non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand


Nakano Rock n Roll

We arrive just before 6am in Haneda airport, Tokyo, after a pretty sleepless trip but adrenaline has it’s own turbo-boosting effect and we’re both excited to be here. It’s nice to get here so early as it give’s us plenty of time to collect our selves and the gear, and to navigate the transport system.

Three trains and we are at Nakano station, a major transport conduit at the heart of the Nakano area, famous for manga animation and the Broadway. The Nakano Broadway is a massive complex of stores selling a million different plastic figurines from various characters of pop culture.

We walk from the train station to the backpackers where we are to camp for three days, ground central. It’s an easy 15 minute walk and a warm welcoming environment. We can check in at 11 but we’re able  leave our bags and go and find something to do for a couple of hours.

We go and look for something to eat for breakfast/lunch. We have read about a vegetarian restaurant in the Broadway so go exploring. Nakano Broadway is massive. We walk round and round, past a million Ultra-Man, Godzilla, Totoro replicas hustling amongst a mountain of other items. We find the cafe but it seems closed, the curtain covering the doorway is down but there are people inside, maybe we’re early. We do another lap and when we return the curtain is still drawn. Poking into the curtain to inquire if they are opening, we are surprised to be invited in to what we discover is a cooking class of vegetarian cuisine.

Korbino, it’s a tiny restaurant, seating maybe 10-12 maximum and the class is of local women who have come to learn to cook Vietnamese-styled vegetarian food. It’s a cooking lesson full of laughter, and we are certainly part of the amusement, but it is mutual , warm and friendly. One of the women does wonderfully to translate for all of us there. The restaurant has been here for more than 30 years, and it seems the owner of the restaurant fled Vietnam under difficult circumstances. It’s a sobering moment amongst all the humour. There are tears and then laughter. We are not allowed to pay. An extraordinary introduction to Nakano and a remarkable first taste into this city.

We grab a few hours sleep before meeting Kaori, who has been brilliant in organising our three shows. She is the bass player for local group Goofy 18. Together we head off to the first venue.

39141026_1792012877500727_3569666187220484096_nAja LiveBar, the first venue is about 1 kilometre down the road from the backpackers. It’s below the ground level, a tiny space, containing about 12 seats and a small corner seat with a lowered ceiling. It’s gonna be snug. We soundcheck and then go to get food from the 7Eleven down the road. These convenience stores are to be a significant feature of eating while in Tokyo. It super nice to see a couple of folk from Whanganui turn up and party with us.

It’s an evening of two-piece acts. Fudds are first, electric guitar and drums – a thoroughly solid and robust performance of driving guitar and rolling drums.

Goofy18 follow Fudds, this is Kaori’s group, and is a hefty drums/bass unit. Heavy affects on the bass envelop songs that are 1 big part dynamic punk, 1 part pop. Duel vocals with Motegi on the drum who smacks out the rhythms with force!

Next is 5W1H (pronounced Guo-W-Ichi-1) – swings with a harder Radiohead vibe, with less of the angst and more of the funk. It’s very cool with a definite nod to the manic side of local music.

Finally our turn, the first show in Tokyo. Getting changed is a challenge, the venues small, the bathroom smaller, imagine getting dressing in a single-door wardrobe. We do the deed and adrenaline sustains the day, we belt out our set and it’s warmly received with big enthusiasm.




HELLo Tokyo, HELLo Seoul

Tokyo Korea draft2 poster.jpg

So incredibly excited about the pending excursion into Tokyo and Seoul. Both will be new experiences for the sterile roadshow. Years ago when we returned home from our first central European tour we stopped off for a weekend and Ditzy Squall played couple of shows in Osaka and Kyoto, the sterile band at that time had found itself in a reorganizing phase. So super stoked that now its happening for real.

So firstly, MASSIVE thanks to Kaori, bass player for Goofy 18 [who we are playing with twice] from Tokyo, and Ian-John Hutchinson from Seoul for all the help and assistance in support us to make this adventure possible.

We met Ian-John when the South Korean experimental music collective Bulgasari recently toured New Zealand Aotearoa. We are looking forward to reconnecting with them on their home soil.

Tour Dates


Your on the Edge

Good friends of ours, Gold Medal Famous, have been in a bit of transition recently, with some moving cities, and an additional change in personal. The self-described Avant garde pop trio have always been enjoyably off the wall and very entertaining in both performance and approach to music making. Prolific is also something they are.

They have a new ep being released soon. However, in a pre-emptive warm-up exercise they encourage anyone interested to remix the first track from the new release.

We did our best to Rammsteinify this ear-worm, this infectiously hooky and hummable tune. And no matter what we threw at it, it remained sweet.


Gold Medal Famous

The Rock side of the Moon


Been a while since we had a show in Wellington, and gonna be nice to be back at Moon. It’ll be our first show back after the Tokyo/Seoul tour so we should be crackling….hope so.

Will be nice to play with Pom Pom from Palmerston North, and Good Fuck from Wellington.

September comes before October

Got a busy few months ahead with local travel before some international travel…

First the local.

First of the plate is a couple of shows in Auckland on Friday September 6 at the Audio Foundation. Playing with us will be OKSUN OX and an O/PUS [an iteration of Olympus]

And then the following night, the 7th, playing the album launch show for The Changing Same at UFO. Also playing with be The Fuzzies and a resurrected Eight-Living Legs.

A couple of weeks later there’s gonna be a secret show in Wellington…can’t say nothing…never

HELLo I Robert

A video of the song I Robert, filmed by Roger Grauwmeijer, of RoxPx, at the Southland Musicians Club in Invercargill, June 2018.

DSLB in the Pyramid

Another opportunity to experience DSLB at the Pyramid Club in Wellington.

Performing with Pumice and Jason Khan from Switzerland.


DSLB outing at HackedePicciotto

This weekend a very rare event indeed with DSLB, the solo project of Chrissie Butler opening for the touring duo know as HackedePicciotto.

DSLB recently release the album TwohandsTwice and will be using that format of wind-powered keyboards, electric motored or manual, to set the scene for the evening.

The tour of HackedePicciotto has been organized by the Audio Foundation:

[from the AF website] “Audio Foundation is pleased to announce a nationwide tour for HackedePicciotto, stalwarts of Berlin’s legendary underground culture of the ’80s and ’90s and giants of multimedia art and industrial music.

Both artists are legends of their own making: Danielle de Picciotto moved to Berlin in 1987 where she became the lead singer of the band Space Cowboys, co-initiator of the Love Parade, and frequent collaborator with the Ocean Club alongside Gudrun Gut. Alexander Hacke is founding member and bass player of avant-legends, Einstürzende Neubauten. Over two decades, the duo has collaborated in countless international projects in addition to regularly releasing their own compositions.

In 2010, de Picciotto and Hacke made the decision to abandon their home, forging a nomadic path from one city to the next, eschewing all sense of fixity and stability along the way. The absence of a permanent place of return has since informed their work, which they produce relentlessly in search of“external & internal clarity, archaic principles and philosophies, and the means to master the rigours of the road.” The duo describes the cause for their restlessness as stemming from “gentrification, and the annihilation of individualism, as wells as the rising cost of living and the relentless sellout by the mainstream entertainment industry.” In response, “artists need to find new ways of working … in order to upkeep integrity and autonomy. The old patterns no longer function.”

After years of live performance, the intensity of Hacke-dePicciotto shows, along with the duo’s reputation for existential angst, proceeds their arrival. de Picciotto’s Hurdy Gurdy, autoharp and kemenche combined with Hacke’s virtuosic lines on bass, guitar and percussion, punctuated by melancholic, translucent harmonies and underpinned by low electronic rumbles. The soundscapes engendered by this collage bring forth a mesmerizing universe of sound and emotion, leaving audiences both shaken and overjoyed.”

The HELLo Show on show

Huge thanks to Roger Graumeijer, of, for collecting great images and the following moving pictures from our recent swift South Island tour.

Haters and Wrecking on the Radio

The three recently recent album on our skirted Records were sent to Nick Bollinger of Radio NZ for potential review. And we were wonderfully surprised when this appeared. Thanks heaps for the positive clip.

From RadioNZ:

Nick Bollinger discusses the rhythms, rants and recent releases of Wellington-based independent musician Mr Sterile.

Mr Sterile Assembly

Here’s an act that has travelled as far and wide and played to audiences as diverse as any band from this country ever has – though that hardly means Mr Sterile is a household name.

Mr Sterile is the performing alias of Kieran Monaghan: drummer, vocalist, occasional bassist, guitarist, and – for these particular recordings – virtually everything else as well.

Monaghan has been performing under the Mr Sterile banner since around the turn of this century, often in collaboration with his partner Chrissie Butler.

The General Pathetic

The General Pathetic Photo: Skirted Records

There’s a high level of theatricality about what they do. Their stage costumes are like some mash-up between Bride Of Frankenstein and early Split Enz.  At times they incorporate other musicians as well. These larger aggregations are known as Mr Sterile Assembly. Otherwise it’s simply Mr Sterile, which is the case with two new releases, which are essentially Monaghan solo works – though that doesn’t mean they are not packed to the gunnels with sound.

The music might not conform to any old-school punk-rock rulebook, still there is a punk impulse behind it – perhaps politically even more than sonically. The lyrics are like wake-up calls; warnings of the various mechanisms and instruments of oppression that threaten our lives.

But there is a satirical as well as a sinister side to the Mr Sterile aesthetic, which you’ll find everywhere from the lyrics to the handmade packaging. Sacred cows and self-congratulation are prime targets. The first of these two recent releases is called The General Pathetic, with both its title and graphics parodying a well-known Kiwi rock classic.

Monaghan’s primary instrument is the drums and this music comes at you rhythm-first. Those rhythms can be layered and complex, as in the industrial waltz of ‘Cast Adrift’, or furious and combatant – try ‘Kraschenbanger’s Return’. At other times the effect is almost folky (‘Setting Fire To Bob’).

Haters Wreckers and Other Friends

Haters Wreckers and Other Friends Photo: Skirted Records

The General Pathetic was actually recorded about six years ago, though it has only just been mastered, and is the more lo-fi of the two new releases.

The other album – Haters, Wreckers and Other Friends – is a bit more sonically refined, though sheer ferociousness isn’t compromised. This is music with a lot of sharp edges that seems to combine the sonic force of Fugazi with the angular rhythms of Captain Beefheart. Chimes of gamelan deepen the textures. Tracks like ‘Would We Be Alive’ imply a spiky kind of funk.

A third new release, also from Mr Sterlie’s label Skirted Records, could be heard as the antidote to the other two. It certainly makes for a study in contrasts.

Two Hands Twice comes out under the name DSLB (that stands for Ditsy Squalls Lunch Box) the alias of Mr Sterile Assembly bassist Chrissie Butler, and consists simply of five instrumentals played on a wheezy old pump organ. These are minimal and meditative. Built around single note drones in no discernable tempo over which harmonies are very slowly added and subtracted, it is like music in slow motion. The song of a glacier, or an organic, handmade version of Eno’s ambient music.

Two Hands Twice

Two Hands Twice Photo: Skirted Records

After listening for a while my nervous system seemed to settle to where just the addition of a second note became a momentous event. But sometimes the organ is joined by unidentified rattles and bangs – it might be a washing machine in the next room – and something almost akin to a groove enlivens the drone.

With these three releases out in the world, Mr Sterile Assembly are heading back on the road soon, premiering some brand new material. In the past they have toured extensively through South East Asia and Eastern Europe, places few New Zealand bands have ever set foot. But this midwinter jaunt takes them to Christchurch, Dunedin an Invercargill.

Catch them if you can. There’s nothing else like it.