is a special case, one based on long-reserved land,  a big motorway development and a helpful tertirary instiution, but it does show what's possible.

18

Music: Places to Play

Deep down, we all knew it had to happen some time, but this week's news that The Golden Dawn is to close in March, seven years after it first opened its doors as a three-month pop-up, still seems calamitous. That bar has been a haven from whatever bland hell happens to be creeping along the Ponsonby strip.

It's been a delight to have been part of a few nights and days at Golden Dawn, with the Orcon IRL talk events and as a courtyard DJ. Happily, there will be at least one more IRL there and with any luck Sandy Mill and I will be playing funky tunes till late once or twice more before the doors close.

It is also, of course, a live music venue. And it will be closing around the same time as another venue – the King's Arms. They're quite different places: the KA is a classic, rectangular rock box, and since noise issues drove all live music inside, artists at the Dawn have squeezed themselves onto a low, tiny stage at the apex of a triangle. As a room, it's nuts.

But Golden Dawn is a great venue despite its unlikely configuration, thanks to the good taste, enterprise and simple decency of its manager, Matthew Crawley. He has booked adventurous, interesting schedules and treated his artists well.

I haven't asked Matthew, but I assume he will seek to take the recipe to a new bar, perhaps taking his excellent long-serving staff with him. But where? The King's Arms will serve out its time under threat of another noise control complaint. The owners of Golden Dawn got away with that thriving, noisy courtyard by literally buying the villa next door. The Edinburgh Castle hotel on the corner of Newton and Symonds, a well-kept secret of a venue with a brilliant courtyard, got stung with a noise control notice of its own a few weeks ago – and that was for a band playing inside.

Urbanisation is a good thing, but there's more to urban life than apartments with nice kitchens. We need places to play. And we might need our local authorities to acnowledge that and take an interest.

–––

It's been fully three years since Anthony Tonnon released Successor, an album that seemed to finally crystallise what he's all about. Because he's a working musician, he has played many gigs, both here and abroad, in that time, and in the past year, has introduced a new batch of songs to his sets, including a compelling ballad called (I think) 'Leave Love Out of This'. But we've been waiting a while for something to take home.

Well, it's here, nearly. Tono's first new recording, 'Two Free Hands', is the title track of an EP due out at the end of the month. Go ahead, unravel the lines ...

You can hear that on your favoured streaming service, or buy it (and preorder the EP) on his new website or on Bandcamp. The track listing is intriguing: two songs ('The Estuary' and a remix of 'Two Free Hands') are collaborations with Wellington electronic producer Jet Jaguar and there's version of 'Railway Lines' that's apparently like the keyboard-driven one he plays in his solo sets. A note on the website says, in part:

The new music has partially developed out of touring overseas as a solo performer, and looking for ways to expand the sound with strange and wonderful technology, like my home-built matrix mixer made in a workshop run by the Music Electronics Library, or my new Synthstrom Deluge. In this new music, I've been trying hard to play with electronic elements the way I feel an instrumentalist should - in way that is fragile, different every time, and takes repetitive practice and concentration to keep together. I've never made music that is easy to dance to, and learning to use a drum machine hasn't helped. However I think can bring a electronic music into an intimate environment and play it in a way that is not so different to the unamplified shows I once did at Freida's or Inch bar.

It's really interesting to see a singer-songwriter taking to the Deluge, a performance and composing tool you'd expect to see in the hands of beat producers.

Also, there'll be a short tour for the EP, including two nights at Freida Margolis. Check the website for details.

You know who else has been quite a while between albums? Arthur Ahbez, who I think we can safely assume will not be messing a with a Deluge. And just to make the point, the vinyl version of his second album, Volume II, (pre-order here) will ship three weeks before the digital version. Here's a preview track:

And finally, the equally laggardly Great North are back with a taster from their forthcoming album, the resonant 'The Late Bus Home', which you can buy here on Bandcamp or catch on the streams. They're currently touring and drinking beer in Germany.

–––

Summer's coming!

And the festival bills are being revealed.

Splore's first announcement includes Dizzee Rascal and the reggae star Chronixx, plus a return engagement with the amazing Danish DJ Courtesy, who this time is bringing her fellow Apeiron Crew member Mama Snake.

Again, one-day Christchurch festival Electric Avenue, is taking up Splore artists for the South Island: Dizzee, Chronixx and Black Milk – plus Primal Scream. Does that mean Primal Scream for Splore too? I guess we'll find out.

Wondergarden announced a couple of weeks ago with a brilliant New Year's Eve lineup including UMO, Nadia Reid, SWIDT, and Leisure.

Laneway is also looking strong, with Slowdive, Mac Demarco, The War on Drugs, Bonobo, Aldous Harding and more.

Womad has most of its announcements to come, but the reveal so far includes Anoushka Shankar and Kamasi Washington – which was one of my highlights at the last Auckland City Limits.

Tuki, the festival formerly known as Rippon, takes place on February 10 on the shores of Lake Wanaka, with UMO, Phoenix Foundation, Aaradhna, Marlon Williams and more.

Auckland City Limits? Yes, I gather the late-summer festival is definitely coming back to Western Springs in 2018, after taking a break this year. And if what I hear about the headliners is true, I will be very excited about it.

PS: The Herald has a story rounding up all the non-festival artists coming this summer. Most of them I'm not so interested in, but suffice to say that there will be plenty of demand for your entertainment dollar.

–––

One of the things we discovered after launching Audioculture as a home for New Zealand music's cultural heritage was that while people will read a definitive article of of virtually any length, the real treasure were often the photographs, especially those that had never been seen before.

Well ...

A little while ago, on Facebook, I was tagged into a picture from the 1980s, taken at the Windsor Castle, that included me in the crowd. And I heard that the photographer, Brian Murphy had many more where that came from. So I hit him up, for the good of the nation. And at a party on election night, he walked up to me and handed me a flash drive. And what was on it was stone-cold amazing: more than 700 pictures from mid-and-late-80s Auckland, including pics of bands rarely or never captured on film.

This remarkable trove will be going to Audioculture, where it will be well-used, but I figured I'd preview a handful here. Like this lovely shot of Fetus Productions at the Windsor:

Terry Moore with The Chills:

And this one of Rupert E. Taylor with the Headless Chickens:

And Michael Lawry (with a guitar!) from the same band:

Headless Chickens' Grant Fell looking handsome offstage:

Stridulators! (I checked with Steve Roach and he's unaware of any other photographs of them playing live, so the three that Brian has provided are very special indeed.)

And this sweet image of Chris Knox:

This is just a taste of what's there. Everyone owes Brian a beer.

–––

19

Music: God Save the Clean

If you've found our political season wearying, spare a thought for the journalists. And, in particular, for John Campbell. He has hosted the Silver Scroll Awards for the last couple of years, but this time the demands of post-election news mean he's had to withdraw and his place at tonight's awards in Dunedin will be taken by his RNZ colleague Jesse Mulligan.

This cruelly deprives John of the chance to wax lyrical about this year's Hall of Fame honorees The Clean. We were chatting about this online yesterday – and John not only leapt at the half-hint that he could craft a statement on this important cultural matter, but suggested that I could invite anyone else who felt so moved to knock out a tribute.

And so it came to pass. Here's John and a few other folk who are keen on The Clean. And yes, it did turn out to be all chaps of a certain age ...

John Campbell

Dear The Clean,

I’m sorry I couldn’t be in Dunedin. Not that you give a shit, but I do. And I blame Winston Peters and the electorate and a really thoughtless election date, five days before the Silver Scrolls.

But I wanted to tell you why I love your music so much. And not just your music – you.

In part, it was that David buttoned his shirt to the top.  I love that look.

In part, it’s because I don’t ever recall meeting a fan of yours that I didn’t like. And Richard Langston, whom I miss now that I live in Auckland and he lives in Wellington, is a wonderful man. And if he loves you, and he does, then that’s recommendation enough for me.

In part, it’s because I was 17 in 1981, when 'Tally Ho' came out. And it went into the Top 20, without a single radio station (other than the student stations, which I didn’t even know about) playing it. And that was miraculous and just. It was such a great song, with Martin’s keys, and Bob’s bass line, which has always reminded me of a fat guy running for a bus.

But there was something else, and I wasn’t aware enough to notice it yet, but years later when I read the brilliant Alexis Petridis writing about another of my favourite bands, Orange Juice, I realised he was talking about almost all the music from that period that I loved (and still love). It was “the dizzy ebullience”, the genuine pop quality of being “utterly undeniable”, “and the band's endearingly ramshackle musicianship.”

Yes. 1981 was so fucking grim and awful. And 'Tally Ho' wasn’t. And when I heard Boodle, Boodle, Boodle, and that moment on 'Point That Thing Somewhere Else', about fifteen seconds in, when the snare drum starts, and David is going at speed and Bob is keeping up, and they’re running, running, as if through traffic, and Hamish is urging them on, I would lift the needle off when the vocal started and move it back to the beginning of the song, over and over, and imagine what it was like to be in a band and play like that. That fast.

In part, it’s because I could see them live.

I’d found punk, through my friend William’s older brother. And we would go to EMI in Cuba Mall when the imports came in, vinyl emissaries from a distant world: Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, The Cure, The Jam, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees. I recite their names now with the wistful reverie of an old man looking at a class photo. Where did they go? What became of them? But the fact is, I never met any of them, or saw any of them on the street.  None of them were even in my country.

But The Clean were. I knew people who knew them. Imagine that! And I could see them live, and seeing them live has always been a giddying treat, those concerts at which you forget yourself and get lost and feel something that I can’t describe with a better word than gratitude.

In part, it’s because they write landscapes. Go to Unknown Country, which is such a splendid album and contains 'Twist Top', a song that still sounds like it was written yesterday, and 'Happy Lil Fella', a song that’s barely two minutes long but feels inexplicably cinematic, and listen to 'Wipe Me I’m Lucky'. I swear to God, if you’ve never been to Central Otago, and you’re wondering what it’s like, the first 68 seconds gets the hurtling infinity, the echoing emptiness, the slight regret of solitude, so exactly right that tour buses should play it on State Highway 85, just past the Ida Valley turn-off, charging inland, as the road heads towards St Bathans and Cambrians, then chickens out and swings away. 

(Later, Bob/Robert would evoke this emptiness so uncannily on his solo album, Creeping Unknown, that it seems criminal he hasn’t made a fortune writing movie soundtracks.)

They’re some of the reasons I love The Clean. Just some of them.

I wish I was in Dunedin to see them be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Silver Scrolls.

I know they’re not much given to flannel, and may even be slightly shy about it all. But after almost four decades of writing music that I still play with wonder, I hope they walk up to the stage with their grins on and their heads held high, loving it. I’ll be listening and clapping. As I have been for 36 years. 

Grant Robertson

1991: the Flying Nun 10th anniversary party at Sammys in Dunedin.  So many moments –Shayne and Peter playing 'Randolph's Going Home', and getting to hear 'Tally Ho' live for the first time.  My friend Jane Morgan grabbing me on the dance floor " I never thought we would hear this live" before shoving me into the mosh.  For a younger generation of fans it felt complete to see and hear the band that started it all.  I have seen them many times since – most recently and poignantly with Peter Gutteridge

It was searing, beautiful and unique.  It was The Clean.

Richard Langston

I love the energy of The Clean, the sheer joyous momentum of the racket they make: seeing them live is still a moment of high anticipation: Hamish settling in over the drums, Robert about to make that bass hum, and David ready to attack, take on the room, set a jet engine of noise loose with that guitar. The sound of them never fails to lift me, take me out of myself, make me feel part of something greater.

They inspired a record label and wiped out the cultural cringe. When I heard the 45 ‘Getting Older’ in London in 1983 I thought it better than anything I was hearing - like all the best Clean songs, it just went to the centre of me and stayed there. It was also confirmation that I should go home and start writing about the music still coming of out Dunedin – the seed of six issues of a fanzine called Garage

And who couldn’t admire a band who’ve always done things their own way, who’ve paid no heed to convention or the music industry. They had belief. They were cool. They were more radical than any overtly political band: they said, don’t sell out, follow your nose, resist, kick against the pricks.

After nearly 40 years of making music, they’re still fresh. I never tire of them. It’s nothing to do with nostalgia. I hear the opening guitar chords to ‘Anything Could Happen’ and I still believe in the possibilities.

Grant McDougall

 Without question, the most electric atmosphere I' ve ever experienced at a gig was within a jam-to-the-gunnels Sammy's, Dunedin, on May 4, 1989. 

For The Clean were about to play their first-ever re-union gig and by then their legend and influence had boomed since their early '80s demise.

They came on, the immortal opening riff to 'Tally Ho' started and pandemonium erupted.

I have seen them many times since, too. They are a fantastic band. Their recording are fun and exciting and as people, they are bloody good sorts.

Rob Hosking

The first band I remember that sounded Kiwi. It was partly the Kilgour drawl, but it was something more than that. A mix of the laidback but watchful. 

It was early '82, I'd just left home, was very much the country boy in the great big freaky city, walking down Wellington's Fairlie Tce and Devon St on the way to Wellington polytech, and I heard 'Anything Could Happen' come jangling out the windows of one of the student flats.

Stood there, transfixed, and listened to it play through. It was a moment.  Kept an ear out and heard it a few nights later on Radio Active, caught the band name. Bought Boodle Boodle at Colin Morris's record shop when the bursary came through.

Jeremy Bioletti

Somewhere around the very early eighties I saw the Clean play at the Station Hotel in Anzac Ave. To say they were distinct is an understatement. They weren't punk, they were pop. The mix was like a four track. The overall sound was like an elegant chainsaw. I had seen nothing like them at the time and I have seen nothing like them since.

David Cohen

I think on a good night they not only sound like the best band in New Zealand — which they are — but the only band in New Zealand.

–––

Oh, my turn.

It's hard to know what else to say. I've nominated 'Point That Thing Somewhere Else' as my favourite Flying Nun song and written about how it was, and still is, the music in my head. I picked it for my RNZ Mixtape. I've tried to explain the importance of Boodle Boodle Boodle as a point in cultural history. I've written about how The Clean were the first band I reviewed for Rip It Up, never knowing that filing that review would change my life, and about the brilliant times we had around the recording of Vehicle in London. I republished David's account of how 'Tally Ho!' was written (blame the Androidss). I'll always be grateful to the band for playing a fundraiser for my autistic kids and doing a roaring, raging version of 'Point That Thing' that seemed to last fully 20 minutes.

I guess it's just to say that The Clean are elemental. I know there have been other people in the band – and the role of the late Peter Gutteridge warrants particular note – but since they started recording it's been David, Hamish and Bob, three corners of a triangle. I admire the way that they can reconvene when they choose and that chemistry is there ready for them, and the songs are waiting to be explored one more time. It's indivisible. In the sense that I think music took the mantle of cultural identity from the more respectable parts of the New Zealand canon during my lifetime, it's my McCahon.

–––

The Silver Scrolls will be streamed live from Dunedin by RNZ (and broadcast on the actual radio). You can also see them here on Facebook, on Face TV (Sky channel 83) and on Freeview (channel 50).

And before that, the first Scrolls in the southern city will be marked with a chat between Richard Langston and Bryan Crump about the music of Dunedin, from 6.30pm until the awards begin at 8pm.

RNZ deserves great credit for its commitment to the event, which also extends to Anatomy of a Scroll, an RNZ Music feature in which each of the women in the final five talk about how their songs got made.

And finally, this week, Nadia Reid appeared on Later with Jools Holland and played her finalist song, 'Richard'. It was a spine-tingling performance and the best thing on the show. I am Team Nadia.

–––

Although, let's be fair, LCD Soundsystem were pretty fine too ...

–––

Long before he was weaving ironic magic for The Spinoff, Hayden Donnell was half of a duo called Great North, with his wife Rachel. It's been fully three years since they made a new record, long enough for them to look even more like responsible citizens:

But there's a new album, The Golden Age, out on October 20. And the first song, 'The Late Bus Home', is a stately song of loss, for a departed friend.

It's on the streaming services and you can also buy it here on Bandcamp, where you can read the lyrics too.

–––

Tunes!

I don't know anything about Mystik beyond that he's based in Mdelbourne – and I assume he's a New Zealander – but this is a nice slab of dub techno:

I heard this Crazy P remix on a rather good !K7 compilation of nu disco and funky house music released on Bandcamp this week and it really stood out for me. Classic elements moulded into something slinky af:

Thanks to Paddy Buckley for the heads-up on this John Morales remix (I have no idea how I missed it). Free download!

–––