Vosburgh on AXEMEN

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

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

Phosby Still, with 'tash
Phosby Still, with tash - Dec 2008

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

Vosburgh's perfectly spelled memories all in caps
Vosburgh's perfectly spelled memories all in caps

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Bill Vosburgh Dec 2008

Homebrew Boy meets Chateau de McCabe

Business card designed and printed by Steve'n'Stu for promotion of Steve's boutique Chateau de McCabe coffee wine range.
Business card designed and screen-printed by Steve'n' Stu for promotion of Stevie's premium boutique Chateau de McCabe coffee wine range (see love potion below).

The design effectively simulates a chromic equivalent of the liver-crippling psychedelic effects experienced from guzzling one dose (500ml or 1 pint) of sweet, yeasty, speedy caffeine-infused Chateau de McCabe. Screen-printed at INK INC, sky blue on ƒluoro orange card c.1984.

Click below to see the quasi-instructional film “Drink For The Heart, Heart For The Road”, the soundtrack of which is the McCabe ditty of the same name. (This is probably the Fassbinderesque peak of Lawrence Lens’s celluloid involvement with AXEMEN).

The “how to” theme of 1985’s “Screen Printing” is carried over and combined with priceless historical reportage and hallucinatory fantasy scenes at McCabe’s unsanitary pad in Christchurch. His school-boy beginnings as a backyard brewer have by this stage guaranteed a constant supply of 1.5 litre (3 pint) “sleek botts” bulging with a murky form of liquid amphetamine (a.k.a. coffee wine).

McCabe reclining at Château de McCabe amongst the sleek botts.
McCabe reclining at Château de McCabe amongst the sleek botts.

Occasionally (due to fancy, budgetary constraints, or experimental urges), frozen free-flow carrots, peas and corn were also utilised. But it was the “Chateau de McCabe” coffee wine which jump-started the boys after a pre-gig snooze on the dance-floor during the previous act; the legendary slurry* powered them through many glorious gigs up and down the emerald isles.

The Gut shows off Stu's brew: "Steve inspired" San Pedro cactus wine.

*slurry |ˈslərē|noun ( pl. -ries) a semiliquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure suspended in water. ORIGIN late Middle Southerish : related to dialect slur [liquid guano], of unknown origin.