NEW ZEALAND MUSICAL HISTORY

History Montage

Here I have attempted to record the history of many New Zealand bands who might not be remembered otherwise. If you have corrections, additions, or general comments, please email them to us.

- Rob Mayes

Here's a great clip from a 1984 TVNZ documentary about Christchurch and Dunedin bands. This is part one, click here for parts two and three.

Scroll down to view the entire history, or use the menu at right to select a specific artist.

1980 - 1982

AD - Approximate time period - 1984.
Originally performed as Art and Duty, a name borrowed from Wellington band Beat Rhythm Fashion's song of the same name. [more]

Alien - Approximate time period - 1982 - 1983.
Alien were comprised of Bassist John Kelcher (Sneaky Feelings), Guitarist Tucker, and a drummer and singer Nick Hall. [more]

The Androidss - Approximate time period -1979 - 1983.
The Androidss were world famous in Christchurch. This band was very important on the local scene for it's melodic post punk Rock/Pop sound, a la Television. [more]

Ballon d'Essai - Approximate time period - 1982 - 1986.
Christchurch based 5 piece. Released 2 EPs on Flying Nun Records. [more]

The Bats - Approximate time period - 1982 - still going.
Perennially successful Flying Nun outfit featuring Robert Scott - Vocals and Guitar (The Clean, Magickheads, Electric Blood) Kaye Woodward - guitar. [more]

Channel Four - Approximate time period - 1981.
An early pop punk band featuring Eugene Butcher (later of Desperate Measures and Evasive Action) on Vocals, David Gent - Bass, and Michael Harrallambi - Drums (both of Dance Exponents).
Never saw this band but "You Were The One" (Failsafe Records - Accident Compilation) is a pretty good example of catchy pop punk/New Wave stuff. The Exponents used to do a cover of this song in their live set.

Clients - Approximate time period - 1981 - 1984.
Post punk influences band featuring Warwick Iverson on guitar and vocals, Katherine Iverson on Keys / Vocals / Guitar, Rob Kitson on Bass and Dave Scales on Drums. Ex Unauthorised guitarist Phil Johnston later joined on guitar.
Started off playing Buzzcocks and Killing Joke covers and gradually built up a set of half decent originals before splitting and vanishing.
Kitson and Scales both played in early bands of Rob Mayes (Dolphin / Throw / Springloader). '20th Century Allergy' is the Clients take on a Killing Joke song but isn't too bad for what it is.

Dance Channel - Approximate time period - 1982 - still going as The Exponents.
Actually the Dance Exponents or Exponents as they later became. I think we called them Dance Channel to avoid possible problems with their bigger label. This song was taken from their earliest recordings at Nightshift Studios when they still had a bit of post punk attitude, sort of. It was a fun song live.

Desperate Measures - Approximate time period - 1981 - 1984.
Desperate Measures were Christchurch's answer to pop punk, a couple of years after the whole Sex Pistols thing, but they were fun and had a few good songs for all the punk posturing. [more]

Eight Living Legs - Approximate time period - 1981 - 1984
Eight Living Legs first appeared in the Auckland alternative scene in about 1981, but it wasn't the first time they'd played music together. In fact, in many respects they were already seasoned musicians, having been playing instruments through high school, even in various semi-professional capacities. [more]

En Can MA - Approximate time period - 1982 - 1984.
A very strange band but also strangely good. These guys had some connection with the Auckland group the Features. Guitarist / Singer Ljinon shared a similar shard-like guitar style and vocal approach to the Features. [more]

Evasive Action - Approximate time period - 1984 - 1985.
The follow on group from Desperate Measures. The line up change featured the drummer of Unauthorised Jeff Paris, and Vocalist Harry Hepworth on guitar. [more]

The Gordons - Approximate time period - 1980 - 1982. Mark II - 1983 - 1985.
A very important band in Christchurch and New Zealand musical history.. The Gordons were Alistair Parker - Guitar / Bass / Vocals, John Halvorsen - Guitar / Bass / Vocal and Brent McLaughin on Drums. [more]

Heamogoblins - Approximate time period - 1982 - 1987.
Art school group specialising in quirky satirical songs, stage sets and performance antics. They featured the drumming skills of the local press music correspondent Tony (Rupert) Green, along with percussionist Scott Wilkinson (Ballon d'Essai), various singers and dancers. [more]

The Johnnies - Approximate time period - 1982 - 1984.
Political punk offerings from this notorious Christchurch punk outfit.. Featured vocals from Rick Tindall (AD).
Seemed to attract riots and fighting to their gigs which eventually led to them not being able to play at any of the venues in town.
Released one 7" EP - Who Killed Johnny, with 3 suitably anti-government tracks on it.

Newtones - Approximate time period - 1981 -1983.
Ground-breaking Christchurch 3 exponents of melodic tinged rock, sort of New Wave for the time. [more]

Not Really Anything
Show piece group for the writing talents of local sound engineering guru Rex Visible (real name Brett Taylor) Rex was an ex-Navy Mechanic before he devoted his time to sound engineering, rising to prominence as the sound engineer for the Androidss, then most of the pumping bands round town. [more]

Pin Group - Approximate time period - 1981 - 1982.
Legendary Christchurch 3 piece playing dark guitar pop. The band featured the vocals and guitar of the now legendary Roy Montgomery who went on to further musical outings with The Shallows, Da Da Mah, Dissolve, and a successful career as a solo artist. [more]

Playthings - Approximate time period - 1980 - 1983.
Early vehicle for notable Christchurch musicians Jay Clarkson, Paul Kean, and David Toland. The band were kind of like the Patti Smith Group of the Christchurch music scene, as British punk and post punk took hold. [more]

Pop Mechanix - Approximate time period - 1980 - 1988
Pop Mechanix were one of New Zealand's great pop hopefuls of the eighties. They were one of the hardest working bands in the land, made it to Australia, fought a legal battle for their name, broke up, reformed, gigged their asses off, and finally went supernova. [more]

Shaft - Approximate time period - 1984.
Low Fi electronic doodlings of Micheal Williams assisted by David MacKenzie on bass. This track was recorded on 2 fucked-up cassette decks, bounced back and forward till sufficient parts were mixed in. Williams spent a few years working in Australia with Sydney based ex-NZer's This Cage and various stints as a DJ.
MacKenzie works as film crew based in Christchurch. He previously played in a seminal band with Roy Montgomery (Pin Group) and Tony Green (Heamogoblins).

Solitudes - Approximate time period - 1981 - 82
New Wave pop from Christchurch 4 piece. The band featured heartthrob Anton Jenner - vocals (future Wastrel), Chris Tindall - Bass, Paul Lonsdale - Guitar and Guy Norris - Drums.
The band played various shows including the influential series of 3ZM sponsored Town Hall concerts. High fashion content.
They released one self-released single - "Home Again / Mother Suburbia" and eventually split, Jenner going on to front the Wastrels, confusingly beloved band of the Dance Exponents, who didn't really seem to be quite as good as they were made out to be. The Wastrels released 2 EPs the first one containing perhaps their best song 'Angels in Silence'.

Terraces - Approximate time period - 1981 - 1983.
Christchurch based three piece. Roland de Beer (Vocals & drums), Brendan Cheyne (Guitar & Vocals), Peter Brennan (Bass).
Played local pub scene - Gladstone, Hillsborough, Star & Garter. Mainly original set inspired by UK bands eg Cure, Wire, U2 etc. Released single 1982 "A Place like this / Pictorial on own label Atom Records. Added Sax player Mike Penney mid 1982 and played many nights at Doodles nightclub throughout 1983. Disbanded late 1983 when all decided to travel overseas.
Roland, Peter & Brendan headed for London late 1983 for life's adventures and all that. Funnily enough after a week they went down to NZ House on Haymarket and literally bumped into Rick& Chris Tindall from the Solitudes - weird.
Jammed with various outfits in London but never got into anything serious.
Roland owns a Cafe in Fairlie called EAT, Brendan works in the sports apparel industry in Auckland, Peter lives in Wellington working in property management, Mike Penney lives in Auckland and co-manages Spacifix - young band who had a hit recently "Sunshine Day".

Triffids - Approximate time period - 1983 - 1984.
Incredibly young band who impressed during their short existence, narrowly losing to the Whiteboys in the 1984 Battle of the Bands, the Triffids were sort of pre-dance based guitar pop; a band in development. [more]

The World - Approximate time period - 1982 - 1983.
Low key postcard style popsters, the world featured Malcolm Grant (Bats) on drums. I don't know too much about this band except that "The Mystery" was a cool song. They self released their own mini album cassette release.
The band consisted of:
Bridget Mulcahey - Bass (sister of David Mulcahey of JPSE)
Alan Meek - Guitar and Keyboards
Andrea Cox - Violin (Meek's girlfriend at the time)
Charles Haywood - Vocals

They Were Expendable
Jay Clarkson vehicle featuring David Toland (Springloader, Chicane, Future Stupid, Playthings) on Drums and bassist Nick Strong, and occasional backing vocals from Donna Sheene.
They Were Expendable released an EP under this name and then another under the shorter named The Expendables featuring Robert Key on Drums and Micheal Kime on Bass. Accident Compilation's "Head For The Hills" is a live track not available on the EPs.

Unauthorised
Hardcore punk outfit, pretty serious about their music. The band featured Jeff Paris - Drums, Harry Hepworth - Vocals, Mark(Gibby) Gibson - Bass, and Phil Johnston - guitar.
The band released half an album, the other side of Desperate Measures - Wasted Again release, featured fast and dense punk tunes. Hepworth and Gibson went on to Evasive Action and later Hepworth and Gibson, and Johnston went on to Southern Front, with Vandenhoven from Desperate Measures.
Venetians
Strange band who had some good songs, and some average ones.
Singer guitarist Pete Sweeney fronted and there was a guitarist Jamie who went on to play in Murder Inc. with Mark Brooks from the Newtones. No other releases. Sweeney went on to play in Spat Back and later Smacc Riflemen.

Wang
Further work from most of the members of Alien. The band released a 7 song cassette, self distributed. Wang also feature Micheal Kime on bass who later went on to Jay Clarkson's Expendables and Breathing Cage. Kime worked as a Male model when not playing in bands.

YFC
Originally called Youth For Christ, Just to piss off the local Christians, the band got told to change their name.... or else. [more]

1984 - 1986

Belle Motions
Comprised of:
Donna Sheene - Vocals / Guitar
Ollie Scott - Guitars
David Toland - Drums (Playthings, Springloader, Chicane, Future Stupid)
Mark Wilson - Bassist .
The Belle Motions were a fine pop blast, strongly melodic and guitar led. They didn't make much of an impact locally but I remember enjoying the chiming guitar tones and melodies of this band. [more]

Bird Nest Roys
Wonderful pop 6 piece featuring Big Ross and Little Ross on Guitar and vocals, Debbie on bass, Warwick Wakefield - vocals and dance, Dominic Stone - guitar (3Ds). [more]

Children's Hour
Dark alt rock, these guys could really scare you live if you closed your eyes. They released an EP and a 7" single on Flying Nun before disbanding and reforming as the Headless Chickens. [more]

Desperate Tricycles
Actually the Dance Exponents, again avoiding the contractual obligations thing. This song was penned by Chris Sheehan, and was never really captured to its true glory, though this Nightshift demo version gets pretty close. "If Only I Could Die" was released on both their second and third studio albums, and as a single twice. It appeared for the first time on the Biding Our Time compilation.

Double Happys
Better than the world will ever know, the Double Happys never captured their best moments for record, live they were brilliant. [more]

Emma Peel
Electronic project by Christian Cruthers of Lions and Tiger. Cruthers had an excellent ear for pop melody and catchy hooks, which never saw a proper recording or release other than his tracks included on the Biding Our Time Compilation.
The Emma Peel track was recorded in on evening session using a dubbing cassette deck and some electronic gear, after I had heard some demos that Cruthers had done.
Cruthers didn't go on to do any other music projects that reached the public eye and now works as a computer graphics expert.

Heartland
Heartland was the first incarnation of the three piece line-up which would later become Dolphin. [more]

Jay Clarkson
Following the demise of The Expendables (a different line-up from They Were Expendable), "It's Difficult" was an afternoon recording session done with a dubbing cassette deck at the Bats house. The track features musical back up from Paul Kean (Keyboards) and Kaye Woodward (Guitar and Backing Vocals).
Jay went on to record a solo album (since rereleased along with several Expendables tracks as PACKET (CD) through Flying Nun) then went on to form Breathing Cage, who recorded demos for Failsafe, one of which appears on the South compilation.
Jay is a talented and respected songwriter and has a large body of impressive and subtley-crafted song to her name. She now lives in Dunedin where she continues her career as an under-recognised and -acknowledged artist.

Jean Paul Sartre Experience
JPSE were bloody brilliant, although capable of being bloody silly too. They started off really well with the Release of Flex through Failsafe, Taken from a live to 2 track recording achieved one afternoon at a sound check. [more]

Lions And Tigers
Musical vehicle for Christian Cruthers. Featuring Scot Wilkinson (Ballon d'Essai) on Drums, Grant Horsnell (YFC, This Cage) on Keyboards and Christian on Guitar and vocals. Plenty of cool pop moments in their live set, the band didn't manage to play too many gigs before disbanding unfortunately. "Alternative Woolston" is the only released track from the band, a play on Stiff Little Fingers "Alternative Ulster" song title, Woolston is a sad little suburb on the outskirts of Christchurch so I take it this song is probably a telling tale of small town disillusionment. Must go and have another listen.

Mea Culpa
Another bloody excellent band who couldn't keep their shit together enough to get what they excelled at on to the permanent record. [more]

Crane
Crane were a fleeting incarnation featuring Daniel Newnham - Bass (later to form Drone, a performance music ensemble) and guitarist David Jamieson. The band featured a then very unfashionable drum machine (roland TR808), and mostly their set was pretty understated. They did have one pretty good song, "Chorale", recorded live at the Star and Garter and included on the Biding Our Time Compilation.

Nocturnal Projections
Nocturnal Projections were ahead of their time. We know that now, but very few knew that then. [more]

Sneaky Feelings
Part of the first batch of Dunedin groups on Flying Nun, Sneaky Feelings were damn fine songwriters, a hard working and prolific band. [more]

Spatback
Pete Sweeney - Vocals/Guitar (Venetians, Smacc Riflemen)
Darren Johns - Drums (Alms for Children, This Sporting Life)
Nic Strong - Bass (They Were Expendable)
Saxophone - Debbie Frame
Played a few gigs round Christchurch but never really made any impact. The Biding Our Time track was taken from a live recording at the Gladstone and was an instrumental, though most of the bands songs had vocals. No other known recordings or releases.
Sweeney went on to form Smacc Riflemen, Darren worked with Rob Mayes of Dolphin in a side project called the Seventh which performed a couple of times. No recordings released.

Spines
Wellington group who had a sort of angular approach to some of their music, Ska-like, but also had an appealing dark edge.
They released the impressive Fishing 7" EP on Ripper Records. This was followed by another couple of singles then an album on Flying Nun. [more]

The Chills
You all probably know enough about the Chills without me writing my own history on them. The track on the Failsafe Biding Our Time compilation was taken from a live recording at the Gladstone, featuring the Peter Allison, Alan Haig, Martin Kean and Martin Philips line-up
The Chills were often a lot heavier live than on record, more powered. I can recall being disappointed by a number of their songs when I got to hear the recorded versions of them. "Whole Weird World" springs to mind. "I'll Only See You Alone Again" was rocket-powered live, although not one of the band's stand out songs. I'm not sure how Failsafe came to secure this track for the Biding comp as I only met Martin once at a concert, but still it's well worth the listen.

The Stones
One of the most underrated of all the underrated bands on the Flying Nun Label. Their recorded work never matched their live appeal. They oozed attitude and were overflowing with interesting and cool songs. [more]

This Sporting Life
Auckland based outfit that released two EPs through Flying Nun. Lineup was Gary Charlton - vocals, Ben Hayman - Bass Guitar, Paul Fogarty - Guitar (and occasional bass guitar - e.g on Point to Point), Daron Johns - Drums.
Point to Point from the Biding Our Time cassette was taken from an early live recording in Auckland, possibly at the Rumba Bar or the Gluepot. The band were previously in Auckland outfit Alms For Children who released one 7" EP Danny Boy, Mother, Failsafe, where the Failsafe Record label got it's name from.

Southern Front
The last evolution in the chain for the core of the Christchurch punk rock movement this band were made up of the members of Unauthorised, Desperate Measures, and Evasive Action. [more]

1986 - 1988

All Fall Down
Christchurch 5 piece originally started life as a 4 piece with Blair Parks - Guitar / Vocal, Campbell Taylor - Bass, Easther McNaughton - Violin / Vocals, and Brett Lupton - Drums. [more]

Breathing Cage
Vehicle for ex-Expendables Jay Clarkson. The band's line-up went through some continuous changes toward the end of their career but was pretty solid up till the recording of their only album. [more]

Camellias
Musical vehicle for the brothers Ford, Nic Ford taking vocal duties while his brother Brendan played bass.
The band were in the vein of introspective British guitar bands of the mid 80's. They recorded a bunch of tracks of which only "Cried" eventuated into a release. They had a good way with a catchy melody but got bogged down in the mechanics of recording which eventually smothered them.
Nic Ford went on to perform in a number of gothic type bands.
His Brother became a geologist working in Australia.
Their drummer was from Nelson - Julian.

CHRISTCHURCH MUSICAL HISTORY

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