Phosby, Formby, Philby – more Spies connections

Phosby, Formby, Philby

There was much speculation in the 80’s regarding the Axemen and their cronies loyalty to their country, especially when it came to their fraternisation with potentially seditious elements and the protest movement in civil uprisings such as the 1981 Springbok Tour and Homosexual Law Reform citizen actions."Mobilise July 3" - Springbok Tour Poster, 1981

New Zealands shameful 1981 Coat Of Arms
New Zealands shameful 1981 Coat Of Arms

New Zealands equivalent of the Secret Service, the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) were known to be taking an interest in the group and there were clicks on the phone, sporadic police raids on practice sessions and unusual activity in the bushes outside their abodes on more than occasion (although sometimes that was just Bob and Kevin Hawkins).

Robert (later Sir Robert) Muldoon, 1977
Robert (later Sir Robert) Muldoon, 1977
NZ SIS Official Seal
NZ SIS Official Seal

The SIS, an inspiration for the name of the band the Spies, were very active around this period, having been unleashed in 1987 by drunken megalomaniac Prime Minister Robert Muldoon (PM 1975-1984) to act as his personal goon squad (until he sanctioned the Red Squad and Blue Squad to enforce virtual martial law in 1981).

Muldoon used the Springbok Tour as an excuse to thumb his nose at the Gleneagles agreement in a way which was later copied by George W Bush and the PATRIOT Act in reaction to 9/11) , quelling and ripping apart anyone opposing his grand and overbearing schemes.

Neil Roberts attempted to blow up the Wanganui Computer in 1982, killing himself in the act
Neil Roberts attempted to blow up the Wanganui Computer in 1982, killing himself in the act

Little wonder the SIS took an increased interest in stirring and seditious activities when 22 year old anarchist Neil Roberts who took it upon himself to try and destroy the Wanganui computer, repository of the dossiers the government held on each and every New Zealand citizen.

Neil Roberts' chilling epitaph was an inspiration to the Axemen
Neil Roberts chilling epitaph was an inspiration to the Axemen and many others

The sombering message he left on the wall before blowing himself to smithereens “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” was an inspiration to the Axemen and had a light-speed bone-chilling effect on Steve McCabe who immediately recorded and released a tribute to the act under the name of the Sydenham Ois, citing the phrase and the chilling wording of Roberts prophetic tattoo “This punk won’t make 23”.

[mp3s here when located]

Roberts became an icon to many and still inspires a new generation of anarchists when they hear the story, and events are often held in his honour in New Zealand in much the same way as Guy Fawkes is commemorated in England.

posted by: A Beet Civic Smelt Let


DIRT GAME MIX

aka Return to the Planet of “A Scar Is Born”

Map 2a: Axemen in Christchurch, Jan-Aug 1984

By January 1984, McCabe and Brannigan share a house in Peterborough St, inner-city Christchurch, with Steve’s then-girlfriend Virg, her sister Bernie, and Lisa Preston. Notice how said house is positioned: almost on a straight line almost equidistant from two pubs, the Gladstone and the Star & Garter, where the Axemen will play repeatedly over the next 6 months (with or without instruments).

Celia scores some flagons on Sunday at The Gladstone c.1988 (NB. Pubs in NZ were not allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays at that time).
Celia Pavlova Mancini scores some flagons one Sunday out the back door of the Gladstone c.1988 (NB. it was against the law to sell alcohol on Sundays in those days).
Earliest known pic of Kawowski's first kit at Mollet St studio (Pre-Axemen, pre_INK INC) 1980
1980 pic of Kawowski & first kit at his Mollet St screen-print studio (pre-Axemen).
Stu & the lovely Maryrose rooftop at their Colombo St pad late '82

Kowalski lives downtown in an upstairs pad (no lily-pad, but surprisingly sanitary) on Colombo St, next door to a brothel; he also keeps a workshop, by day an anonymous triangular lockup on the 13th floor of an unassuming tower block on High St, by night the location for hours of screenprinting (posters, stickers, t-shirts, album covers), tape-testing (after recording sessions at members’ homes and live performances), breezeshooting, pisstaking and all-round byyourwitsliving. It is INK INC HQ. Central Christchurch is soon plastered with Axemen posters, stickers, etc., as well as attention-grabbing graffiti, large & small, stencilled & freehand.

AXEMEN sticker 4-colour screenprint from graffiti sketch 1985 by Stu
AXEMEN sticker 4-colour screenprint from graffiti sketch 1985 by Stu
Stu's plumbing tag in 1984
Stu's plumbing tag in 1984
Stu trident graff ChCh 1984

Stu's 1984 San Pedro graff lasted nearly 10 years in Mollet St, ChCh
Stu's 1984 San Pedro graff lasted nearly 10 years in Mollet St, ChCh
Free Festival Poster A2 by Stu Kawowski printed at INK INC.
Free Festival Poster A2 by Stu Kawowski printed at INK INC.

That summer the band plays at a festival in Hagley Park, the infamous Big M gig which leads to the recording of their protest album BIG CHEAP MOTEL. (That story will be milked in the future. It’s one any protest album fan would do well to get abreast of.)

AXEMEN Big Cheap Motel cassette sleeve: screenprinted label on bubble bag 1984 by Steve'n'Stu
Bob's sketch for the Big Cheap Motel protest set at Christchurch's Summer Festival in Hagley Park 1984

The next couple months are devoted to gigging around Chch, adding members here and there, making forays into the Carlisle St-England St ‘Hall Circuit’ popular with punks (see Map 2b),

Newspaper advt by Stu for England St Hall gig
Newspaper advt by Stu for England St Hall gig

going to Wellington to play anarchic Rewa House gig (popular with anarchopunks), defining & refining the Axemen sound, and building up an arsenal of tracks to be issued on the next album, the scary 2-hour long A SCAR IS BORN.

Map 2b: Location of Carlyle St Hall & England St Hall

Today’s post features tracks recorded at the same time as the Scar sessions, around Feb-March-April 84, assigned to a cassette called DIRT GAME MIX but never issued until now.

the game of love (clint ballard jr.)

untitled #2

neverending circus (lisa preston-axemen)
–features Lisa P. on vocals. She also sang the first track on side 1 of A SCAR IS BORN (“Untitled”) and co-wrote with Steve & Bob the instrumental “Paté-On-Raisin Bar-Mitzvah” later on the same side. And lived at 212 Peterborough St. Axemen salute her!

because (lennon-mccartney)

untitled #3 (lisa preston-axemen)
–Lisa on vocals again. In the mid-80s she started the band Nux Vomica with Lawrence Lens. (Do drop the cyberAxemen a line sometime, L.P.)

big four-eyed dave
–this might actually be called something else, but it does sound like that’s what Steve’s saying.

dirt game hiss

hiss hum headless horseman

phony on the phone

when the saints go marching in

casio clay (enter the casio dragon)

i remember nothing (ian curtis)

sugar coated

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Prehistoric Posters from Dunedin & Christchurch

Found these on a Christchurch City Council Libraries website of all places . . .

Above Ground Cartilage Family

The first is from late 82 or early 83, advertising a gig at the infamous Empire Tavern in Dunedin. This poster was scrapped together from old posters and other art by Stu and whacked out in a night at the notorious Ink Inc. studio at 2/222 High St, Christchurch. Above Ground was the band Stu was in with Bill Direen, Carol Woodward and Maryrose Wilkinson (now M. Crook in The Renderers), while the Gorillas were 16-year-old Stevie’s high-school group whose other half was comix-maestro-to-be Pete Rees. They travelled down from Christchurch for the gig. The Cartilage Family was Peter Gutteridge, Shayne Carter & Christine Voice’s then-band, locals we’d befriended over the years.

Stevie said to me afterwards, as he sipped his post-set lemonade and we watched Above Ground, “Darn it, but I wish we could find a drummer like that old geezer.” “Aye laddie, he’s no Ringo Starr, but he just might be that John Lennon’s love-child.”

Stu in a typically confused pre-AXEMEN state, Christchurch, 1982
Stu in a typically confused pre-AXEMEN state, Christchurch, 1982

Above Ground poster twk The second is maybe months later, from Christchurch, this time promoting an Above Ground gig and the release of their home-made tape GONE AIWA. This is vintage (nay, prehistoric!) Stu. Note particularly the cassette-as-icon, bio-diverse animal imagery (2 mammals, 2 birds), totemic nouns (Aztec, Leadbelly) & recycled typography. On view then are 3 key elements of the art/craft livelihood practised by the evolving Homo Axemenus (self-released product + cassette format + grand poster style) in nascent form. [BB, paleoaxeologist]