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.

July update

Here we are in July, less than two weeks to go before we take off on tour to Southeast Asia. Nearly all dates are confirmed, with just one or two still to be finalized, there may be changes as we go but that’s how it happens. I will set up a tour diary once we are underway and then try to update as often as possible.It’s shaping up to be an interesting tour, with a combination of big shows, studio shows, and a couple of shows more in the art domain.

Southeast Asia poster by Joe KiddHere’s the dates, there’s bound to be tweaks along the way- expanded gig details are to the right of the screen:
15 Friday Malaysia, KL: venue:@ Rumah Api, Ampang HOW HIGH CAN A PUNK GET part2.
16 Saturday Malaysia, Tampin: venue: The Seventh Heaven This Is For The Heart Still Beating
17 Sunday Java, Surabaya
19 Tuesday Java, Blitar
20 Wednesday Java, Yogyakarta: venue TBC:
21 Thursday Java, Bandung: venue TBC:
22 Friday Java, Bekasi: venue: Dromotora studio, bulak kapa.
23 Saturday, Malaysia, KL: venue: MyEvo Clubhouse
24 Sunday Malaysia – Mentakab: venue Arjuna Studio Silent Night Gig
28 Thursday Singapore – venue: The Pigeonhole
29 Friday Singapore – venue: Playfreely experimental music night, improv
30 Saturday Malaysia, KL MapKL, Solaris Dutamas, KL

Mr sterile has been featured in this months edition of NZMusician, with a nicely edited interview from noise maker Campbell Kneale.

UrbAlt  Sampler Quattro coverA new downloadable compilation has been released by the USA Blog UrbAlt.
Go to THIS LINK to download the FREE album Sampler Quattro, an eclectic collection of international acts including yours truly.

Distro outlets are being established now with Nikt Nic Nie Wie in Poland, Onec Records in Plymouth,UK, and Tenzenmen Australia. We are continuing to locate other sources to carry the album, as well as looking for other outlets for Distro and review. Contact us if you are interested in discussing this with us some more.

The bands 10th birthday is starting to loom and we figure maybe we should do something for it, brainstorming commence.

A life more Crass

The Last Supper - The Songs of Crass

“© Roger Grauwmeijer/”

It was more than a gig.

It was a reunion of old friends, it was revelry in the idea of the actualised dream coming true, it was a celebration of survival through some pretty dark days and the success of personal revolutions, and it was a bloody good gig.

Steve Ignorant brought The Last Supper, came and played in Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday 20 June 2011, bringing with him the songs of Crass. Crass were probably one of the most influential punk bands whose output between 1978 and 1984 grew to so much more than the sum of the parts, inspiring others to make art, make music, make collective efforts, and make efforts to make something better from a bleak and powerless political environment to a vision of a better world, beyond corporations, war, control and conditioning. Those black art-wrapped disc’s traveled the world via snail-mail sowing seeds into the hearts and minds of the discontent and fostered idea’s and grew wonderful things.

However, this was not Crass playing last Saturday, but Ignorant, one of the founding members of Crass, and with a fine band for the occasion. And similar to many of the activities of Crass in their heyday, controversy followed. Not everybody was pleased with the idea of anything Crass-like touring, there have been protests at shows in the states.

Not here. Here felt like pure elation. People traveled from as far south as Invercargill to come and see for this one time songs that meant, and mean, so much. And this was one of the amazing things about this evening, faces not seen for twenty years or more, an almost palpable unspoken joy in some secret and personal survival stories
. There were people there in which I had shared some of my hardest moments in life, and here we are again, together and alive. And there were a lot of us, a room full of mostly middle-aged and aging punks partying like the best of times. It wasn’t nostalgic, we had never shared this particular experience of these songs live, but we had many stories to share and years to catch up on. And we danced! If a mosh pit can be described as a loving event, then last Saturday was the premiere example, people fell and were collected, hoisted into the air and caught, hugged and jumped and surged in that almost tidal movement of bodies moving.

And the songs came, we sang, and it was ‘us’! ‘We’ became the event. The band play for maybe 90 minutes, songs came end on end, linked by sound bites, unrelenting and determined. To me it didn’t feel like a karaoke event, the band executed the tune skilfully, and yet there was room for their individual personality. On guitar Gizz Butt added a slight metal edge to the sound, sturdy and solid bass from Pete Wilson, Carol Hodge on female vocals delivered the lines like they were her own, and Spike T Smith on drums who possibly had the hardest position to fill. Sitting there where once the other founder of Crass, Penny Rimbaud, took control of the skins.

And Rimbaud has been one of the vocal original members opposing the representation of the material of Crass. Although it appears that his view has altered in more recent times.

I wish Rimbaud could have been there to see what he was part of creating. And that it still holds meaning , it is worth it, and I appreciate the opportunity to say thanks. It’s amazing now thinking about it, these journeys that have taken place to final meet again in this bar. How the people have traveled. And how the music traveled more than a quarter of a century ago, to be copied onto cassette and then handed around in those extremely isolated environments, and Invercargill was, like a secret note in a bottle on a dire sea. And here we all are.

I can’t actually remember my very first meeting with Crass, but Feeding of the 5000 was the first album I had, on one of those cassettes, a muffled dubbed copy on a well worn piece of magnetic tape. I thrashed it on my walkman, it was a lifeline to another world along way from where I was. My options were looking bleak, I was 14 and had already gone before the judge, skulling screwdriver and sniffing solvents to escape, running with nowhere to go, locked in a catholic boarding school with music as my only respite. I was an unfocused explosion, school tried to shut it down and contain it. Crass, significant amongst a small collection of other tapes, taught me how to focus that explosion. I was asked not to return to school, the prospects were working at the aluminium smelter or in one of the six local freezing works. I wanted no part of either, I got a job pouring concrete and as soon as I had enough money to buy a stereo and a drum kit I quit, moved to Invercargill with the plan to get a band together, and really I haven’t stopped. My education consisted of “there is no authority but yourself”, and ‘d.i.y’- do it yourself, and for me it has been a lesson well learned.

Who could have thought that more than 25 years after this first experience I would get to make this direction connection with this influence. In the late 90’s I wrote a song called The Agents of the Sun, the final two lines “beg the question, bend the truth, bail out the basement while there’s hole’s in the roof” were lifted straight from a Crass song called Beg your Pardon. We revived Agents and had the personal honour to perform it this night to one of the authors.

Heres the original version of Agents of the Sun from about 1999.

This is my story, and we all have our own. And Saturday was an opportunity to revel in the success of survival, not all did, and it’s worth remember them because life is hard, and you find meaning where and how you can. I can’t imagine how I could have turned out if I had missed that single exchange years ago, that hearing for the first time a sound that made some sort of profound sense, not spiritual, just a very human connection. It makes me wonder.

I must admit though when I first heard that this tour was happening I was also skeptical. It challenges me now to think about this skepticism, have I turned into a conservative purist? Or perhaps it is the idea that something that has taking on personal significance could be reduced to something less than my spectacular and emotive memory of Crass? The fear of a passion defiled perhaps? Or did I think the Ignorant was breaking the rules of ‘anarchy’?

But it was actually Rimbaud in a recent interview that helped me find a differing perspective. He was asked about the expectation of an audience, and Rimbaud replied that as long as it still says something to 13 year old kids, “would he be able to do that, what would he think of it, “how much could he get for it, not money”.

[see approx 6.40 for quote]

So I figure, OK, I’m going to take the 14 year old me out on a date to celebrate and revel like it may be the last time.

So thanks, for it all. Saturday was the most perfect celebration. I am glad that Steve has had the vision and taken the risk of touring once, unfortunately he is also wearing the flack. That effort to travel this far was not wasted on us.I know I am not the only one who feels that this may have been one of the gigs of our lives, and I don’t mean that lightly. Massive thanks to Tim, Punk Rock Road Trips NZ,  for the organisation, must have been pretty nerve-wreaking with a Chilean volcano farting ash and grounding planes. And I want to thank the people who traveled, it was brilliant to reconnect, let’s do it again sometime aye?

Did I mention? It was a great gig.

mr sterile & steve ignorant

mr sterile & steve ignorant