IRD door smasher had ‘warned of terrorism’

Reprinted from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz

The man who drove his car through glass doors at the Inland Revenue Department building in Christchurch says he warned the department about terrorism but it had no security measures in place.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, of St Albans, pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court today to charges of intentional damage and reckless driving.

He had worked at the Inland Revenue for 25 years and has said he had a long running employment dispute with the department.

In the summary of facts read to the court, Theobald told the police that he had warned the department about terrorism but they had no security measures there.

He drove his Mazda 626 through the foyer of the building in Cashel Street at 6.30am on a Saturday.

He crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third.

Defence counsel Simon Clay asked Judge Stephen Erber to request a pre-sentence report for the November 17 sentencing.

Judge Erber ordered a reparation report and a pre-sentence report, and prohibited Theobald from driving while he was on bail.

– NZPA

Judge orders community work; $13,000 to repay

Reprinted from: http://www.stuff.co.nz

A disgruntled Inland Revenue employee who quit spectacularly by driving his car through the doors of the tax department’s Christchurch building has been handed a hefty sentence of community work and ordered to pay $13,000 in reparations.

David Theobald, 48, took his dissatisfaction with his employer of 25 years straight to the front counter at 6.30am on August 15.

He crept his Mazda 626 up to the Inland Revenue building on Cashel St and, after making sure no staff were present, slowly drove through three sets of plate-glass doors causing more than $40,000 in damage.

Theobald, a long-time Christchurch musician whose stage name is Mick Elborado, admitted the crime, quipping to police when they arrived: “It’s OK officer, I work here.”

Photos of his exploits quickly emerged on the website of his band, The Axemen, and a Mick Elborado is Innocent page was set up on Facebook.

Theobald pleaded guilty and yesterday was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court by Judge Jane McMeeken.

Defence lawyer Simon Clay said Theobald’s actions were in the nature of a protest, the culmination of a conflict at work that had lasted for some time.

There was a medical background to the offending, he said.

Theobald had checked there was no risk to any staff and smashed the windows early on a Saturday. He had been “disarmingly frank” with police, admitting his crime at the first opportunity.

The judge wanted to know why Theobald, a worker for 25 years, had no assets and no savings to make reparations.

He said he spent his money on drinks for friends and “being generous”.

The judge said Theobald deliberately drove through plate-glass doors. His actions were completely inappropriate. “It’s one thing to protest, it’s quite another thing to deliberately and wantonly destroy property.”

The building’s owner, Rapaki Property Group, sought reparation of $27,000; Inland Revenue sought $14,500. The judge sentenced Theobald to 300 hours community work. Reparations of $8000 to Rapaki and $5000 to Inland Revenue were ordered at $20 per week from Theobald’s sickness benefit.

In support of Mick, David

Please take a moment to write to your MP if you too are upset about the underlying causes leading to David Jerrold Theobold’s actions, ie

  • Allegations of managerial incompetence in Inland Revenue / State Services
  • Allegations of a culture of bullying in State Services, inhibiting the discussion, submission and implementation of any positive changes
  • Inadequate dispute resolution outcomes where issues are raised leading to an unsatisfactory work environment
  • Allegations of preferential treatment being given to the top echelons of taxpayers – old boys network
  • Allegations of slanting of news stories on the state-owned television network to minimise damage to government infrastructure and make DJT look like a fruitcake by editing interview footage and moving the focus onto the damage to the building, and DJTs mental health rather than focusing on his reasoning for feeling that after 3 years of unresolved disputes he had exhausted all other avenues and had no choice but to take drastic action
  • Allegations of a culture of wastefulness and excess in management at IRD
  • Lack of accountability and public scrutiny of affairs in Inland Revenue

etc. etc.

Whether or not you are familiar with any or all of these issues you can still help by writing to your MPs saying that for a longterm (20 year) employee to take such drastic actions and feel that he had exhausted all other channels to try and resolve his dispute, there should be an independant enquiry into the management culture within State Services at the very least.

Some of the relevant Ministers are listed below, plus a link to a full list of MPs

*******************************************

TVNZ Complaints Form

Hon Tony Ryall
Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister of Health
  • Minister of State Services

Contact Details
Email: tony.ryall@national.org.nz
Phone: (04)817 6804 (Parliament)
Phone: (07)5780175 (Electorate)

*******************************************

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman

Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister of Immigration
  • Minister of Broadcasting
  • Associate Minister of Tourism
  • Associate Minister of Health

Contact Details

Email: jonathan.coleman@national.org.nz
Website: www.jonathancoleman.co.nz
Phone: (04)817 6818 (Parliament)
Phone: (09)4198021 (Electorate)

*******************************************

Hon Simon Power

Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister for Justice
  • Minister for State Owned Enterprises
  • Minister of Commerce
  • Minister Responsible for the Law Commission
  • Associate Minister of Finance
  • Deputy Leader of the House

Contact Details

Email: simon.power@national.org.nz
Website: www.simonpower.co.nz
Phone: (04)817 6803 (Parliament)
Phone: (06)3237253 (Electorate)

*******************************************

Hon Judith Collins
Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister of Police
  • Minister of Corrections
  • Minster of Veterans’ Affairs

Contact Details
Email: office@judithcollins.co.nz
Website: www.judithcollins.co.nz
Phone: (04)817 6806 (Parliament)
Phone: (09)2997426 (Electorate)

*******************************************

List of members of parliament and contact details as at 24 July 2009 [PDF 275k]

*********************************************

From Mick: “I’d like to add a comment at the top of Alastair’s letter that if every anyone’s begging, pleading, cajoling, screaming, crying for friends to help a simple testimonial or 1,000 of them would have done — Alastair also did what any moron would have done — complained to the broadcasting standards association — hands up who else thought of using the correct process first — I did for three years and that’s why I’m onmn bail and needing hospitalisation right now.”

By Alistair Galbraith

I’m sorry to bug you when you’re out of the country BUT
a very dear friend of mine has done something pretty newsworthy

David Theobald drove his car through 3 sets of plate-glass doors in to the IRD building in CHCH  on Saturday morning at 6.30 am (having checked with staff and cleaners to make sure no-one would be inside)
He did this to draw attention to a culture of waste,bullying, and “favours for the rich” within IRD
he has worked there for 20 years and had a 100% rating!
he has never been before the courts before and is 47 years old
He is highly intelligent and articulate yet the only news coverage was total crap on tv1 which described him as “a paranoid and depressive” and allowed him NOT ONE FULL SENTENCE.
His concerns, what his protest was about , were completely ignored!

One of the major issues he’d like to draw attention to
is the amount of time allocated for reviewing Refunds for more than $100,000. to trusts and business (9 per hour)
compared to the excessive attention paid to Refunds for low income brackets.

the lack of “public scrutiny” to which IRD are subject, despite it being a part of their charter that their work be carried out so as to be acceptable to the highest public scrutiny!
the culture of bullying within the department which prevents positive change.

the unfairness of fairly recent changes to the tax system.

IS THERE ANYONE STILL IN THE COUNTRY WHO IS NOT AFRAID TO LET THIS MAN TALK TO NEW ZEALAND ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON, WITHOUT CUTTING HIS WORDS TO MAKE HIM APPEAR MENTALLY ILL?

i WISH YOU WERE HERE, COS i’D TRUST YOU MORE THAN ANYONE TO INTERVIEW HIM

let me know if you can help, or anyone you know would pick up the story from its real angle – IRD failures – not “disgruntled employee”

My blood’s boiling, seen a lot of good people go down for silly things
but this is different – otherwise I really wouldn’t bug you

Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 2

New Zealand Employment Law is defective

19 August 2009
I’ve seen lots of anecdotal evidence that it’s difficult for firms to fire problem employees under the Kiwi Employment Relations Act. The procedures are often described as onerous.

Here’s a great one. Disgruntled employee of Inland Revenue (the Kiwi IRS) drives his car through the plate glass first floor windows of the IRD’s Christchurch Office, then tells the attending police officers that he had every intention of doing it.

IRD’s notification letter to David Theobald, the driver, is hilarious and depressing. The whole thing is documented here, including photos of the crash scene, the police report, and the letters from IRD to Theobald subsequent to the crash. Relevant excerpts:

From the police report:

The defendant admitted the facts as outlined and explained his actions stating ‘I had every intention to do that. I’ve thought about it and knew exactly what I was doing. I had warned them that someone could drive through there with a bomb in the car and create another 9-11, as they had no security measures.’

Seems pretty clear-cut. IRD’s response:

Commencement of an Employment Investigation

1. Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a vehicle through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building on Saturday 15 August 2009. I am commencing an employment investigation in to this matter.

2. I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct (contributing to a safe workplace and ensuring personal activities do not discredit Inland Revenue) and/or, the Standards of Integrity and Conduct, and/or your obligations to Inland Revenue, and that if substantiated, this conduct may amount to serious misconduct.

Suspension

3. Given the nature of the allegations I am considering whether, or not, suspension is appropriate. Your employment agreement provides for this to be on pay.

Wow.

bk drinkwater said…
Your headline is a noble attempt at understatement greater than part (2) of the IRD letter.

Philip said…
I don’t have much of a problem with the IRD letters. They will just be form letters. I mean it’s pretty obvious in this case, but there would be cases where employees were accused of crimes/misconduct where it would be a lot murkier. It’s probably a lot safer/cheaper/easier for everyone involved if the IRD just sends out the same letter to everyone that they are investigating rather than starting to tailor the letter to specific cases..

ONE News – The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobold

Reprinted from:
http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/disgruntled-employee-crashes-into-ird-building-2926890
19 August 2009

th_Tv
ONE News – The Vehicle of David Jerrold Theobold
ONE News - The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobald
ONE News - The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobald

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.

Interesting comments on elborado story from Fishing.net.nz… as usual

Reprinted from:
http://www.fishing.net.nz/asp_forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=44184&PN=1&title=david-theobald-crashes-ird

My alter ego’s actions seem entirely reasonable if has to deal with people who speak like this on a daily basis: 
“Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”
Not sure about the Mick Eldorado bit though 

The beard was a clever disquise though Obie
 
Hummm was there a Mazda in that car line up of yours??? 
Now if they had said your band was the Marlin Axeman ha!LOL 
Obie and the Marlin Axeman… got a ring to it, Boulder playing 2nd fiddle???
 well done that man.
 
 Wouldn’t surprise me if the careful manner in which he did the deed and the way he ensured no others were likely to be injured during his gesture are actually found to be covered in the code of conduct.
 
What a crock, the man should get hung, drawn and quartered. 
Drawn by the finest artists, hung in the best galleries and quartered in the top hotels!
One day the boffins at IRD might actually realise how stressful their PC-ness is to us mortals.  Then again maybe not…

Will the real slim shady please stand up 
Yeah and doesn’t the statement by Mr Crawford epitomize the utter b.s. world he must live in.
Reckon David Theobald should now sue IRD, claim ACC, get over $1000 per week on benefits..

Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 2

Show Your Support… join MICK ELBORADO IS INNOCENT now!

Reprinted From:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/2764914/IRD-drove-me-to-this

IRD drove me to this

By STACEY WOOD – The Dominion Post
19 August 2009

TAXBREAK: David Theobald said he was prepared to accept the consequences after driving his car into an IRD building.
TAXBREAK: David Theobald said he was prepared to accept the consequences after driving his car into an IRD building.

A taxman driven around the bend by continuing work woes drove his car through the building where he had worked for 25 years.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, drove his Mazda 626 through the foyer of the Christchurch Inland Revenue building on Cashel St at 6.30am on Saturday after a three-year employment dispute.

He crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third on the other side of the foyer before coming to a stop.

Mr Theobald said he had gone to great lengths to avoid risk to any staff.

“I checked with the cleaners the night before to make sure no-one would be in the building. I drove right up to the doors, looked both ways, then slowly pushed forward till the doors broke.”

Mr Theobald 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.”

He also wanted to highlight how easy it would be for someone with terrorist intentions to ramraid the building with a truck full of explosives. “It’s just another 9/11 waiting to happen.”

Mr Theobald is a fixture of the Christchurch music scene. He is known as Mick Elborado when he plays with his band The Axemen and in other groups.

He appeared in Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving and was remanded on bail till August 31.

He told The Dominion Post he had not decided how he would plead, but was prepared to accept the consequences of his actions.

Inland Revenue would not comment on the incident as it was before the court, but Mr Theobald has received a letter from human resources head Patrick Crawford.

In it, Mr Crawford said: “Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”

Mr Theobald could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of criminal damage.
Reprinted from:
http://news.msn.co.nz/article.aspx?id=851637

‘Bullied’ taxman drives car through workplace

By MSN NZ staff
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

daveA Christchurch tax worker smashed his car through his own Inland Revenue office because he was fed up with “incompetent management and workplace bullying”.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, drove through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third at the Christchurch Inland Revenue building before coming to a stop.

Mr Theobald, a well-known musician in Christchurch who has worked for the IRD for 25 years, said he had been careful not to put lives in danger.

“I checked with the cleaners the night before to make sure no-one would be in the building,” he told The Dominion Post.

“I drove right up to the doors, looked both ways, then slowly pushed forward till the doors broke.”

Mr Theobald posted pictures of the damage on his blog , along with copies of legal documents he received from police and his employer following the incident.

One of the documents was a letter from Inland Revenue human resources head Patrick Crawford.

“Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building,” Mr Crawford wrote.

“I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”

Mr Theobald said he was upset with what he saw as 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,” he said.

“This was just a way to make a gesture.”

He also said he wanted to highlight the potential for a terrorist attack if someone were to drive a car full of explosives into the building.

“It’s just another 9/11 waiting to happen,” he said.

Mr Theobald appeared in court yesterday. He has been charged with intentional damage and reckless driving and could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of criminal damage.

 

Reprinted from:
http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2009/08/taxman-cometh.html

The Taxman Cometh…

We had a bit of a chuckle when we read this story on Stuff this morning: 

A taxman driven around the bend by continuing work woes drove his car through the building where he had worked for 25 years.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, drove his Mazda 626 through the foyer of the Christchurch Inland Revenue building on Cashel St at 6.30am on Saturday after a three-year employment dispute.

He crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third on the other side of the foyer before coming to a stop.

Mr Theobald said he had gone to great lengths to avoid risk to any staff.

“I checked with the cleaners the night before to make sure no-one would be in the building. I drove right up to the doors, looked both ways, then slowly pushed forward till the doors broke.”

Mr Theobald 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.”

He also wanted to highlight how easy it would be for someone with terrorist intentions to ramraid the building with a truck full of explosives. “It’s just another 9/11 waiting to happen.”

Doubtless there will be many of us who will at some point in our lives have been tempted, sorely tempted to lash out at the IRD. But the overwhelming majority manage to resist said temptation. And there’s a certain delicious irony in an employee of the IRD accusing the department of workplace bullying when we taxpayers regularly feel bullied by the likes of Mr Theobald and his colleagues!

And mindful of Mr Theobald apparently being a serial litigant, we also chuckled when we read this: 

Inland Revenue would not comment on the incident as it was before the court, but Mr Theobald has received a letter from human resources head Patrick Crawford.

In it, Mr Crawford said: “Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.” 


The letter is extremely careful in its wording is it not? We would have thought that this was a pretty clear case of serious misconduct by way of the wilful destruction of departmental property; something that would normally warrant summary dismissal. Mr Theobald’s concerns about workplace bullying could very soon be addressed – but not in the way he may have expected!!

Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 1

Show Your Support… join MICK ELBORADO IS INNOCENT now!

Reprinted From The Christchurch Press, 19 August 2009
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch/2764971/Its-OK-officer-I-work-here/

“It’s OK Officer, I work here”

By IAN STEWARD – The Christchurch Press

DRIVE-IN: David Theobald poses for a self-portrait of himself with his car "parked'' inside IRD's Christchurch office.
DRIVE-IN: David Theobald poses for a self-portrait of himself with his car "parked'' inside IRD's Christchurch office.

A Christchurch tax worker fed up with his bosses has made a spectacular protest by driving his car through three plate-glass windows in the Inland Revenue building.

David Theobald, 47, a musician and 25-year Inland Revenue employee, posted photographs on the internet of his protest, which he made at 6.30am on Saturday. The pictures showed his car “parked” in the Cashel St building.

A blog accompanying the photos said Theobald, a long-time member of rock and punk band The Axemen, “decided he had had enough and wasn’t going to take it any more after years of abuse” from Inland Revenue.

“Driving into the place that had been his nemesis for the past 25 years, he felt an eerie calm as he took the final turnoff, revved the vehicle and drove through three plate-glass windows and into the reception area,” it said.

Theobald said he was careful not to trample broken glass into the department’s new carpet because “I didn’t want to get in trouble”.

He waited “calmly” for police and quipped when they arrived: “It’s OK officer, I work here.”

Theobald appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving.

He was re-arrested and his bail conditions were altered, ordering him to stay away from the Inland Revenue building, after he stood outside and sent text messages to his workmates “to show them I’m not in the loony bin”.

Theobald is known in music circles as Mick Elborado. He has played in several bands since the early 1980s.

A picture on the blogsite of Theobald and his Mazda 626 was captioned: “Mick at grand opening of Inland Revenue’s new 24hr drive-thru in Chch.”

An Inland Revenue spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the incident and said no-one had been hurt. The damage “did not compromise activities”, she said.

She declined to comment further.

Theobald posted the letter suspending him from work, written by a human resources manager, on the internet.

“Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a vehicle through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building,” the manager wrote.

“I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the code of conduct.”

Theobald said his actions were the culmination of a three-year employment dispute centred on “workplace bullying”.

Theobald said he believed destruction of property was a last resort after all other checks and balances had failed. “I take all responsibility for these actions. You’ve got an evangelist on your hands here,” he said.

A founding member of The Axemen, Steve McCabe, began a Facebook support group for Theobald titled “Mick Elborado is innocent”. McCabe said Theobald was innocent because he had been provoked into the act by years of bureaucratic and institutional bullying.

Reprinted from NZPA, 19 August 2009
http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/mp/5836958/man-in-court-after-driving-into-ird-building/

Man in court after driving into IRD building 

NZPA, NZPA August 19, 2009, 7:26 am

A disgruntled Inland Revenue employee who intentionally drove through the organisation’s Christchurch building has appeared in court.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, appeared in Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving, after driving into the building at 6.30am on Saturday.

The car crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third on the other side of the foyer before coming to a stop.

He was remanded on bail to reappear on August 31.

Theobald, who had worked at IRD for 25 years, told the Dominion Post the incident followed 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.”

Inland Revenue would not comment on the incident, but Theobald said he had received a letter from IRD’s human resources saying: “Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”

Mingus.. McCartney.. Agro.. Baird

bassofffinal2big

This STEREO post, in STEREO, celebrates two great bassplayers who brought a whole lot of bottom to the Axemen sound (examples of which are included as mp3s below, in STEREO) and inspired the band totally and permanently…totally and permanently…totally and permanently…

Bass Face #1: M. S. Agro, the taxman in the Axemen

M. S. AGRO was Mick Elborado, who played in early 80s Christchurch group Drowning Is Easy and from 1982-6 was part of the incredible Scorched Earth Policy, a band about whom Stu, Steve & Bob soon made their own policy—never to miss them in action.

Stu: Buck from Scorched Earth Policy saw Axemen play at the Star & Garter and invited us to play with them. Stevie was impressed because he’d seen Buck before hanging around the pub laughing with a bunch of people and he commented, “Looks like we’re in with the gentry, now.” Bob of course totally mishears Steve and thinks SEP are Bobbie Gentry’s backing band.

Steve: Comes the gig with SEP, Brannigan is late, Stu & I are trying to calm down the audience going, “We’ll start when our buddy from South Dunedin gets here; must be having a rough time crossing the Rakaia bridge, etc.” Mick offered to fill in & so we started playing, Bob finally arrives & he’s got all these Bobbie Gentry LPs he brought up with him on the bus to see if he can get their autographs on. Mick played the whole set with us & Bob kept on trying to get him to play ‘Ode To Billie Joe,’ only Mick totally mishears & starts playing ‘Billie Jean.’ After that we saw his band play, they were spookily good & Bob had this weird puzzled look on his face. Mick played bass with us for a couple of months after that.

Bob: The first time I saw Scorched Earth Policy, I think I’d been drinking coffee wine & they just made complete sense, but in a really scary way. They were all these things that I thought it would take a band years to become, so fierce & focused, & really distinctly their own sound (& I think they’d only been together a short time by then), no Bobbie Gentry stuff at all. I was convinced they must all be psychotic. But when they weren’t playing they seemed like these really low-key relaxed people. Maybe they were allergic to their audience, like Superman & kryptonite, and SEP had to erect these sonic barriers simply to be able to stand there long enough to play some songs. Then by the time they finished playing they’d be sapped of their superpowers and just wander around chatting and drinking like nothing weird had gone on. Stevie & I dubbed this manner the Scorched Earth Policy “tic” or SEPtic, and devoted long hours (the 80-minute ones) to uncovering its secret. These sessions became known as the SEPtic Think-Tank. When their DUST TO DUST record came out, around 1984, we conducted numerous Vulcan mind-melt exercises using it as soundtrack and concluded that while we enjoyed coffee wine (the Think-Tank morphed into a Drink-Tank pretty fast), those Scorchers must’ve been drinking radioactive blood.

Scorched Earth Policy, l-r mick, buck, brian, mary, andrew
Scorched Earth Policy, l-r mick, buck, brian, mary, andrew

* * *

ON WITH THE MUSIC . . .

mouldie (leg story) excerpt (stereo)
— this is just under 2 minutes of a song that sometimes went on longer than 10 (see below). Luckily someone turned the tape on and got this much, as it’s a fine example of early axemenomena and Mick is playing bass all over it, in a hurry that is pure Agro, frantic but precise. Live from the Gladstone, Christchurch, New Year’s Eve 1983.

shirt-cuffed like a bladder (stereo)
— Mick pins this song down from the getgo and the way his riff melds with Stu’s propulsive chug is so Vulcan it has pointy ears and finds ordinary humans fascinating though illogical. Then the six million dollar man theme staggers out of Steve’s guitar. There’s a version of this on MICK’S DANCEFLOOR (MIX) but that’s a combined live/studio splice; this one is all live (it’s alive!) at the Star & Garter, the first time Mick played with the band, November 4, 1983, and quite likely the first time he ever heard this song.

axemenfnunrecparty

The next two songs are live from the gig postered above, the Flying Nun Recording Party (affectionately known as the Flying Fuck) held at the Gladstone on 10 December 1983. That gig probably merits a post of its own (anyone?), but let’s stick with Mick for now. Earlier that same day he rehearsed with the Axemen and saxophone addict Arthur Sheep, ostensibly learning a batch of new songs but fortuitously stumbling upon oblique nongenre sci-psy-sigh-fi spacepunkjazz while they were at it (see & hear the ETHER BREATHER HABITAT post, currently available in mono but eventually to be rejigged in STEREO). Mick’s spirited playfulness in combination with the Sheep’s playful spiritedness excited the others so much that they deliberately didn’t practice a new song of Steve & Bob’s called “Pulp For The Masses” but played it at the gig anyway. The sheer amount of sound the band generated for their half-hour set that night had been equaled at some earlier freak-outs (and once at a love-in), but it had never been recorded before on anything bigger than a walkman. The other big part of the excitement about the gig was that each set would be recorded on an 8-track reel-to-reel, and for many if not all of the bands who performed, the prospect of getting their material down via such hi-tech wizardry was intoxicating enough, never mind the coffee wine, the ether, the codeine, the beer. Of the 9 songs Axemen played, 8 were caught on 8-track, and the last song, “The Yeasty Mayor,” turned up on the last side of the THREE VIRGINS 2LP released by Flying Nun 2.5 years later. Meanwhile back at the Flying Fuck, notice the atomic-blood-slurping Scorched Earth Policy were on the bill SO MICK PLAYED TWICE! Even the guy’s aura is in STEREO. . .

pulp for the masses (stereo)
— Steve: “This is a tribute to the late Jimi Hendrix.”

the founders-day man (stereo)
—Steve: “This is a tribute to the late John Lennon.”

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Fastforward about a month to a riotous gig at the Star & Garter on 7 January, 1984. Wellington punk stirrers the Barbaric Bunnies (notorious for their Shirley Bassey-inspired poke at mere males called “Hey Big Wanker!”) came to town and their shared show with Axemen was promoted in the local press as featuring “Two All-Women Bands.” On-stage that night, Bob quipped to the audience, “Obviously there was some sort of mistake in the newspaper ad; one would hardly describe the Barbaric Bunnies as women.”

the zit (stereo)
— this starts off sounding remarkably like “The Yeasty Mayor” but Mick’s bouncing 2-note drill, Stu’s falling-down-the-stairs dactylologisms, the Sheep’s sebum-drenched saxblowing, the eerie twin-guitars-as-dying-walrus element and Stevie’s indecipherable lyrics give it a distinct identity of its own.

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Jump back to 28 November 1983 and this sizzling set from the Gladstone. The live mix is by Hamish Kilgour, who can be heard at several points trying to identify the source of a raucous storm of feedback & radio noise, concluding correctly that it was Stevie’s FM-wave-transmitting guitar interfering with the p.a.

a wall of sound (stereo)
—another song that exists as a “studio” version on the MICK’S DANCEFLOOR (MIX) album, but this live take takes the cake, eats it, poops it out, bleaches the poop and folds it all back into the cake, only to repeat the process, totally & permanently. “One of Steve’s best songs ever, and Stu & Mick are complete monsters on it”—Bob.

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mouldie (leg story) (stereo)
— this is a full-length version of the song fragment this post started with, recorded live at the Gladstone two nights later, on 2 January 1984. The performance is a mimetic enactment of the Axemen-with-M. S. Agro gestalt & this recording serves as its perfect snapshot for-all-time and a fine highlight to end this short introductory survey of one great bassplayer’s input into the band’s evolution-revolution. Mick’s bass climbs & climbs but never reaches the top, and his playing sounds just as energetic after 9 minutes as it does after 9 seconds. At a point about 8 mins 20 secs in, the weirdly processed guitars sound like a flock of angry birds attacking Artie’s laughing-clown sax. Stu drums like crisco (a cross between disco & Crass), cuing Stevie to start reciting “Nagasaki nightmare.” The whole thing seems to end about 2 mins before it actually does, and a lot of weirdness is generated by the mixers, the guys from Say Yes To Apes, who’d played an inspiring set earlier on that same night (future post idea! They Came From Even Further South Than South Dunedin – The Unbelievable Truth About Say Yes To Apes & The Invercargill Diaspora).

Early on in 1984 Scorched Earth Policy activity required Mick’s undivided attention and he would play bass live with the Axemen only a handful more times, such as at the Hagley Park Summer Festival Big M incident on January 14 that formed the basis of protest album BIG CHEAP MOTEL. He would also appear as a special guest on some of the tracks on THREE VIRGINS recorded the following year. His involvement in the Axemen was only a redhot splinter from the huge blazing log that is his musical career (see also Richie Venus & The Blue Beetles, The Terminals, Dadamah, Gas, Space Dust, etc), but it embedded itself in the group’s soft flesh, festered, and became a permanent cyst; stab it with your steely knives all you might, you will not kill the legend of M. S. Agro, the bass beast.

Bass Face #2: Gordo Baird, the mysterious Nodrog

As almost absolutely nothing is known about the mysterious Nodrog (the gentle giant sometimes called Gordo, claimed by some to be one Gordon Baird, possibly the offspring of painter Annie Baird, perhaps an old South Dunedin buddy of Bob Brannigan’s, hypothetically vegan, potentially linked to crucial South Dunedin sound groups such as (speculatively speaking, of course) Circadian Deregulation, Atomic Radio, White Noise, and The Earthlings, quite likely related to lead-guitarist B. B. Ryan, supposedly a teenage motorcyclist, conjecturally a long-distance hitchhiker, presumably present at the final ever gig at Snail Clamps in Palmerston North in 1985, enigmatically absent from the State Trinity Theatre THREE VIRGINS recording sessions earlier that same year, surmisably a participant in the Axemen-Nux Vomica tour of Nelson & the West Coast in 1986, postulatively a non-drinker, theoretically a victim of guitar-theft, putatively a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix, maybe at present a music teacher at a prestigious school), little remains to be said.* He is definitely present on the following made-in-Christchurch recordings, all from August-September 1984, and he certainly plays bass throughout. If anybody reading this can locate the mysterious Nodrog, Gordo or Gordon Baird, the Axemen want to hear from him, totally & permanently. Now listen on. . .

*This article about a beloved fellow traveller with the Axemen is a nub. You can help Y2K by embigifying it. Please deposit relevant info via Leave a Comment below.

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my second blood (stereo) a sack of good/sack of goods (stereo) botts of brown booze (stereo) what it’s like (the revox) (stereo)
— Pre-England St Hall gig practise at 212 Peterborough St, 21 August 1984. Rumour has it Gordo’s wonderfully understated “mousepower” tone was achieved by filling the room with pot smoke & recording his heartbeat while he performed interpretive dances to oblique directions from the others (unverified).

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happy birthday bernadette (stereo) the key to happiness (stereo; some source damage but if that hinders your enjoyment you’re at the wrong site altogether that’s no lie) first few bars (i went into) (stereo)
— Recorded at Peterborough St again, 15 September 1984, in preparation for Bernadette Smith’s 21st birthday party (hence selection #1). Sounds like Gordo’s bumped up the volume on his amp this time, and the hearifiable presence of Al Right on high-flying sax urges the mysterious Nodrog on to some deep bottomdwelling profundity. This same session produced the cool song “The Mind,” but it’s time up now for the first BASS/OFF, so that shall wait for a future post.

Thanks to Mick & Gordo, all the best wherever you may be now.