Bob Cardy is home from a spell in hospital and “feeling much better after a spot of pneumonia” according to a post on his Facebook page.
He’s not slow off the mark to announce that there’s a new SHAFT single titled “Meteor In Your Mind” with upcoming shows at Golden Dawn and Thirsty Dog to be announced and then, not long after that, a brand new album – the first new album from SHAFT in 8 years and the first ever to be released on vinyl.
Here’s a picture of Bob in hospital that he shared on Facebook last week!
As with their fantastic 39 Clocks reissue, Luxury Product once again live up to their name with a beautiful package on this LP, originally released on Flying Nun in 1989. Derry Legend was the second proper Axemen album and it is also the band’s most immediate and coherent statement. Coherent is a pretty funny term to apply to this group, who always seemed to teeter on the brink of it and more often fell into chaos, but compared to their earlier work, the sprawling double album Three Virgins and earlier cassettes Scary Pt. III and Big Cheap Motel (all of which have been reissued by Siltbreeze over the past few years), Derry Legend is a perfectly distilled statement of all that the band was capable of. This is a record that shifts from off-kilter rock ‘n’ roll to Tin Pan Alley ballads to what is most likely New Zealand’s first (and only?) anti-drug, conscious, rap/rock hybrid — and all of this is even before you get to the track called “Human Hot Dogs!”
I’ve wracked my brain trying to think of any New Zealand bands that might have been the forbearers of such insanity and can’t really come up with any. Surely there must have been some Captain Beefheart and Bonzo Dog Band records involved and there are a few moments, like on the album opener “Disc to Disk” and closer “Mourning of Youth,” where they don’t seem too far off from the sound that made Flying Nun famous. You get the sense that if they wanted to they could have made a classic LP in that mold, but thank god they didn’t, as what they did make is far more unique and wonderful. If anything this record reminds me of a Kiwi version of Alex Chilton’s Like Flies on Sherbert, as it embodies that same sort of free-spirited, devil-may-care attitude, and like that album the more you listen to it the better it sounds. (March 19, 2014)
There is an argument, popular among some, that a career in music is just too easy these days. Whether that’s true or not is impossible to quantify – too easy compared to what, exactly? – but it’s safe to say that if you choose to make records like Big Cheap Motel then you’re always going to be on the very far our fringes of popular culture whatever time you happen to exist in.
Formed in South Church and Dunedin in 1981, The Axemen’s initial inspiration was to protest against the aparthied-era South African rugby team playing in New Zealand. Their chosen medium was, by the sounds of it, terrifyingly primitive sax noodling lain atop cardboard box drums and one-chord detuned stumble-thrash. All of which makes Axemen sound awful when in fact they’re all kinds of amazing. Listen to Stoopid Symbol Of Woman Hate or Can’t Stand Up For 40-Inch Busts (both songs were inspired by a hatred of sexist advertising) and you can hear Amon Duul and Hawkwind scaring the living shit out of Devo and Clock DVA. I suppose if you starved kraut gods Faust at gunpoint for a month then made them jump down a well tied to an appalling, ham-fisted Sham 69 tribute group you might – might! – come up with something like this hellishly raw and poorly recorded album, but only if you were very, very lucky.
This is a brilliant artefact as it’s so amazingly free, like a gloriously inebriated idea come to shocking life, Big Cheap Motel is a series of truly bloody terrible noises slung together to make something altogether wonderful. It is insane and angry and funny and informed by a thirst for cheap beer, sonic outrage and dangerous thrills and you really need to hear it now. Which, in this day and age, is a gloriously easy task.
While Shoes This High’s existence was a mere glint in the eye of Father Time (a year or more, tops), they made every second count, stalking the New Zealand post-punk landscape—both North and South islands—with ravenous abandon.
For most fans, their legend and reputation rest solely on the strength of one highly formidable (and collectable) self-released 7-inch EP from 1981. And as anyone with ears who’s had the good fortune to come in contact with its jagged, scabrous genius can attest, the cry invariably rings out afterward: “Mein Gott, is this all there is?” In the 30-plus years since its initial release, the answer has been a most unflinching “yes.”
That is, until Siltbreeze tapped into the massive tape library of famed New Zealand underground music archivist Bob Sutton, who had in his possession a white-hot live scorcher of the group, culled from a set that went down at the infamous Billy the Club way back when. Straight to Hell showcases a band at the peak of their menacing powers.
Guitarist Kevin Hawkins slashes and rips strings from his ax like a mad butcher; the rhythm section of Jessica Walker and Christopher Plummer is par excellence, while the sneering, contemptuous vocals of singer S. Brent Hayward spit like poison darts above the swagger. Expertly sequenced by Jared Phillips (Times New Viking), Straight to Hell is a most welcome and astonishingly great artifact that delivers in buckets a shivering, toxic rain you always knew had fallen. Vinyl comes with a digital download of the complete album plus the four studio tracks from the original 1981 EP. One-time edition of 500—buy now or cry later.
Shoes This High posters – from the awesome collection of Bob Sutton
Spacecase Records is pleased to release Sac Tap Nut Jam—the first new Axemen full length in twenty-one years. GO BUY SAC TAP NUT JAM NOW (direct from Spacecase)!
Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, The Axemen formed in 1983. Shortly afterwards the band solidified around the core of Steve McCabe, Stu Kawowski and Bob Brannigan. (More than two dozen musicians have played in the Axemen, notably Johnny Segovia, George D. Henderson, Mick Elborado and Peter Gutteridge). Initial Axemen releases came out on Steve McCabe’s cassette label, Sleek Bott. The Axemen signed to Flying Nun in the mid ’80s, releasing the label’s first double album, Three Virgins (1986). Like The Swell Maps, The Axemen sound is hard to define—Three Virgins runs the gamut, from country to punk to avant-garde. The Axemen released their second Flying Nun record Derry Legend in 1987. The band put out further cassettes on Sleek Bott, notably Scary(Part III) and Three Rooms(An Elton John Tribute Album), before going on hiatus in the early ’90s.
In 2009, The Axemen caught their second wind thanks to Tom Lax at Siltbreeze who reissued the band’s cassette-only releases Big Cheap Motel and Scary (Part III). The Axemen toured the United States with Times New Viking the same year. In 2011 The Axemen visited Australia and put out a tour 7″— a label split between McCabe’s Sleek Bott and the late Brendon Annesley’s Negative Guest List Records. Siltbreeze came through again that year, reissuing Three Virgins on vinyl (original pressings were going for well over fifty dollars).
Sac Tap Nut Jam finds Steve McCabe and Stu Kawowski reuniting with Dragan Stojanovic (who played on 1987’s Derry Legend); rounding out the lineup is William Daymond. Recorded in early 2013 in Wellington and Taita, Lower Hutt, Sac Tap Nut Jam—like all Axemen releases—defies easy categorization. There’s The Beatles/Dylan pop of Stojanovic’s “These Days”; McCabe’s post punk-influenced “Doctor’s on Speed Dial”; Steve McCabe’s inimitable voice and stream-of-consciousness lyric writing comes to the forefront on “Google That Girl”.
500 vinyl copies of Sac Tap Nut Jam were pressed up—400 on black, 100 on gold. The Axemen are currently planning a tour of New Zealand in support of Sac Tap Nut Jam.
Sac Tap Nut Jam is the sixth release from Camarillo, California-based Spacecase Records.
If ordering from outside the United States please email firstname.lastname@example.org before submitting your order for accurate shipping rates.
US label Spacecase Records is proud to announce they will be releasing the next Axemen 12″ LP – just as soon as it is recorded! Axemen spokesperson Stevie McCabe, speaking from his beach retreat at Te Puru, Coromandel Peninsula, stated: “Me and the lads are over the moon about the Spacecase deal – we can’t wait to record the new material in Wellington later this month!”
The single will feature new material and the 12″ track-list will be finalised after the recording sessions later on this month (February).
“We’ll be recording in the studio and at a special free live recording party at the Mighty Mighty on Wednesday 27th Feb – we’ll use the best of the best of the recordings and we hope to do some writing as well – all in all its going to be super-intense” enthused McCabe.
The recordings and gig will feature the same Axemen line-up which toured Australia in December 2011 – Steve McCabe, Dragan Stojanovic, Stu Kawowski and William Daymond.
London police have launched a murder investigation following the death of a Wellington punk proponent after an early morning assault.
Steve Andrews, 46, was a key figure in Wellington’s early punk scene but had been living in London for about a decade.
It is understood he had been out celebrating his girlfriend’s birthday on Saturday night in Putney, southwest London.
London Metropolitan Police confirmed a murder investigation had been launched.
While police believe they know the identity, he still has to be formally identified.
Next of kin were aware, police said.
Police were called to a fight near the Duke’s Head pub on Lower Richmond Rd at 12.30am on Sunday (UK time).
He was taken to a south London hospital suffering serious head injuries and pronounced dead at 6pm on Sunday.
No arrests had yet been made.
Friend Nick Farrance had visited Andrews in London two months ago.
Andrews took Mr Farrance to the Tate Modern in London, and would often post photos of European castles on Facebook.
He had worked as a postman since getting to London about a decade ago.
He was due to return to New Zealand for a reunion tour with his Wellington band Vas Deferens.
Old friend Howard Levarko described Andrews as a “diamond geezer”.
“I can’t picture a world without Steve Andrews. He was a character. He was just a legend.”
He met him in the mid 1980s when they were both part of the Wellington punk scene, and said Andrews was friends with everyone.
“Everybody loved Steve. He would walk up to a complete stranger and talk to them. He was known by a hell of a lot of people.
“It’s hitting us pretty bloody badly.”
In the last few days, Andrews had posted photographs of himself on Facebook with British punk legend Mick Jones from The Clash.
Mr Levarko said that was testament to the way Andrews lived his life, and his friendly nature.
“He’s living the dream. He went up to these people and they seemed to warm to him.”
Childhood friend Drew Aitchison said details of the attack were sketchy but Andrews was never violent himself.
“He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Friends were “gobsmacked” by news of his death.
Following news of his death, Andrews’ Facebook page has become a tribute page.
Tom Larkin, from Shihad, wrote: “I’ll never forget you jumping on our table at midnight espresso at 4 in the afternoon and screaming a song to me and Sarah Stewart, freaking the shit out of every uni student in the whole place – I will miss you bud. RIP x.”
Darryl Ward described Andrews as “one of the most decent blokes I have ever known”.
A STREET LEVEL STAR
Andrews was the frontman for Wellington punk band Vas Deferens, which friends remembered as a raucous good-time live act that played around the capital throughout the nineties.
Dozens of heartfelt messages and reminiscences of Andrew’s larrakin presence on the Wellington music scene have been posted on Facebook since news of his death.
‘‘I hope you’re in your idea of heaven taking your place among the rock gods and goddesses. Gone way too soon, and senselessly. Prayers and deep condolences to Steve’s family, and friends near and far. RIP with the angels, sweetie XXX,’’ wrote Teuila Grace Tualaulelei on Andrews’ personal Facebook page.
Some who didn’t know Andrews personally remembered him as a fixture in Wellington’s Bohemian quarter, where he was often seen riding his BMX with his hair piled high, clad in denim jacket and brothel creeper shoes.
‘‘I remember just before I moved into town, he was one of the first cats I noticed, (just a wee wannabe i was) an dare i say, aspired to. RIP Steve. I never knew u very well, but will always will remember who you were, around the streets of our Punk City!!!!’’ Kevin Lapslie wrote on the Wellington Up the Punks fan page.
Rufus Dayglo wrote on Andrews’ personal Facebook page: ‘‘When I first met Steve…I was new in Wellington, He approached me, and gave me a flyer…. “You like Punk eh? Come see these guys, they’re the best punk band in Welly!”..So I turn up to the gig…and it’s him..on stage….Vas Deferens. Steve Andrews…One of a f**kin’ kind.’’
Friends said there was a real gentleman behind the larger-than-life persona.
‘‘Steve was a diamond geezer who will be remembered by many of the Wellington old guard. RIP Steve – very sad,’’ wrote Kapiti guitar-maker Dave Berry.
Photos of Andrews, almost always his punk rocker finery, were shared around Facebook by mourning friends. Band photos from the 90s emerged as well as a picture of him with Sex Pistols singer John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten.
‘‘Out of all the nameless fans that Lydon has met over the years I’ll bet he remembers Steve,’’ wrote Berry.
In a stunning David and Goliath legal challenge backdown, the Axemen came out with pea-shooters and slingshots blazing to bring the heavy handed but hamfisted WARNER BROTHERS franchise to its knees after its bullying challenge to the bands right to post their own material online.
The bizarre set of events began when Warner Bros, with their hordes of copyright lawyers and the huge stick of the publishing industry behind their back simply GOT IT WRONG, accusing the Axemen of infringing copyright which it claimed on the bands own material. A simple copyright search on APRA/AMCOS records would have shown the rush-to-judgment giants that all Axemen material published and released on Flying Nun, Sleek Bott, Silt Breeze, Negative Guest List, etc. is the sole property of Sleek Bott Publishing, with royalties being divided amongst the songwriters as appropriate.
The arrogance of Warner’s in assuming because they are the top feeders, swallowing up Flying Nun from the stomach of Mushroom records as almost a burp but finding some remnants of possible income in the bowels and seeing an opportunity to squeeze out a couple bucks from the ruminant remains, is astounding and simply serves to expose their greed and arrogance and highlight some of the injustices and the inherent unfairness of the existing copyright system.
A timely reminder to register your songs and protect your rights inasmuch as they can be protected, but at least avoid the ridiculous situation where a corporate can legally force you to remove your own material from display….
You can see the allegedly offending video at the link below in the backdown email from YouTube/WMG (Warner’s Music Group).
Never let it be said the Axemen take shit from the man!
From: YouTube <email@example.com>
Date: 29 July 2012 3:21:37 AM NZST
To: N0ISYLAND <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Information about your video ""Mourning of Youth" (1987) by AXEMEN"
WMG has reviewed your dispute and released its copyright claim on your video,
""Mourning of Youth" (1987) by AXEMEN".
For more information, please visit your Copyright Notice page
- The YouTube Team
In the wake of the departure of Bob Brannigan and Mick Elborado’s increasingly angry instability the remaining Axemen would like to introduce the new beacon of rock’n’roll ardour, the hope of Axemen Generation Y, the bass-bone connected to the backbone, the rhythm king, a girls best friend… William Daymond.
Born in 1984, Daymond injects the vigour of youth into the unit and his infectious enthusiasm has infused the band with a new surge of energy – and ladies, believe me, the surge is working!
Well known as much for his extensive musical knowledge as for his work with The Pickups, Green Eyed Owl , Cougar Cougar Cougar, The Flying Sorcerers, The Steffan van Soest Hit Machine, Terror of the Deep (amongst others) , Daymond adds his versatility and another layer of complexity to the steaming porridge that is the Axemen class of 2011.
FINALLY! After a couple of years in the RE-making, the Axemen’s legendary dbl lp ‘3 Virgins, 3 Virgins, 3 Visions’ (hereafter known simply as 3V’s) is available for order. Originally seeing the light of day on the Flying Nun label in 1985, 3V’s is a broad canvas of sound, seemingly channeling other likeminded cornerstones of fringe rumble such as ‘Trout Mask Replica’, ‘Exile On Main Stree’t & ‘Tago Mago’. Just like last time (remember?) this is a limited edition run of 600 & housed is a stunning full color gatefold sleeve. Prices are as follows;
*LIMITED TIME OFFER*
Add to your order both previous Axemen titles; ‘Big Cheap Motel’ lp + Scary,Part III double lp for only 15$ more! No extra shipping cost either!That’s 3 more lp’s! What a bargain!
(Just make sure to mention when ordering).
Like a phoenix, it’s flaming wings rendering liquefacted silt into weirdly shaped shiny psychedelic ceramic sculptures as it rises from the quake-decimated ruins of Christchurch’s State Trinity Centre, the penultimate Axemen tome “Three Virgins, Three Versions, Three Visions” (commonly referred to in hushed tones as simply “Three Virgins“), well, more accurately, the four fragile lacquers of which are currently and patiently awaiting their turn at R.T.I. USA. Soon those lovingly engraved mothers will be slammed into steaming 180 gram piles of black vinyl, and slipped into exact replicas of the intricately elaborate 4-colour gatefold sleeve, the cost of said practically bringing Flying Nun Records to it’s knees back in the Christchurch of 1986.
The 22/2/11 quake-decimated ruins of Christchurch’s State Trinity Centre.
Kawowski’s vain effort to bake the original 7″ masters in a food-dehydrator, and transfer digitally proved unacceptable to his high standards of aural sensitivity. With the upwards nodding approval of the other 2/3 of the legendary flat-city triad, Steve ‘n Bob, together with the blessing of the sage Siltbreeze label boss T. J. Lax, Germany’s and possibly the world’s pre-eminate ‘needle drop’ exponent Thomas Hartlage of SHADOKS™ was contracted to place his own virgin pressing of the original 1986 pressing onto his unspeakably expensive transcription system, the result being a beautifully crafted replica with all aspects and nuances of the tricky trio’s debut vinyl of PQ (pre-quake) ChCh yesteryear. Not sufficiently content with this scintillating facsimile, the 24bit WAVs were broadbanded south to a dijkside upstairs warehouse near Amsterdam, where the legendary FIR International wove his mastering magic upon the 22 tracks, and soon after Mark at Prairie Cat Mastering in Illinois had manifested the four sides of the 88 minute set in shiny, shiny lacquer.
An announcement will be made shortly regarding worldwide availability of these waxy widgets. Keep watching here, and AXEMEN on Facebook.
Stop Press: In a generous 11th hour gesture, Shadoks & Fir International donated 60% of the mastering costs to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. In fact the whole exercise of re-releasing Three Virgins is all about the music, as the small 2nd edition pressing run will only produce 600 copies, and not return much of a profit to Siltbreeze’s hungry shareholders. The Axemen are very cognizant of this fact and super-appreciative of everyone’s efforts and generosity all round.
By JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press Writer Jim Vertuno, Associated Press Writer – Thu Feb 18, 6:57 pm ET
AUSTIN, Texas – A software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service launched a suicide attack on the agency Thursday by crashing his small plane into an office building containing nearly 200 IRS employees, setting off a raging fire that sent workers running for their lives.
At least one person in the building was missing.
The FBI tentatively identified the pilot as Joseph A. Stack, 53. Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still going on, said that before taking off, Stack apparently set fire to his house and posted a long anti-government screed on the Web. It was dated Thursday and signed “Joe Stack (1956-2010).”
In it, the author cited run-ins he had with the IRS and ranted about the tax agency, government bailouts and corporate America’s “thugs and plunderers.”
“I have had all I can stand,” he wrote, adding: “I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at `big brother’ while he strips my carcass.”
The pilot took off in a single-engine Piper Cherokee from an airport in Georgetown, about 30 miles from Austin, without filing a flight plan. He flew low over the Austin skyline before plowing into the side of the hulking, seven-story, black-glass building just before 10 a.m. with a thunderous explosion that instantly stirred memories of Sept. 11.
Flames shot from the building, windows exploded, a huge pillar of black smoke rose over the city, and terrified workers rushed to get out.
The Pentagon scrambled two F-16 fighter jets from Houston to patrol the skies over the burning building before it became clear that it was the act of a lone pilot, and President Barack Obama was briefed.
“It felt like a bomb blew off,” said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer who was sitting at her desk. “The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran.”
Stack was presumed dead, though police said they had not recovered his body as of Thursday evening. At least 13 people were injured, with two reported in critical condition. About 190 IRS employees work in the building.
Gerry Cullen was eating breakfast at a restaurant across the street when the plane struck the building and “vanished in a fireball.”
Matt Farney, who was in the parking lot of a nearby Home Depot, said he saw a low-flying plane near some apartments just before it crashed. “I figured he was going to buzz the apartments or he was showing off,” Farney said. “It was insane. It didn’t look like he was out of control or anything.”
Sitting at her desk in another building a half-mile from the crash, Michelle Santibanez felt the vibrations and ran to the windows, where she and her co-workers witnessed a scene that reminded them of 9/11.
“It was the same kind of scenario, with window panels falling out and desks falling out and paperwork flying,” said Santibanez, an accountant.
The building, in a heavily congested section of Austin, was still smoldering six hours later, with the worst of the damage on the second and third floors.
The entire outside of the second floor was gone on the side of the building where the plane hit. Support beams were bent inward. Venetian blinds dangled from blown-out windows, and large sections of the exterior were blackened with soot. It was not immediately clear if any tax records were destroyed.
Andrew Jacobson, an IRS revenue officer who was on the second floor when the plane hit with a “big whoomp” and then a second explosion, said about six people couldn’t use the stairwell because of smoke and debris. He found a metal bar to break a window so the group could crawl out onto a concrete ledge, where they were rescued by firefighters. His bloody hands were bandaged.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said “heroic actions” by federal employees may explain why the death toll was so low.
The FBI was investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator as well.
Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin on the Homeland Security Committee, said the panel will take up the issue of how to better protect buildings from attacks with planes.
In the long, rambling, self-described “rant” that Stack apparently posted on the Internet, he began: “If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, `Why did this have to happen?'”
He recounted his financial reverses, his difficulty finding work in Austin, and at least two clashes with the IRS, one of them after he filed no return because, he said, he had no income, the other after he failed to report his wife Sheryl’s income.
He railed against politicians, the Catholic Church, the “unthinkable atrocities” committed by big business, and the government bailouts that followed. He said he slowly came to the conclusion that “violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.”
“I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well,” he wrote.
According to California state records, Stack had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state’s tax board, one in 2000, the other in 2004. Also, his first wife filed for bankruptcy in 1999, listing a debt to the IRS of nearly $126,000.
The blaze at Stack’s home, a red-brick house on a tree-lined street in a middle-class neighborhood six miles from the crash site, caved in the roof and blew out the windows.
Elbert Hutchins, who lives one house away, said the house caught fire about 9:15 a.m. He said a woman and her teenage daughter drove up to the house before firefighters arrived.
“They both were very, very distraught,” said Hutchins, a retiree who said he didn’t know the family well. “‘That’s our house!’ they cried. `That’s our house!'”
Red Cross spokeswoman Marty McKellips said the agency was treating two people who live in the house.
Associated Press writers April Castro and Jay Root in Austin; Michelle Roberts in Georgetown; Linda Stewart Ball, Danny Robbins, Jeff Carlton and John McFarland in Dallas; Devlin Barrett, Lolita C. Baldor and Joan Lowy in Washington; and Melanie Coffee and Barbara Rodriguez in Chicago contributed to this report, along with the AP News Research Center.
As 2009 comes to a close, The House List’s writers and photographers (and editor) take a look back at the year that was. Check back tomorrow for our year-end photo gallery.
My Top Five 7″ Tour Singles
I’ve always loved that for the price of a drink, bands sometimes go the extra distance for their tour and press 7″ vinyl that you really can’t get anywhere else but at the merch table.
1. Times New Viking/Axemen, Tour Single
I love Times New Viking’s no-fi melodic messiness, and they save the great experimental stuff for their B-sides. I got this at their Mercury Lounge show. That it was a split with New Zealand legends the Axemen was even better. Only later did I find out each band covered the other’s songs and they hand-colored every copy! It’s that combination of paying homage to this influential band and introducing people through their reinterpretations that makes this an easy No. 1.
3. Black Dice, “Chocolate Cherry” Tour Single
Black Dice have just a handful of singles from quite a few years ago, so when I saw them at The Bowery Ballroom, I was just looking out of habit. But this unlabeled single ended up being from Catsup Plate, which put out the insane Animal Collective LP box set this year. Both unreleased tracks were a departure—almost funk and with recognizable vocal samples! Truly weird.
4. Make a Mess Records, “Brilliant Colors” Single
I went to see Nodzzz and Wavves at the Underground Lounge on the Upper West Side. I managed to talk to Eric Butterworth from Nodzzz, who had just pressed a single on his label, Make a Mess Records. This ended up being one of my favorites of the year. Simple, stripped-down female-fronted No Wave punk pop.
5. The Balkans, “C++” Tour Single
I caught the Balkans at a new space in Brooklyn called Little Field. Woody Shortridge had pressed a single-sided 7″ at home, and I had to see it for myself. He pours them in his apartment and you get a really crazy-looking handmade single with the lowest of low-fi sound. And it helps that the track is great too. —Jason Dean, writer
Title: Scary! Part III
Long known underground stars from New Zealand, The Axemen are now gaining some well-deserved notoriety here in the States thanks to one of our finest labels, Siltbreeze. Tom Lax has again exhibited sterling musical sense in [repressing – sic.] – re-pressing “Scary! Part III” and “Big Cheap Motel.”
And while it’s not an easy task trying to pin down their sound, especially considering the variety of their entire discography (much less the territorial span of music on this release), I’ll give it a shot.
On my first listening, I immediately drew a comparison to Royal Trux, but that was basically drawn from the majority of vocals on the record, featuring some of the coolest, junked-out vox either before or after the Trux hit the scene.
From the get-go, the song “Heart Bullet” features some insanely fucked up vocals and word play. Unlike a lot of New Zealand music, the vocals are uncharacteristically mixed up and not buried in the instrumentation. It kind of paradoxically makes the voice seem like another instrument—I’m at a loss finding (other than Herrema) anyone to compare the vocals to while maintaining any real dignity. Suffice it to say that they’re easily in the upper echelon of all rock vox, and it’s continued across both wunnerfuly screwed tracks on the double LP set.
Though the music is varied, you never get the feeling that the album was thrown together as pieces. As incoherent and absurd as it is, the record has a marvelous cohesion, at times overtly a downer, such as the track “10 Miles (as the crow flies)” and other points like the near-sinister, hardcore influenced “Join the R.A.F.”
It’s near-put impossible to fix these fellers into any genre, and that’s a damn good thing. Not only that, it’s a fucking difficult thing to pull off convincingly, yet the Axemen do so with, well what’s the write word, grace? How about ‘instinct?’ That seems more apropos. It’s an instinct which speaks more to an overall aesthetic than does it any attempt to play this or that style of music.
This one of the strangest records ever sludged to wax, and it’s caused that compulsive collector in my to try and track down any and all of their recordings, which, from what I’ve read, is going to be a formidable task. This is no surprise since they formed around 1981 and have recorded pretty consistently since, and even through the broad spectrum of music the venerable Flying Nun label have pressed over the years, The Axemen stand totally on their own. Flying Nun wasn’t their only label over the years—there have been several, but as an American touchstone, it’s appropriate to mention them as one of the better-known imprints to bring up.
All I can tell you is that, even on this one double LP, influences include American hardcore and DIY, Beefheart (though nothing obvious springs to mind at the outset), a sort of Zappaesque sense of humor, bizarre synth music, employ of loops and on and on.
The Axemen are their own entity. The only downside to this is that it took so long for an American pressing to go down. I’ve heard that they’ve met with largely great critical press on their recent tour of the U.S. One can only hope that it continues and that we see them again very soon.
Playing in Elvis’s old dojo was always gonna be a tall order. For a bunch of middle-class kiwis with a passion for rock’n’roll, Memphis is a trigger-word for what can be so right and also so wrong in the genre – the full spectrum of green lily-livered-nigger-music-lovin southern boy with just the right amount mixture of sass, sasparilla, and god-given ass and hips.
Thankfully it was an awesome gig and elvis even made an appearance and winked at me, he dug it i know…
He kissed me – and it felt like a punch….
“i gotta say i was “
with your lastest show in the US.
I was expecting the unexpected, with the proviso that i was forewarned that the act was going to be unpredictable and the attitude factor would play a good part in what would eventuate into the axemen’s set, very much a reflection of the local conditions and atmosphere, once we can establish a base anywhere
As the mythics in Valhalla prophesied, the four axemen were once again reunited in the new world, with all the dignity and indignities which applied.
Slowly but surely coming sharply into focus, as if from a dream Bob and Dragan emerged from the highly pressurised, sterile environment of he plane into the highly pressurized, puerile environment of L.A.
As if metatmorphosing from a dream of waldorf salads, pumpkin pie and some garbanzo beans.
Steve visibly winced when he saw the “Please be gentle with the girl from Yentl!” bumper sticker on his guitar case – It was plain as the nose on yer face it would take these gringos a while to socialize.
After yet another sleepless nite the time was finally here to get on board the U.S. ass-kicking train, destination Kick Some Ass, USA, with just long enough a stopover in Aussie to knock back a coupla cold ones.
Stu and Steve, forward scouts for the touring party proper headed off one week in advance to suss the terrain, check out transportation for tour, ogle and purchase electronic goods, check the cuisine, generally reconnoitre and give our credit cards a test run.
First leg to Sydney take off at 0915 hrs, a cuppa java and HEY PRESTO the news is out – the much-vaunted tour has officially commenced!
TO DO LIST, SYDNEY:
1) Meet up with Tracie at airport
3) Pick up Stu’s camera from Ted’s
7) Get back to Airport for L.A. Flight
After waiting round for Tracie about an hour we called Kirsten and we went out to her pad in Newtown, walked into town for lunch then caught the train in Sydney to visit Ted and pick up Stu’s camera, the awesome Panasonic GH-1, got a few more< snaps and then back to Newtown to pick up Kirstens kid from school, and head down the pub for a beer – a must-do activity when in Aussie
Tuesday, November 24th, 3pm – 6pm on Brian Turner’s show, http://www.wfmu.org (streaming/archiving)
91.1 fm (NYC metro NJ) 90.1 fm (Catskills/Hudson Valley/PA/WNJ)
One of the big touring surprises for 2009 has to be the visit of New Zealand’s legendary Axemen to U.S. shores. The band began in Christchurch in 1981 and stood somewhat aside of the pop path exhibited by much of the the Flying Nun label roster, but are without doubt one of the more fascinating Kiwi exports. Various live shows and releases displayed a loose but virulent amalgamation of avant-garage, Half Japanese style sax primitivism, confusion, and general air of maladjusted greatness.
Upon arrival in Christchurch we were whisked off to our waiting vehicle, then before you know it, we were thru the tunnel and at Lyttelton gasbagging with Maree and Keith on their Volcano Radio Show ‘Pale Green Things’ (see http://volcanoradio.co.nz/ for schedule, http://worldtimezones.com/ for time translation), then off to Roz’s for the traditional sumptuous pre-show dinner before making our way across to the Wunderbar to set up for what was to be an awesome night for an awesomely tiny crowd in an awesome venue in an awesome town.
Wunderbar, Lyttelton Sept 24th
Green Eyed Owl
First up Green Eyed Owl , named from a line from a Chills song, which hints at the direction / audience type they are aiming at [finicky bread thieves whov’e kicked more band members out than Andrew Mehrtens kicked penalties???] They got the look and a tight performance, playing a variety of styles, William Daymond’s trademark Beatles bowl-cut looking not a hair out of place and offset nicely by his chequered scarf, all of which reeked style.
Next up to the plate were the Axemen. Steve having played at the Wunderbar recently with Matt Middleton (accompanied by Loliners backline Mick Elborado and Russel Covini) they were soon down to business in the classic 3-piece lineup of McCabe, Brannigan and Kawowski and giving the tiny crowd their all in their first post-Liz Hairdo gig of recent times… in fact their first gig together in about two months…
The Axemen pared back their sound as though it were a gleaming knife slicing throgh a perfect unblemished avocado, McCabe even pausing to metaphorically stoop down, pluck a hair from his head and proceed to (metaphorically once again) chop it in half with the sound coming from the speakers – i know you could argue that were it extra sharp one could cut it all the way down the middle lengthyways, but to be honest I’ve never been one to split hairs…
Rifling through their gander-bag of songs old and new, as is their wont of late in preparation for their upcoming tour (“Let No Song Remain Unplayed!” McCabe was heard to malevonantly whisper during a break in the proceedings). Hooking through their hookladen hits like Dr Hook in a velcro factory the guys effortlessly pulled off a lean, tight rock show with very little fat on it (“I’m gonna need a cheeseburger after this!” Bob quipped). Steve’s one-note Michael Jackson tribute guitar solo concept is developing and sounding better at each performance. A pleasant surprise to see Bob Brannigan behind the wheel of a full-fledged, fullsize axe once again, having recently been heavily into playing keyboards and ukulele. And as for drums, you could set your watch by Kawowski as usual – in fact it is not widely known that the term ‘New York Minute’ refers to and is defined as “the space between beats in the drum trill at the beginning of ‘Animals Have Rights Too’ “ (recently re-released on the Scary! double LP – Silt Breeze);
And now for those erstwhile barely-out-of-their-teens “I was the first punk in the incubator” angry young people rocking their wayout of the slums and grey streets of Grey Lynn and now to Chch and Lyttelton where the small but feisty crowd generate enough spirited banter and appreciative sounds to emulate a crowd of at least twice the actual size the numbers would indicate.
The Hairdos played a typical highly energised set giving Lyttelton the honour of being the first South Island town to get a taste of the Hairdos, a badge of honour the hardy individuals who made the effort to come along will remember for a lifetime and have many a bartab settled by a buddy coming up to them and saying “Please Great Uncle Steve, you were there – please will you tell us once more about the time you saw the Hairdos the first time they played at the WunderBar in Lyttelton?”
As usual the band follow their high-minded democratic principles and the singing is shared equally between the 3 members, Renee, Luke and Liz.
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.
On Saturday August 16, 2009, Axemen Taxman, grunty bass player and disgruntled employee Mick Elborado decided he had had enough and wasn’t going to take it any more after years of abuse from the IRD.
Driving into the place that had been his nemesis for the past 25 years he felt an eery calm as he took the final turnoff, revved the vehicle and drove through 3 plate glass windows and into the reception area, then stepped from the car taking care not to trample the glass into the new carpet – “I didn’t want to get in trouble” – and calmly waited for the police to arrive.
Te Tari Taake or Te Tari Turkey?
On their arrival he quipped “Its OK officer, I work here!” as they cuffed him and hauled him away.
Its OK Officer I work here!
When asked for a quote about the split he cited musical differences and wanting to spend more time on his private projects – “My dentistry business is really picking up!” he chirpily quoted to one reporter.
It was fairly obvious robbery was not the motive, in fact as with many people that come through these doors he later noted he later checked his wallet and realised he had left with $150 less than what he came in with. “Even after all these years I still don’t know how they do that” he noted, shaking his head.
Mick doing the hard yards awaiting bail
After 6 hours in the infamous Sydenham Prison he was put out on the street on bail with his brother Des.
We will be following his case with interest and keeping you posted.
Reprinted from NZ News and various Sources (newest at top)
Tall Dwarfs’ Chris Knox Recovering From Stroke
Indie fans in both the U.S. and New Zealand were stunned to learn over the weekend that Kiwi legend Chris Knox suffered a stroke. The 57-year-old musician/songwriter/cartoonist is recovering at Auckland City Hospital.
“We’d just like to say that Chris’ partner Barbara Ward and his children John and Leisha are grateful for the support and love they’ve received, and at the moment everyone’s focus is just on Chris and his recovery, and we just ask that people be respectful of that,” a spokesman for the family said in the Sunday Star Times.
Knox’s late ’70s bands the Enemy and Toy Love were thepioneering artists of the New Zealand scene, which rose to prominence in the U.S. during the late ’80s via Flying Nun Records and such bands as the Chills, the Bats, the Clean and, of course, Tall Dwarfs, Knox’s lo-fi weird-pop duo with Alec Bathgate. Tall Dwarfs influenced everyone from Pavement, Portastatic and Olivia Tremor Control to Jay Reatard, Crystal Stilts and just about anybody playing post-punk music in New Zealand.
The Tall Dwarfs song ‘Not Given Lightly’ later became an improbable hit, popular at weddings even though it was written specifically for Ward (“This is a love song/to John and Leisha’s mother,” is one lyric). It’s been covered by Frente and J Church, and provides the title of Morr Music’s new double CD ‘Not Given Lightly: A Tribute to the Giant Golden Book of New Zealand’s Indie Scene.’
The average American, however, probably knows Knox best for his 2000 solo song ‘It’s Love,’ which was featured in this 2008 Heineken commercial, directed by the ever-rock ‘n’ roll savvy filmmaker Todd Haynes:
Chris Knox, influential Tall Dwarfs member and Enemy lead vocalist suffered a stroke last Thursday. All reports are positive that he is stable and recovering well. Undertheradar sends our best thoughts to Chris and his family.
Today Jay Reatard has posted a tribute on his website here detailing plans of a collaboration after a meeting the two had when Jay toured here earlier this year
Along with his post, Reatard writes: If you haven’t heard Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs, The Enemy or his countless solo records please do yourself a favor and hunt them down. It might change your life…It did mine.
Knox’s family has set up a blog to keep fans up-to-date on his recovery, head there now to leave your messages. The 56-year-old musician is currently in stable condition at an Auckland, New Zealand hospital and is doing well.
Jay Reatard “Shook Up” by Chris Knox’s Stroke, Reveals Planned Collaboration with Flying Nun Stalwart
By Josiah Hughes
As we previously reported, key Kiwi pop figure and Flying Nun Records spearhead Chris Knox suffered from a stroke on Thursday (June 11) and is currently recovering. A huge Kiwi pop disciple himself, Memphis garage monster Jay Reatard has shared his thoughts on Knox on his blog, revealing that he had planned to record a single and tour with him in the near future.
Reatard writes: A few years back I was introduced to Chris Knox’s genius via the kiwitapes blog. I immediately connected to the sound of his voice, his lyrics, and for sure the production of his many records. Upon learning that I was gonna be lucky enough to travel on tour to New Zealand earlier this year I knew I just had to meet the man behind it all. A few emails were sent and with a bit of luck I was invited over to his house for tea and some snacks! I only a had a few of his various bands records at home and none with me… So I dropped a ton of dough at a local record shop picking up the entire Toy Love catalog along with a few other records…
As the door to his house opened I was overcome with a nervous fan boy feeling I hadn’t felt since I was 16 or so. Our meeting was brief, only 3-4 hours, but in that time we made plans to tour together this upcoming year and made plans to record a single together as well. I found Chris to be so unjaded and so full of ideas and life. A few days back before our LA show I received a text from our NZ promoter letting me know Chris had suffered a stroke. I was pretty shook up but put everything I had into the show that I could muster up. I have had quite a few days to think to myself how lucky I was to meet Chris and how much hope he gave me for my own future as an artist. Here’s hoping for a speedy and successful recovery for Chris and his family! And if you haven’t heard Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs, The Enemy or his countless solo records please do yourself a favor and hunt them down. It might change your life… It did mine.
Hunting down Knox’s music is actually a great idea right now, as Knox’s progress blog recently mentioned that “the best thing to do if you wanna help is to buy a Chris Knox & The Nothing album.” All of these CDs, which are available to ship worldwide, can be purchased here.
Kiwi musician Chris Knox is responsive and not in pain following last week’s stroke, friends and family say.
In a statement yesterday, friend Roy Martyn said the Ward-Knox family remained “very optimistic” about the performer’s recovery. Knox is in Auckland Hospital.
“He enjoyed his vegetable frittata this morning but I suffered the classic Knox withering look when I mentioned beer,” Martyn said.
He said the family wanted to thank those who had sent messages of support from around the world.
The statement said: “We have learned that it is too early to predict the ramifications of a stroke with any degree of accuracy. However, positive anecdotes have been flooding in which fill us all with hope.”
Please take a moment to pray to every god, and then invent new ways to pray, because we don’t think a moment of silence is going to cut it.
For the uninitiated among you, New Zealander Chris Knox is one of the finest songwriters alive. As a member of The Enemy, Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs, and most recently, The Nothing, Chris has been a musical giant among the Kiwis.
Mr. Knox has also served as a film critic, newspaper columnist, cartoonist, television host, and head of his own record label, ‘A Major Records.’ His music releases have been a staple of New Zealand’s great ‘Flying Nun’ label since its inception.
And last evening, he suffered a stroke.
Chris is recovering at Auckland hospital. He is currently unable to speak and may have permanently lost his ability to walk, though the doctors have yet to give an official prognosis.
You can find updates on Chris’ condition at the following blog created by his family members and friends. Do some good with the internet for once and leave an encouraging note for Chris.
Chris Knox, a pioneer of the Dunedin Sound, is in hospital after a stroke, but the 57-year-old musician is already showing signs of his former self, friends say.
News reports the musician might never walk again were premature and hurtful to his friends and family, who had gathered to support Mr Knox since he was admitted to Auckland Hospital on Thursday, family friend Roy Colbert, of Dunedin, said.
Doctors were still waiting for the swelling to go down before they were able to offer a prognosis, he said.
Mr Colbert had been in contact with former Dunedin-based musician Shayne Carter, who visited Mr Knox in hospital.
“When he was there, someone came in to see Chris and asked him if he wanted any help with religion. Chris just rolled his eyes . . . That’s the Chris Knox we all know.”
Mr Colbert said the Invercargill-raised musician made a big impact on the Dunedin music scene with his punk band, the Enemy, in the late 1970s, which “began the Dunedin Sound and influenced the like of The Chills and The Clean”.
“He is immensely talented.”
Mr Knox was also responsible for recording many of the early Flying Nun records and had a cult following in New Zealand and overseas for his recordings with Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs and, more recently, The Nothing.
He is perhaps best known for the “low fi” love song, Not Given Lightly, which was dedicated to his partner, Barbara, and children John and Leisha Ward Knox.
The Chills frontman Martin Phillipps, of Dunedin, said he visited Mr Knox while he was in Auckland to play a gig on Friday.
“If there is anyone who can beat this, it is Chris.”
Rock musician Chris Knox is smiling and recognising people after having a stroke, one of his former bandmates says.
But Paul Kean, bass player for Knox’s ex-band Toy Love, said he understood the 57-year-old was still unable to talk after Thursday’s stroke and that doctors had taken action to try to relieve pressure on Knox’s skull.
Knox had apparently been able to drink water and answer basic questions while being taken to hospital, Kean said.
A cartoonist and author, Knox was in a stable condition in Auckland Hospital’s stroke unit yesterday.
Earlier friends said doctors were anticipating that Knox would at best be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Kean said the whole New Zealand music scene was rallying around him.
Knox’s partner, Barbara Ward, was too upset to comment yesterday.
A family spokesman said Ms Ward (to whom Knox dedicated the hit Not Given Lightly) and children John and Leisha were grateful for the support and love they were getting.
New Zealand rock musician Chris Knox is unable to talk after suffering a stoke on Thursday.
Paul Kean, bass player for Knox’s ex-band Toy Love, said he understood the 57-year-old could still not speak and doctors had taken action to try to relieve pressure on Knox’s skull.
He had apparently been able to drink water and answer basic questions while being taken to hospital, Kean told The Dominion Post.
Earlier friends said doctors were anticipating Knox would, at best, be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
A family spokesman said Knox’s partner, Barbara Ward, and children, John and Leisha, were grateful for the support and love they were getting.
Knox’s recording career stretches back to late 70s punk era bands The Enemy and Toy Love, as well, as having a long association with independent music label Flying Nun as a solo artist and a member of duo the Tall Dwarfs.
His best known songs include the hit Not Given Lightly.
Knox is also an television arts show presenter, writer and cartoonist who has pennned the weekly Max Media strip in the New Zealand Herald’s entertainment pages for almost 20 years.
Friends of Kiwi music icon Chris Knox say he is now unable to speak and may not walk again after suffering a stroke three days ago.
A spokesperson for Knox’s family said the 57-year-old had a stroke on Thursday and was recovering at Auckland City Hospital.
“We’d just like to say that Chris’ partner Barbara Ward and his children John and Leisha are grateful for the support and love they’ve received, and at the moment everyone’s focus is just on Chris and his recovery, and we just ask that people be respectful of that.”
The spokesperson would not confirm any details about Knox’s condition. However, it is understood the medical prognosis was grim.
Friends said Knox, who lives in Auckland’s Grey Lynn, had surgery on Friday night, and doctors were anticipating that he would at best be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
He was also unable to speak, although stroke victims often regained their speech through therapy.
Sunday Star-Times music writer Grant Smithies said that after three decades in the music scene, Knox was one of our finest songwriters and had tried everything from cartoons to film-making and animation, talking about music on Radio Live and reviewing movies for the 1990s’ Backch@t show.
“He is a real pioneer of a lot of things in this country and deeply loved by a lot of people,” Smithies said.
Those who followed Knox range from fans of his early underground punk sound to those who, lately, may have hummed along to his 1990 love song to Barbara, “Not Given Lightly” on Vogel’s television advertisements.
Eight years ago that slow-burning song with the catchy chorus “Yeah, it’s you that I love and it’s true that I love” was deemed the 13th-best Kiwi song of all time. Another song, It’s Love, was recently picked up for a Heineken campaign.
But Smithies said Knox’s latest album, A Warm Gun, was his best yet: a “trademark mix of tenderness and disgust”.
“It’s the sound of somebody that is at the peak of his musical powers, still doing interesting things. It’s got his best singing on it for years. He sings one whole song in falsetto. That’s just marvellous.
“He’s a top bloke and there will be a lot of people throughout the country just really distressed. I just hope he recovers and makes another dozen great records.”
Ground-breaking Kiwi musician Chris Knox is in hospital after suffering a stroke this week.
Family member Roy Martyn said Knox was admitted to Auckland Hospital on Thursday morning, and his family members are with him.
He said Knox’s partner, Barbara Ward (to whom he dedicated the hit Not Given Lightly), and children John and Leisha Ward Knox were grateful for the support and love they had received, and were focusing on his recovery.
Knox is widely considered to be one of New Zealand’s greatest musicians, and is also a film reviewer, author and cartoonist. He helped found music label Flying Nun, which manages Kiwi acts such as The Chills and Phoenix Foundation.
He and former musical collaborator Alec Bathgate were to have reformed The Tall Dwarfs to support international act MGMT next month.
News of Knox’s stroke filtered through the Kiwi music community yesterday, with many voicing messages of a speedy recovery to Knox.
“I’ve only just learned of this and I feel great sympathy for him and the family at the moment,” said fellow music great Neil Finn. “He’s a pretty feisty guy and I’d like to think he’ll be around for a while longer. He’s a good acquaintance of mine and I send my best wishes to him.”
Barnaby Weir of The Black Seeds said Knox was a “living legend” and an inspiration to all musicians.
Pioneering New Zealand rock musician Chris Knox is in Auckland hospital after suffering a stroke on Thursday.
Knox’s recording career stretches back to late 70s punk era bands The Enemy and Toy Love, as well as a long association with independent music label Flying Nun as a solo artist and a member of duo the Tall Dwarfs.
His best known songs include the hit Not Given Lightly.
Knox is also an television arts show presenter, writer and cartoonist who has pennned the weekly Max Media strip in the New Zealand Herald‘s entertainment pages for almost 20 years.
A family spokesperson said Knox’s partner and children are focusing on his recovery.