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.