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20 years!

Image: Poster of 1st ever mr sterile show

Wow, 20 years. Sending huge squeezes to all who have shared gear and beds and bathrooms and chippies in the van and waited in airports and shared make up and cooked plans for adventures and made breakfast for us after we have crashed – sweaty and smiling in your baches and homes and garages and tents and caravans after a night where we either cleared the bar or made it bounce.

Big ups too to all the organisers, the venues and bars and festival makers, the creators of one-offs in gardens, on big stages, at school fairs, at memorials, and on the back of flat bed trucks.

Massive thanks to those that came to shows. Sometimes you were one of 10. Sometimes one of a 1000. You are the best. If you ever sang along and we saw you, we still talk about it. And to those that bought the merch be it a CD, or a t-shirt, of a hand-made book or a jar of chutney, we are incredibly grateful. Thank you.

I wanna hug all those you have helped us record in cellars and sleep-outs and flash studios and in your front rooms. And if you wrote about us, we wanna thank you too.

Thank you to the collaborators who have played out front in the band for a long stretch or a sniff, the collaborators unseen, the videographers and costume creators and puppet makers and the album artists, and all you soundies: You are part of our DNA. We raise our glasses to you.

And to those who have shared stories and histories and experiences and dreams with us as we have travelled, your words have often changed us and we thank you too.

I wanna also acknowledge and squeeze the small crew who coach and coax and mentor and walk with us across time zones. You know who you are. You have been life line, catalyst and conspirators. You are our family.

Almost finally, I wanna thank our girls who grew up with this band. You shared your home with repeating riffs and howling and costume changes and random strangers from around the globe. Your patience has been endless. And a special thank you if you stepped in for K and I and wrapped your love and practical care around our girls whilst we were away. This wouldn’t have happened with out you.

And lastly, mr sterile, I want to thank you. This has been and continues to be the most incredible and fantastic journey. I am so thankful we have gotten to live our lives like this. All love, always.

CB


20 years ago this evening(13 September 2001) the first iteration of the mr sterile Assembly took to the stage – a three piece, drums, guitar and trombone blurted out 2 days after the event of the world trade centre collapse – what a strange time it was.

it’s has been, however, a thrilling 20 years – but rest asured we aren’t finished yet – there’s still some oddness up these sleves.

a massive thanks and love to all that have participated, played and partaken in this at-times random beast. the love continues to flow to all those that have shared their company with us in the form of audience punters, of hosts and of organisers.

this rickety go-cart has taken us to some extraordinary and wonderful places around the globe – more than we every expected possible when we cranked that barely tuned guitar two decades ago on to an unsuspected rabble, and for ALL those opportunities, meals, mattresses, trains, translation disasters, set-ups and break-downs, gastro problems, and life-long-friends-made-along-the-way we thank you, we thank you, we thank you!!!

see ya soonishxx

ms

Open to Suggestion

Ain’t these the strangest of times aye? It’s certainly been an 18 months break from regular programming. A definite shake to the foundations for sure.

2021 started with a fractured left drumming hand. Bike meets car, soft meets hard – snap! We had started recording for the new album towards the end of 2020, seven tracks down and five more to do. Needless to say that all ground to a startling stop. Things got progressive more complicated after that and so that project is on pause until a better time. We’d like to imagine sooner rather than later. Watch this space.

Rehabilitation of the injured hand took time. Any idea of a show ceased till recovery. Happily we have played once, for the wake of our dear departed friend Peter Deutsch. We were scheduled to play again, but, you know, Corona!

It hasn’t been silent though. As noted in the previous blog a mr sterile solo track titled And Candor and Reason in Chat was released in response to a flurry of anti-tax hate mail towards the journalist, David Farrier. He published some excellent articles about the development and influence of conspiratorial actors in Aotearoa – [these two blog posts in particular – I hope you get hit by a truck, I talk to all the people who sent me threats] .

Next off the ramp is another mr sterile solo two-tune release called You are Not a Fire. The title track inspired from a wonderful podcast of the Irish comedian, mental health advocate and all round seemingly good human Blindboy Boatclub. The particular podcast is about his mental health care during the long lockdown experienced in Ireland. It’s very helpful.


The second track, YouMeNess, is based on a video in which he adopts the persona of someone who channels messages from the enlightened plane, a satirical look at new-aged charlatanism and narcissism. Rimski, and others, research in depth the cross over of Conspiracy theories and spirituality in these times . [The previous sentence is the link to the video, unable to embed, sorry]

And released today is Open to Suggestion by SMEs-21, a collaborative project between Mr Snakes and mr sterile, and between Fiji and Aotearoa. Provocative tracks are assembled and shared to the other who then takes all opportunity to reassemble anyway they see fit. The final edit reveals a collection that spans between cinematic soundscape to boisterous anthem beats, songs and sounds, a collage of street sounds, decaying electronics, electronic instruments and incidental sounding morsels.

It was a joy to include the poetry of our dearly departed Fergus Collinson. He came to dine one night with sterile, and after eating fired up the microphones for Collinson’s recitation. The recording slipped into the archive waiting for the right response – a delight to offer up here.


Also there are a couple of notable vocals onto other tracks. These are collected from the live-stream of Vinnie Eastwood. Vinnie is one of our local anti-lockdown conspiracy theorists – to quote “…this is not a lockdown, it is a military takeover!” The first track OK, Ladies and Gentlemen is a combination of two bombastic recording. The first from his car and the second is reported to be from the night before a protest in a pub in Auckland. The second track, St Ninny is Vinnie getting arrested at said protest. The transition to bombastic defiance to complete compliance is quite spectacular, alongside the call for support from fellow protestors and the complete lack of response.

The album is released simultaneously on Mr Snakes Circuit 47, and our own skirted Records.

Enjoy!

Candor and Reason in Chat

Recently there was an article published on the Webworm blog by journalist and film maker David Farrier called I hope you get hit by a truck. This article documented a recent day when his inbox exploded with accusations stating that he was responsible for the removal of a ‘truther’ blogger from youtube. A screenshot was first fabricated that would indicate that Farrier was responsible for the removal of this channel. It’s interesting to note that Billy T K was the first person identified to post it.

It’s quite funny [not really..] how those who are so swift to decry the impact of ‘fake news’ leapt on board a fabrication which then enabled them to bombarded Farrier with hate mail.

Farrier’s followup article was a stroke of genius where he chose to then reply to each communication individual. This was documented in the follow-up article I talk to all the people who sent me threats. Farrier shares several of these conversation verbatim. I would encourage you to visit Webworm to read these.

In a light-hearted subtitle underneath a particularly nasty email Farrier described a communication as a poem. This seemed like an interesting proposition, to think of such animosity in a poetic sense and so this song was made.

Once complete I sent to David and he replied indicating that he had enjoyed the offering. The text is a nasty vent directed at Farrier, and I’d hate something like this song to compound further his sense of being attacked.

By the by:
Not all conspiracy theories are bogus. There have been very real and terrible conspiracy theories enacted upon populations, so not everything ‘Conspiracy’ is off the charts. Tine Ngata offers five solid examples in the article The Top 5 Colonial Conspiracy Theories.

That some conspiracies are actually while others are off the charts is interesting and a challenge, it is how to tell the difference sometimes. However its curious that people can hold to ideas like the one that insists that there is a lizard overlord dressed in the skin of a politician, instructing and influencing populations by nano-technological infused vaccines and 5G doom rays, blasting into the sky to bounce off chemtrails over a flat planet … but can’t come to grips with some English gripper who, a couple of hundred years ago, devised plans to steal other peoples countries, resources and histories… go figure.

Finally: it is also worth noting that the new Adam Curtis doco Cant get you out of my Head does an interesting exploration of the invention of the original contemporary conspiracy theory, that of the Illuminati…check it out.

From the bowels of the archive: Suppository [2020]

Here’s something from the archive.

The first outing of the mr sterile mouthpiece. Released onto cassette maybe sometime around 1998.

When the rest of the world seemed hell-bent on techno, and all sorts of other electronic wizardry, mr sterile had yet to find the ‘On button’ to any computer.

Here are a bundle of raw sounding recordings brutally hewn and urgently laid down without finesse onto a borrow 4-track cassette machine. Spewed out in the in-between times with an acoustic guitar, a borrowed electric guitar, a clay drum from the local Trade Aid and a big mouth, these tracks sound like they are someone learning to play…and that’s not that far from the truth.

This version of Suppository has been somewhat abridged.

Remastered 2020

Original mix by mr sterile and Grant Sutherland

The final piece, Flash and Exposure was not on the original cassette but released as a bonus track on the Loosehead ep Dork [released 1999]. The Loosehead recordings are available here at THIS link

Isolation couldn’t arrive fast enough

This release is a commission piece in response to CoVID-19, with provocation and support provided by The Pyramid Club, Pōneke Wellington. This track is three pieces collated into a single over-arching idea with accompanying essay to give thought to sound. 

———————————- 

“With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.” 

H G Wells 

An invitation to participate in a reflection on COVID brings hesitation, a sense of wanting to avoid the opportunity, a feeling of being overwhelmed at the commitment. But that is when the energy’s low, which has been a lot of the time over the last few months. Of course the other me, the FOMO me, the me that knows it’ll be fun in the long run, says I know I’ll regret it if I don’t. 

Everyone’s got a Lockdown story. We are all unified under Corona. Certainly in the early days. 

Out of the apocalypse that was the Australian summer, stories of a gathering unknown infection in the Chinese city of Wuhan made their way through the clouds of smoke. It was an compelling story as we had briefly visited this city six months earlier to play a show in a club called Wuhan Prison. Months later we would find out that we left the city about twenty days before the first case of the novel coronavirus would present and rewrite the way we all interact with the world. 

Horror stories of first Italy and then Spain soon gained global attention. This virus was no longer perceived to be limited or contained. Here at home we were organizing a small tour of the South Island and planning local shows. Thinking about it now, it reads like the opening scene in H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds: Us, innocently going about our daily endeavours oblivious and ignorant to the gathering storm. 

In my working life though, the corona virus was becoming a frequent conversation. I work as a nurse as part of a health team in a Youth Service. I am lucky to have access to clinicians who are literate in the wider contexts of health and illness, who have worked in crisis zones before. Yet here we all were in the face of a cascading unknown. Stories ramped up daily of hundreds, if not thousands, dead. How were we to cope? Who knew the real magnitude of what we were about to be confronted with? 

After work, back home, I would continue to organise shows as if what was happening was of little consequence. 

Then it arrived. The local numbers exponentially increased. The anxiety rocketed. Ardern announced a 48 hours preparation period before a full Level 4 lockdown. It was a Sunday and I went into work. We had an afternoon to plan how to reconfigure a health centre to be pandemic-ready by the morning. Over the next few days information and official recommendations changed frequently, sometimes several times in a day. It was a head-fuck trying to keep up, but we consistently had to respond and revise. 

After work, back home, the evenings turned into a tour cancelling exercise. 

Suddenly the streets were empty. Bubbles formed and compassion was tangible. Biking to work was brilliant. There was something awesome in the awfulness. 

My workplace was deemed an Essential Service, so remained active and open. The contagion was spreading. The international death toll increased, local infection rates escalated quickly and then death arrived. We needed to be prepared and confident in PPE despite any anxiety we held personally. We checked in with the daily briefing, read anything that might educate us on what might happen next, learned and dumped and re-learned as old advice made way to new. It demanded mental agility and dexterity while maintaining robust and safe clinical practice. 

Returning home to the bubble it turned into evenings of food and alcohol, of establishing new routines. New habits like believing you are contaminated until an immediate shower upon returning, being careful in the discarding of any potentially-infectious work clothes upon entering the house. Touch no one till disinfected! 

Online, creativity seemed to flourish. There was an energy to the new environment, people recognizing the need to stay connected and use online performance as a valid expression. Nearly every other day invites were received to take part in online concerts, discuss things in interviews or to collaborate on recording projects. 

Initially it seemed possible to entertain these requests. But that was before the exhaustion started to settle. Decision fatigue. Navigating anxieties, localities, the practical aspects of managing an unfolding crisis with limited information at work became the only creative act. There was no time, head-space or the words to find some philosophical meaning to project. 

The weeks ticked by and the collective mitigating efforts delivered tangible progress. The curve was flattening, cases were decreasing, and clinical routines became familiar. As we approached Level 2, I could see an opportunity to take a break, a small window of time, a settled, momentary, period in which to escape to. Through a serendipitous connection a small shed in the Waiohine Valley became available. Pre-empting the possibility of slowly unwinding with some recreational recording, I packed a notebook, a bottle of whiskey, and a small amount of recording equipment in the faint hope that something sonic might be captured while away. 

As the country anticipated moving from Level 2 to 1, I felt urgent for the isolation. It could not arrive fast enough. I drove to the foot of the hills and slept. The quiet developed into an unexpectedly fruitful time. I spoke to no one, spent days in monastic silence in a routine of coffee, reading and then recording till dusk. Part-way through I needed supplies so took a trip to Carterton, There I heard the dramatic news of an upending situation in the US after the murder of George Floyd. The world interacts in explosive ways. 

Now, back at work the new ‘ordinary’ delivers its own stressors. There is a comfort I’ve heard expressed many times about the security the first Lockdown delivered. As things reopen the uncertainty returns. The confidence of a science-based approach has devolved to conversations of conspiracy. However it pans out, whether we like it or not, we are still in it together. The best and the worst, inescapable. 

I noticed in myself that the invite to participate in this project generated a feeling of resistance. It was still one task too many in the daily torrent of demands. The idea to generate a ‘new’ piece of work, from scratch, seemed more than could be managed. But the idea to compile a few pieces, formed without purpose, into a single entity recorded in refuge grew as a tangible and graspable possibility. The other me was right, I would have regretted declining. And for this opportunity I give thanks to Pyramid Club. 

The audio recorded for this project are three of eight pieces from this period. Stylistically different from each other, but each born 24 hours apart. The first and third tracks are spontaneous compositions. The kereru are locals, the train is the Featherston Line, and the wasps were lifted from Chrissie Butler’s contribution to the Psi-Isolation album. Mixed and mastered by C Butler and mr sterile. 

PMTV: POSTMUSIC Session

Well this is an absolutely surprising delight to wake up to this!!

We we’e introduced to the lovely Stephen Cole when we we’re on tour in 2019. He runs a music project called POSTmusic out of What Studio and it was arranged for us to take part when we got to Liverpool. The studio is based upstairs in a large old church, but felt like a sweet subversive space for weirdos music makers.

We met early afternoon, set up, got the costumes on on the front steps, between the legs of the edifice, and bang bang, spat the two tunes out in quick succession. One take, all at once, and this is the first take.

We have recently been remixing the audio with Stephen, via the wonders of the WWW. Which is exciting practice. In a couple of weeks we will start laying down the first tracks for the new album at the infamous local Scumbag College. Then, when all tracks are complete, we shall send to What Studio to pick up the mixing and mastering of the final collection.

Hurrē – Single release

Announcing the brand new release of the new single Hūrrē alongside the new recording of the older track Orhering Heights.

Hūrrē: a word purportedly from the fens, easy of Cambridgeshire. A word for the cloud-like visible breath one breathes out on a cold day.

These tracks were recorded in Liverpool June 2019 when we visited northern England as part of three last tour. An afternoon was arranged at What Studio, run by Stephen Cole, as an opportunity for us to take part in his POSTmusic series. All equipment was set up, ther recorded button engaged and then once through and all parts at once.

Move to this year and the world has changed exponentially. We were invited to contribute something to an project called Flat Earthers – unpleasant truths/ comfortable lies . This song seemed to fit the brief of an exploration of these ‘post truth’ times.

A new video will be accompanying the song very soon .

lyrics

Seems like every talking head, spinning clever, sing aloud
Every claims to speak, tongue in cheek, for the ‘silent crowd’
Every point explored, cue applause and minds and hearts
Everything is black and white, twitter into bite-sized parts
Everything urgent, talk it up or talk it down
Everything matters, despite the fact that facts are known
Everything’s balance, depends in fact on who decides
Compassionate gaslight, say it’s nothing smile wide

Every informed mouthpiece, filled your ears up with their junk
Every trusted mug, comforts drug, your brains drunk
Every reused excuse, adds authority, gospel proof
Fuckwit behaviour, be subjective with the truth
Seems like every expert here, with loud idea’s got it wrong
Every wise refrain on display and now it’s gone
Every balanced point, mr smartarse hit’s the mark
Every scrap of ‘good advice’, there to prop the oligarch.

It’s that thing your breath does when it’s cold.
Born from your inner warmth, when the Mercury’s low.
Coming from your mouth, honest without sound
Here’s something I can trust, you’re tiny rising cloud.

You’ve got a lot to say
For someone with not a lot to say
But never let the facts
Get in the way.
You say that you know
We doubt what’s below
Your hollow show

Return of the Orange

Othering Heights 2020 redux

UPDATED VIDEO:

The B-side to the A-side of a No-sided single Hūrrē.

Othering Heights- recording in What Studio by the lovely Stephen Cole, Liverpool June 2019 at a time that now seems a world away.

Remixed and mastered by Stephen Cole Spetember 2020, and edited into the vid made from footage from last years tour.

Enjoy the new sounds

Image

CANCELLED::: Sept 5 will arrive

Alas, the extension of Level 2 has meant that this show has had to be postponed to a yet unknown time….
The loss of a show ain’t a big thing compared to the losses of others to CoVID. We have 0% common ground for any ridiculous idea that it is a scam.

We were talking with someone dear and close a few days ago who had just returned home from hospital after experiencing complications to the illness. They were still lost for breath. Loss of breath from exertion/leaping around/acting up will return, but we want all our nearest and dearest with us.

So take care, look after yourselves and your known and unknown others, and see you soon

Solidarity!

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