non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand


Out of step to not Offset

If you have been following our tour diary, you will have picked up that we often comment on the environment, in all its beauty and/or visible degradation (or often invisibity due to the impenetrable smog).

Creative work generally has a low carbon footprint. However, it’s unarguable that hopping on a plane to tour your creative endevour generates a massive carbon footprint.

As creative workers, we wanted to attempt to offset our impact as best as possible. Our work is not more important than the sustained ongoingness of life on this globe.

For this tour we have chosen to utilise the services of Ekos, a NZ charity that produces internationally certified CO2 offsets from rainforest protection carbon conservation projects. When we offset our flight emissions with Ekos we supported the Rarakau Rainforest Conservation Project on Maori land in western Southland, Aotearoa NZ. And it was easy and affordable. Ekos also has certified rainforest protection carbon projects in several Pacific nations.

From the Ekos website:

“Most of us understand the need for infrastructure to support and enable our economy and wellbeing. Water, energy, waste management, transportation, communications, self defence… Without sufficient investments in infrastructure, the services we enjoy from them cannot endure.

Ecosystems are also ‘infrastructure’ – they provide beneficial services to our wellbeing. For example rainforests provide water quality, water supply, flood protection, drought mitigation, climate resilience, nutrient cycling, food fuel, and building materials. These services are central to our economy, and nature provides them for free – until we kill the geese that lay the golden eggs. A smart economy takes advantage of nature’s helpers by investing in their maintenance and durability.

The time has long past when we can rely on governments and voluntary organisations to meet our ecological infrastructure investment needs. Ekos enables visionary elements in the private sector to take on a game-changing leadership role in sustainable development through an approach based on carrots rather than sticks. An investment in nature is an investment in our common wellbeing.”

We hope other creative practitioners and festival organisers can hook up with a services like Ekos and make reducing their carbon footprint a regular and expected part of creative responsibility and activity. It is encouraging the hear that some big festivals are discussing with Ekos ways to minimise the environmental impact of their festival.

FYI: A couple of books have stretched our thinking about making bigger connections. Donna Harraway’s book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene stirred lots of conversations. She talks about how this new epoch, our current age, has been termed as the Anthropocene, the age where humanity-collective is responsible for the multi-environmental/multi-species damage. Harraway suggests this concept isn’t big enough, or accurate enough, and suggest that the term Capitalocene is more apt: that the fundamental driver of environmental and species damage done is the economic model of Capitalism in all it variants, not ALL humans. Naomi Klein also discusses the links between capitalism and climate change in her book, “This Changes Everything“. Klein also discusses the low-carbon footprint of creative work. Both books are well worth read.

Big day today – Happy Birthday Chrissie Butler!

Chrissie Butler's Birthday A very special day today!

On the 4th December 1964, a very young Chrissie Butler birthed forth into this glorious domain.

I hope the day is a wonderful celebration, and all that follow it!

It is an extreme delight to spend such precious time in your company, to travel on adventures, and making raucous fun along the way. It is inspiring, unfolding and rewarding, long may it continue! It is the best!

Massive birthday wished to you


mr sterile

R.I.P Pepenk Polutan : 1 September 2014

pepenk & StellaWe received some very sad news.

Our very lovely friend, Pepenk, who we first met in 2007 in Blitar, Java, died today – 1/09/2014 – for what seems like complications to an early onset renal disease.

He was an irrepressible, incandescent rascal, full of life, enthusiasm and boisterous noise. A beautiful human with energy for life, and wicked tattooist to boot.

He leaves behind his mother Pujiati, his wife Vina and new born son Kellen, his sister Lestari and partner Dayan with children Stella and Ardian, and brother Gunawan and wife, and a wide circle of friends.

It has been a pleasure to know, and a friendship we shall always treasure.

Goodbye to our good dear friend Pepenk.

Alas, now Gone as Goldie.

Sad news today.

Goldie and PoochScanning 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, and a short clip on Radio NZ – including the voice of Carl into the report.

Carl's cardCarl 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.

GoldieDuring 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.

Mangaweka MainstreetEarly 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.Magaret's apprentices

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.

sterile GoldieI contacted Carl some months later and commissioned a work from him. A portrait of myself and Chrissie. He was only rending work in pencil now as his eyes were not as strong as they once had been.

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 End?

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 Glorious Sendam Rawkustra crowd funding project

Post recording at the Newtown Community Centre

Post recording at the Newtown Community Centre

A small aside.

I have been participating in the group called the Sendam Rawkustra for the last five years as part of my day job, along with good people such as Andreas Lepper and Richard Noble. It is a music/health initiative at a day service for people who have past or current experiences of mental illness.

We recorded an album last year and are currently crowd funding the dollars to make the physical CD. We need NZ$3000 and are two/thirds of the way there.

It’s is wild, spontaneous, vibrant and dynamic music, and always always surprising.

So if you feel you can contribute $1, $30, $100 or $1000 then please go to our Pozible funding page and have a look in more details. If we don’t earn the full amount we get zero…eek



Homeopathic Armageddon 2012

Sterile GothicWell, the world hasn’t ended, again. Better luck next time Apocalypse! However, there was a small suggestion that perhaps this time round it was more likely a homeopathic catastrophe,  that is that the more dilute and insipid the event, the greater the final cataclysm. The date of departure though, that’s another matter…

The year is ending however. And in some ways it has been a quiet one for us. A few shows earlier in the year, and a couple to close 2012. And though it may have seemed like a bit of a public void in the middle, I can vouch that we haven’t been slack. This year we journeyed from Invercargill to Auckland for a few shows, released a solo mr sterile album, and took our Transit exhibition to Dunedin and won an award at the finge festival. But essentially we have been spending a great deal of time working on new tunes, along with some close personal evaluation.

The Transit album/exhibition/project has been a success well beyond any initial intention. It has taken us to venues we wouldn’t have imagined, opened doors, conversations, and opportunities for experiences far exceeding the act of playing a simple tune or two. And along the way we collected some sterling reviews.

But it is time to move on, and for the most of this year we have been focusing on the ‘what next?’. Song writing basically, of which we now have a bunch of new songs in our repertoire, and a few more in the wings. It always takes a lot longer than personal impatience demands to finish these things. The research can take ages, then the banging and hammering required to transform ideas to music. It’s been a bit of a struggle at times, but a struggle of the good variety.

And a new transitional costume, beautifully photographed by Roger Grauwmeijer.

So far the plan is that by the end of 2013 we will have written, worked, and developed enough material for a new album.

So now it’s time to start planning for next year.

There is one last act for Transit. On Wednesday January 23 we are presenting at ICOT, the International Conference on Thinking[1.45 – 3pm]. Essentially we are going to “…provide insight into the creation of the collaborative work “Transit” as an example of what is possible when you rethink the paramaters of a familiar activity – the production of an album of music. In [our] unique style [we] will tell stories about Transit’s connection and continuing impact on a small community in south east Java, the creation of the 11 related art works by prominent contemporary NZ artists, the touring exhibition and the glitch music video project.” 

Next, we are playing at the Wine Cellar in Auckland February  2, CANCELLED. We are planning to play more in 2013, if you are interested in discussing with us the possibility of coming to play where you are, then please get in contact and we can negotiate from there. Discussions of touring further afield are back on the table too…but where?

Our glitch video project is also back on the boil. So all those that sent in contributions to the video, your work has not been forgotten, and hopefully we will be able to present something that may make you go OMG!

And finally, we plan to announce SOON the release of Chrissie’s DSLB solo album, a spectacular way to close the year.

Happy new year all.


Up The Punks!

Up The Punks Poster, Wellington 2012

It has been a very head-down winter, with very little steps out of the shadows. Mostly we have been tucked away in the warm against the side of a hill looking for longer and warmer days.

But it hasn’t been all big socks and fire-stoking. In August we took a short jaunt to Auckland to participate in the Audio Foundation‘s Now!Here! Festival, “…a three-day celebration with New Zealand / Aotearoa’s inventive and accomplished sound artists and musicians championing the experimental and avant-garde in all its multitudinous, intriguing and unpredictable forms”, and there we were. In addition to this, a book was published called Erewhon Calling: Experimental Sound in New Zealand,in which mr sterile Assembly also feature alongside many other adventurous music makers, check it out.

Mostly though, we have been busy working on a selection of new tunes. And they are birthing nicely. Subject matter covering the expanse from confessions of a useless shoplifter, non-human entities, alternate local histories, UFO myths, a little stinking fundamental proselytizing, and the legend of Cthulhu…the usual stuff…

And, we can very proudly say that we have the very good fortune to be playing at the closing of the very exciting Up The Punks 2012 exhibition. This vast archiving project has undertaken the task of collating 35 years of Capital city punk rock. This exhibition makes ten years since the project first exhibited. Opening night November 6, closing night Saturday November 10, all ages, $10. And it’s a hell of a line-up for the final night if we can say: Fantails, Rogernomix, Johnny & the Felchers, So So Modern, The All Seeing Hand, AND Flesh D-Vice!!!

And finally, as a small squeak from the past, we came across this online blog, Mad Blasts of Kiwi Chaos. The site presents Loosehead, the group mr sterile’s drummed with prior to the mr sterile identity. The tape, First Aid Kit, was the first release in Wellington by Loosehead and was compiled from a series of recording sessions. I haven’t downloaded it so am not sure of the quality. However, good quality digital files have been handed over to the site admin’s at Up The Punks, and all Loosehead recordings will be available for free download from the Up The Punks site soon!

And FINALLY, that crowd-sourced video is temporarily on hold as one of the busy Up The Punks collators, is also our director/editor/what-have-you. Normal screening will resume shortly.

UPDATE: As mentioned, the entire catalog of Loosehead recordings, the Wellington era, are now available on the Up The Punks webpage.

Australian legends DEAD tour NZ

Our good friends DEAD from Australia are plunging onto these shore’s, we lucky lucky antipodeans, here’s their press release.

Australian group DEAD come to NZTwo piece DIY Punk/Sludge unit DEAD are touring in support of their debut LP – THUNDAAAAAH! It’s a great album and you should probably buy it.

Released on LP/Digital via their own label WeEmptyRooms (Hard Ons, Fire Witch, Dad They Broke Me etc.) the band has already toured South East Asia and USA extensively to promote the albums regional release on LP (WantageUSA) and Cassette (Ricecooker).

DEAD features members of Fire Witch, Fangs of… and Inappropriate Tough Guy Behaviour.

Their U.S tour with Unstoppable Death Machines saw them play 30 dates right across the country including shows with Hammerhead, Vaz, Gay Witch Abortion, Hex Machine, Thrones and label mates Big Business, White Shit, Pygmy Shrews and Japanther. All those bands were great but DEAD are better.

In South East Asia they trained, planed and bussed between Malaysia, Singapore, Java and Philippines including a bill with seminal punk band Carburetor Dung.

In Australia they have run up and down the east coast more times than one cares to count, visited places few bands of their ilk ever play, supported Earthless (USA), Cough (USA), Eagle Twin (USA), Monarch (France), Hard Ons and more and gotten very loud and very sweaty in living rooms, record stores, galleries and pubs along the way.

All this in less than a year of existence!

In short; DEAD don’t fuck around.
They print their own merch on non sweat-shop and recycled garments, tour relentlessly and show no signs of slowing down. A DEAD show is a full body experience. It is not for everyone but can you risk not finding out?

DEAD will play the 6th Camp A Low Hum music festival as well as a string of other North Island dates.

Feb 8th – Whanganui: Arc Theatre – $10
+ Mr. Sterile Assembly & Night Terrors
Feb 9th – Palmerston Nth: The Royal $10
+ Black Pudding, Wall of Silents & Cephalopod
Feb 10/11 – Camp A Low Hum – ALL AGES
Feb 12 – Wellington: Freds* – $10/ALL AGES  7pm
+ Mr Sterile Assembly & Faintails
Feb 16 – Great Barrier Is: Old Bike Shop* – ALL AGES
Feb 17th – Hamilton: Static
+ God Bows To Math, Viking Weed
Feb 18th – Auckland: Basement – ALL AGES?
+ God Bows To Math
Feb 19th – Tauranga: House Show* – ALL AGES
+ Threat Meet Protocol
Feb 20th – Auckland: House Show* – ALL AGES

End of the year wrap up 2011

At the start of 2011 we sat down and wrote a list of all the things we would like to achieve this year. And I am very pleased to say we are about to complete the wish list by playing at the Appleby Tavern on December 29 in Invercargil with locals Sui-cide Bombers, Generic Hole, and The Sallies: a fantastic way to cap off a very productive and busy period. Playing in Invers has particular meaning as it’s been nearly 20 years since mr sterile (in the days before mr sterile existed ) last played here in a punk band. This is the old stomping ground and will be wonderful to reconnect with a lot of (now) old faces.

And looking back over the year we take this chance to thank Shaun at Tenzenmen and Swerve at Dualplover for the help with the release of the album. Its been a ride promoting the album over the last 10 months and we now feel ready to start working on material.

We were fortunate enough to have toured both Australia and Malaysia, Java, and Singapore, brilliant experience’s aurally, socially and in the food department. Hooray to all our established and new friend there, wonderful folk.

We made an attempt at extending our performance options by presenting the Transit art work at the Hamilton Fringe Festival, winning the most stunning concept award. We are now in playing to take the show to the Dunedin Fringe in March 2012.

Two other shows of particular significance were playing support at the Steve Ignorant – The Last Supper show, Ignorant being one of the founding members of the influential UK group Crass, and celebrating sterile’s tenth birthday – in itself a hell of a journey.

So at the end of the year, politically both terrible and inspiring, we take this opportunity to wish you all well. We hope both peace and rest are in your grasp, we thank the warm enthusiasm, support and encouragement offered to us on our travels, and that the new year treats you well.

Hamilton Fringe Festival 2011

Hamilton Fringe Festival logo 2011We were being interviewed by National Radio on the release of our album Transit. As soon as the interview had finished an email flew into our inbox enthusiastically inviting us to attend the Hamilton Fringe Festival in response to our desire to tour and exhibit the original art we obtained for the album. And in classic fashion, we said ‘sure’ first… and then settled down to figure out the finer and fiddlier details.

Supported by our contact, Jo, who did the bulk of the leg work in Hamilton, we secured some funding so the art could be couriered to the festival, and a van hired to bring our equipment back and forth. So, thanks to Creative Communities and Creative Hamilton for supporting our endeavor.

As usual, plans expanded and we opted to get the exhibition to Hamilton a week early and Jo enlisted a crew of locals to adorn the gallery walls with the accompanying lyrics to the songs attached to the art.

As the itinerary firmed up, Jo got us a show in Raglan, a small tourist/surfing/coastal village about 30 minutes out of Hamilton. So it was to be Raglan on the Friday night, an artist talk and presentation of songs on the Saturday afternoon for the Fringe Festival, and then an all-ages show later that same evening: three shows in 24 hours.

MangawekaThe art left Wellington without a hitch, we simply had to wait the week before we departed the city.

The journey north was uneventful apart from a sweet detour into the village of Mangaweka, home of the C F Goldie museum. Here we visited old friends and told stories, learning a wonderful fact about Karl Sims/C F Goldie, the infamous art forger. Apparently Karl is considered to be the World’s eighth most famous art forger, and according to some ‘authority’ he would have been considered the best had he had a greater ‘sphere of influence’, e.g. not resided on an island at the bottom of the world, but somewhere with a far vaster population, like Europe, a bigger and more duppable citizenry.

On the road to RaglanBack on the road we made Raglan in good time. It’s a small town with a reputation of being reggae central. Anyway, we meet  our host for the evening, Dave, dropped our gear at the pub, set off the alarms in the pub, the door wasn’t locked, but no-one looked terribly flustered by, or worried about it. Then we headed out to Dave’s farm home for some food and rest after the long haul.

Dave’s farm view was spectacular, an incredible vista looking down out onto a northward curving coast, high and distant above the township.

Returning to the venue, the Yot club, we set up and met the local band playing alongside us, Frankie. It’s was a slow start to the evening as the rugby world cup had a game in Hamilton, just our luck, and almost the entire country is distracted.

After the match the place started to fill. Frankie started, a classic three piece, playing post-rock pop compositions and it sounded good. We came on and I think we surprised a few, the spectrum of expression  from ‘leave the venue’ to a wide- jaw smile, transfixed to our antics.

Hamilton Fringe Artist's talkRetuning to the farm after the show it’s the blackest Raglan night, a spectacular show of heavenly star-light, far from the incandescent street light of any city. It was a long day of journey and music, so whiskey then sleep.

Waking earlier on the Saturday, we returned to Raglan for coffee and nosh then made our way over to central Hamilton. Arriving around midday we set up our gear at the gallery and  get to see the exhibition hanging for the first time. And it looked great! Jo and her mates made a spectacular job of installing the show, we we’re particularly pleased with the way the text had been written on the wall’s around the art. The space was set, the gear ready, we put on our costumes and waited for the show to begin.

Hamilton Fringe Artist talk 2And they attended, not in droves, but an intimate 20 or so, and that’s ok because this is the first time we have actually put this concept to the test, e.g to tour and present an ‘artist’s talk’  about the relationship of this commissioned art to the context of the song text, and then finish off by a live presentation of the songs.

We decided to break the talk into two parts, chatting first then music, then repeat. And it’s was a mobile chat, we moved up and down the room selecting work’s of art to discuss, talking about the text to the songs and much of the background research involved in the writing of the lyric. Hamilton Fringe Artist talk 3

The interest is surprising. We paused mid-stream to ask if people are bored, would they like some music or more stories? “More stories” they reply.

It was a fascinating experience for us, and warmly reassuring, in that people are very committed to engaging in conversation and dialogue when the chance arrives. People like stories, to be informed of the detail behind an event, and to have the opportunity to ask questions. We were surprised we talked for as long as we did.

One person commented at the end that it was rare and wonderful way to explore art. He commented that usually events surrounding ‘Art’ mostly revolved around free alcohol and hummus, but ultimately one left with little more understanding of the work than when one arrived. And somehow this event was different, a perfect outcome.

VOIDShow over, the folk left, and we packed out. We took off for a bit of curry and down a couple of beers before soundcheck at VOID.

We play again with Frankie, and another local act called The Beautiful Shambles. It’s a great well resourced venue, with a lovely and helpful sound-man, a special breed.

The shows started late, as advertised, but is lite on audience. Out on the streets it’s quiet, again we get a sense this is in response to the rugby world cup. VOID entranceMany had paraded earlier in Welsh and Irish flags, we guess they are the teams playing locally (I’m secretly pleased that I still don’t actually know, I have managed to miss the inundation of rugby information, I am a genetically deficient kiwi obviously).

Great to see the local acts, committed and fun, thanks. We played a sweet set. It’s so nice to get to hear these songs through a nice sound system mixed well, thanks to again to the sound guy.

Show over, packed up and out. We stored our gear back at the gallery to collect in the morning, but to do this braved downtown-post-RWC Hamilton, drunken, macho, unpredictable, mini-skirted Hamilton. Here’s where all the people were, it’s lightly raining and the streets are laden with bodies loaded with alcohol and expectation. There’s little motivation to hang around, it’s an odd sight to see the inebriated bold male youth hanging off the bronze arms of the statue Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Tea and toast and bed, that’s rock and roll.