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Otago Mago
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Postby Magilla » 12 Feb 2012, 01:42

I was born in October, 1968, in Gore, Southland, New Zealand. My folks met at a party in Dunedin in the late '60s. My Dad was born in NZ's capital, Wellington and raised in Dunedin. My Mum was born in Timaru, a larger rural service town in the South Island and grew up in Mataura, a village a few kms south of Gore.
In her youth, Mum was fairly keen on music. She saw the Beatles live at the Dunedin Town Hall in 1964. Literally, "she was just 17" when she saw them. To this day, I use that fact to figure out how old she'll be when her birthday rolls around: "Right, Mum was 17 in 1964 when she saw the Beatles, so that means this year she'll be...".
She and her friends also mobbed NZ's answer to Elvis, Johnny Devlin, at the Gore railway station in the early '60s.
She was also lucky enough to see a local Mataura band featuring a guitarist and drummer that would, as few years' later, be in Ray Columbus & the Invaders who would be the first NZ band to have a #1 single in Australia with 'She's A Mod'.
Rugby fans may also wish to note that the current All Blacks halfback, Jimmy Cowan, is from Mataura as is the great All Blacks halfback of the '90s and 2000s, Justin Marshall.

By the early '60s, Dad was managing the Gore branch of Hallensteins, a nationwide menswear chain. It was a job he would stay in his whole working life. Dad's always liked music, but was never passionate about it. Between them, Mum and Dad had a small collection of classical music and top 20 hits comps, plus, later on, the mandatory Neil Diamond and ABBA albums. Other than that, the radio sufficed.

As a small child I recall hearing David Bowie's 'Laughing Gnome' on the radio and liking it. This must've been about '72 or so. I must've also liked whatever Carpenter's song was currently a hit as I apparently was given to exclaiming "Song ! The Carpenters !" whenever I heard it.
We also had a few 45s with kids' fairytales on them; Three Billy Goats Gruff was a particular favourite, I recall.

In 1975 Dad got a job transfer up to Gisborne, half-way up the East Coast of the North Island. Gore was cold and snowy. In contrast, Gisborne had one of the warmest climates in the country. It also had the largest Maori population in the country on a per-head-of-population basis. Gissy was however, similiar to Gore in that it was a farm service town, albeit with a somewhat larger population of 32,000 compared to Gore's 5,000.

Round about 1976 I'd started watching Ready To Roll each Saturday at 6pm. It counted down the top 20 and it'd play clips or dancers would do a routine to a song. In 1978 I was keen on Mark Williams' disco hit 'You Won't Matter Any More' and Mum bought the 20 Solid Gold Hits Vol.16 which it was on. It wasn't until some years later that I realsied it was a Buddy Holly cover. That year Mum also took me to see my first gig, Williams live at the Sandown Park Hotel. It was great fun ! I remember he got a girl on stage to do disco moves with him.

Unexpectedly, Mum and Dad seperated in 1978. While this obviously sucked, my brother and I handled it ok. There were no meltdowns and we just got on with being kids.

In 1980 I started at Gisborne Intermediate (what the yanks call a "middle school" I believe). Sometime that year I bought my first album Kiss' Unmasked. It even came with a poster ! It was a bloody neat album, I reckoned. I had a small after-school job running errands at Dad's shop, so between that and my allowance, could afford to buy albums. The next few albums I bought were Devo's Freedom Of Choice, Split Enz's Waiata and, of dear, The Knobz' Sudden Exposure.

My brother and I spent the week at Mum's and the weekend at Dad's. I actually quite enjoyed it because Dad would let me put on one of my records and let me play air guitar around the lounge. It must've bemused him.

Around this time, for about the next two years Dad also had a girlfriend called Patricia up in Mangere Bridge, Auckland. Auckland !! Every now and again we'd go the seven hour drive to visit them for a long weekend, or during the school holidays maybe for a week. Pat had a daughter my age, Diane and an older son, Kelly. He was 16 and was the coolest person I'd ever met. He had a car, a girlfriend and was really into music, especially punk, reggae and rock. Dad and Pat would go out for dinner and Kelly's mates would turn up with a crate of beer, and he'd crank the stereo up. Thus it was young Grant first heard Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers and, er, Peter Frampton.

I was enthralled by music, it was just fascinating. My mates and I would babble on about it for ages. Or if we weren't crapping on about music, it was rugby or football ("soccer").

For me, 1981 was a momentous year for all three. In rugby, the Springbok tour of NZ brought the country to the brink of civil war. It bitterly, bitterly divided the country. There were massive protests around the country. It's still amazing that no one died during that crazy, harsh, brutal winter. The Springboks' first game was against Poverty Bay in Gisborne. They arrived on a Sunday and Trevor took Mum and I to watch the anti-tour protesters, pro-tour protesters and police clash. It was nasty. Three days later Dad took me to Rugby Park to see the game. I was 12 and I wanted to be with my Dad, even though I knew the tour was bad. I couldn't quite put my finger on why, but I knew it was just bad.

Amazingly, that year NZ also qualified for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Football was experiencing an unexpectedly huge burst of popularity in NZ and nowhere more so than Gisborne. Gisborne City had won promotion to the national league in 1979 and they would rule NZ football for the next seven or eight years.
As part of their warm-up for the World Cup, NZ played a few games against the League Of Ireland. A couple of days ago I found the programme for the match and saw that I'd gotten several members of the NZ team to sign it, including current NZ coach Rikki Herbert and Wynton Rufer, who, 10 years or so later, would score the winner for Werder Bremen in the European Cup final.
The deputy coach and about a quarter of the NZ team were from Gisborne and they would go on to win the league in 1984 and the Chatham Cup (FA Cup equivalent) in 1987. Along with a few thousand others I spent a lot of Sundays at Childers Rd Reserve seeing City trounce the big shots from Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington. They were relegated in the '90s, but in those times they were unbeatable. Great times...But I digress...back to the music...

Verlaines frontman Graeme Downes has famously said that "Ian Curtis was dead before Joy Division records were even available in New Zealand". NZers made up for this lag by going mental on them. 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' went to #1 on the pop charts in 1981, to #3 upon re-issue in 1983, 'Atmosphere' went to #6 and in 1983 'Blue Monday' was #1 for a staggering nine weeks. Bloody hell.

I remembering seeing it play on Ready To Roll and hearing it on commercial radio top 20 countdowns. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen or heard before. It wasn't fancy or sophisticated, yet was inexplicably powerful and enchanting. The clip wasn't fancy and choreographed, it was just them playing in some room. And what was the orange shading all about ?

But the ringing guitars, propulsive bass and thundering drums just really grabbed me. It wasn't the first single I bought, as I'd already snapped up singles by The Clash and NZ new wave stars the Screaming Meemees, but it was the first 12" single I bought, that's for sure. It led me on to a lot of my other favourite bands and to this day it remains my favourite song. My favourite album chops and changes every 20 seconds, but my choice of favourite song doesn't, that's for sure.


Every provincial town had at least one music shop, back then. Gisborne was blessed with not just one, but two great music shops. My Dad forbid me from going into Vibes, an instruction that went in one ear and very quickly out the other. In 1981 I started buying records there and picking up Rip It Up, NZ's (then) free monthly music magazine. The other shop was Guy & Dunsmore. I was an impressionable 13-year-old and eager to soak up new music. Having gotten into Joy Division, The Clash and new wave, I simply wanted more.

In 1982 I started at Lytton High School, a standard state co-ed. By now I was getting full-on into music. The next year, Mum re-married. My brother and I now had her husband, his two daughters and his son from his (deceased) first wife in our lives. Mum and Trevor must've really loved each other. I mean, who in their right mind would chose to spend the next five years with five skoddy, stinky, grotty teenagers in their house ? Crazy stuff.

Needless to say, my music tastes clashed hugely with my step-brother and sisters. David was into all the usual prog suspects, Melissa and Vanessa in turn liked Dire Straits. And so it was I would turn up in Guy & Dunsmore and say "What have you got that will piss off my hippy step-brother ?". An evil smile would appear on the shop assistants' faces and they'd reply "Hmm, I reckon he'd just love this album by Wire / Husker Du / The Fall...".
I last saw David 11 years ago at Mum's place in Buderim, north of Brisbane, Australia. Ironically, I'd just bought a Henry Cow album at a local market and he was on his way to Brisbane to see Henry Rollins. We got on fine and were mature and polite to each other, not snotty little bastards any more, it appeared.

Quickly, my friends and I became the little brothers and sisters to the staff at Vibes and Guy & Dunsmore. Even though we all took off to much bigger cities (and, in a few cases, to Britain) I'm still friends with a lot of them to this day. Really, I can't thank them enough.

In the early '80s Martin from G & D had been in a band called Marching Orders, a synth-pop band who did one single on Flying Nun, even though they weren't the typical FN band. (Marching Orders' singer was one Jackie Clarke, now a light-entertainment TV fixture here). But in the mid '80s Martin and his mates established something of an alternative music scene in Gisborne. The Flaming Stars were somewhere on The Cramps / Gun Club continuum, The Wasp Factory were a Husker Du / early REM mix and the Definite Maybes were VU / '60s pop types.
Martin and his g/f, Lisa, have lived in Harrogate for many years. If you ever see a bald guy with a goatee and a skinny brunette, both in their late 40s at a Fall gig in Leeds, that's them.

Apart from seeing Split Enz in 1982 at the Gisborne YMCA on the Time And Tide tour, these were the first live acts I saw where it was "my" music. The Wasp Factory were an incredibly exciting band, especially. I'd sneak in under-age to see them blow away some crap covers band at the Albion River Bar. These bands even recorded a few albums, singles and eps on their own F-Star label. I was utterly gleeful when my step-sister scornfully said "this isn't music, it's just noise!" as the burst of feedback that opened up side 2 of the Wasp Factory's Hick-Hate ep roared across the family lounge.

All of this inspired me to start a fanzine covering the scene. (Isn't the term "fanzine" quaint these days of the internet, the web, blogs and all?). I called it The Captain's Fanzine as "The Captain" had briefly been my nick-name upon first entering Vibes. It ran for five issues from 1986 - late '89. The first three are patchy, but #4 and 5 are ok.
But it was through the fanzine network that I also got to write for NZ's biggest and best fanzine, Dunedin's Alley Oop. It went for eight issues from 1987 - 1990 and was selling 1,000 by the end. I would meet the people involved in it in late '88, more of which I'll elaborate on later..

Another person in this coterie was Andy Neill, who has been a music writer in London for over two decades now. He's written books on The Who (Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere), sleeve-notes for their deluxe editions, etc, plus umpteen other features on '60s pop for British music mags, etc.
It was at Neill's folks' house in about '84 or so, taping his Buzzcocks albums. He played me the clip of The Birthday Party's 'Nick The Stripper' and it scared the goddamn crap outta me. It was violent, malevolent, dysfunctional, unco-ordinated and utterly, utterly bizarre. Not to mention, most puzzlingly of all, Australian. I could not handle it, I did not like it, it freaked me out way too much.

About a year later I was in G & D and the guys there were banging on about the new Nick Cave solo album, The Firstborn Is Dead. I knew he was the Birthday Party nutbar, but they insisted I listen to it on the instore headphones. So I did. Outta the headphones and into my ears rumbled the slashing cymbals, pounding, tribal drums, screeching guitars and hectoring, declaiming vocals. It was the first song on side 1 and it was called 'Tupelo'. Talk about a revelation. Maybe this Nick Cave bloke wasn't such a loony after all.
The more I listened, the more I liked it. I was converted. Over the next year or so I bought Cave's solo albums. The Clash were still my favourite band, but by 1990 they'd been replaced by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Their music just really, really grabbed me. It was pretty much what I was after: it was out of step with any trends, it sure as hell wasn't seeking commercial favour, it was genuine, passionate, direct, intense and utterly original. Over the years I've came to love the music of many, many different bands, artists and genres, but as my interests in them ebb and flow, the music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has always remained. It is fearless and uncompromising, I love it.
In mid 1992 it was announced that they would play a show at the Auckland Town Hall in early December, to promote Henry's Dream. I had to go. Most big name overseas bands always play at least an Auckland show, but given NZ's geographic isolation, a repeat visit is often years down the track. It was now or bloody never to catch them live.
Thankfully I had a part-time job in a cafe, so I saved my arse of for a ticket and the plane fare. It fucking near bankrupted me, but it was bloody worth it, that's for sure.
I stayed with a few friends who were also going. The Auckland Town Hall was jammed to the ceiling and, well, there he was, there they were. It was a formidable show. If you've seen the Live dvd (filmed at the Paridiso a few months prior), it was much like that. It meant something to me that I'd seen them. Given his then notorious heroin problems, hell, I might not get the chance again.
Of course, Nick Cave went on to flourish and prosper. I've seen him twice more since, in Wellington, 2005 and (along with Mentalist) at ATP, Sydney, 2009. Great both times, naturally.
So here's 'Brother My Cup Is Empty' from Henry's Dream for ya:

1987 was just as significant a year as 1981. I'd left school and in the first two-third of the year was a clerk at the Dept of Social Welfare. In October that year I stupidly took a job as a junior reporter on The Wairoa Star, in Wairoa, a poxy small town a hour south of Gisborne. What a dumb cunt. Three of the better decisions I made that year, however, was to bunk work and see some live bands. The Flying Nun scene was really starting to make an impact. I'd bought the relevant records, but due to Gisborne's isolation and smallness, the bands had no reason to play there. So if the mountain will not go to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.
I saw the Verlaines at the Cricketers Arms, Wellington, in mid '87, Straitjacket Fits at the Hillcrest, Hamilton in October '87 and The Chills at the Galaxy (later The Powerstation), Auckland in December '87. Straitjacket Fits were a bit flat as the local promoter had fucked up the advertising and poster run, so there wasn't many people there. It was the Groove On Down tour to promote their first release, the Life In One Chord ep which included a song called 'She Speeds'. A few weeks later I saw the clip for it on Radio With Pictures. Whoah!
The Verlaines and The Chills were astonishingly good (I managed to interview all three bands for my fanzine, too). There was a sense of momentum to this scene, it was chocker with excitement, it was exactly what I wanted. But like a dumb-arse I stayed in Wairoa for another year.

In December '88 I went to Christchurch and Dunedin for a week each. I caught up with friends, met people I'd previously corresponded with, raided umpteen record shops and in Dunedin one Friday and Saturday night, I saw Snapper at the Burgundy Bar and had my head ripped off. The Burgundy Bar was a classic 400-capacity venue and it was jammed to the gunnels. The place went mental as Snapper let rip their furious, metronomic, pulsating groove, all propulsive drum beats, whirring organ and blazing, fuzzed-out guitars. The decision was made for me, I couldn't take being left out any longer, I chucked in the job, left Wairoa with all the regret of a man scrapping dogshit from my shoes and by early '89 was living here in Dunedin.

Over the next few years I saw band after band. I really could not ask for more. I met a lot of neat people, made some good friends. Of the many bands we saw, Straitjacket Fits were among the best live. Their albums were good to greatish, but they excelled live. Shayne Carter is to this day NZ's best frontman, IMHO. I lost count of the number of times I saw them live, I saw them in seven different venues around the country, let alone how many times I saw them at OUSA Union Hall or Sammy's.
At each gig they'd play 'She Speeds', it was totemic, it shot through everyone that heard it and saw it and for people of a certain age it captured the zeitgeist like no other. Just a few weeks ago, a few old flatmates were in town. We walked past Union Hall and I said "That's where we saw Straitjacket Fits all those times". We smiled and walked on.
The above-mentioned clip to 'She Speeds' cost a mere NZ$250. It features scenes of the band playing, with the wind in their hair. This was achieved not by a big fan blowing away, but by the band playing on the back of a truck driving through the Lyttelton tunnel, near Christchurch. Over the years whenever I've been to Christchurch, we'll drive out to Lyttelton and sure as eggs, the second we enter the tunnel someone will press play and we'll start singing along "...And I quietly count as she's gone, name any number and I'm counting beyond..."

In early '89 I went to a warehouse party. I was talking to some bloke called David Saunders who said that "there's going to be another wave of Dunedin bands". Later that evening his band, the 3Ds, played their second gig at the party. Little did any of us know it, but the 3Ds would be at the fore-front of that wave for the next eight years.
What an absolutely unreal band they were. It was a treat to seem them evolve in real time. They went from being a part-time band for members of other more important bands (Snapper, Plagal Grind, Look Blue Go Purple) to a major band here. By early '94 they were big enough to close the first NZ Big Day Out, in Auckland. The US indie scene picked up on them and they'd tour the US with Pavement and the like. Thanks to the 3Ds, Pavement played here in '93 and '94.
More than any other band I've ever seen before or since, the 3Ds were incredibly conducive to drinking large quantities of alcohol. You'd go to their gigs and the entire crowd would be totally shit-faced, be it at a small venue like the Empire or a large, major venue like Sammy's the place would be awash with people pissed out of their brains. They themselves were raging pissheads to a man and woman, too.
I was lucky enough to see the 3Ds in 11 different venues around the country, let alone how many times I saw them at the Empire or Sammy's. They never let me down live and their assorted EPs and albums really hit the spot, too.
Their music was indie rock of the finest kind, spiralling guitars, raucous guitars, clattering rhythms, wailing vocals. Splendid stuff. Bloody wonderful people too, as I found out. David Saunders worked at Echo Records and tipped me off about Beefheart and Eno. Bassist Denise Roughan worked at the Central Library at Otago University where I was toodling along doing a history degree, so I'd sometimes jabber away to her as I tried to track down some book. I'd bump into singer-guitarist David Mitchell and drummer Dominic Stones around town, have a yarn with them.
Eventually the 3Ds split. David M and Denise went to live in London (he still works at the Tate Gallery, she's a libraian in Wellington now), David S is back in Auckland, I stay in touch with him a bit, caught up with him when last there a few years back, Dom now works in TV production in Auckland.
Their 'Outer Space' single has the better clip, but I have so many fond memories of their gigs that I'll choose a song they'd always play early in their set. It's only a tad over two minutes long, but it was a fantastic little song that would really set their gigs alight. David Mitchell would really, really, really draw out the opening riff, building up tension, really winding it up, before Dominic would belt the snare, whereupon the 3Ds, the mighty 3Ds, would launch into 'Sing Song'.

Apart from fucking around doing a history degree, I was also writing for Alley Oop fanzine, Otago Uni's weekly magazine Critic and, by a big stroke of luck, doing a show on Radio One. Plus, Dunedin had the goldmine known as Records Records secondhand record shop and Echo Records. I was in clover.
Commercial radio in NZ basically sucked, it was completely failing to cover anything outside conservative classic rock formats or to reflect anything new or local (long story short, it's much better at doing so these days). But Radio One and the rest of the student radio network did. In 1990 I was in a six-person flat on North Rd. Later that year I started going out with a woman who worked at Radio One and became the programme director the next year. I continued doing shows at R1 until we split in late '92; she worked there, I didn't, so it wasn't fair on her for me to be there. By 1991 I was also writing for Rip It Up, doing live reviews and album reviews. It was fun. No money it of course, but fun.

Combined, this was all one hell of an education, not just in music, but life in general. I picked up a lot from the people I crossed paths with at these places. Roy Colbert at Records Records knew all there needed to be known about music. One of my history tutors was George Kay, a teacher at OBHS, where TRGP went to. George is great, he's interviewed everyone over the years: The Fall in Christchurch in 1982, everyone. I mean, this is a man who's on a first names basis with David Bowie. Bowie's played NZ six times over the past 35 years and every time he invites George to hang out backstage. Amazing.

In mid '92 I scored a part-time job as kitchenhand at The Percolator cafe. (NZers will be amused to know that one of the three owners was David Parker, who'd go on to be Minister of Energy in the Clark Labour gov't. Nice bloke). It was the perfect job for a student: you could piss around drinking coffee, serve the customers, play music and take home any spare food for your flatmates. I loved it. There's no way I'd do such work again, it's strictly a young person's job, but at that point in time, it was just right.

The Percolator would also prove to infleunce my taste in music. It had a decent in-house stereo and we could play tapes. Nothing too screechy, but other than that, it was whatever you liked. Among the pile of tapes was a Marvin Gaye comp, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Johnny Cash's Live At San Quentin. I enjoyed the Gaye comp, but not enough to buy any of his stuff. The Coltrane was interesting, but I didn't quite click with it. On the other hand, the Johnny Cash was intriguing; clearly strong songs, plus Nick Cave name-dropped him often, so he must be good. We played San Quentin a lot when cleaning up after closing, I keen to hear more by this Cash bloke. I was especially delighted by 'Wreck Of The Old '97'.

In '93 I flatted in Khyber Pass, in a big eight-person flat, five guys and three women. It was far and away the best flat I was ever in. There was also a very high tolerance of out-there behaviour, alcohol, drugs and weirdness. If you've read He Died With A Falafel In His Hand or seen the movie, it was like that. All sorts of crazy shit happened in that flat and no one batted an eye-lid, it was that sort of place. I'd arrive back late from The Perc and dump the spare food in the kitchen, it'd all be gobbled up by lunch-time the next day.
Apart from all the local bands, the flat was also big on prime Neil Young and Rolling Stones. I'd previously written both of as clapped-put hippy has-beens, but as you all know, their best stuff is superb.
This was also the year I discovered krautrock.

As mentioned above, I was doing stuff for Rip It Up and sometime that year I was sent Klaus Dinger's Die Engel Des Herrn solo album to review. I liked it and gave it a positive review, bar the final epic song. I knew nothing about the genre or what Dinger's musical background represented. A few weeks after the review was published I got a letter from Kerry Aberhart, an Auckland art dealer who was in contact with Dinger and distributing his CDs in NZ.
Kerry's letter involved explaining to me that Dinger ahd been in NEU! and La Dusseldorf and offered to send me tapes of their albums. I had nothing to lose, so out of curiousity said "yes please". A couple of weeks later a C90 with NEU! on one side and NEU! 2 on the other turned up. Well, I was pretty bloody impressed. They were very contemporary-sounding despite being 20 years old already. Such music was next-to-impossible to find in the shops, so I got Kerry to tape me some more krautrock, so he obliged with tapes of La Dusseldorf and solo Holger Czukay.
Around this time I also managed to score a few latter-period Can albums on s/h vinyl, but it took me several years of assiduously scouring the second-hand shops to eventually get copies of the key albums by Can, NEU!, La Dusseldorf, Faust, etc, etc.
Obviously this has been a genre I've gained an immense amount of enjoyment from ever since. In about 2,000 Dinger sent Kerry a few autographed NEU! promo posters. He sent one on to me. I have it framed and hanging on my wall, it is one of my most treasured possessions. But while those NEU! albums are fine, Dinger surpassed himself on La Dusseldorf's s/t debut, which is one of the best krautrock albums, I reckon. The title-track is 13mins of motorik heaven:

As a student, I'd go back up to Gisborne for Christmas and New Year. In late January 1994 I went up to Auckland to go to the first NZ Big Day Out. As with most people my age, I'd loved the Pixies. The Breeders were playing, so I thought I'd go because this was going to be the closest I'd ever get to seeing the Pixies, I figured. I mean, given how acrimonious their split had been, there was surely no way they'd ever reform and tour, was there ? :roll: Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and Urge Overkill were the other overseas big names and several NZ and Aussie acts also played. Straitjacket Fits played their last gig there. They went out on top, in front of 15,000 people. Plus they completely wiped the floor with Soundgarden, too.

The day before I headed back south I bought a ticket to a gig at the Christchurch Town Hall and it was one of the best music-related decisions of my life. A few days later I arrived in Christchurch and stayed with some friends. That evening I took a seat in a packed Christchurch Town Hall. There was a fascinating mixture of people in the crowd. A couple sitting nearby looked like Lux and Ivy from the Cramps, the group in front were staff from a swanky restaurant, not to mention the assorted retired couples.
On-stage, there was a pianist, a drummer, a bassist and a lead guitarist...the lights dimmed, the band got playing a riff and from stage left a man dressed in black and carrying a guitar walked on stage...the band took the riff down, ended it. The white-haired man then gently uttered four simple words: "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash". At which point pandemonium broke out. Johnny Cash then took off into 'I Walk The Line'. The next two hours were a treat. The classics. June Carter coming on-stage for a few songs, plus her sisters for a few as well.
In the middle, Cash took a seat in the middle of the stage. A solitary spotlight shone on him as he played four songs, just his guitar and voice, from his new album American Recordings. One of these songs was a chilling version of 'Delia's Gone'.
Afterwards I bought a black t-shirt with the words "Johnny Cash Is A Friend Of Mine" embossed on it. I also bumped into my old friend from Gisborne days, Simon, who was now living in Wellington and was in Christchurch for the show.
Getting into Johnny Cash led me to discover several other fantastic country singers and folk singers-songwriters. It's timeless, immortal music. Here's 'Delia's Gone'.

After graduating I attended journalism school in Wellington in '95. By now I was writing for Real Groove, a street press monthly with an angle similiar to early MOJO. I would carry on writing for them until mid '98 when the editor changed and swung it into being more about current chart acts, rather than a more open-minded, across-the-board publication.
After journo school I became a sub-editor on The Chronicle in Levin, an hour north of Wellington. I lived there from 1996 to 1998. The Wellington music scene wasn't anywhere near as hot and exciting as Dunedin's, but because it was much larger population-wise, it scored loads of overseas acts. I saw Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork, Dinosaur Jr and er, Chris Issak among others, mostly for free as I'd often manage to weedle a review ticket. Wellington had some bloody good record shops, too.

Im '98 I left Levin and went over to Britain on holiday for a few months. I timed it so that I saw Spiritualized and Sonic Youth together at the Peel-curated Meltdown a week or so after I arrived. They were fantastic and Peel took the piss out of Alan McGee. A few nights later I also saw Suicide and the JAMC. Suicide were fine, JAMC were fucking dire, one of the worst gigs I've ever seen.
A little later in Glasgow I saw within the space of a week, The Pastels, Acid Mothers Temple, Belle & Sebastian and Teenage Fanclub. Acid Mothers Temple played one of the best gigs I've ever seen, they were cosmic to the nth degree, truly mind-melting. I highly recommend you see them sometime. Belle & Sebastian were cool too. They played in the church that Stuart Murdoch looked after and performed 'Turn, Turn, Turn' and other hymns and the crowd of 50 or so got to sing along from hymn books !

Back in NZ I ended up living in Hamilton, a city an hour or so south of Auckland. My then g/f had scored a job there, so I tagged along. But by 2,000 she wanted to go to Australia and I didn't. In January 2000 my friend Andrew Heal unexpectedly drowned, so I had to go to his funeral in Nelson, at the top of the South Island. Andrew was only 28, but already the deputy editor of Metro magazine, which is sort of like NZ's version of Vanity Fair, in ghat it's a current affairs and arts monthly, but also very snooty and gossipy. He was the most naturally-gifted writer I'ever read or met, it was a sad loss.
It was the first time I'd been back in the South island for five years, so I spent a couple of weeks travelling around, re-familiarising myself with it. After Nelson, I went to Christchurch, Dunedin, Mataura to visit my Grandma, then to Queenstown to visit my brother, Gareth.
He was working as a white water rafting guide and set me up with free adventure tourism stuff. Over three days I did a 98m bungy-jump, white-water rafting and Shotover Jet boat ride for free. It was amazing, but I'm still in no hurry to bungy any more, even if it's free again.

Being back in the south made me feel comfortable, I sensed this was where I belonged. I got back up to Hamilton and decided to head back south. Ingrid buggered off to Perth, I came back here in August 2000.

Sometime in 2001 I asked a friend about where to start with John Coltrane. He gave me the following superb advice: "If it's got him, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison in the line-up, you can't go wrong". A little later I spotted a copy of A Love Supreme on CD for an ok price and decided to give it a crack. I'd never "got" jazz or this album when I'd heard it in The Percolator, but now it made sense. From the opening swish of the gong onwards, I was taken by it. It led me to discover more Coltrane and more jazz artists. I tend to like the more free and out-there jazz and I'm bloody hopeless at discussing it with any depth of understanding or knowledge compared to some people here, but it's just music I've come to really, really like.
Jazz is tremendously rewarding and satisfying music. It is also very diverse. There's the brittle, serene pieces like Miles' In A Silent Way, the weird what-the-hell-is-this stuff of Sun Ra and the frenetic, fiery blowing of Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders which is easily, if not more so, as energetic, raucous and splenetic as any punk, post-punk or underground act you care to name. Coltrane's music is also vastly nourishing, a funny word to use to describe music, but it is.
I'd need a fair bit of nourishment on a desert island, so some Coltrane would be quite helpful:

As I've gotten older, one thing has been confirmed to me over and over again: music is demographic. You start to compare current music with what was important to you as you grew up. Sometimes, current stuff just doesn't cut it. That's often how it seems to me these days. Sure, I keep an eye and ear on things, but I don't feel the need to go out to every single gig like I once did. Nor do I buy anywhere near the amount of music I once did. I'm pretty happy just winning a CD on Radio One or buying it cheap several months after release. Or *coughing* for it.

I'll always love music, but I'm certainly not as obsessed with it as I once was. I can hold it at arm's length if I want to and sometimes will even feel "musiced out" where I'm just worn out with it and can happily go four or five days without it.

As most of you know, other than music, my other main interest is long-distance running. Since 1998 I've ran seven marathons and several half-marathons and 10km events. It's tough, but very satisfying. I've I'm also very keen on sport in general and will happily prattle an about rugby (reasonably knowledgably) or football (reasonably unknowledgably).

My brother, Gareth, has been an ambulance officer in Sydney for eight years so I've visited him a couple of times there, he's visited me here. It's a city with four million people, the entire population of NZ in it. Bloody great place to visit though. Lots of great things to see and do. The Sydney posse are fun to have a beer and yarn with, too.

I'm part of the furniture in Dunedin, now. My employment record in recent years has been shakey, but I get by ok. I've got some good mates and for a small place there's always something happening here. The university and the people involvd in the local music scene ensure that there's always some good band around, even if it's not as significant or influential as it once was. But to para-phrase Mark E Smith the South will rise again.

As I said above, I don't keep my finger on the musical pulse as I once did, but every now and again I'll hear something that will really give me a good, much-needed kick up the arse. A few years back I was listening to Radio One and heard a most beguiling sound. It was a female voice singing in a most peculiar manner. She was squeaky and warped sounding, like Minnie Mouse on helium. The instrumentation was most unusual as well - a harp as it turned out. I was pretty enchanted by it. It was daring and singularly original. It was Joanna Newsom. Over three albums she has been utterly unafraid and uncompromising. Many artists seek to be so, so very few acheive it, she is one of the few to do so.
I have been lucky enough to see her live, twice. The first time was at a small club in Lyttelton, near Christchurch in early 2007, when I was fortuitous enough to meet her and Bill Callaghan on the main street on Lyttelton a few hours before the show while a friend was showing me around. The second was in Christchurch in early 2010.
If I am to be stuck on a desert island I'd be thankful I'd had the chance to hear such truly individual music as her's.

I've no idea what sort of music I'll get into next, possibly classical; there are worrying signs, that's for sure.

The book I'd take would be Julian Cope's Head On / Repossessed two-fer. It's a fantastic, hilarious read which would give me much comfort.

The luxury item would be a large, very well-stocked home brew kit with a large supply of ingredients. I'd have lots of time to kill brewing and drinking.
"U2 routinely spent a year in the studio...I have a theory: if you put four monkeys in the studio for a year with Lanois and Eno and Lillywhite, they would make a pretty good record, too."

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Postby Arthur Crud » 12 Feb 2012, 01:58

Magilla wrote:In the early '80s Martin from G & D had been in a band called Marching Orders, a synth-pop band who did one single on Flying Nun, even though they weren't the typical FN band. (Marching Orders' singer was one Jackie Clarke, now a light-entertainment TV fixture here)

Their record sells for stupid dosh on Trade Me these days.

Nice one Grant! A lot to take in here but all written with your usual effusive passion. I shall continue to peruse.

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Postby der nister » 12 Feb 2012, 02:14

epic, well done
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Postby mentalist (slight return) » 12 Feb 2012, 02:38

Great stuff Grant. She Speeds 8-) I've introduced a few friends to that song over the years and they've been floored by it without fail.
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Postby The Write Profile » 12 Feb 2012, 02:40

Fantastic stuff, Grant. A great read. I may ask you some further questions later on about some of your choices (those were some great anecdotes, btw!), but I think the most shocking revelation for me was the fact you were born in Gore :shock: Seriously, brilliant stuff. Liked your bit about your fanzine writing, do you still have any copies of them?
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Postby Jeff K » 12 Feb 2012, 02:59

Great read!
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Postby Arthur Crud » 12 Feb 2012, 03:41

The RightGraduate Profile wrote:but I think the most shocking revelation for me was the fact you were born in Gore :shock:

Yes! I wonder if he was there for that cannon that went off a few years ago, blowing a dirty big hole in a Torana? ;)

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Postby T. Willy Rye » 12 Feb 2012, 05:27

Well done!

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Postby never/ever » 12 Feb 2012, 06:34

Ha, Gore! Been there- the New Zealand 'Tamworth' and home of the Brown Trout! Traveled the south Island in '95, went to Queenstown and Christchurch (on an unrelated note, still sad to hear the aftershocks rocking Christchurch, had such a lovely time there, just tears you up to hear it's still in the pits).

She Speeds was my intro to Flying Nun, just before I heard The Chills. Classic, classic tune! Joy Division was as important to me as it was to you, Cave I came a bit late to, first through the Birthday Party...Cash didn't live for me until I saw him play live in Paradiso a lot of songs of American Recordings- the chills still are racing up my spine just thinking about it.
Great choices, more than enough to vanquish the thought of Joanna Newsom....

btw- you still want a copy of Autoluminescent?
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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 12 Feb 2012, 08:30

Great stuff, Grant!

(I'm only halfway through - it's like War and Peace - but more interesting!)

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Postby BlueMeanie » 12 Feb 2012, 08:54

what PISS. is this wrote:(I'm only halfway through - it's like War and Peace - but more interesting!)

And with far less characters! I'm still somewhere in the first half, but expect to finish sometime next thursday. Great so far though!
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Postby Magilla » 13 Feb 2012, 00:24

Arthur Crud wrote:
Magilla wrote:In the early '80s Martin from G & D had been in a band called Marching Orders, a synth-pop band who did one single on Flying Nun, even though they weren't the typical FN band. (Marching Orders' singer was one Jackie Clarke, now a light-entertainment TV fixture here)

Their record sells for stupid dosh on Trade Me these days.

Nice one Grant! A lot to take in here but all written with your usual effusive passion. I shall continue to peruse.

Cheers Kev. Trust me, myself and others from that scene are as baffled and amused as you are at what that goes for on Trade Me. You couldn't give it away at the time.
My friend Simon also knew them and wrote the b-side. Whenever it's on Trade Me for silly money he always jokes "Well, that's because the b-side's so good".
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Postby Magilla » 13 Feb 2012, 00:29

The RightGraduate Profile wrote:Fantastic stuff, Grant. A great read. I may ask you some further questions later on about some of your choices (those were some great anecdotes, btw!), but I think the most shocking revelation for me was the fact you were born in Gore :shock: Seriously, brilliant stuff. Liked your bit about your fanzine writing, do you still have any copies of them?

Yes, I am a Goron. :oops: I still have copies of the fanzine around. A few people have asked me to scan them but I'm hesitant to, as the first three have pretty bad lay-out, graphics, etc. Also, the writing is pretty patchy, some of it's ok, but some of it's too gushy. I wish I'd been a little more measured, but I was a teenager in thrall to the music.
It wasn't until I crossed paths with the Garage and Alley Oop people that I learnt how to write a little better.
"U2 routinely spent a year in the studio...I have a theory: if you put four monkeys in the studio for a year with Lanois and Eno and Lillywhite, they would make a pretty good record, too."

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Postby Magilla » 13 Feb 2012, 00:30

Arthur Crud wrote:
The RightGraduate Profile wrote:but I think the most shocking revelation for me was the fact you were born in Gore :shock:

Yes! I wonder if he was there for that cannon that went off a few years ago, blowing a dirty big hole in a Torana? ;)

"U2 routinely spent a year in the studio...I have a theory: if you put four monkeys in the studio for a year with Lanois and Eno and Lillywhite, they would make a pretty good record, too."

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Postby Ghost of Harry Smith » 13 Feb 2012, 01:54

Great read Grant, I enjoyed the details and it whiled away a particularly long bus trip this morning!

I'm jealous of the Johnny Cash show you saw, it sounds like a particularly good performance.

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Postby John Mc » 13 Feb 2012, 02:11

An ace read, Grant; some interesting choices and great writing!
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Postby fange » 15 Feb 2012, 11:43

An awesome write-up, Grant! Your enthusiasm for music is contagious as hell, and i loved learning about your journey as well as the music that soundtracked it. Cheers!
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Postby Copehead » 15 Feb 2012, 17:18

Good read, always interesting to hear about people's interaction with music that is GB/US centric.

You also made me realise that I past through Krautrock with out alighting in La Dusseldorf.

I shall have to rectify that based on your recommendation.
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Postby kath » 16 Feb 2012, 20:51

great entry, grant. i enjoyed it thoroughly. as i've said it before, i'm fascinated by entries from people rich in "other" musical scenes, places and descriptions and geography and bands from otherwhere, at least for me. i would soooo love to make new zealand a kath-familiar place.

as for the music: i loved that joy division track (and yes, rest o' BCB, as surprising as it may be, i don't know many joy div tracks.) i also dug the 3D track and straight jacket fits, she speeds... i loved the hell outta the latter, for some strange reason. i'm ever a cash fan, i am. my dad's first love was all horny-era music... from big bands to satchmo... but he loved johnny cash. i got that love from him.

a few side questions:

1. why did yer dad forbid you going into vibes? was it the kinda record store like those so hip in the states before the reagan administration... meaning they doubled as head shops with all sorts of droog paraphenalia and underground/counterculture gear? was it subversive just in a punk kinda way? (i was very glad when these elements of record stores started to make a come back, if only for sentimental reasons.)

2. what does grotty mean? i get the general idea from the houseful of teenagers context... i'm guessin it's like grubby + snotty? (mwhaha, that bit about yer asking the record store guy, what have ya got to piss off my hippy stepbrother?...)

just for the record, lemme add that i totally support the idea of a home brewking kit on an island.

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Postby Belle Lettre » 16 Feb 2012, 21:09

Not finished reading yet either, but well done, indeed. Good favourite song. ;)
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