Axemen US Tour W/- Times New Viking – now with confirmed dates!

Times New Viking / Axemen US Tour

UPDATED OCT 24 2009! NEW DATES SEE BELOW….

The Axemen, in cahoots with Times New Viking /Ground Control Touring /Silt Breeze / Matador / Sleek Bott Records proudly announce the much vaunted US TOUR has now been confirmed!

View Latest Itinerary / Buy Tickets…

View Tour Map

  • Tue-Oct-27 Sacramento, CA Luigi’s Fungarden
  • Thu-Oct-29 San Francisco, CA  Bottom of the Hill
  • Fri-Oct-30 Santa Cruz, CA Crepe Place
  • Sun-Nov-01 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex (Part Time Punks)
  • Mon-Nov-02 Irvine, CA Acrobatics Everyday/UC Irvine
  • Tue-Nov-03 Phoenix, AZ Modified Arts
  • Wed-Nov-04 El Paso, TX Black Market
  • Fri-Nov-06 Dallas, TX The Lounge on Elm St.
  • Sat-Nov-07 Austin, TX Broken Neck
  • Mon-Nov-09 Memphis, TN Hi-Tone
  • Tue-Nov-10 Florence, AL The Black Owl
  • Wed-Nov-11 Birmingham, AL Bottletree
  • Thu-Nov-12 Atlanta, GA Star Bar
  • Fri-Nov-13 Chapel HIll, NC Local 506
  • Sat-Nov-14 Baltimore, MD  Otto Bar
  • Sun-Nov-15 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie
  • Wed-Nov-18 New York, NY  Mercury Lounge
  • Thu-Nov-19 Brooklyn, NY Union Pool
  • Fri-Nov-20 Hoboken, NJ Maxwell’s
  • Sat-Nov-21 Boston, MA Great Scott
  • Mon-Nov 23 Morgantown, WV 123 Pleasant Street
  • Nov 27 Columbus OH, Oldfield’s On High
  • Nov 28 Chicago, Il Permanent Records instore
  • Nov 28 Chicago Il, Cave space (all ages)

What about these guys??? the Puddle Live-to-air at Radio Volcano, sweet as, direct from another universe

the puddle, live to air, radio volcano, lyttelton, one romantic gesture
the puddle, live to air, radio volcano, lyttelton, one romantic gesture

and this one with different scenery – needs more mick though if you ask me….

The Puddle - same song, better scenery
The Puddle - better scenery in this vid... wish george the best after his stroke - oops sorry that was that other guy

Shoes This High – STH 7″ EP (Recorded 21.12.80)

In 1986 Stu Kawowski succumbed to the magnetic attraction of “The North.” At first he thought it was the Wellington effect, so he ventured up there for a few months, and moved in with The Skeptics for a while, first at Nick’s pad in Brooklyn, and later crashed at Writhe Recording, their studio cnr Walter & Vivian Sts. About a block away was an upstairs flat at the end of (and simply known as) “Kensington Street.” Here could be found the talented Walker sisters, Jane & Jessica, Tracey Walsh, and some other guys, all of whom had been in bands, were in bands or hung out with bands. Jane had been in Toy Love, Tracey had a band called The Yellimin, and Jessica had been in a band called Shoes This High.

shoesthishigh_sml
Shoes This High (Dec 1980) Back L to R: Brent Hayward, Chris Plummer. Front L to R: Kevin Hawkins, Jessica Walker (pic Peter Avery)

Flashback #1 to sometime around 1980/1981:

Kawowski was still a “band virgin” (unless you count his several years snare drumming for the Marlborough Boys’ College and Blenheim Municipal Brass Bands… hmmm I thought not) but he was into some cool music at that time: Can, The Fall, Pere Ubu, Joy Division, Swell Maps, Capt. Beefheart… So not long after, when he found himself wandering around Wellington in the Willis St area, he somehow recognised a beautiful distorted, energetic sound bouncing off the walls of the empty twilight city. After walking around a few corners he finally discovered its origin: There, in a dimly lit, near empty hall, were four skinny musicians frantically rehearsing some amazing music on stage. None of them objected to his presence, so he was able to stay and enjoy a private audience with one of New Zealand’s best bands of that era, Shoes This High.

Shoes This High - STH (1981) 7" 4-track EP (STH 001-A, STH 001-B)
Shoes This High - STH (1981) 7" 4-track EP (STH 001-A, STH 001-B)

1. the nose one

2. Foot’s Dream

3. a mess

4. Not Weighting

sth_label640

shoes-this-high-stf-rear-cover_640

Five years later, Kawowski was visiting Kensington St, he entered the house, was walking down the hall when suddenly a knife came whistling out of a side door a few metres ahead “THUNK!” and stuck into a life-size silhouette of a person painted on the wooden wall. “DONK!”, “WHAM!”, “THUNK!” as three more throwing knives landed in the figure’s heart, followed by “DING” as a Kung-Fu star split its forehead between the eyes. Satisfied that the barrage of sharpened circus cutlery was depleted, Kawowski bravely entered that door and came face-to-face with the martial arts expert: Jessica Walker, Shoes This High bass player.

In 1987, the Axemen convinced Flying Nun Records to do a second album. They cut a deal with The Skeptics, that allowed them to take advantage of their newly built 16-track studio Writhe Recording, the outcome being “Derry Legend”, the follow-up to their debut double vinyl “Three Virgins” (1985). The Axemen had already released several cassette albums on their own Sleek Bott label,  but those vinyl releases effectively enjoyed the Flying Nun ‘stamp of approval’ in addition to their international marketing and distribution network.

 “Mourning of Youth” (1987) – AXEMEN

(Steve’s ageless dirge reveals a prone McCabe at Chippendale Hall, Dunedin 1987, coins on shut eyelids, candles melting into offering hands, unattended cigarette smoking between his lips, 1957 Isle of Man Golden Jubilee TT races flicker across his corpse-like demeanour.)


For McCabe’s “Mourning of Youth” composition, he’d mentioned that a viola would sound good in there, so before you know it, the master knife-throwing, catgut stroking Jessica Walker was enlisted to lay down some wailing and plucking that, says Stu, “had all of the hairs sticking out on the back of my neck!” (This harrowing, haunting track was also selected by the late Kurt Cobain for one of his personal mix-cassettes track-listed in his posthumously published diaries.)

mourningofyouth_kurt_800
p236 Kurt's diary "Mourning of Youth" on a mixtape playlist

Flashback #2

By the time the Axemen and Kevin Hawkins crossed swords paths in Auckland, while day-tripping there during their sojourn at the Whangarei Buskers Festival in December 1985, Shoes This High had disbanded, Fishschool was no more and Kev had metamorphosed into the proudly homosexual Screamin’ K. Hawkins, collaborating with various musicians credited as “& His Walk-In Lovers.” While “love at first sight” doesn’t exactly describe the relationship that existed between Kev and Bob Brannigan (though given Bob’s growing interest in psychic phenomena at the time, “love at second sight” is peculiarly apt), the older rocker charmed the pants off the repressed rebel and touched him in ways few men hitherto had, and none since.

Soon the gay guerrilla planted his seed in the young punk’s garden of earthly delights and romance blossomed. The pair pashed in public and back in Christchurch camped inside Kawowski’s Rolleston Ave foyer, staging a mini bed-in a la John & Yoko, only way gayer and with no international media attention. “We even had sex in the backseat of the Starliner,” boasts Bob, “en-route between Christchurch & South Dunedin. Thanks to Kevvy’s gift of love, at last I was able to laugh at the atmosphere of stultifying despondency that permeated NZ intercity bus-services in the mid-80s.”

Despite growing health problems, Hawkins continued to use drugs on top of his prescribed withdrawal medication, frequently blacking-out and injuring himself; this behaviour frightened Bob and the couple parted acrimoniously. “I used to joke with him, saying If you die, I’ll fucking kill you! We had a falling-out and he went back up north, no contact for about a year, then he died. It was like a beautiful fairy story gone terribly wrong. But what a guy! A total magician.”

Flashback #3

“Around the end of 1986,” Stu recalls, “I remember running into Croatian Axeman extraordinaire Dragan Stojanovic busking in Manners Mall just near McDonalds (one of his regular Wellington busking haunts). He told me that Kevin Hawkins had just died but that he’d seen him the previous week, and that Kev was over the moon ‘cos he’d fulfilled one of his lifetime dreams: Fucking someone in a cemetery. En route downhill from Victoria University after some event up there, he and his companion wandered through the remains of the desecrated old cemetery, and did the deed against a gravestone.”

(BTW if anybody knows where Dragan is can they please ask him to get in touch with AXEMEN – email or comment on the blog…)*

    -Saki Tuskwow & Ann Gribabbon

    *P.S. we found him shacked up with his sister Sonja in his brother’s house in the Hutt 🙂

The Axemen – Bus boys from way back

The long association of The Axemen with the buses of Otago probably began with their featuring role in Wilma McCorkindale’s seminal book on the subject, Otago Road Services Ltd – A Brief History.

While researching the book McCorkindale became fascinated (some would say obsessed) with these ‘frequent flyers’ and would chat with them for virtually the entire journey between Christchurch and South Dunedin, which by 1983 was a regular occurrence.

The venerable 1968 Starliner coach which ferried the lads and served as tour bus, writing room, coffee wine drinking establishment and muse became the Axemen’s second (and in Bob’s case, first) home throughout the mid-80s, and was later featured in the Axemen’s short-lived New Zealand version of the long-running British TV Series “On the Buses.”

The programme, though critically regarded as a Pinteresque masterpiece, became yet another casualty of Rogernomics, New Zealand’s pathetic but ruthless imitation of Thatchernomics and Reaganomics—this type of sycophantic replication of dumb-ass overseas trends continues to this day unfortunately, reaching a possible new low recently with New Zealand versions of “Wheel of Fortune,” “The Weakest Link” and “American Idol” (brilliantly re-packaged as “New Zealand Idol”).

On The Buses with the Axemen
On The Buses with the Axemen (TV Series 1983-84). Promo shot circa 1983 courtesy South Pacific Television - Kiaora Kiwi and Cat!

To say these programmes are a crock is doing a harsh disservice to crocks everywhere, and perhaps the Axemen’s brief glimmer in the spotlight as TV stars was its only redeeming feature; but I digress.

The demise of the show did have one lasting benefit – it gave the lads much more time to concentrate on honing their songwriting, performing, spray-painting, screen-printing and self-promotion skills, and forced them to extend their minds further.

The Bus Association continues today - Tour Groups still take the bus around Christchurch to visit various Axemen Points of Interest
The Axemen bus association continues today - Tour Groups still take the bus around Christchurch to visit various Axemen "Points of Interest"

Through experimentation with early blends of coffee wine (brewed by Steve and locally known as ‘Co-Wi’ [pronounced ‘Kowhai’ like the native New Zealand flower], which McCabe was always trying to perfect), alongside other powerful psychoactive agents, the songs really began to flow at this time, and the legendary banter and verbal interactions which were the staple of the show now became the Axemen’s trademark—many a club manager or promoter remember ruefully being on the sharp end of one of the lads’ papercut-on-the-eyeball retorts.

Posted By Little Stevie McCabe

Knock-Knock Who’s-There Smell-Map

Map 1 here shows the whereabouts of various members of the
Axemen in the first few months of the band’s existence.

PHOTO-ESSAY: A LITTLE BIT OF YESTERDAY

South Dunedin, home of the South Dunedin sound

South Dunedin – home of the South Dunedin Sound.

Maureen of the Empire Tavern
about to burn life-size effigy of Little Stevie McCabe.

<– South Dunedin | Starliners (so-called) | Christchurch –>

<–Alpha Centauri | Starliners (actual) | Eta Tandoori–>

Christchurch, 1983

Enjoy Christchurch graphic by Stu pre-dated the Absolutely Wellington campaign by at least a decade!
Enjoy Christchurch graphic by Stu pre-dated the try-hard Absolutely Wellington campaign by at least a decade!
Christchurch's Disco Queen Mere Nihoniho at Caledonian Hall '77 by Kowalski
Christchurch's Disco Queen Mere Nihoniho at Caledonian Hall '77 by Kowalski

*

Accompanying this photo-essay are some more tracks recorded live at the Star & Garter on 4-11-83:

cassette recorder

untitled (sounds
like fiery jack)

get down

9 candles on the cake

a little bit of yesterday (johnny cash)