Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Deprived of speech, he sang without words

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Why don't they put Chris in the Beenie Man sized hole in the BDO schedule -- he wouldn't have to do a damn thing to have the crowd eating out of his hand. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    Very good to hear that there is progress and that it is in the right direction!

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2007 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    I suspect I am not alone in this.

    You're absolutely not. Knox was like a conscience for a whole lot of people -- I only knew him really as his occasional employer at the Listener and fellow film critic, but you always felt like he would tell you when you were full of shit and you wouldn't mind. That's pretty rare. Although I seem to remember Matthew Banister, in his book on the Dunedin sound, seeing that as a bit "calvinist".

    Lovely piece of writing. I'll be off to buy this.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    but you always felt like he would tell you when you were full of shit and you wouldn't mind.

    That's exactly what I meant. Even when he was clearly wrong ;-)

    That's pretty rare. Although I seem to remember Matthew Banister, in his book on the Dunedin sound, seeing that as a bit "calvinist".

    Matthew wasn't entirely wrong; his band did catch the rough edge of Chris's judgement.

    It was funny: I asked Roger in the interview I did with him for last week's Public Address Radio whether Chris has "mellowed". We weren't sure if it was proper to put it quite that way ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It was funny: I asked Roger in the interview I did with him for last week's Public Address Radio whether Chris has "mellowed". We weren't sure if it was proper to put it quite that way ...

    But I'm sure we both know people who've gotten the rough end of Chris' rather sharp tongue, but I never got the sense that it was about his ego. He actually does very clear ideas about artistic merit -- and not just in music --, and isn't shy about calling out those who don't come up to the mark.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It didn't quite fit in the post, but Andrew Moore pointed out to me how kind Chris had always been to him, whether he was playing in bands, or when he was making the skateboarding history No More Heroes. He has been there to help a lot -- which is no doubt part of the reason that so many people have been there to help him now he needs it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    Hi there. That would be Boh, not Bic, on Not Given Lightly, I think.

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Sutorius,

    Yep, same here. How did he get inside people's heads like that? Maybe the moral authority he represented, the sense that unlike most of us he'd managed to completely stay true to his artistic project, regardless of the usual trivial tyrannies of middle age, kids and mortgages.

    I learned a lot from Chris in a few evenings on the whiskey (about whiskey, amongst other things). What a cool cat.

    I've been kicking myself extremely hard that I let go of the opportunity to film his story and his music making a couple of years ago, like a damn fool allowing the momentum to go out of it in the face of a synchronised shrug from the networks (one exec said "I guess my Dad might be interested...").

    But they're ex officio stupid... I have no excuse. DAMN IT!

    At the time Chris joked that he noticed everyone seemed to be suddenly wanting to memorialise his life all of a sudden, like maybe the universe was trying to tell him something.

    Sigh.

    Well look, he's still alive and kicking, and I bet living his life now with a humbling bravery, with his usual knack of seemingly effortlessly living a true artist's life.

    Tony

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hi there. That would be Boh, not Bic, on Not Given Lightly, I think.

    Duh. That would be my trivial typing error ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Another story that didn't fit in:

    One of the places we saw Toy Love play was the ballroom that used to stand at the corner of Memorial Ave and Russley Road.

    Although I don't strictly remember it, there was a skinny man hugging the PA speakers as if his life depended on it.

    I would meet him three or so years later, and discover why he had been hugging the PA.

    "I knew there was something strange about that venue but we couldn't think what it was," he explained. "And then the gig started and we realised -- ballroom -- sprung dancelfoor."

    The speakers bounced and swayed and had not the wiry man in question put his body on the line, they might even have toppled onto the crowd.

    In this sense, it could be said that Ian Dalziel may have saved my life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    The closest I ever got was a crowd of about thirty listening to him play at The Gathering. He started by berating us for shelling out $150 to listen to other people's CD collections, but went on to treat us with the goods.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    He started by berating us for shelling out $150 to listen to other people's CD collections, but went on to treat us with the goods.

    He's very good at berating. One of the first times I saw him live was in Wellington, at that venue that might have been called Paisley Park, c1991. Chris and Alec walk on stage, see that most of the crowd is sitting on the floor. Chris: "Get up! This isn't Dunedin."

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    One of the first times I saw him live was in Wellington, at that venue that might have been called Paisley Park, c1991. Chris and Alec walk on stage, see that most of the crowd is sitting on the floor. Chris: "Get up! This isn't Dunedin."

    He played at orientation during the middle of the day down here in the mid-90s. I have the clearest memory of him leaving the keyboard playing the music on repeat while he wandered through the crowd with the mic and then took off a young woman's shoe to suck on her toes.

    I'm not sure if that's an argument for sitting down at his gigs or not!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    ..more trivial typing terrors...

    spring dancelfoor

    Spring is Sprung!
    and I dunno what a dancelfoor is...
    maybe Santa's spare reindeer team?
    (that Blitzem's no slug...)
    :- )

    ahh the Brevet Club
    Androidss, Bilders, Toy Love
    what a gig...

    yrs
    Gerald McBoing Boing
    (being shot at by the Herco Pilots!)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    ..more trivial typing terrors...

    I plead distraction. My boy was installing a new power supply, motherboard, quad-core CPU etc in his computer. I was concerned that he didn't set the house on fire.

    He didn't.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I plead distraction. My boy was installing a new power supply, motherboard, quad-core CPU etc in his computer. I was concerned that he didn't set the house on fire.

    He didn't.

    It's pretty hard with these new fangled computers. The last time I set one on fire was 2006. And that was because the floppy drive(!) I was installing didn't have any housing around the outside of the the socket, so I inadvertantly put it on 3 out of the 4 pins, and presumably shorted something, because the plastic on the wires burnt off. But that was a 10 year old floppy drive. Everything is pretty easy now; or at least I haven't started any fires.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I have put in my order. Any thoughts on the SPADA conference, Russell? Matthew Weiner was tremendous, but so were the team from The WotWots.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • pcorrect,

    My favourite Chris Knox moment (apart from getting each and every vinyl purchase home and being awed by their uniqueness) would be when I saw him at orientation at University of Canterbury in the top room.

    It came to the end of the set and he still hadn't performed his latest (first?) and substantial Hit Single, "Not given lightly." I believe it had only recently been released. The crowd (in a happy way) weren't happy, and if you know the venue there's only one way out, back through the crowd to the stairs. They weren't letting him go.

    The chanting for more got louder and louder. As I recall he did a couple of encores but the noise just increased. Finally, after pleading he couldn't remember the words, Chris pulled out his contract with the UCSA, mounted the stage again and, in full legalese, sang it to the tune of "Not Given Lightly", including such details as limits of liability and start and finish times.

    Lost for words in a different way, that's a performance I've not seen again.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2009 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    Super nice piece Russell. Chris Knox was the guy in the hawaiian shorts and jandals who didn't give a fuck what everyone thought. I think the moral authority you talk about comes from not buying into all the bullshit.

    I noticed that Stroke is available on iTunes. Do you know if he will get more/less/the same if I purchase it there?

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    What a lovely piece, Russell. It's very clear how much Chris means to you. May I suggest that you tell him that? I know blokes aren't much for all the touchy feely stuff, but we all like to know how important we are to other people.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Not sung lightly - I can recall him on the Otago Uni lawn singing something like

    this is a fuckup
    an aberration
    if this is a love song
    then all love's masturbation

    This was at the end of a gig during which he put a girl's foot in his mouth. He made some remark about how that may not have been good for his mouth. So a wag replies: "What about her foot?"

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    @ James Green

    I was at that Gathering - would have been one of the thirty sitting around in/near the food tent I guess. Was it before or after midnight?? I had to laugh when he made the comment. A top night and I think he ripped out 'Not Given Lightly' in one of the more angrier fashions that I've heard/seen.

    Like others, also saw Chris at Canterbury during some early 90's orientation. My faded memory of that event was him abusing some gentle patron of the bar who was wearing a rugby jersey. The jersey wearer was almost nervous at being publically accosted by this bloke in boxers and jandals, playing a toy keyboard.

    I saw him in London in Kentish Town (I think) in late 1998. He'd come across and done some gigs in Europe before the UK. Asked how many were Kiwis - 98% of the crowd roared. Asked how many were locals - handful of blokes at the bar waved. Chris then proceeded to abuse the Kiwis for turning up, preventing him from actually playing to a new audience. Again 'Not Given Lightly' got the smack treatment.

    He'd been given a swiss army knife at one of the shows in Europe - from the promoter as payment the way Chris told it - and during the crowd surf at the end it fell out of his pocket - so he had to stop and ask us all to look on the floor for it, after the houselights came up. Some nice bloke found it and probably got a kiss or something in return.

    Thanks for the post Russell.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    deprived of speech, he sang without words.

    Just that there Russell. (sniff sniff), beautiful.
    First of many times I saw him play was State Theatre, Symonds St AK 79.
    Do we have any idea of time for the gig at KA on Fridnight?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Do we have any idea of time for the gig at KA on Fridnight?

    The listing says 8.30. I'd guess there'd be a band on by 9.30. Hopefully it won't go too late ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Of course people in Dunedin get up - Toy Love upstairs in the Cook packed to the gills was the very best place to see/feel/hear them - I wish they could record that.

    A very early memory of Chris: sitting in the Gardens Tavern an evil booze barn near the Otago campus watching some dreadful 70s hair band - I can still remember Chris saying "even I could do better than that" ..... he was right

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

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