The Axemen's Y2K Blog

IRD door smasher had ‘warned of terrorism’

Posted in 2009 happenings, cultural studies, government, law by steve mccabe on November 18, 2009

Reprinted from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz

The man who drove his car through glass doors at the Inland Revenue Department building in Christchurch says he warned the department about terrorism but it had no security measures in place.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, of St Albans, pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court today to charges of intentional damage and reckless driving.

He had worked at the Inland Revenue for 25 years and has said he had a long running employment dispute with the department.

In the summary of facts read to the court, Theobald told the police that he had warned the department about terrorism but they had no security measures there.

He drove his Mazda 626 through the foyer of the building in Cashel Street at 6.30am on a Saturday.

He crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third.

Defence counsel Simon Clay asked Judge Stephen Erber to request a pre-sentence report for the November 17 sentencing.

Judge Erber ordered a reparation report and a pre-sentence report, and prohibited Theobald from driving while he was on bail.

- NZPA

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Judge orders community work; $13,000 to repay

Posted in 2009 happenings, cultural studies, government, law by steve mccabe on November 18, 2009

Reprinted from: http://www.stuff.co.nz

A disgruntled Inland Revenue employee who quit spectacularly by driving his car through the doors of the tax department’s Christchurch building has been handed a hefty sentence of community work and ordered to pay $13,000 in reparations.

David Theobald, 48, took his dissatisfaction with his employer of 25 years straight to the front counter at 6.30am on August 15.

He crept his Mazda 626 up to the Inland Revenue building on Cashel St and, after making sure no staff were present, slowly drove through three sets of plate-glass doors causing more than $40,000 in damage.

Theobald, a long-time Christchurch musician whose stage name is Mick Elborado, admitted the crime, quipping to police when they arrived: “It’s OK officer, I work here.”

Photos of his exploits quickly emerged on the website of his band, The Axemen, and a Mick Elborado is Innocent page was set up on Facebook.

Theobald pleaded guilty and yesterday was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court by Judge Jane McMeeken.

Defence lawyer Simon Clay said Theobald’s actions were in the nature of a protest, the culmination of a conflict at work that had lasted for some time.

There was a medical background to the offending, he said.

Theobald had checked there was no risk to any staff and smashed the windows early on a Saturday. He had been “disarmingly frank” with police, admitting his crime at the first opportunity.

The judge wanted to know why Theobald, a worker for 25 years, had no assets and no savings to make reparations.

He said he spent his money on drinks for friends and “being generous”.

The judge said Theobald deliberately drove through plate-glass doors. His actions were completely inappropriate. “It’s one thing to protest, it’s quite another thing to deliberately and wantonly destroy property.”

The building’s owner, Rapaki Property Group, sought reparation of $27,000; Inland Revenue sought $14,500. The judge sentenced Theobald to 300 hours community work. Reparations of $8000 to Rapaki and $5000 to Inland Revenue were ordered at $20 per week from Theobald’s sickness benefit.

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Tour Diaries: 2) Los Angeles, pre-tour

Posted in 2009 happenings, Apocalypse, cultural studies, government, law, poetry, travel, US Tour 2009 by steve mccabe on October 21, 2009

All Souls

Having now taken command of Los Angeles, and whilst allowing trade to continue as normal albeit under ein military regime, this is 2000 and some harrowing but major exceptions to the rule have decided, independent of the fully sanctioned and streets away, predictably, from where the real action was happening.

Hollywood 'n' Fry's

Hollywood 'n' Fry's

Notably, Stu and Steve (on behalf of the axemen as a partially available whole, or soul [‘The choice is yours, you tithe your 10% to your local rich-ass and you’re in line for the throne” struck out Pedro, his fb) buoyed by her decision to put a modicum of their eggs in one basket (as a causation equation and bearing in mind dragan and bob are initiated and primed to enter the arena at an unspecified yet predetermined time)

This first episode I call ‘WHITEY’

Science is fuck-all. We each have our own Memphis. We are all Elvis

Science is fuck-all. We each have our own Memphis. We are all Elvis. Who the fuck are you? - Steve Humann, thats who!

Checked out rental cars.  Some horseless carriages yippeeing up and restless, no doubt riled up by the host with the most, the antagonist, the chip mother, the screaming, breathing Grimm brother, th senseless one they don’t talk about, thy slipped a micky finn to one of those guys, who gives a fuck who.

HOWEVER

All Souls is an equal-fate non-soul-discriminatory story, primarily but not solely based on the sole premise that the soul’s sole is imprinted indelibly on the soul of the holy fisherman, the weeping fisher, the fishing weeper, the weeper who never fishes, across the river directly from the fisher who never weeps…
Ginger the sliced ginger guy grunts as he psycles off another few slices of ginger for the solely soulless. “Otherwise it’d be for the birds!” he quips, the word ‘birds’ rhyming with the oft-used-advertising phrase ‘dis iz forda boids’!, mostly famous for accentuating the long vowel sound in the 60’s.

Day 3 – We are off to Burbank Airport to check out rental vans.  stop.

Dave drives to work

Posted in 2009 happenings, government, law by steve mccabe on August 21, 2009

Reprinted from:

http://indymedia.org.nz/article/77588/dave-drives-work

Mick at Grand Opening of Inland Revenue’s new 24 hr drive thru in ChchDave Theobald has worked at Inland Revenue’s Christchurch office for the last 20 years. His work is valued, he is a highly intelligent literate man. And he has problems with mental illness, something the TV ads tell us happens to 10% of the population.

He was diagnosed paranoid after self referring himself to a doctor. Because of the medication his work output became low. Dave was assigned a colleague within the department and this is where the real problems began.

This unqualified colleague would make her own “diagnosis” based on ‘OOh I don’t like the look of your eyes, I think you’re a bit mad today’ and other such remarks. On this basis she would insist on visits to the doctor where she sat in attendance and would insist on Dave’s medication being changed, often with adverse side affects to Dave.

On one occasion shortly after being assigned, when Dave was off work for a week and enquiring whether he had any money and being told he had $800 for emergencies, she proceeded to borrow first $300 then another $500 off Dave till “next payday”. The money wasn’t repaid for a year until Dave insisted.

Another episode illustrates the stress Dave was under.

Dave: “I had gone through a particularly trying time, after being assaulted in my own home by gang prospects and burgled twice by my next door neighbours.”

The colleague insisted on driving him to Psych Emergency.The diagnosing psychiatrist, asked to talk to her alone first. After speaking to her, the psychiatrist seemed very concerned and was insisting Dave be admitted for 3 weeks of residential psychiatric care at the local hospital. Dave already under stress from the burglaries and having to appear as a witness against the gang prospects was shocked.

The psychiatrist decided that even if Dave didn’t go to hospital he required three weeks off work, no annual leave, no sick leave, so totally unpaid and with no chance to prepare.

Its OK Officer I work here!When Dave applied to sight the doctor’s notes he discovered his colleague in her private conversation with the psychiatrist had said blatant untruths such as ‘His house is filled with rotting food and swarming insects such as ants’ – Dave has photos of his house he’d taken at the same time, which although messy was quite habitable.

But do not get the impression that Dave is a charity case, somebody employed to demonstrate Inland Revenue’s commitment to human rights. He is a highly intelligent individual, very good at his job and insanely knowledgeable about tax. In a working environment where these extra stresses weren’t laden on him he is a productive and useful member of a team. His department in Inland Revenue was one of the more specialised, making decisions on very large refunds.

In workplace assessments over the three years these events occurred his overall marking was 106% out of an unattainable 120%. Exceptional results by anyone’s measure.

Dave is also a gifted multi-instrumentalist musician and has played keyboards for one of NZ’s top indie bands for the last 20 years.

In short Dave is a functional, valuable member of society, who recognises that he has a problem, but is well equipped to deal with it under normal circumstances.

Events finally came to a head last week when after Dave’s repeated efforts to have his colleague’s behaviour looked into, IR Management in Christchurch responded with a list of unachievable demands at a meeting on Friday:

1. Only working between 8:30 am and 6pm on whatever he was assigned which is basically the stuff nobody else could deal with. He was expected to clear up to 9 cases per hour, his section dealt with refunds of over $100,000. Previously Dave had been starting work at 10:30am (because his medication makes him drowsy first thing in the morning) and working till 7 or 8pm.

2. Dave has a 4 day week for mental health reasons, and if he was unable to work on any particular day because he was sick, he would swap the days around. The new edict from management demanded that he only take Wednesday off, any other day had to be leave without pay and a medical certificate would have to be provided by Dave. The reason given was for “structure and consistency”.

This regime would continue for a month and if Dave hadn’t met all targets by then it would be “formal discipline” time. Management referred to this unattainable plan as “moving forward”

How many times have we heard of management trying to get rid of “difficult” staff by assigning them impossible tasks so at the end they can sack them for non fulfillment?

Mick doing the hard yards awaiting bailIn Dave’s case it was even more dangerous. After spending a sleepless night on Friday worrying about his future, and realising that while at the moment he was sane, he certainly wouldn’t be after a month worth of stress and sleep deprivation from worry about meeting these unattainable targets.

So in Dave’s own inimitable way he decided on Saturday to show his response to their demands and the stress IR were trying to put on him.

After checking the cleaners had left and the building was unoccupied, Dave drove his car through the plate glass windows of the Christchurch Inland Revenue Office and left it parked, lights on and surrounded by shattered glass, in the foyer.

Calmly waiting for the police to arrive, car keys in one hand, a copy of Emma Goldmans “Anarchism and other Essays” in the other Dave quipped to the arresting officers “It’s OK – I work here”
Conventional media has remained absolutely silent on reporting these events for two days, possibly because they feel uncomfortable about what has probably been presented by the cops and IR as the act of an unhinged person.

But this is *not* the act of an insane person – rather the actions of a man, confronted with abuses of power and a work regime designed to push him over the edge, to *protect* his own sanity and highlight the overwhelming wrongs and abuses perpertrated against him as an employee.

Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 2

Posted in 2009 happenings, government, law by steve mccabe on August 19, 2009

New Zealand Employment Law is defective

Reprinted from:
http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-zealand-employment-law-is-defective.html
19 August 2009
I’ve seen lots of anecdotal evidence that it’s difficult for firms to fire problem employees under the Kiwi Employment Relations Act. The procedures are often described as onerous.

Here’s a great one. Disgruntled employee of Inland Revenue (the Kiwi IRS) drives his car through the plate glass first floor windows of the IRD’s Christchurch Office, then tells the attending police officers that he had every intention of doing it.

IRD’s notification letter to David Theobald, the driver, is hilarious and depressing. The whole thing is documented here, including photos of the crash scene, the police report, and the letters from IRD to Theobald subsequent to the crash. Relevant excerpts:

From the police report:

The defendant admitted the facts as outlined and explained his actions stating ‘I had every intention to do that. I’ve thought about it and knew exactly what I was doing. I had warned them that someone could drive through there with a bomb in the car and create another 9-11, as they had no security measures.’

Seems pretty clear-cut. IRD’s response:

Commencement of an Employment Investigation

1. Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a vehicle through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building on Saturday 15 August 2009. I am commencing an employment investigation in to this matter.

2. I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct (contributing to a safe workplace and ensuring personal activities do not discredit Inland Revenue) and/or, the Standards of Integrity and Conduct, and/or your obligations to Inland Revenue, and that if substantiated, this conduct may amount to serious misconduct.

Suspension

3. Given the nature of the allegations I am considering whether, or not, suspension is appropriate. Your employment agreement provides for this to be on pay.

Wow.

Note that the “Mick Elborado is innocent” group on Facebook now has 128 members.

bk drinkwater said…
Your headline is a noble attempt at understatement greater than part (2) of the IRD letter.

Philip said…
I don’t have much of a problem with the IRD letters. They will just be form letters. I mean it’s pretty obvious in this case, but there would be cases where employees were accused of crimes/misconduct where it would be a lot murkier. It’s probably a lot safer/cheaper/easier for everyone involved if the IRD just sends out the same letter to everyone that they are investigating rather than starting to tailor the letter to specific cases..

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ONE News – The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobold

Posted in 2009 happenings, government, law, News by steve mccabe on August 19, 2009

Reprinted from:
http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/disgruntled-employee-crashes-into-ird-building-2926890
19 August 2009

th_Tv
ONE News – The Vehicle of David Jerrold Theobold
ONE News - The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobald

ONE News - The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobald

A disgruntled tax worker has left the Inland Revenue in no doubt about his feelings towards them after driving his car through the front door of their Christchurch building.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, appeared in Christchurch District Court on Tuesday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving, after driving into the building at 6.30am on Saturday.

The pictures posted on his blog show a portrait of a man making a stand just moments after he ploughed through three plate glass doors parking his car in the Christchurch Inland Revenue reception.

“At the end of my tether going for one last kamikaze move – this was a very carefully calculated protest,” says Theobald.

It was so carefully calculated he says, he checked there would be nobody in the building at the time.

“It’s cathartic, I actually feel a great release now,” he says.

Theobald describes himself as paranoid, and a depressive. Having worked for the IRD for 25 years, he says he was driven to the protest after a three year employment dispute.

He said he was fed up with what he saw as concealment of workplace bullying and incompetent management at Inland Revenue.

“This has been going on for three years, and now I’ve got four official information requests in with them and they’re making that as onerous as possible … this was just a way to make a gesture.”

Theobald’s friend Ross Dixion says he has been under constant pressure.

“He has just been under repeated constant pressure where he felt like he was getting nowhere,” she says.

The IRD has no comment about the damage or the employment matters, but the owner of the now battle-scarred building has much to say.

“Beating up on the IRD’s a national sport. Most people see he act as something he has managed to carry out against the IRD but it’s actually against someone’s private property,” says building owner Simon Henry.

Theobald has documented the incident all online and says he would not do it again – unless pushed.

“I wouldn’t do it again, unless I went through three years of harassment the way I have with the IRD,” he says.

Theobald has been remanded on bail to reappear on August 31.

Interesting comments on elborado story from Fishing.net.nz… as usual

Posted in 2009 happenings, government, law by steve mccabe on August 19, 2009

Reprinted from:
http://www.fishing.net.nz/asp_forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=44184&PN=1&title=david-theobald-crashes-ird

My alter ego’s actions seem entirely reasonable if has to deal with people who speak like this on a daily basis: 
“Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”
Not sure about the Mick Eldorado bit though 

The beard was a clever disquise though Obie
 
Hummm was there a Mazda in that car line up of yours??? 
Now if they had said your band was the Marlin Axeman ha!LOL 
Obie and the Marlin Axeman… got a ring to it, Boulder playing 2nd fiddle???
 well done that man.
 
 Wouldn’t surprise me if the careful manner in which he did the deed and the way he ensured no others were likely to be injured during his gesture are actually found to be covered in the code of conduct.
 
What a crock, the man should get hung, drawn and quartered. 
Drawn by the finest artists, hung in the best galleries and quartered in the top hotels!
One day the boffins at IRD might actually realise how stressful their PC-ness is to us mortals.  Then again maybe not…

Will the real slim shady please stand up 
Yeah and doesn’t the statement by Mr Crawford epitomize the utter b.s. world he must live in.
Reckon David Theobald should now sue IRD, claim ACC, get over $1000 per week on benefits..

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Mick Elborado & the Car Crash Set

Posted in 2009 happenings, government, law, News, NZ bands by steve mccabe on August 17, 2009

A statement from Mick – Monday 17 August 2009

Posted in 2009 happenings, government, law, Uncategorized by steve mccabe on August 17, 2009

Show Your support… join MICK ELBORADO IS INNOCENT now!

ask the same of anyone awake or woken up.

1: appear in court and behave

2: walk to the crime scene gathering a motley crowd of the slightly curious hoping for more action.

3: make a very short speech calling upon tony mccone senior human resources officer to resign within 24 hours if he believes the actions of ir human resources staff will not withstand the main code of conduct test of ‘the closest public scrutiny’

4: advise that because of the results of his incompetence i require payment in front of ir at this time tomorrow.

5: advise that if he does not resign and he’s found to have sanctioned any actions which arouse public disgust it’s 10 times his salary or everything he owns except his home.

6: give the commisioner of inland revenue one week to hear whether all actions can withstand public scrutiny – if not the same thing.

7: the next steps escalate to ir shifting all its banking to Kiwibankor another bank with nz ownership no matter what the cost and if they work theres leverage to change the world. You all helped!

I bet this is the first plan for world undomination transmitted by txt, facebook and hopefully youtube, if anyone films it

- let’s see anyone shut down fcbk youtube and txting in one week.

If this crazy strategy works we all work 3 day weeks and live better, all meaning NZ and the world – if it gets shut down then it was already too late, but then any opposition will be visible.

All the planets are in line and they won’t be again – forget scrabble and soaps – just for a day or so.

Huge thanks to all:

special mention to Amy, Ange, Alex, Ros, Steve, Joanne, Peter Hall-Jones, my union, and Emma Goldman.

wunderbar REEVIEW PT ONE

Posted in 2009 happenings, blather, cultural studies, Gigs, law, NZ bands, Posters, scary, travel by steve mccabe on July 30, 2009

Wunderbar, Lyttelton July 2009

The Aesthetics, Stevie McCabe and Bastardwisher =—–Wunderbar 28th July 2009
review by a participant.
PART UNO :

>>>
“Come together – right Now – Over me.”

Gen X . The original punks, methinks the youngest of the Exers gotta be something like 33 or something. Ands there’s the ageism already. And thats the last of it.
And the Ugly Ambition get’s uglier and uglier and with brill creamed quiff’n’quim in the air and the hooting hops and testosteroney we all thought it would fall to pieces.

Wunderbar - Nice People Only

Wunderbar - Nice People Only

But salvage they do and on comes he the Little guy – Littl’ Stevie McCabe and his  gat’n’lappy, and blues as is orignal and as if as original and haast pass- haaart felt as you can linen!  Blues, riff and mulch! Audio that is – up up up the Stevie! Cause the bastards they wish!  And we’ve whipped it awl up! Ballad, plop and Kierkegaardens! Fellow puff knock colour dyke towels! Rockin on over to your best And Band tickle-me-punk!  Roster, roster outward bound to be schtoopid in Mickleodeon ! Oi Oi! Harden up! They actually told me to wear a hat! And those ballads and blues sawngs kept -a comin’! And the adrenaline flowed like lava! and mines immunes seeestem did chatter unt chortle. And the nazis and the jews didst fooozball! And the ROXY musics did SHINE! Sax and all! And meaning went home for christmas dinner! Then the bastardwisher set dried up the air and it was special interest sessions abound. Flights of plunder-beato and post-bonk riffer-refer-ama all making us blush and sneer. Blush and heave-ho ‘harden-up’ skin skin oi oi ‘this ain’t ’76’ bitches snitches and ditches. Jobs and slobs. Hogs and Dogs. Ruffle the feathers of Sunni england. Because opium is live and dangerous and the answer to all you prayers. As is Saint Barnaby. Tracker. Akka Dakka. And next was The Aesthetics. Ruffed up and tuffed up and seering. And oh the agony. And I wanna thank ya.

part two AS soon as possibull!!!!!!!

VIDEO

The Aesthetics at the Wunderbar, July 28 2009

The Aesthetics at the Wunderbar, July 28 2009

bastardwisher

BastardWisher at the Wunderbar, July 28 2009

Creaky Back Stairs - Little Stevie McCabe Live at Wunderbar feat. MattMiddleton

Creaky Back Stairs - Little Stevie McCabe Live at Wunderbar feat. MattMiddleton

This is WWIV – LSM confronts the Iron Eagle

Posted in Apocalypse, Audio, cultural studies, government, law, NZ bands, Photograsps, poetry, Posters, Uncategorized, War by steve mccabe on February 19, 2009
WWIV Song Cycle

01_Rock_Mountain

Rock Mountain

02_Push-A-Way

03  What Is Rock?

04  Back_2_The_City

05  Man-i-mal

ascent_of_man

06_I Wanna_Rock_It

07  Rock-n-Roll_Neanderthal

snake

08  Black_Snake

09  Heavy_Water

10  Iron_Eagle

Iron Eagle

This is WWIVIn 1999, Marty Sauce and the Source’s principal songwriter and G.I.C.S.N. conceptual guru Davey G approached Little Stevie McCabe about doing the soundtrack arrangements for his visionary (but alas unreleased – until now!) apocalytic concept album and rock opera, tentatively entitled “This is WWIV!”*USA Eagle

The libretto for this ethereal and ungodly masterpiece revolves around the epic journey of a young shepherd boy ‘Hombreo’  (to be played by a clean-shaven Marty Sauce) to the city after he sees a nuclear missile launch from the hills of his homeland, where he is tending his sheep.

Indian Nuke

In the still of the clear Afghani night Hombreo can see its trajectory for miles with crystal clarity, and follows it with his keen shepherds night vision [his eyes being locally referred to as so-called 'sheep seeking missiles'] to its destination, where he sees an awe-inspiring and terrible sight; a huge white-orange flash followed by a billowing mushroom-shaped pillar of smoke rising in slow motion over the horizon like a startled king cobra emerging from its basket, shimmering against the rhinestoned velvet wallhanging which is the desert sky.

This is WWIV symbols

“Red Sky at night, shepherds delight” he murmers to the assembled throng of sheep,  now huddled, shivering, at the base of his rough-hewn towelling and sackcloth candlewick bedspread.

Hombreo takes off for the city and has his shepherd-boy eyes opened clockwork-orange style, real horrorshow like, by the myriad bestial and despicable sights he sees along the way, culminating in the grand finale, which takes plays in the lair of the bald, beclawed and bewildered Iron Eagle. Afight ensues ansd the inevitable happens.

Hombreo at first tries to behead, then is bemused by, then finally befriends the metallic bird, and together they rule the land forever from 1000 feet below the scorched earth at ground level.

This Is WWIV - Poster

* Other names shortlisted: “Apocalypse Soon”; “Nagasaki 2000″; “Boom!!!”; “Miss Afghanistan”; “Where Eagles Iron”; “It Aint Half Hot, Omam!”

Post: Talc Betel Vices Emit

You’re in the army, now, lad!

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Vosburgh on AXEMEN

Vosburgh playing Shustak's Segovia 12-string 05/01/09

Vosburgh playing Shustak's Segovia 12-string 05/01/09

At the recent MONSTER GIG at Christchurch’s glamorous crumbling Media Club, Bill Vosburgh handed Kawowski a single A4 sheet with a few paragraphs written on it all in capitals, relating to his earliest recollections of THE AXEMEN days in Christchurch (1983-1987).

Phosby Still, with 'tash

Phosby Still, with tash - Dec 2008

Luckily he stuck around and performed an incendiary blues rock set that night, as well as jamming with Steve, Stu & Helm at 4am New Year’s Day out at South Brighton, and also playing a few songs on various acoustic guitars on subsequent visits to Kawowski’s seaside hideaway.

Vosburgh's perfectly spelled memories all in caps

Vosburgh's perfectly spelled memories all in caps

I REMEMBER WATCHING THE AXEMEN PLAY AT THE GLADSTONE AND THE FIRST 45 MINS CONSISTED OF STEVE FIDDLING AD INFINITUM WITH HIS ‘PAUL BUNYAN MACHINE’. AN ENTHUSIASTIC AMATEUR ELECTRICIAN, STEVE HAD SOMEHOW ATTACHED A FUZZ-BOX AND IT TOOK HIM THAT LONG TO FIX IT WHILE BOB AND STU MANFULLY IMPROVISED IN THE BACKGROUND.

AFTER A WHILE, THEY TRANSCENDED THE COMICAL AND THE PIECE BECAME A SURREAL EPISODE OF PERFORMANCE ART.

**********************************

AS I RECALL, THE AXEMEN WERE INCREDIBLY PROLIFIC, AND THEIR RECORDINGS, WHICH WERE PRIMITIVE TECHNICALLY IN THE EARLY STAGES, CAME THICK AND FAST. THEY GOT SOME LIMITED SUPPORT FROM RADIO U.

STU KAWOWSKI WAS AND IS A MARKETING GENIUS AND PRODUCED NOT JUST T-SHIRTS, BUT TROUSERS, STICKERS ETC, AND PRODUCED A MURAL THAT STOOD PROUDLY IN CHRISTCHURCH FOR OVER 10 YEARS, AS WELL AS MANY OTHERS THAT DIDN’T LAST SO LONG.

ALL IN ALL I WOULD HAVE TO SAY THAT THE AXEMEN ARE ONE OF THE LOOPIEST AND MOST ORIGINAL BANDS I’VE EVER SEEN AND I’M GLAD THEY’RE BACK ON THE ROAD.

A NOTE ABOUT STEVE’S COFFEE WINE: STEVE MADE THIS COFFEE WINE AND THEN DISTILLED IT – STRANGEST ALCOHOL I EVER TRIED. IT WAS MORE LIKE A BARB, AND I RECALL WALKING ACROSS THE SQUARE AFTER A COUPLE OF SHOTS AND HAVING TUNNEL VISION!

-Bill Vosburgh Dec 2008

THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE by RITCHIE VENUS

Posted in cultural studies, law, music, NZ bands, travel by kawowski on December 10, 2008

 

Ritchie Venus c. 2000 AD (timeless)

Ritchie Venus c. 2000 AD (timeless)

In 1988, Little Stevie McCabe and I spent most of May and part of June in the United States. The purpose of our trip was partly to perform, and partly to make and renew contacts on behalf of the record companies we represented (Sleek Bott and Onset Offset). We were both trying to get albums released by American companies, partly to overcome the problem of getting New Zealand records pressed, and also because the records of both of us attracted more interest in the U.S. than they did in New Zealand. Indeed, it always amazed me that I could get things reviewed in New York and Boston without difficulty, but not in New Zealand!

Stevie McCabe + bird, the Coromandel

Stevie McCabe + bird, the Coromandel

Before the trip, I had a number of expectations. For a start, I was under the impression that New Zealand music was currently sought after in a manner somewhat akin to the British Beat boom of the Sixties, although on a much smaller scale. I was surprised to find how much smaller a scale the interest was: most shops were as reluctant as the New Zealand ones to stock records released by small independent companies. The fact that New Zealand pressings were not sealed in cellophane didn’t help. One New Orleans, shop that had in the past exhibited enthusiasm for New Zealand music, had become disillusioned because it had not sold.

 

guns of mt roskill

guns of mt roskill

Few, however, gave the impression of having ever been remotely interested in any of it. The stock excuses were that the records had to be released through an American company, or that a shop could not buy records from anyone who did not have a vendor’s licence.

The latter had no apparent basis in law, as there were some shops that would buy stock from us, although sometimes they would take it only on a sale-or-return basis (“on consignment”) as in New Zealand. Onset Offset never received any money from such deals!

 

 

 

Ritchie's Slide guitar rule

"One Slide to rule them all " - Ritchie's Slide guitar rule

Onset Offset having received requests from American critics for records and tapes to review, I expected a greater interest from critics than one found in New Zealand, where a review copy sent to a publication occasionally resulted in a review, but was more likely to end up in the nearest second-hand shop. In this, I was not disappointed: my experience of American critics of independent records was that they generally turned out to be enthusiasts keen to build up their own collections in return for constructive and encouraging reviews in the magazines for which they wrote. Of particular note in this respect were Byron Coley of “Forced Exposure” and Fred Mills of “The Bob”.

Looks like a million bucks

Looks like a million bucks

As a performer, I expected the remuneration to be better than in New Zealand. While I was aware that New Zealand audiences were well known for their lack of response, I had no particular expectation of American audiences. As it happened, I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm with which our performances were received. Americans, it seemed, understood what New Zealanders do not, i.e. that if a performer receives no encouragement in the early stages of a performance, it is almost impossible to build up any momentum, with the result that when the audience fails to indicate its approval or disapproval, the performance is likely to become more and more mechanical as it proceeds, leaving both the audience and the performer dissatisfied.

 

Zombies, New Orleans

Zombies, New Orleans

Whereas New Zealanders will sit like zombies waiting for the performer to win them over, Americans give one the benefit of the doubt and display enthusiasm from the start, which greatly affects the quality of the performance they get. As far as the money was concerned, however, it proved to be no better than in New Zealand. In San Francisco, where we performed and also worked for a promoter putting up posters, we were promised more for both than we actually received. Everyone in the music business there seemed to be perpetually insolvent, especially when it was time to pay performers.

 

VenuVenus and McCabe - Tour Poster designed and printed by Steve McCabe

VenuVenus and McCabe - Tour Poster designed and printed by Steve McCabe

My final expectation was that while there was likely to be more competition in America, there would also be more opportunities. What I found was that there was indeed infinitely more competition in the form of an unbelievable number of bands, most of which seemed incredibly well-rehearsed and displayed an energy that would probably have been frowned upon in New Zealand alternative music circles in those days. At the same time, however, each city seemed to have the same number of venues as a typical New Zealand city. While almost every band I encountered had a record out, there existed a similar situation to that in New Zealand where one could be revered by many who would do anything for you except buy your records.

Neither of us eventually found American companies to release our records, but we made valuable distribution deals, which at least ensured that our records would continue to be available in the United States.

 

"...one had to try to look intimidating..."

"...one had to try to look intimidating..."

As a performer, I am bound to say I would prefer to be in America than New Zealand. Nevertheless, in other ways I came to feel it was a nice place to visit, but an undesirable place to live. The ever-present beggars and hustlers were a nuisance, especially in New York, where one had to try to look intimidating to discourage as many of them as possible, and where any attempt at friendliness to a stranger was likely to be perceived as an attempt to get money from him/her. Also, despite being well armed at all times, I seldom felt very safe in the city centres, which seemed full of suspicious-looking characters.

 

"I was frequently impressed by the friendliness of people of all races"

"I was frequently impressed by the friendliness of people of all races"

On the credit side, I was frequently impressed by the friendliness of people of all races. Indeed, the racial problems we heard about were not as apparent as I expected. While I was there, I never wished I was back home, and my experience with Customs upon my return made me wish I had not bothered coming back: overzealous Customs officers seemed to think that anyone carrying a guitar case was a drug smuggler, and in a (fruitless) search for drugs they dismantled my guitar, went through my baggage and clothes, and took my souvenirs.

- Post by Ritchie Venus, Rock’n’Roll Idol, ruthless businessman, artefact collector, rnr analyst, film and popular culture historian, writer, singer, songwriter

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