Last show before our trip to Europe.
Featuring Wellington’s newest psych voodoo medicine band Swamp Doctor, the return of Flit Nintron
Friday April 4 at the wonderful Pyramid Club, 8pm
Quite a few years ago, and for a few of years, we had the lucky fortune to be able to spend a good number of years adding our creative efforts to the theatrical projects of Alan Brunton and Sally Rodwell. Sally and Alan were know initially for the theatre group Red Mole, and later Roadworks, creating spectacular theatre on a meager budget, combining mind-boggling physical-theatre performances with the intellectual gymnastics of the text. Many show incorporated live music, mask work, devised pieces, and encyclopedic references to stories throughout time and space.
Tragically Alan died on tour in 2002, and Sally four years later in 2006.
The following performance is a launch of a book of Brunton’s words, here’s the press release:
Titus Books is proud to launch Beyond the Ohlala Mountains: Alan Brunton / Poems 1968-2002. Drawing on twelve published collections and the rich resource of his papers, editors Michele Leggott and Martin Edmond present a selection that shows for the first time the scope of Brunton’s poetics as well as his trademark linguistic bravura.
Join us for a glass of wine to launch the book with readings and performances in the spirit of Red Mole and Roadworks, those experimental theatre troupes that put so many of Alan Brunton’s words in the mouths of singers, musicians and actors.
Performers include Ruby Brunton, Anne Kennedy, Arthur Baysting, Barry Saunders, Bob Orr, Brian Potiki, International Superstars of Westlynn, Jean McAllister, Jeff Henderson, John Davies, John Newton, Kilda Northcott, Ksenija Chobanovich, Leila Adu, Madeline McNamara, Mr Sterile Assembly, Murray Edmond, Nisha Madhan, Peter Simpson, Russell Haley, Stephen Bain and Tony McMaster.
Venue: Wharekai of the University of Auckland’s Waipapa Marae. 16 Wynard Street, Auckland
Date: thursday 27 March 2014
In addition: Here is the great video Zucchini Roma, documents the work of Red Mole theatre group in vibrant days. A great film capturing Alan, Sally, Madeline and more. enjoy
And an AMAZING video made in 1979 where Red Mole where on the road in Aotearoa New Zealand, in another time, with splendid vehicles.
This interview was recently published on Under the Radar, and was conducted by Chris Cudby of The Audio Foundation. Thanks for the Opportunity, it was great to be able to talk about the involvement with the sSendam Rawkustra, sterile briefly, and other incidentals. I have removed the links to the audio, for ease of cut-and-paste.
But visit the actual interview at Undertheradar for it in it’s slight bigger entirety.
Well-known as half of Wellington outsider-punk noise experimental rock two-piece Mr Sterile Assembly, Kieran Monaghan recently played a key role in the organisation and release of the debut album by the SENDAM Rawkestra – an ensemble comprised of people with past or present experience of mental health illness, varying physical and musical abilities, and support workers in the mix, these musicians produce nigh-uncatagorisable songs and sounds. We talked to Monaghan about the Rawkestra, what’s coming up for Mr Sterile, his relationship with art / political activism and more. Huge thanks to Kieran Monaghan for taking time out to talk in-depth about his work.
How did the SENDAM Rawkestra come about? Who is involved? Is this a project organised by yourself or…?
It began as a health initiative in my day job as a primary health care nurse in Newtown. A big part of my role is mental health, and as such I would spend a lot of time in a day service called The Clubhouse. The Clubhouse is a peer-support day service for folk with past and current experiences of mental illness, based on a philosophy that those with first hand experience are well situated to help support others experiencing similar things, this takes place outside a clinical framework. It’s a great idea.
Anyway, I became aware that a lot of random music and musical ability was often being played, so I discussed with The Clubhouse manager who thought it was a good idea. I also spoke with musician/percussionist Andreas Lepper, who I had known had been doing brilliant music work in other complex environments, and he was keen. And finally I accessed some funding from our PHO to pay the costs. And off it went. It has grown from there.
It has been going over five years now, playing every Friday and I guess the background organisation is still sorted by Andreas, myself and another good fellow Richard Noble (who is also very involved in many local community groups, activities, church). There is also a growing group of regulars now over the years who have developed solid skills and a voice to offer input, alongside care workers who support some of the other players. The music is a grand leveler.
Can you please tell us about the new SENDAM Rawkestra album – ‘Greatest Hits / Who’s Mad’
For a while we had discussed doing some sort of recording. Then one day Andreas arrived with an invite from a close associate of his called Benni Kreuger. Benni had offered us a very accessible rates that worked perfectly with our budget. We held a successful fundraising show in the local community centre to cover the recording cost, and then booked in a date in the same venue to record one Saturday. It was an amazing experience!
As always, there is an air of uncertainty about who will actually turn up, but we had a spectacular line-up of folk who came to play. For most it would have been the very first time being exposed to the recording environment. And it was a remarkably smooth experience. Most tracks were recorded on first take, no overdubbing was required. While the mixing was being done, we ran a crowdfunded project to raise the money to produce the album. Again this was very successful, and stressful, but absolutely the best way to do it. It was a great experience to gather momentum and enthusiasm while the project was developing beyond our own networks and communities. And it also gave extra opportunities for the band to become more involved and present the project as well. We made a series of youtube clips and posted regularly to Facebook. For a number of the band members again, the online space is quite an unfamiliar territory. These small side projects (making small clips etc) also gave a sense of development as the audio mixing was happening somewhere else invisibly. It was a conscious effort to continue to maintain connection with the project by returning to rehersals to show the new clips etc, and band members seemed to got a real buzz from seeing themselves on a monitor playing music.
So the album is 10 tracks, some tracks are regular compositions that we play but every rendition differs from the last. There is a significant flexibility to sSendam’s music, it dances, bends, distorts and grows in wonderful and unexpected ways. We also have a number of players to like to stretch their vocal talents as well, from singing conversation to writing unique text for the band to accompany.
How did the various members come to join/be involved with the Rawkestra? Would you describe the group as a mix of special needs and more traditional musicians?
Primarily, the group is for people who attend The Clubhouse and who at some point may be identified as service users. In addition, next door to The Clubhouse for a while was IDEA service, once upon a time it used to be known as IHC. A really lovely connection grew between the two services and spaces were made available for a number from that service to come over on Fridays to play, the lure of the percussion was too much perhaps? We also have a small core that could be describe as traditional musicians, as in fluent in techniques, ability and concept re time, tempo etc, but those concepts can be challenged due to the inspiration of the rest of the band. We have had people turning up as they have heard that there’s another drum based group in Wellington and they want to practice their Latino rhythms, but this space isn’t for them. There are other options available for folk who already have the means and skill to access these activities elsewhere.
What do you feel motivates the members to get involved and come along on a regular basis?
The rehearsals are a hell of a lot of fun.
Early on I thought one of the motivating reasons was that for some, in this section of society, access to healthy and positive fun events are not always easy or possible. sSendam has no cost to the participants, there’s another barrier removed. Andreas has an extraordinary and beautiful collection of percussion, the temptation to pick something up, even just for a moment, often gets the better of even some of the more reserved service users. Very occasional there is a financial reward for the players, if we are invited to play somewhere and a koha is received it is always evenly split with the players (excluding Andreas, Richard, and myself) . Sometimes we ONLY get people to play concerts and never rehearsals because of this incentive :-)
The CD, I believe, has been a huge confidence booster for some. We talked about the CD for a long time, and for a long time it was an abstract idea to many. But when we turned up one day with a box of beautiful CDs to give to the band, it turned into something else precious and real.
And the positive feedback received from playing live has to be a bonus as well. Nell Thomas, from Orchestra of Spheres, has just written an essay on the band and contends that the live presentation challenges social attitudes and judgmental considerations held in a wider public space in a fun, and not brow-beating, way.
The band has created new opportunities and spaces in people lives, creates a small moment of a different connection and action, is a regular focus and validates the input and offering of all the players.
The music from Greatest Hits/Who’s Mad sounds like a mix of improvisation and composition (and the liner notes mention a the Rawkestra is conducted by Andreas Lepper) – what process is involved in the Rawkestra’s music making? Is there a specific desired result or is the intention more exploratory?
The desired result for me is that people come and play. What happens next is a bonus.
It’s hard to discuss the intention. I’m not sure I can wrap it up in a simple statement. Yes, Andreas does conduct, as best as he can and as much as the band will listen, and even the notion of following a conductor is a skill that is constantly being learned and relearned. There is a chaos in action, with some sense of order imposed like lacework over the top. People select what they want to play, and there is a frequent mobility amongst the players and instruments, and that will have an influence on the overall sound, obviously. Occasionally people may be guided to or away from a particular instrument for a number of reasons.
Amongst the band there isn’t really a lot of conversation specifically on composition. But the ability to interact, engage and play with dynamic intent is absolutely something that I would observe and register as a successful and desired result.
I asked Andreas what he thought and he wanted to remind me that, accurately, “I would mention that quite a few of our pieces are very structured and follow a (sometimes conducted) form : beep-beep, piano-forte,bolero, hall of …hey and that original and covered lyrics determine structure: moonshine waltz, bipolar anthem, we will rock you, drunken sailor.”
I’d maintain though that every time they are played they are unique and different from every other iteration of said song.
Who chooses what songs to cover?
The individual members who have the ability to bring ideas or snippets. Playing just happens and half way through you may recognise the words or motif of a songs. It can be pretty loose. Sometimes an idea just blossoms, as ideas do, on a whim and a sniff of possibility.
We’re really quite an accommodating bunch.
The liner notes for the album talk about the group as ‘art therapy’ for some members – would you like to talk about that? Does the Rawkestra still meet up every Fridays?
Yes, Friday is a constant.
Those notes were written by Even Barraclough, one of the band members and guitarist, and he doesn’t really call it ‘Art Therapy’, he more alludes to the therapeutic effect that may be experienced.
Art Therapy is an academic discipline in it’s own right, to which I have never trained, and I don’t really feel qualified to comment or expound on the ‘therapeutic’ nature of music.
But personally, I can absolutely attest to the benefits music has on one’s confidence and well being. In some corners of society finding welcoming, supportive, non-judgmental environments to explore music in a free, creative, and accessible way are rare. I like to believe that we have helped to create something that bypasses perceived disability, and goes looking for, and fostering untapped ability. I believe everyone is able to participate in this group, no-one is without some ability that they cannot contribute musically, texturally, sonically or physically to the music that is made.
And it’s more than the actual time spent making music. It’s what happens before and after the music making, the conversations, the confidences, the performances that alter ‘others’ perceptions of what people can do and achieve. Disability is often a perception held by the fully abled.
Do you see the Rawkestra in some kind of Outsider music context or is that kind of framing unappealing to you / the group?
Outsider is generally defined by the people on the inside. I see sSendam as an inspired opportunity, an exploration across time, a joyous discovery in action, and an endless exercise in invention and reinvention. sSendam is life engaged! The music is wonderful, but it is those special moments, exchanges, and developing history, that what makes sSendam sing for me.
sSendam is not outside, it is a warm huddle, a frenetic dance, a realisation that this thing is amazing and can never happen again, and a promise that we will will try to re-imagine it again, none the less, next Friday.
Again, I asked Andreas and he said “There is pride in being an”outsider” (outlaw kinda way) … normal people worry me and yes those real barriers will always exist but our “joyfulling” works as a “perforator” [is] to create good leaks.”
Actually, that idea as a joyful perforator bringing into life good leaks is quite wonderful, thanks Andreas. I can live with that.
Does SENDAM stand for anything?
It was named by a early band members. One suggested Madness, Andreas pointed out that that name was already in use by a fairly well known UK ska band, and one young women, in a quiet tone, simply switched the letters around, and hey presto, there we go. There’s quite a powerful metaphor at work I think in the notion of turning madness on its head and turning it into something else, something exotic and alluring, mysterious and tempting. All of that is of course absolutely true.
You are of course a prime mover behind the Mr Sterile Assembly – what’s happening with you guys right now? Any recordings/live shows/tours coming up?
There’s a growing number of shows and the starting of researching booking shows for the UK, and few European dates for next April. We spent a lot of this year writing text and tunes and we are almost at a new albums worth of material. It has been a period of reassessment, and modest reinvention. A reviewing of reasons for continuing and deciding that there remains a reason for being. We were quieter earlier on the year as the sSendam album took a lot of personal time. And Chrissie, my solid partner In all this is an immense help with editing, bouncing concepts and developmental ideas around, quality checking and as a solid source of integrity in what is trying to be achieved, making sure it doesn’t deviate form the best possible intention with the upmost transparency.
You’re known as being very involved with political activism, would you like to talk about how you approach being both a musician and an activist?
For me I’m not sure if there is a difference. But I am more than those two things, I am also a professional nurse, a father, and partner, a craft person, a gardener, and more. For me there is no barrier. For me it is about the integrity of reason, there is a continuous thread in all these facets of my life, in a way I demand this.
A large part of a lot of what I do is about connection, about the notion of making something better than it was before, and about exploring what it is that is getting in the way for things to be better.
I see musicians/artist/whatever holding a privilege place, in some parts of the world it is a dangerous place. We have the capacity to story tell and illuminate ideas in other formats which may convey meaning and understanding not necessarily accessible via traditional media/academic avenues. People need stories, songs, dance, art regardless of income. It is we, the ‘artist’ who decides if we become commodities, or contributors to community, or something else even more subversive.
I don’t know how to be anything else other than myself.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
This interview is proudly presented by the Audio Foundation.
Sad news today.
Scanning through facebook while at work, I spied an announcement on a friends page commenting on the passing of an 89 year old gentleman. It was the notice of the passing of the exuberant and intently alive-till-the-end Karl F Sim, also legally known as Carl Feodor Goldie. A article was published also on stuff.co.nz, and a short clip on Radio NZ – including the voice of Carl into the report.
Carl came to national attention in the early 80′s as the first convicted art forger in the country. He was arrested for a dodgy Rita Angus painting, and from that unfolded further discoveries of other forgeries. Carl painted in the style of many artists, by the 18th C English painter in NZ, C F Goldie, was a personal favourite.
A court case was held, there was a sentence passed down akin to a slap on the wrist with a wet bus-ticket. Then to ice the cake, Carl walked out of the court room into the Government offices next door to the court house, and changed his name by deed poll to that of the long dead and favoured painter C F Goldie, legitimising his ability to continue to paint and sign under the C F Goldie moniker. A great prank!
At least that is how I recall the recounting of the story. I believe the truth could often be a flexible commodity in Carl’s stories. Why would you let boring facts get in the way of a good story. An approximation of the truth is near enough to clear enough perhaps? But without malice, only mirth.
I vaguely remember this story first time around as a lad, but then recalled and hunted out some articles in the last few year when pondering on what local personalities deserve more public attention than those who current get it. I came across the book ‘Good as Goldie‘ by Tim Wilson and Carl, it is mostly written from Carl’s perspective, and in his voice.
One thing flowed into another, time passed, we had written and recorded our song with the same title of the book, our small effort to return this fabulous story into the public narrative.
During this period we traveled to Auckland for a show. We made a detour through the back/main street of Mangaweka, just because, and there we noticed an art gallery was holding a Fakes and Forgers exhibition, with Carl as ‘Special Guest’. This memory was filed away and time past. We returned to Mangaweka some time later, on tour again, and this time with the intention to deliver the song to the gallery in the hope that it will find it’s way into Carl’s hands. Two discs were slid under the door of a closed shop.
Early in the new year Marie, the gallery owner, emailed us and invited us to Managweka to play our song to Goldie as part of a commemoration and celebration of the opening of a museum in honour of Carl’s antic and artistic out-workings. Needless to say, we went and played and reveled in the chance to meet such a grand bloke and his two dynamic sisters. There’s something in this families genetic stock that we could argue would be good to fortify our bread, milk or water supply with, such energy, vital living, and dynamism for life.
The museum was a beauty as well! And even better, we got the opportunity to spend the night in the same lodge with Carl and Margaret. Precious hours full of delight, they were both excellent story tellers, with a vast life of unrestrained experience to draw upon. Joyous.
The last time I saw him was in 2012, in his Orewa residence [the photo top left]. He still got round the house, was still signing his name to drawings and selling them, and still spinning yarns. I doubt the pranks ever stopped. On this afternoon he gave me a copy of a new book called The 10 Greatest Art Forgers by Bonnie Sheppard, published in Canada. It is a genuine signed copy…of a colour photocopy of the original…a signed fake version of a book about forgeries. Anyway, this book listed Carl as number 8 in the list of the 10 best art forgers of the world. It goes on to state that “Karl Sim stands at #8 on our list even though he had far more convictions than van Meegeren who is ranked #2. This is because Sim’s crimes mostly affected only New Zealand. If they had had more global impact, he might have been ranked higher.”
So some sadness in saying farewell, but so glad to have met you. What a life, lived till the very end I hope.
The first night with Carl around the table in Mangaweka with food and whiskey [though he had a colourful past with the liquor Carl was now sober] Carl discussed the book Good as Goldie that had been published. He then said that there is also a SECOND book waiting in the wings for publishing after he dies. With a wicked grim and glinting eye he stated that its full of the many other exploits that he NEVER got caught for! He’d say that he would flick through Dunbar Slone or Te Papa art catalogs and recognise many works of HIS that still were being cited as originals. I SO hope this story is true and that such a book is published. Fingers crossed.
See ya Carl
The last part of the year is rapidly approaching, and there are a final few shows before the end.
Firstly, Fang Fest, the inaugural Auckland Punk festival is to be held at the Whammy Bar and Wine Cellar on Labour Weekend this year, October 25/26/27. Bands galore, hot chips and movies. We are playing on the Friday night,and there is a grand and diverse spread of sounds over the entire event. Splendid curation.
The poster is a design we have been sitting on for a while, looking for the ‘right’ show to show off such a wonder. We were gifted this design from a generous bloke who we met last time we were in Yogyakarta, Java in 2011. Endry Pragusta is the artist, and we are deeply thrilled to be able to use this piece of work, thank you.
Saturday November 9 see a return to Space Monster in Whanganui with a wicked lineup: The All Seeing hand +Seth Frightening +Gains + us. By the by, The All Seeing Hand have also just released their second full length album, titled Mechatronics, with support from Tenzenmen and Muzai Records. And it’s a corker. A wide dynamic sonic spread of beats, electronics, drums and vocal reminiscent of a black metal growling/Mongolian throat singing/Nina Hagen WTFing dance band. It’s absolutely worth the price of the admission, and some.
Couple weeks later, Saturday November 30, a wee jaunt to the seaside town of Paekakariki to play a show in the hall on the main street with Bad Edison, and some others, more information on this later.
Finally, some planning is under way for a bigger trip next April to the UK. This is mostly for personal reasons but we are going to squeeze in 4 or 5 shows along the way. Needless to say, since we are going to be so close to the Czech Republic we figuring on a small excursion for two shows there with some good friends.
A big focus for this year has been to write a new body of material with a view to recording a new album sometime soon. We almost there, the home demos seem to indicate the tunes sit well with each other, just need a couple more then we have a good body of work to choose from. Then what?