A Space Dust-Up

reprinted with kind permission of ‘sweet’ duane zarakov, from his insightful, churlish, and fascinating blog http://www.geocities.com/duane_zarakov/ ©2001

SPACE DUST

space_dust
Space Dust

(some stuff about my band) This has been kind of my main band for, uh, lemme think, 6 or 7 years or something…since ’93 actually, jeez it’s been a while. It’s been going along pretty slowly for the last couple of those years due to personnel redistribution – new people join – nobody ever exactly leaves tho’ – but anyway, all the members live in different towns at the moment. In fact 2 of the members of the last “working” lineup aren’t even in this country anymore (Cameron Bain’s in London [London England that is] & nobody knows where Sean O’Reilly is. Possibly somewhere in South America)(actually he’s been back in NZ for ages – DZ, 15-11-01). I don’t think we’ve played in front of an audience since the Hawkwind support slot in Auckland early last year (can’t even remember) – the last band activity was recording a couple songs for Gillian Ashurst’s movie “Snakeskin” which I think you oughta be able to see soon. Anyway, the band still does technically exist, if anyone was wondering.

brolove
Brother Love

It started in 1993 when I moved back to Christchurch from Auckland & I had this plan to do a new band with Mick Elborado & Brother Love. Both of ’em had been in the last band I’d been in before I left Chch a couple years earlier – that band was Cease To Exist – the plan (mine anyway – not necess. anyone else’s) was that this band was gonna continue somewhat along the same sorta lines, i.e. sloppy “psychedelic” rock – & my sister Violet was going to be the singer. She’d never been in any kind of band before but she could sing & we’d vaguely planned to do this for maybe a couple years.OK so me & Mick & the Brother started payig together – add John Chrisstoffels on bass before Violet started turning up to practices – & we’re off to the races. That’s the 1st lineup of the band, as featured on the 1st couple of record releases – subsequent lineup changes are a Pete Frame nightmare as we meet more & more people that we’d invite to be in our band, Mick starts to hate everybody else in the band & eventually left (although we got him back in the band a couple times)(*)…anyway the full story (+ discography, lyrics, poster artwork, etc etc) is SOON TO FOLLOW. According to Hamish Noonan it all started to go downhill after Mick quit, & he’s an impartial outside observer & I’m not, so it’s probably the truth.

* 1st guy to join us after Mick left was Matt Alien on gtr. Then Matt Middleton on clarinet (added overdubs to stuff by lineup #1 for the “BEATLE!” [18 Wheeler] & “1st to the Future” [Carburetor] LPs). Then Annabel (from the Chch band Hawaii 5-0) (can’t remember her last name) started playing organ with us so there was a couple times we played with a 7-person lineup (see track on the Dirtlove compilation cassette “Say Something Funny” – a live in Timaru version of “Love is Mean”) . Then we went to America & the lineup over there was Violet, the Brother, me, Doug Pearson on synthesiser & violin, & John Allen on bass. (Same lineup minus Violet doubled as the Brother Love band). Then the next person to play with us when we got back I guess was Lisa Preston played organ with us, Bill Fosby played gtr one time at party, also John Segovia (slide gtr) & Rock Hardman guested on 1 or 2 recordings (that mighta been a bit earlier actually).

picture-1

Then Violet moved to Auckland so the next incarnation of the band was when I went up there & we started to play with Roddy & Cameron (Constant Pain) – they both played gtr, but later Violet kicked Roddy out…& Sean O’Reilly started playing bass, also gtr & synth & other stuff…the Brother was living in Wellington by this time & he started to come up more often so he was on most of the shows & recordings (none officially released) of this period. That’s 16 people there…Simon Cumings played homemade electronic instruments at the Hawkwind show & Chris Heazlewood played gtr & bass on some recordings we did in Auckland, oh yeah & once Rich Mixture played drums for a few songs because I was passed out drunk (impressive fact – they were the 1st few songs of the set, not the last ones…I got up & started playing even tho’ I felt sick) (I woke up in the back of the place & Heazlewood was shouting in my face, Wake up, your band’s on the stage! & I went Whuh? who’s playing drums? & he went, Your dad. I just wanted to go back to sleep but he made me get up).

P.S. Hamish Noonan never even saw the Auckland Space Dust with Cameron & Sean so the worth of his opinion now that I think of it is somewhat compromised…the person who saw the most Space Dust shows (Chch, American & AK lineups) is Saskia Leek, ask her.

P.P.S. – this just in –

From: Hamish Noonan hnoonan@hermes.otago.ac.nz
To: tedium2000@hotmail.com
Subject: space dust
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2001 14:44:24 +1200 (NZST)
Bullshit i saw that band (or something similiar) at this stupid white wall gallery in K’ rd and they were a fucking terrible free noise band that even Bruce Russell would be ashamed of. I took photographic evidence that you are welcome to.

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po box 6283, dunedin, new zealand
[XXXX]@ihug.co.nz (03)477-7345

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OK, sure, all true, he was there & it was pretty rude. In our defence tho I gotta say that it was the very 1st attempt at putting together the AK. version of the band & in fact I had just arrived in that town that day so we hadn’t practiced together or anything, we just hooked up with Roddy & Cameron & went, OK, turn up & turn on. With predictable results. I’d like to see those photographs tho’.

P.P.P.S. – (Re: “BEATLE!” -) It was supposed to be our 1st album (although all recorded around the same time as “1st to the Future”) but it’s still unavailable to the world at large…We got our share of the copies (about 75 of ’em, don’t ask me for one ’cause they’re all long gone) to bring home with us from America in 1996 but then we never heard from the guy again. We were getting real bugged about it, but then we found out from John Allen last year that his wife got cancer so doing a record label was understandably way down on his list of priorities. Last I heard his wife was better & it was back on, but I dunno. I still haven’t heard from him (Tom Scharpling) & now the only other person I know that might know where he is, John Allen, he’s kind of slipped off the radar screen too. If you know where he is tell him to write me ok.

OCCULT FIGURES – MEETING THE PERFECT STRANGERS

[reprinted with kind permission of the auteur, Duane Zarakov, from his extant blog, http://www.geocities.com/duane_zarakov/]

OCCULT FIGURES – MEETING THE PERFECT STRANGERS

Perfect Stangers
Perfect Strangers

For my last year of high school I had to go to a private boarding school in Christchurch where pretty much the only music the other boys ever listened to was Led Zeppelin, the Doors, the Stones, & Pink Floyd. (This was in 1980, 21 years ago as I write this, but I bet if you went back to the same place today you’d hear the exact same shit echoing down the same halls, played by the sons of the same guys). I hated all those bands then, ’cause they just seemed to stand for all the stuff I figured rock’n’roll was supposed to be opposed to – conservatism, conformity, stuff like that.

By this stage of my life rock’n’roll music was about the only thing I cared much about, so the heavy teen alienation vibe of being at a new school (when I didn’t much even want to be at school at all) was double ’cause of being surrounded by other “rock fans” who if they heard me listening to the kind of stuff I liked (the Stooges, the Saints, the Ramones, whatever residual British punk rock still seemed good by that time, whatever stuff I could find that seemed weird, some ‘60s rock… I can’t remember what else exactly) they’d go “What’s this shit?”, & it’d seem like the criterion for stuff being “shit” was mainly “I didn’t get told this was good by my creepo big brother with the expensive stereo” or something. You know, “We can’t like this ’cause it isn’t part of the accepted canon of rock’n’roll” sorta shit. Yeah well I loved rock’n’roll too, but I was looking for something as far away from this kind of fossilised shit as I could get.

Anyway – one Sunday, wandered into the Arts Centre – that was just down the rd. from the school so if you know yr way round Christchurch you know which school I’m talking about : Christ’s College – & I heard the disjointed, discordant strains of a kind of music I didn’t exactly know already but had maybe been waiting to know – oo-ee-oo, spooky! – coming from the Centre Gallery – OK, in I went. The scene in the hall confused me somewhat, though – there were a few spectators, but the band at the far end of the gallery didn’t act like they were giving any kind of public performance – not that I’d’ve known for sure what that was supposed to be like, I’d never really seen any rock shows in my life (see footnote) – but it kind of looked to me like I’d wandered in on a band just dicking around with a few of their friends hanging out. I went outside again & listened from out there for a while. Anyway, that was my 1st sighting of the Perfect Strangers, a group & a sound that was to have a profound effect on my subsequent life. I can’t remember too many specifics of that 1st encounter other than that it was a heavy flash (like, Shit, I wanna be in a band like this), but simultaneously completely unsurprising ( i.e. I immediately knew that I had been looking for something like this & expecting to find it pretty soon).

img_4131-mick_abps_poster_800
Poster for "the gig", Records Records, Dunedin (photo: Mick Elborado)

There were 2 bands playing, although members of each seemed to wander in on each others’ performances at random. Neither sounded anything like any kind of Punk Rock that I was familiar with, apart from in terms of abrasiveness – the trio that had been playing when I 1st went into the place were the Perfect Strangers, who played some kind of disjointed primitive blues (with loud guitar – meet Bill Vosburgh); the other group, The And Band, were more, I dunno, psychedelic. I don’t remember what all my reference points were back then (I was 17, I was from Timaru. I’d heard more arcane sounds than probably any other 17 year old from Timaru in 1980, but still we can safely assume I didn’t know shit as far as things to compare this to went), but I know I thought , OK , early Pink Floyd.(& was right). (Bands that I hadn’t heard yet but soon would & I’d go, “Hey , it’s the And Band!” – The Fall, Alternative TV, Red Crayola, Faust, Slapp Happy, Can [actually I mighta heard them already, can’t recall exactly.])

A big deal thing about seeing these bands was, I realised, that accidentally wandering in on ’em like that was the only way I could’ve found out about ’em. I don’t think they were ever even mentioned in RIP IT UP or the local papers, they were apparently banned from all the pubs that bands played at then (not that I, as a boarder at a private school, had much opportunity to attend pub gigs) (that was supposedly the derivation of their name – Abused And Banned, which is what happened to ’em when they did get to play at a pub) – they only played free shows, mostly unpublicised – as underground as it gets. But as it happened, another Sunday a few weeks later I was walking by the river in Oxford Tce when I recognised the And Band there on the old band rotunda – Mark Thomas ([now] deceased) was wearing plastic devil horns attached to his forehead & spouting bile at the straggling “audience” – the only ones who stuck around were me & a couple of boys who looked about 13 & were obviously drunk as shit. (& that was the 1st time I ever saw Stevie McCabe).

Little Stevie McCabe - The hottest thing on four legs
Little Stevie McCabe - The hottest thing on four legs

Once again both the And Band & the Perfect Strangers played, & once again it was sometimes difficult to tell where one ended & the other began – Mark Thomas was in both, playing drums & sometimes singing with the And Band & also augmenting the Perfect Strangers trio as vocalist & crowd-stirrer (not that there was a crowd) – I couldn’t tell if he was meant to be in the band or whether he’d just gotten carried away & couldn’t leave the stage when the And Band set finished.

None of the other members were anything like as extroverted as him, but in their if-you-don’t-like-it-fuck-off demeanour all manifested righteous sullen cool. I’d definitely located the, I dunno, something like the Sex Pistols of my scene (‘cept of course I didn’t even have a “scene”). I only got to see the A.B./P.S. double-bill again 1 more time that year (at the Centre Gallery again, I found out about it from a flyer in the Public Library, but over the next few years this music would keep sort of turning up as a mysterious link to people & things that would loom majorly in my life & I’d find out more about the mysterious AND BAND & PERFECT STRANGERS. Not much more tho’, they’re still pretty mysterious. Part #2 soon & I’ll tell you more (their record, people I met later that knew them, how I met Bill Fosby & played in his band[s], stuff like that).

Perfect Strangers at their seminal Band Rotunda gig. L-R Bill Vosbergh, Richard Uti,Helm Ruifrock, Mark Thomas
Perfect Strangers at their seminal Band Rotunda gig (1980). L-R Bill Vosburgh, Richard Uti, Helm Ruifrock, Mark Thomas. (Photo by Stuart Page).