We also maintain a comprehensive and ever-growing New Zealand Musical History section, primarily focused on but not limited to, Christchurch bands.
That really was a long time between chats. We must apologise for the unseemly long time it has been between updates, and not having kept the Failsafe website flush with new and interesting material for you to read.
For a more ongoing stream of info please do visit either the Failsafe Facebook Group or Page. With html code it's a lot harder to get around to doing or remembering how it works, but here goes.
Welcome back!!!. Failsafe Records has been reasonably quiet for almost 3 years but we've not been doing nothing.
Earthquakes, parenthood, and a relocation to Japan along with the need to find rent paying work in the face of an increasingly difficult industry (indie boutique labels) has meant it's been hard to find the time to complete the wealth of worthy projects we want to. Lame excuses we know but as said above, we haven't been doing nothing.
One of the things we've been doing is transferring our recorded archive to digital as the master tapes they were stored on reach the end of their playable life. We love tape, but these things weren't built to last (apart from the mighty compact cassette which has shown true bravery in the face of advancing years. We salute you). There was an archive of over 300 live and demo recordings on cassette from 1982 - 1995, a DAT tape archive of rare studio and live recordings from 1991 - 2005, and the multi-track masters to a number of our studio albums (that we're going to get around to remixing and rescuing unreleased tracks off - honest!!) all of which made it across to the digital domain, the tapes and dat painstakingly one at a time at Failsafe home base and the 16 track 1 inch masters thanks to the diligent work of Arnie at Nightshift studios and his still functioning 1 inch machine and home built tape restoration oven which bakes the tapes so they'll give just one last play before they disintegrate.
The Multitrack tapes did yield some unreleased material which we'd forgotten about and are quite excited to see again.
The cassettes are a fantastic insight to the Christchurch music scene of the 80s and we'll be seeing a lot from that as we get a grasp on what's there, so too with the DAT tapes which threw out some fantastic master mixes of sessions long since lost.
Here's a few things reaching completion.
1) Alms For Children and This Sporting Life - Collection.
Many of us remember the startlingly good Alms For Children - 'Alms Not Arms' 7 inch from 1980 and then the subsequent morphing of the band into This Sporting Life who released an album and ep on Flying Nun. Edgy Punk and Post Punk at it's finest. Failsafe has been working directly with the group to compile the definitive collection of this groups work. We've got over 20 tracks together for you, and a great collection of band photos and clippings. It will be available in a very limited edition CD as well as download copy with booklet from Bandcamp.
Fun fact - Failsafe Records took its name from the song 'Failsafe' off the Alms not Arms single. It seems somewhat full circle to be able to bring their music back into the public forum.
2) The Perfect Garden - A Place Not Far From Here
Back in 1990 Failsafe Records built a studio in the old Christchurch Horticultural Hall to record material for an album by dolphin. We rounded up a few other bands to do sessions in the space while it was there. Some really good music was recorded there but that was often half the battle, having it see the light of day of release was the other. That was the case with The Perfect Garden, a Dunedin shoegazer indie band that split up around the globe shortly after completing the recordings. Some rough mixes were made by Kevin Stokes but the band did little with them past a few cassette copies for the band. Having a spare night at the studio Rob Mayes remixed the tracks and filed the mixes away on a DAT tape till just recently when he sent them to the band and everyone rediscovered some really quite charming and striking musical gems. Make them into a deluxe ep? Why not?
3) Newtones - New Way
This one's been far too long in the 'to do' line but a recent spurt of work has seen it approach the finish line. We've managed to get a dub of the original master tape to the Paint the Town Red ep (thank you Arnie!!) as well as a lot of live recordings and some studio unreleased tracks. It paints a vibrant picture of an important unheralded Christchurch Band. We're personally looking forward to seeing this one coming through as in 1981 an 18 year old Rob Mayes saw the band play live at a afternoon town hall concert and was so impressed by a blistering effects laden instrumental called '4 ships' that he immediately went down to his local shop to buy it, only to find it didn't exist in recorded form. The band split up before having a chance to record it and this incident spurred the young me to record as much of the music that was inspiring me as possible, which is why we have the Failsafe Record label..
Fun fact - Live recordings of excellent quality do exist of the Four Ships track, so it is Failsafe Records honor to be able to present the music that started the label some 35 years after it was created and almost lost.
4) Corners - Collection
Auckland band Corners made an impression with the inclusion of their track 'Ward' on the 'Goats Milk Soap' compilation (1982 -Ripper Records) but outside of their home city not much was heard from them. They were a dark alternative band with dramatic arrangements influenced by the post punk scene of Joy Division and Gang of Four. They did a handful of recordings and gigged solidly locally before members split and the original non chart tickling incarnation of Peking Man emerged. History tells us that Pat Urlich's Sister Margaret later joined them and the band leapt full on into pop chart history but well before that their was post punk leanings and this is a collection of their almost long lost material.
5) Creeley - Creeley Good
Creeley appeared on 2004s Good Things compilation and self released a number of cassette eps. They were chiming indie pop in a sea of 90s grunge, and quite prolific with the twin writing powers of co frontmen Blair Parkes (All Fall Down, LEDS) and John Kelcher (Sneaky Feelings).
Our digital transfers found a multi-track master of 11 songs and 2 live concerts on DAT and then there's the fish street recordings and some demos. Quite a few songs to collate there so we're working on that one.
Further down the track
6) Beat Rhythm Fashion - Property
Some of you may have caught BRF's track Beings Rest Finally being played on the South Pacific Pictures TV drama Westside recently. That little bit of TV time has given the band some money to play with and now there's a new Beat Rhythm Fashion album in progress. Singer/Guitarist/Songwriter Nino Birch is carrying on the bands material after the 2011 Death of Brother Dan, and is writing new material as well as guiding some of the bands later compositions to completion. BRF Drummer Caroline Easther rejoins Nino as well. We're really looking forward to this project getting to our ears.
7) Other Projects
There's quite a bit of other stuff in progress, New material from dolphin, Songs in the Key, Kimo, Pop Mechanix , and some remastered and extended compilations (Accident Compilation, Biding Our Time, South, Avalanche, Good Things, Keepin' Secrets.....) All with bonus material, a new collection of Christchurch Millennial Pop featuring the chiming pop that was in the garden city around the turn of the millennium.
There's a few other possibilities too with Ballon d'Essai, Playthings, Androidss, YFC, Instigators, and a some others we've been talking to and thinking about, plus we delve into the archives and dig out some rescued cassette treats. So, plenty to look forward to.
8) Failsafe Records Soundcloud Channel
A new addition to check out is the Failsafe Records Soundcloud page where we're uploading sample tracks from forthcoming releases and a bunch of other material we can't find a place for that will tickle your eardrums. Up there atthe moment we've got unreleased Solatudes, Naked Lunch, Newtones and Springloader. Nore added all the time.
9)Youtube Video Archive
Many of you know about the youtube archive of all the failsafe videos we could locate and digitse, plus a second channel of other great NZ music videos we've managed to salvage from obscurity. We've got a bunch of new material to add to that lot some time in the new year as we managed to capture a few more decaying VHS tapes to the digital domain for you. Failsafe Records Youtube Channel
And The NZ Indie Scene.
Failsafe News Nov 2013
Ok,.... that took a little longer than I thought. A year later and the Southern Front album is made up and on sale in a limited edition run.
SOUTHERN FRONT - Politics and Cemeteries Deluxe Edition Mini album
Post punk from a strong chch punk scene lineage. Southern Front formed from the ashes of Evasive Action, and before them 2 seminal local punk bands Desperate Measures and Unauthorised. The band comprise 3/4 of Unauthorised with Erik Van Den Hoven from Desperate Measures filling in on Bass duties while Mark Gibson shifts to Drums. Phil Johnston handles guitars and Harry Hepworth holds down the Vocals. This is the extended remastered and restored 1984 album from Southern Front expanded with 7 unreleased tracks culled from liver performances and the rare as punk rock tears lost UNAUTHORISED ep as a bonus, which was initially the other side of the long deleted split Wasted Again album with Desperate Measures, but since most of the band is present here we felt it appropriate to add it as a bonus. 22 tracks in total. This disc is available now. Order SOUTHERN FRONT - Politics and Cemetaries - NZ$20.00 Here
Failsafe News March 2013 SONGS IN THE KEY - Space and Place (download single)
First single from this collaboration of Failsafe Records artists and Friends from the forthcoming Songs in the Key of Slow Album. Space and place is a love letter to hometowns, in this case the pre earthquake Christchurch, NZ, and features a beautiful video of the town at it's finest.
The song and its lyrics are even more potent, poignant, and unexpectedly prescient post quake, as the song becomes a love letter to something we all lost.
Space and Place features Leigh Franklin (Guitar and Vocals) Mark Roberts (Guitar and Vocals), Rob Mayes (Bass Strings, Brass, production) And Steve Birss, (Drums).
Order SONGS IN THE KEY - Space and Place (download single) SAFE111CD NZ$1.50
Failsafe Records - Japan Edition
2013 sees Failsafe launching 4 discs onto the Japanese landscape 3 in two packaging options, Deluxe gatefold and Standard editions.If you're visiting from Nihon then please support these releases locally and ask your store to stock them. They're being distributed by Vivid Sound Corp of Tokyo.
There's also a write up in the Japanese English language magazine Metropolis
Failsafe News - Nov 2012
Ok, that was a long time between updates, far far too long but we do have an excuse, or 2. An earthquake took out or home base of Christchurch city, smashing Failsafe HQ in 3 and making it kind of difficult to focus on the all important task of creating recordings and releasing them. Add to that we also spend large parts of the year in Tokyo, and managed to catch that large earthquake also,....., What a ride, but we survived even if some of our stock didn't
So where does that leave us in late 2012?
SUBSTANDARD - Elite (Limited Edition Deluxe package Mini album)
The Christchurch based Post Rock sonic instrumentalists return with a four song mini album in double gatefold hand screen printed with postcards limited edition disc. This one really is quite special as the band played their last show together in 2004 before members moved to different cities, then countries making music creation somewhat difficult. Difficult but not impossible as this mini album demonstraites.
Time flies, and then sometimes it reconverges. If you're a fan of sonic textural rock then you'll be pleased to hear this collection of tracks. Order SUBSTANDARD - Elite Mini album SAFE104CD NZ$15.00Here
SOUTHERN FRONT - Politics and Cemeteries Deluxe Edition Mini album
Post punk from a strong chch punk scene lineage. Southern Front formed from the ashes of Evasive Action, and before them 2 seminal local punk bands Desperate Measures and Unauthorised. The band comprise 3/4 of Unauthorised with Erik Van Den Hoven from Desperate Measures filling in on Bass duties while Mark Gibson shifts to Drums. Phil Johnston handles guitars and Harry Hepworth holds down the Vocals. This is the extended remastered and restored 1984 album from Southern Front expanded with 7 unreleased tracks culled from liver performances and the rare as punk rock tears lost UNAUTHORISED ep as a bonus, which was initially the other side of the long deleted split Wasted Again album with Desperate Measures, but since most of the band is present here we felt it appropriate to add it as a bonus. 22 tracks in total. This disc will be available early November. Pre Order SOUTHERN FRONT - Politics and Cemetaries - NZ$20.00 Here
Failsafe Records on Facebook. Get your news links and discussion fresh on the Failsafe Records Facebook page. You don't have to be a member to read it even, but we'd love you to join up and give us feedback support and suggestions.
Come and join in at The Facebook Group.
Or like the Failsafe Records page Here
Failsafe on YouTube We've been mastering up and uploading all the Failsafe videos to our YouTube site so come on by and have a look and listen to 25 years of video history as we manage to locate and restore the Failsafe video record. There's also some great NZ music documentaries on there and check out our favorites too as we've bookmarked a number of cool NZ clips for you to check out too. Stop in and leave a message Failsafe's Youtube Channel
Don't forget some of Failsafe's recent Releases.
POP MECHANIX - Now : Then (One Hit Windows)
Deluxe Edition SAFE091CD $25.00, Standard Edition SAFE091CDJ $20.00
The Legendary Mechanix of Pop present 13 tracks tracks of Timeless New Zealand pop history.
Mastered and selected by Paul Scott in Australia this is a shiny collection of the prime cut singles from the bands career.
The album comes in two packaging options: the Standard jewel case edition for those who just want to get the songs, cover art and liner notes, and the Deluxe edition which is a double gatefold edition with 12 cover art insert postcards with the original singles covers and band photos. Limited edition handmade so grab it while you can.
Also of note - this is a pressed CD, not a CDR. The first 5 albums are CDR because they are very short run discs (100). This one we went the extra mile on so please support our effort by grabbing a copy or 2 for you and a friend.
Tracks are: Now, Radio Song, The Ritz, Jumping out a Window, Holidays, Cowboys, Keep it Up, Brains Are Dumb, Art School Bop, Spanish, Texas, Land of Broken Dreams, Celebration of the Skin. Order Here
POP MECHANIX - Splash Alley - Lets Get Started SAFE092CD $20.00
Pop Mechanix in their earliest form with Dick Driver out front, energy to burn and 5 unreleased post punk tracks to tear up the stage, alongside amped up versions of their classics. Recorded live at Mainstreet this is an edgy welcome glimpse into this bands full charge start.
Tracks are:- Kamikazi Man, Artschool Bop, Sick of Waiting for Tomorrow, Steve Gilpin, Too Cool for Words, Talking, Spanish, Mr Smooth, Cliche, City Girl - Observation, Brains are Dumb, Money, White Girls, Disco Fever, Now. Order Here
HOW TO KILL - Like Angels SAFE100CD $20
Failsafe welcomes Christchurch / Lyttelton band How To Kill to the Failsafe fold.
How To Kill play rhythmically propulsive sonic soundscapes of dark beauty, light & shade, space & texture. It's modern neo-rock, hued in orchestral structures, punctuated by power & grit. These are songs, but songs without words, unsung, vocal. Unscripted - the stories speak volumes. A soundtrack, a picture made from verse of missing words. To call this instrumental music does not convey the stories within. Eight pieces of mood & meaning. Order Here
New Releases - IN THE WORKS
We've got a few things that are getting really close to completion.
Beat Rhythm Fashion - Beings Rest Finally - early recordings and live rarities 1979-82 Companion piece to the highly successful Bring Real Freedom disc. This is all the earlier material from the Four Stars disc. a lot more dark and post punk. We've got a lot closer to finishing this.
Pop Mechanix - Lost Tapes - Parallel Universe The Rare Zoo album with the original Andrew Snoid Vocals including 3 unreleased tracks that didn't make the original Zoo album. 1982
Songs in the Key (SITK) - Songs in The Key of Slow
An artists collaboration project with friends of Failsafe. This is almost completed. We have a couple of videos in the can and have a few more tracks to complete. We expect to have the first single out around the end of the year. Its a fantastic contemplative record of beautiful melodic pop and we can't wait to show it to you.
Before You Buy
Just about every artist and compilation release has
it's own Myspace page where you can listen to the tracks
before purchasing. See the
Music Downloads page for a full list of Myspace links.
Rob Mayes, Eskimo, Pop Mechanix and YFC, interviewed
and profiled by Radio New Zealand. MP3s
Coverage / Reviews
Childrens' Hour, Pop Mechanix, and Retrogenic features,
plus re-released compilations reviewed.
Read more on the
posters - 16 different A3 posters
including Children's Hour, YFC,
Dolphin, Springloader, and Throw.
Click here for Artwork