2017 has been quite a busy and exciting one for us here at HUP. Instead of doing a highlights or best of, Arpie and Ian thought they'd recall each HUP-organised show, as there were quite a few pearlers in there. Enjoy!
Future City Festival (March)
This seems like such a long time ago now. Our first crack at a 'festival' - two venues, two nights and an afternoon, and 26 sweet bands. The lead up was super stressful but the event itself went smoothly. There were so many highlights for me; meeting new people, being interviewed for a RNZ piece about Hamilton music, and listening back to friends talking about the Hamilton scene on Radio 101. Moments that stick in the memory are walking into Nivara Lounge after Alexa Dexa had started playing and seeing everyone sitting cross legged on the floor chilling out and getting into her music. I finally got to see Wizz Kids play and they were fantastic. Invisible Threads absolutely nailed it on the Saturday afternoon, as did Elider, which was such a fun set. I could've picked anyone really, all the bands were amazing and set the bar really high for each other. Show quirks - not too many actually, though the PA at Creative Waikato did crap out only to be expertly recovered by Terry, and a couple of bands had to withdraw, and the always amazing Carb on Carb hopped on the bill. Check out the photoset here.
Yukon Era (March)
One of the best young bands in the country played Diggers back bar to a small crowd. They were amazing. Hamilton just decided to have a night off.
Jess Locke (April)
Melbourne based Jess and her band toured NZ, playing Nivara Lounge with Carb on Carb and Ancient Tapes in the process. They were incredible, and the 'Words That Seem To Slip Away' LP that I bought that night has had a hammering since, with 'Another Year' being in my top five songs of the year.
David Liebe Hart w/ Nuggiez + The Recently Deceived (April)
One of the oddest things we've been involved with yet! Liebe Hart made his way to Nivara Lounge from the moon, which we were able to follow via his on-stage A.V. display. He then kicked off with the fantastic 'I'm in Love with an Insect Woman', which set the mood for the rest of his set. The songs and banter had us laughing out loud, confused, or both. Backed up by Jonah Mociun, on an instrument derived from space technology, highlights included the songs 'Teleportation Thru Space' and 'New Technology'. A truly unforgettable gig.
The Bats w/ Ancient Tapes + The Scones (May)
Things got really exciting somewhere around March when, after quite a few goes at agreeing a date that might work, Paul Kean came back to us and confirmed that May 19th was go. Huzzahs! The Bats were to play Hamilton for the first time in eons. The show eventually sold out and was an amazing night for everyone, the band included. Highlights were getting to meet the band and have a chat with Robert Scott about other bands, particularly Pavement, whose t-shirt he was sporting, and Super Furry Animals. Paul was also a lovely guy and what a bass player! Their set was incredible, and featured a decent chunk of their back catalogue as well as songs from their latest LP 'The Deep Set'. Show quirks - the raucous crowd, the enjoyment on the faces of every one of the band at the adoration coming their way, the singing, the dancing... just a brilliant night. I recall Ivan receiving phone calls to the venue to ask if there were tickets on the door and having to disappoint quite a few people. Special mention to The Scones' support; the audience were really appreciative of what they heard from the band, and they won a lot of new fans on the night, while Ancient Tapes also played an excellent set. A highlight of the year without a doubt. Check out the photoset here.
The Wedding Present, w/ Ancient Tapes + Rumpus Room (July)
Another sell-out show. One of my favourite bands came to my adopted hometown and slayed. They say never meet your heroes. Load of bollocks. Do it, it's ace. SO many highlights, including their rendition of JPS Experience's 'Mothers', which The Wedding Present has released on three different occasions since 1991, and Gedge's introduction about it being the first time the band had ever played the song live...in Hamilton. The band left with far less merchandise than what they arrived with. Show quirks - bit of a mix up on the old gear front so ended up securing a strat (thanks Ben!) for David to use about an hour before soundcheck. Check out the photoset here.
The Others Way Hamilton Sideshow (August)
This show had a distinctly Wellington flavour, featuring The All Seeing Hand, Disasteradio and Unsanitary Napkin, together with locals Hedge Fund Trader. It was a decent crowd for a Thursday night, the night before The Others Way festival in Auckland. HFT woke us all up before Unsanitary Napkin made sure we stayed awake and tuned in to the world around us. Disasteradio made us all dance and smile amid some technical issues, and The All Seeing Hand gently mesmerised us with their magic tones. Photoset here!
Shonen Knife w/ 5 Girls (October)
The gig with the best overall vibe, Japanese pop-punk band Shonen Knife played Nivara Lounge on a Wednesday night, and despite that impediment the venue was near capacity. The band were there to have fun, and so were the crowd. People danced, and despite the numbers in attendance everyone had their own personal space. There were plenty of songs about food; 1998 single ‘Banana Chips’ was played very early on, and was followed later by the likes of ‘Sushi Bar Song’, ‘All You Can Eat’ and ‘Ramen Rock’. “Are you feeling hungry yet?” Support band on the night was the recently reformed former-Hamilton band ‘5 Girls’. Photoset here!
Shibby Pictures/Whitney Flynn/The Goth and The Pixie/Kitchenette (November)
An amazing Thursday evening $5 show at Creative Waikato. All three bands were really good. People came specifically to see Whitney, mostly because they knew her from her band Days N Daze. She was incredible. TGATP were excellent too, playing as a drumless 3 piece. The PA crapped out after a few songs so they continued acoustically. Lovely. Kitchenette, Julian and Greg from The Scones, performed a great set. A variety of instruments accompanied Greg's acoustic guitar wonderfully. Can't wait to see them again at Future City 2018. Shibby Pictures showed some excellent short films, the highlight of which was 'Baseball Punx', a doco that combines punk rock and baseball very effectively. Enthralling stuff. The night had started with Dan Inglis showing some of his (and Jeremy Mayall's) work, which was intriguing. All in all a lovely night, if a little weird at times.
Spiral Stairs w/ The Naenae Express + Wormstar (December)
Pavement founder Scott Kannberg (a.k.a. Spiral Stairs) played his first ever show in Hamilton, one of only two New Zealand shows on this tour. Highlights included new tracks Emoshuns and Angel Eyes, plus two of his Pavement songs, which he finished the night on, Kennel District and Two States. The latter was a much extended version from that on record, and became a massive sing-along for the crowd. Blowing away everyone in attendance, however, was The Naenae Express - featuring a few different members than the last time they played here in 2016 - who played primarily songs off their 'The Naenae Express Extended Player'. 'Sea Anemone' was a highlight. 'Asteroid Blues' was a highlight. 'Overlander' was a highlight. Pretty much everything the band did was a highlight. Wormstar also provided excellent support. Check out the photoset here!
And that was our 2017! Shoutouts to all those that have played a show, came to a show, or helped out/showed encouragement in some way - Phil at Free FM/The HUM 106.7FM, Ivan, Stephen and Rick at Nivara Lounge, The brothers Newth, Wairehu, Gareth and of course Ngamihi for the sweet photography. Thanks too if you've read/liked/shared our articles and posts...it all helps! 2018 has started well - new bands are being formed in Hamilton (huzzahs!), our new podcast '6 Songs' is in full flow, and another Future City Festival is scheduled for the start of March!
A R T I C L E
10 Songs About Fish
by Ian Duggan
It’s summer time! At least here down here in the southern hemisphere. So some of you might be off for a spot of fishing. Or perhaps you simply like to watch fish swimming around in an aquarium. Alternatively, you might just enjoy the pagan symbolism. Regardless, it is Christmas, which is a time to make lists. Not so much a Top 10, we look at ten of our favourite songs about fish and fishing!
1. Trout Fishin’ by Koi Division
Trout Fishin’ is a song by California’s ‘Koi Division’, self-described as “the only Fish Goth Joy Division parody cover band that matters”. ‘Trout Fishin’ parodies ‘Transmission’, and features wonderful lyrics such as “Fishpoles with strong lines; Luring in the trout; Gutting them for dinner; Writhing on the boooooooaaaaatttt”. We were lucky enough to interview them in September, which you can read -> here <-
2. Fish Song by Headless Chickens
Off their debut album ‘Stunt Clown’, Fish Song was quite different from any Headless Chickens song that followed it. One of a surprisingly large number of songs about fish to come out on New Zealand’s Flying Nun label, this is probably my favourite! The song poses the question, how would you treat me if I was a fish (or a human, for that matter)?
3. Sammy the Salmon by The Chemical Brothers
A vastly different genre from other songs in this list, and one of the most educational. It tells us at the start, “Today we're gonna teach you some fun facts about salmon and a brand new dance”, and we get to hear all about their migrations. Worthy of a place based on that alone, but it has great an excellent video to go with it.
4. Fish Eye by Bailter Space
Another New Zealand band, another song about fish. Is this song about fish? I can’t tell, but it is called Fish Eye, so… It’s the opening track to their 1989 album ‘Tanker’. According to Wikipedia, the band were once described as "The Sonic Youth of the Southern Hemisphere".
5. The Fish That Played the Ponies by King Missile
A modern-day fable about a fish, the king of the fish, who was hungry for power. “He was a big fat pig of a fish”. What happened to the fish? You just need to listen. Off the wonderful 1990 album ‘Mystical Shit’, which also gave us the songs ‘Jesus Was Way Cool’, ‘How To Remember Your Dreams’ and ‘Cheesecake Truck’.
6. Fish by The Clean
What’s it about? Hard to tell given it is an instrumental! But it is called ‘Fish’. Off their 1982 EP ‘Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good, So-so Sounds So-so, Bad Sounds Bad, Rotten Sounds Rotten’, you can also find a cover by country singer Gray Bartlett on the ‘God Save The Clean’ tribute album.
7. Give Me Back My Man by B52s
Not the most obvious of songs among the list, the B52s kindly offer; “I'll give you fish; I'll give you candy; I'll give you everything I have in my hand”. It was the second single from their 1980 ‘Wild Planet’ album.
8. Fish Tails by The 3Ds
Off their 1990 debut EP ‘Fish Tales’, the 3Ds were once regular visitors to Hamilton. Even yet another New Zealand song about fish, and we haven’t even included Jean Paul Sartre Experience’s ‘Fish in the Sea’ or Head Like Hole’s ‘Fish Across Face’.
9. John the Fisherman by Primus
The debut single by Primus, and one of several songs about fish they released over their career. The song is possibly best known by many people for appearing in ‘Guitar Hero II’.
10. KLF – Justified and Ancient
Featuring the lead vocals of country singer Tammy Wynette, this 1991 song by British band the KLF reached number 1 in New Zealand. Probably best remembered for the lyrics “They're Justified, and they're Ancient, and they drive an ice cream van”, or “All bound for Mu Mu Land”. But they also sing about “Fishing in the rivers of life”.
Honourable mention: This doesn’t actually mention fish, but is an alternative video to New Order’s Blue Monday. Featuring a weather reporter and a fish. Again, and again, and again...
I N T E R V I E W
20 Years of Achromaticia: An Interview with Michel Rowland
Disjecta Membra formed in Hamilton in 1993, moving to Wellington in 1997. Their debut album, ‘Achromaticia’, was released soon after their move. In February 2018 the band will be celebrating by releasing a 3 CD set, ‘Achromaticia: Twentieth Anniversary Edition’. We talked to Michel Rowland to find out why they have chosen to re-release the album, how he feels about it now, what is featured among its extensive bonus material, and discuss the Hamilton connections in all this!
HUP: Why have you decided to re-release your debut album?
Michel: Achromaticia has been physically out of print for a very long time, and interest in the album and demand for it has grown. That resurgence of interest coincides with Disjecta Membra having become a lot more visibly active in the last four years, after an extended period of silence. There were several offers from labels to reissue it in 2013-14, but our focus at that time was on recording, releasing and promoting new material. The twentieth anniversary, 2017, seemed like the obvious time to do it, and to do something a little more interesting and special than to just reissue the album alone. With a special anniversary edition of the album, there was also an opportunity there with the bonus content to release a lot of old songs and recordings that nobody has heard before. And moving forward, clearing out the attic of unreleased material also ties in closely with the band’s current focus on a steady flow of new output.
HUP: The album has been described using terms such as “seminal”, “classic”, and “legendary”. How do you feel about the album — the songs and its legacy — in 2017?
Michel: I feel a lot more comfortable, happy and at peace with the album now than I did at the time of its release. I didn’t always have a great deal of confidence in my songwriting at the time, and I’m still probably more aware than anyone else of those shortcomings, particularly from that age. There were often times during the first few years after it came out that I would look back and wish I’d done certain things a little differently. But with twenty years’ distance it’s a lot easier to look back on it fondly and accept it for what it is; I can even take some degree of pride in what the album has achieved, and continues to achieve. And of course positive response, like the sorts of appraisals that you’ve mentioned, obviously all helps to give me a broader perspective on the album than my own narrow focus. I have a much stronger appreciation for what the album has meant to other people now.
HUP: The album is being released as a 3-CD set, including the original album, along with two CDs of bonus material. What is included amongst this bonus material? Is it derived from a similar period to Achromaticia (up to 1997), or from throughout your career?
Michel: The focus is confined to the very early period in the band’s history, i.e. the period of Achromaticia – from some of our earliest garage recordings in 1994, through to the album’s release and the short New Zealand tour to promote it in 1997. So it includes some of the earliest ‘rough sketches’ and demos of songs from the album, a lot of unreleased songs from the same timeframe that never made it through to the final album sessions, one-off studio tracks that appeared on compilations, a fair bit of live material (a mix of songs from the album, unreleased songs, and a few staple cover versions from our early set), and a whole bunch of stuff like that. 1996-97 in particular was a fairly prolific period in the band’s recorded history, making it impossible to fit everything that I wanted to include onto three discs, so there’s another album-length download of rarities from the period that comes with the CD set as well.
HUP: Did you think your experiences growing up in Hamilton influenced the debut album? i.e., would your debut have been a different beast if you had grown up in, say, Wellington? And should we expect to see Hamilton recorded songs among the bonus material?
Michel: Undoubtedly life in Hamilton was a huge influence. All of the songs were written between 1987 and 1996 (between the ages of 12 and 21), growing up in Hamilton. As a kid, mid-late 80s sometime, the day I accidentally discovered Contact 89 FM on the dial was a life-changing event. But it wasn’t until I saw local band The Haunting in 1990, practicing in the basement of The Music Box (a record store where Metropolis Café is now), that I decided I wanted to get serious about teaching myself guitar and start my own band. Our cover version of The Haunting’s song ‘Rats’ is still one of my favourite tracks on the album. Our earliest studio demo of ‘Androgyne Waltz’ from 1995 (included in the bonus material) was recorded with Dave Whitehead at Theta Productions. Cygnet Committee, who Dave Whitehead used to play with, was another Hamilton band who were a direct influence on Disjecta Membra. Book of Martyrs was another, and musicians like Stan Jagger, Paul Oakley, Adrian ‘Webclaw’ Scott, Alan Deare, Chris Paki… they were all important influences. Dave Whitehead in turn introduced us to his business partner Dave Lowndes, who recorded and produced Achromaticia with us at Waikato Polytechnic in December of 1996. All of the people that played on, co-wrote, recorded or otherwise contributed to the vast majority of Disjecta Membra material between 1994 and 1996 were people I knew from Hamilton. The bonus material includes live tracks recorded at The Wailing Bongo, The Meteor, Corso Poverty & Recycling Shop and The Exchange, as well as tracks from our first ever ‘gig’ at a house party in Hamilton East. There are two recordings from The Fridge studio at Contact 89 FM in late ’96 – one’s a live to air performance of a previously unreleased song, ‘Orchid Trick’, and the other is our first promo single, ‘Cauldron of Cerridwen’. There are excerpts from the first ever Disjecta Membra interview on the ‘Urban Jangle’ show on Contact, with Adam Hyde. And of course all of the other early demo recordings, garage sessions etc featured on the bonus disc are recorded at various private locations around Hamilton. There’s also live material recorded in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and one studio single recorded after we’d relocated to Wellington, but the vast majority of material featured is inextricably linked with our early years in Hamilton. Kane Davey, now the longest serving member of Disjecta Membra other than me, I also knew from Hamilton since about 1995 and we share a lot of similar experiences in terms of how life in Hamilton shaped us, both as people and as musicians. It’s the birthplace of Disjecta Membra, and Achromaticia.
HUP: Do you have any favourite memories of your early Hamilton years?
Michel: That would be hard to narrow down. I think a lot of my favourite musical memories of Hamilton have more to do with other bands I saw or that we played with – seeing The Haunting in a basement that first time; buying tapes of Cygnet Committee and Book of Martyrs from the same record shop; going to see former members of The Haunting and Book of Martyrs playing their weekly residency at Ward Lane as covers band Hapukalips Now; and later, as I got my own band going, seeing bands like Department of Correction, FALLen, Lure, Usine, Nihil, Janitor’s Lung and others live. One personal standout memory was playing/singing a few Cure and Bauhaus songs with Raleigh 20 (Adrian Scott, Chris Paki and Rik O’Kane) when they had their covers residency at The Exchange. But when it comes to Disjecta Membra it’s probably fair to say that almost every track included on the bonus discs is chosen at least in part because of a memory associated with it, as much as for the song captured. So I guess the musical experiences documented on this collection would double as a sort of audio snapshot album of my favourite memories from that time.
HUP: Since we last talked to you, you supported The Mission in Auckland and Wellington in late-2016. Where would you rank that experience among your career highlights?
Michel: The Mission were one of my favourite bands from the time that I was 13, and Simon Hinkler has been my all-time favourite guitarist ever since. I also rate Wayne Hussey very highly as a guitar player, and the interplay between Hussey and Hinkler is right up there for me among the best guitar duos I’ve ever heard. It was definitely a personal highlight not just to open for the band but also to spend time with them; they were warm, gracious, down-to-earth and very encouraging people. But I do find it very difficult to ‘rank’ musical experiences; I’m terrible at creating these numerical, ordered lists of favourite gigs, songs, albums (etc) that proliferate online these days. I wouldn’t have a clue whether to rank playing support to The Mission above or below seeing The Haunting in a basement.
The album can be listened to, and the anniversary issue pre-ordered now, on Bandcamp.
A L B U M R E V I E W
‘You Do Not Do’ by Anecdata
Anecdata has returned with a second album this year, following on from the American politics themed ‘But Her Emails’ in June. This album takes Anecdata back to more familiar ground, with a greater focus on conspiracy theories and theorists.
Overall, ‘You Do Not Do’ provides another collection of ‘80s influenced accessible synth-driven pop songs. But for me, Anecdata releases are for a large part less about the music as the lyrics; there is always something interesting to learn or think about, once the songs are deciphered. An early album highlight is ‘Elisa Lam’, based on a person who went missing in 2013, and was later discovered in the water tank of her hotel, which guests had been consuming; video footage became available of her unusual behaviour from the time she went missing, all of which led to conspiracy theories concerning her death. Musically, this song has that paranormal vibe; think the themes to Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World or The X-Files, mixed with Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. This is one of those songs where the music and lyrics combine perfectly, making it one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Another highlight is ‘Anti-Faxxers’, with its poppy accessibility, and focus on the delusions of the anti-vaccination movement. Among the lyrics that resonate with me the most are “put trust in statisticians, and ditch your superstition”, while the song finishes with a more direct message: “you're killing the children, you're fucking the future, you belong in jail, you're Cain to the Abel”. It is difficult not to compare this song with Phoenix Foundation’s ‘Supernatural’, about people who buy into conspiracies like chemtrails, and more directly to locals Ghost of Electricity’s ‘When I Was Young’; “When I was young we didn’t need to be immunised, we cured polio the natural way, which was to die; become disabled”.
Other songs on this album are more cryptic, and I haven’t quite worked them out yet. ‘Dollar Dollar (Get the Message)’ appears to be about the attitudes of right wingers, in line with Anecdata’s previous political themed outputs. However, others will take me more time to decode. Besides the songs above, another notable mention goes to ‘I Singled Out Your Heart’, which is a great little pop song in its own right.
Find 'You Do Not Do' on:
* Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5avmzEZ4vcLGUF4vGxIajG
* Bandcamp: https://anecdata.bandcamp.com/album/you-do-not-do
- Ian Duggan
A R T I C L E
Ten Songs About Trains
by Ian Duggan
It's almost Christmas, and it's time to make lists. And who doesn’t love lists? Not so much a Top 10, we look at some of our favourite songs about trains. And why not? Hamilton was the home to New Zealand’s first underground train station, and are we not Hamilton Underground Press?
1. Greasy Meal (A Song About Trains) by The Scones
In all honesty, this song was a primary motivation for choosing trains as our first list topic. This is one of our favourite songs from The Scones, off their excellent 2017 release ‘The Greasy EP’. They name-check The Naenae Express and The Smiths, and they mention the Taieri Gorge Railway (and its food) on this one; it is just an all-round fun song. The band make the statement, “I’d like to hear a song about trains that doesn’t sound like a train”. How many on our list will?
2. Overlander – The Naenae Express
Another of the HUP’s favourite bands. We have had them play Hamilton a couple of times, most recently in support for Pavement founder Spiral Stairs – and, as mentioned, they were name-checked by The Scones in the song above. ‘Overlander’ certainly fits the bill for ‘songs about trains that sound like trains’. It follows a trip on the Overlander from “Wellington to Auckland and back”, providing highlights, and including a special mention of "Hamiltron”. Find this gem on their excellent 2015 EP ‘The Naenae Express Extended Player’.
3. Box Elder - Pavement
Speaking of Spiral Stairs, Pavement released the song ‘Box Elder’ on their debut EP ‘Slay Tracks’ in 1989, and it was made more widely available on 1993’s ‘Westing (By Musket and Sextant)’. It isn’t so much a song about trains, but it does mention them: “Wasn't the question you asked me, wasn't the answer I gave, that made me feel like I was on a train”. The song is more about running away from a relationship. By bus. This song was covered by recent Hamilton visitors ‘The Wedding Present’, appearing on the US version of their album ‘Bizarro’.
4. Trains - Huge Industrial Artsnob
A local band from the mid-1980s, this song by Huge Industrial Art Snob appeared on the classic Hamilton compilations Surf Music in 1989 and Discordia Concors in 1993 (though the song itself was recorded in 1987). Despite the title, it doesn’t appear to be about trains at all.
5. Waiting for a Train – Flash and the Pan
Firmly back in the territory of songs about trains that sound like trains. Flash and the Pan were an Australian new wave group formed by Harry Vanda and the recently deceased George Young (older brother of AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm). Both Vanda and Young were former members of the ‘Easybeats’ (of ‘Friday on my Mind’ fame). This song was released in 1982.
6. Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk
Off the 1977 album of the same name, this song is about the former international railway service in western and central Europe – the Trans Europ Express. The service was founded in 1957, at its peak in the 1970s when the Kraftwerk album was released, but was ceased to exist in 1995.
7. You Drove Your Car Into A Moving Train - Grandaddy
Initially on their 1994 limited release ‘Recorded Live Amongst Friends and Fidget’, it was later released as a hidden track on their 1999 ‘The Broken Down Comforter Collection’ compilation, a collection of the bands early EPs. A song about as sad as you might expect from the title.
8. Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
One of Johnny Cash's most loved tunes, Folsom Prison Blues (according to Wikipedia) “combines elements from two popular folk styles, the train song and the prison song, both of which Cash continued to use for the rest of his career”. The song first appeared on his 1957 debut album “Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar”. Nevertheless, it is best known from his live 1967 recording, which was released as a single and appeared on his ‘At Folsom Prison’ album.
9. Train in Vain - The Clash
The third single off the Clash’s 1979 ‘London Calling’, and their first US Top 40 hit, peaking at number 23 on the Billboard chart. Despite appearing in Wikipedia’s “List of Train Songs”, this song also isn’t actually about trains.
10. Jumping Someone Else's Train - The Cure
Originally released as a single in 1979, the song was released again in 1986. Despite the music video featuring the view from the driver's cab of a train journey from London Victoria to Brighton Station, the train jumping in this song is actually a metaphor, about conformity.
Honorable Mention: Chicago Northwestern - David Liebe Hart
A recent visitor to Nivara Lounge, American outsider musician David Liebe Hart has a well-known love of trains (both real and model). This song is about the Chicago and North Western Railway, a railroad in the midwestern United States, and was originally released on his 2009 album ‘Trains of the Past and Present: Songs of the American Rail’. That's a whole album about trains, folks!