non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand

shows and gigs

Balance like an Octopus

It’s warm here in London, but sometimes a couple of layers are required when the temperature suddenly drops. That was not the case a few days ago when we were in the Czech Republic where one local told us that 34C was not a typical temperature for this time of the year. It was hot!

We’re back in London now after completing our first cluster of shows on our biggest tour to date. Before leaving Aotearoa we had about 33 shows scheduled across multiple countries but a few were not confirmed and we were still looking for other performing options.

We approached the booking of this tour like we had done previously: where would we like to go? where have we got friends? where is the good food? where have we been in the past and can continue to grow connections? We mostly follow a d.i.y philosophy which means hundreds of hours juggling multiple conversations across timezones. There are always many conversations early in the morning and late into the night in order to line up all the dots. It’s a bit like an octopus balancing on one leg while the rest of the tendrils are in the air attending to family, the day job and the random chaos of living.

But time and effort doesn’t always produce the result you hope for. By the time we land in London we still manage to have no shows booked in this city.

After a few days rest and recuperation from the jetlag we spend time with family and meet up with friends. One evening in Dalston while out for food we pass by a pub promoting an open mic evening. We spontaneously enquire if it possible for us to play, giving us at least one show in London and a practice opportunity before we fly to Czech the following day. And it was brilliant fun. There is something quite delightful in making an effort to be included into these generally local events. We meet some good people, and you never know who may be able to help sort out something else out somewhere.

The Czech leg also unfolded in unexpected ways. Our dear friend Romek, who had organized our previous tours as well as the current group of shows, became deeply unwell in April this year. It was heartbreaking to hear of his death in the weeks leading up to our departure. Romek had been a central event organiser for many years in Czech, as well as being guitarist for the pre-revolution era punk band F.P.B (recently reformed) and also guitarist in Už Jsme Doma.

Romek Hanzlik

We also expected to travel and play with Už Jsme Doma on this trip but again plans were scuppered as their bass player had an arm in plaster. But a positive upshot for us was that our friend Mirek Wanek decided to accompany us for the whole time and became both awesome guide and tour manager. Mirek also hosted us in his home and we had the pleasure of attending the local village primary school end of year event with his family.

Our final show in Prague was at the memorial event for Romek which was held in a venue called Meetworks. It was programmed with acts that Romek had help promote over the years. It was an honor to be able to acknowledge our connection with our friend and the Czech community around him. It was also a pleasure to perform on the same stage as great Czech acts like Už jsme Doma, Zuby Nehty, Plastic People of the Universe and Dunaj.





Finally we spend a couple of days at CESTA in Tabor. We first visited CESTA 15 years ago on our first trip to Czech. It was established by Chris Rankin and Hilary Binder, the power duo behind the group Sabot, as a ‘Cultural exchange station’ with a philosophy based on social justice and liberation. Hilary now lives in Italy, Chris had remained at CESTA. It is our extremely good luck that fortuitously Hilary is here helping Chris do the catering for a conference on activist wellbeing and care (I think) . These chances at reconnecting are one of the main reasons that we travel.


We return to the UK midweek for some rest time. We had tried extensively to book shows into this period but after contacting multiple venues in Poland, Germany, Amsterdam and Scotland we hailed in a grand total of zero offers. However, while on the train from Stansted back to our London accommodation and checking in on the old social media, a post popped up via one of the new connections gathered while looking for shows, asking for bands for a show at a London bar that had experienced some line up disaster. Some rapid text exchanges ensued and we scored the opening shot for a band from Portsmouth called Black Helium- a doom rock, stoner sonic barrage, skillfully executed and nice people to boot. The bar, The Underdog, was wonderfully receptive and welcoming. So all and all something that at one point felt disastrous turned into a perfectly good night out. The lesson is just to put yourself in the front of random opportunity and see what happens.



End of leg 1

And that octopus with seven legs in the air still looks like a brilliant dancer to us.


11182658_973201626032262_554036111875116669_oAn amazing show to be playing at this weekend coming – the incredible Onslaught festival held annually in Dunedin. And this years line-ups is a genuine pearler!!!

Organised by Mark from Bazooka this event is in its’ 11th year. It’ll be a full day of a vast array of bands from the south, but happily a little of the North gets in there as well. We think it’s extra brilliant that a couple of bands are from Levin! (Some say the Gore of the North). Levin, is after all, the home of the A.E.B, a mighty fine community venue and one of our particular favourite digs to play. it is also the home of the legendary NZ Punk band No Idea!

It’s possibly been almost 30 years since No Idea last played Dunedin, so this one is gonna be one for the books!

Here is the line-up:

AFTERNOON SHOW: Doors Open 1.30
2.00-2.35 Slitzkrieg
2.35-3.10 Infinite Justice
3.10-3.55 Suicide Bombers
3.55-4.40 Mince On Toast

EVENING SHOW: Supper served at 5.00
5.30-6.00 Whiskey And The Wench
6.00-6.45 mr sterile Assembly
6.45-7.30 The G-Nomes
7.30-8.15 Sawdust
8.15-9.00 Gripper
9.00-9.45 Spiteful Urinator
9.45-10.30 Fantails
10.30-11.15 No Idea
11.15-12.00 Pavement Saw
12.00-12.30 Rattface
12.30-1.00 Bazooka
1.00-2;00 DJ Skullduggery (and between each band).

May Update

Photo by, Invercargill 2012A slight lack of interacting via this blog for a while, seems the start of the year was busy busy and finally now we find a spot to reflect, tidy up, and look at new work.

Firstly, a MASSIVE thanks to all who came to the Dunedin Fringe showing of TRANSIT. We had a most wonderful time, bit at the festival shows held at the Glue Gallery, and at the show at the Crown on the Friday night. We were pleased to hear that we were the recipients of the Best Visual Art Award for the 2012 Dunedin Fringe Festival, thanks.

Also big thanks to the Invercargill folk who came out and partied as well, good to be back in that southern city.

Some  pictures are posted at THIS LINK for the Crown show and at THIS LINK for the Invercargill show by the bloke at THIS LINK.

Goldie and PoochWe have played a couple of shows since Dunedin, one of them being the end of the wonderful venue FRED’s. But now we have no plans other than settling down to do some new song writing, and that’s going well, looking forward to inflicting these new tunes on you.

And finally, recently got to revisit Karl Sim, C. F. Goldie, during a recent trip to Auckland. Great to see the old bloke still kicking, he’s around 88 now. He’s a genuine kiwi legend, we did a song about him a few years back, check it out.

Ten years of racket

Happy 10th birthday poster About one  week after September 11, 2001, the band called mr sterile Ensemble, played it’s first show at Valve on Vivian Street, Wellington, using guitar, trombone and drum accompaniment to the poems of mr sterile. The Ensemble became the Assembly several months after this show, incorporating an evolving concept in the delivery of a musical, creative, and political ideas.

Stretching from a two-piece guitar and clarinet duo, to the wild seven piece including cello, trombones and rock band, playing a cabaret styled punk circus, to the jazz-skronk of stripped down drums/bass/guitar & sax, to the current refined two piece. The group has always diversified in sound-exploration, but the message has always been constant.

Now the group is a two piece, bass, drums and vocals. Always easy to identify via the considered and dynamic onstage identity, remaining assertive in sound, we feel some significance that at this tenth birthday we revisits its original core of two, after a decade long and epically adventurous journey.

It has been a moveable feast, a constant and circulating arrangements of instruments, personal, costumes, and sounds, leaving four audio releases, a book, and a bunch of other erratic merchandise and detritus in its wake. Debris scattered from Wellington, to the stages of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Java, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, & Mangaweka, the Assembly has entertained and amused, established connection and relationship, and entered into a global network of d.i.y creative and adventurous music makers.

On October 14 Friday, the mr sterile Assembly invites you to Happy, on the corner of Vivian and Tory to celebrate with us ten years of racket.

We would be honoured should you like to come along and entertain your evening with our celebration.

A massive thanks to everyone who has ever been involved over the last decade – performers who have added their creative energy, artists who have shared their vision, fellow bands and performers who we have played alongside, and all the folk we have met and chatted with along the way. It is a huge and wonderful list.

Sharing the stage with us this night are friends Nervous System, Jabroniz, +DJ P-Pants.

Entry $7 (unwaged/low-waged) $8 (better than minimum waged)

Kick off 9.30ish you know the drill

Come along, we are officially feckless teenagers!

The April Australian tour 2011

In April 2011 mr sterile Assembly travelled to the cities of Sydney, Newcastle, and Melbourne for eight planned shows in nine days hot on the heals of the release of TRANSIT.

Here is a brief collection of links, facebook posts and photos to capture the event. All italic’s posts lifted from our facebook page, written sporadically on the road.


Chrisse arrives at Black Wire

wake 4am NZ time[2am Oz time] head to airport – fly & arrive Oz 8am Oz time, dawdle at airport for a bit, sleep on floor and eat, into town to Black Wire, snooze, eat, liquor, showtime -fantastic, cheers to those folk who played and participated, then pack down, into car and 2 hour drive to Newcastle, arrive 2.30 then BED! i’m sure that was a 26 hour day! wicked.

Yes, I'm Leaving!

Black Wire was brilliant, a shop by day and venue by night, holding shows most weekends in this bizzarely quiet part of Sydney. We were hopeful the legendary Pure Evil Trio were going tp play but alas it was not to be. However, the evening was sufficiently entertain with fellow performers Ya Aha, Crouching 80’s Hidden Acronym, +Yes, I’m Leaving!.

We later received THIS really nice review from the Seagull Chainsaw blog from the Black Wire show.

Day 2:

Jake's HaisWakes in Newcastle, excellent! slow time, coffee & repeat, mooching about, go to Jake’s Hais – the venue, use to be an old doctors surgery “I use to come here as a kid for injections and shit” quotes one, walk the empty empty quiet and empty streets, showtime, and it’s an intimate, lovely show, pack up then back to Evan’s – lovely man thank you immensely, beer then bed.

Another beaut show, this time with Scalps, Lenin Lennon + Drillbit. A fantastic combination of atmospheric drone, three piece rock, and  industrial noise. It was an intimate show, tightly packed into the small space. Earlier in the day had a splendid time exploring the deserted streets discovering gorgeous art.

 Day 3:

GloryholeWakes, coffee & repeat, catch train back to Sydney, collected by shaun then off to the alleyway, bloody big alleyway, big enough to drive a car down, between battalions of punks, anyway, the sky threatens rain but holds off – yay, four punk band, us and a sweet klezmer styled accordion, trombone, violin trio to wrap the evening up. The meal of the day was a full vegetarian thai restaurant in Newtown – astounding!!! Now, correspondence, whiskey and sleep. good night

A two hour train ride back to Sydney from Newcastle, collected by Shaun from Tenzenmen then off Slogan Free Youthto lunch in Newtown. Then to the mid-afternoon show.  Wonderful, an outside generator powered event, nestled between warehouses with the frequent 737 roaring overhead for acoustic accompaniment in the Marrickville area. As the dusk arrived John from Pure Evil Trio and two accomplices serenaded the audience with beautiful acoustic tunes after an afternoon of intense and energetic performances. Congrats to Michael Crafter for this day marks the release of their new 7″.

Day 4:

rest day, more thai food, beer at Sandringham pub -drink a whale ale while reading william burroughs ‘Last Words’, then to cd shop – found a great new band to listen too- De Høje Hæle , got the cd. Chilling out now then flight to Melbourne tomorrow.

Time to do the washing, mooching about, just enjoying the last day in Sydney before heading to Melbourne in the morning. Left Shaun’s and went to stay with a friend of Chrissie’s. While checking the net that night came across this interview from Invercargill newspaper, The Southland Times.

Day 5:

Tuesday: Arrived Melbourne then navigated the bus/train/footpath systems to our most warm and wonderful hosts Jen & Zac from Go Genre Everything, everything fell into place for the show, Jen let me use her beautiful drums and Zac lent the bass gear. Make it up Club, the line up was us & the Tim Pledger’s Product. We played an approx 30min, intense, spirited & dynamic flurry.

The blurb from the Make It Up Club: – Tonight at the MIUC, we make connections between the complex improvisatory potential and extreme rhythmic variations inherent in two discrete genres. In Melbourne this fortnight, for a swathe of punk shows, New Zealand’s answer to Sabot and No Means No, Mr Sterile Assembly, return for a hyper, free-math-rock, punk-complexity duo onslaught of fractured beats and intense timbres—their only complete improv show of the tour.

A long journey from the plane to the venue, some creative use of the trolley to help transport gear by hand over some significant distance. But well welcomed once through the door’s on Gillies St. A swift trip across down to collect equipment and then onto the show. Able to settle once set-up, beered, and fed. Spontaneous music ala mum+dad-spazz-core!

Day 6:

Woke Wednesday, big rain day then back to  Bar Open for the Neumusak show. Two improv performances and us to top the evening off. Nice connections at the end and some evident enthusiasm for our set, nice.

A set each by Fitzroy, Adam Simmons Vs Brian O’Dwyer, + Dead Ants Rainbow. Dead Ants was a larch ensemble, drums, 3 sax, 2 electric bass, and one & at times two electric guitars, free psychedelic improvising with distinct dynamic adjustments. Adam Vs Brian, a sax/drums duo playing an intense free set, the sax player prior to playing recounted stories of shows in the Czech republic with friends of ours, while the drummers played an impressive and deep set of drums accentuated by sterling double kick.
Thanks to Don from Neumusak for helping out with this show.

Day 7:

A full day off, washing, walking and milling about in the sun. rock n roll!!!

Day off, brilliant, the costumes getting rank so time to do something about it.

Day 8:

KOF Gallery, Flemington, SydneyNo net connection. KOF Gallery show this evening.

Street Art , KOF Gallery, Flemington, Sydney

This afternoon was also the originally planned live-to-air at the community radio station  3CR, but events beyond anyone’s control conspired and it didn’t happen.

Day 9:

Onion EngineIt’s now saturday morning, played KOF gallery last night and Zac, Go Genre EverythingFANTASTIC. Great wee gallery underneath the Flemington/Newcastle train stop, a pneumatic & soothing sound to sleep by. But the show, Go Genre Everything, Onion Engines & Sohei all played great & diverse music. A tight and intimate affair in an ex-florist shop, very warm receptive and intensely fun! Tonight, last stop The Victoria in Brunswick

KOF ruled!, a fantastic and fun night. mr sterile Assembly at KOF, Flemington, SydneyOnion Engine started, junk-percussive loops, built in rambling lush layers. Tom Waits meets Moondog. Go Genre Everything, Jen, Go Genre Everythingif Ian Curtis and Jello Biafra had a baby, maybe he would sound a little like Zac, backed by a cascading tom-slide of percussion and the distinct [maybe] Jap-pop-noise styled vocals of Jen –  fun. They have a FANTASTIC new album out, called Eternal Youth Carefree Cleanness, do get. Sohei, live mixing of beats, sounds, and general sweet party vibe. Great to see Edo, Mishu and the other Video Masty group here, we met them in Sydney, and now they are on tour, heading towards Adelaide but great to see turn up at KOF.

sterile TotoroWe played Brunswick that evening with DEAD, and Galactic Entertainment Ensemble  – a last minute replacement as Vodnik unable to play. GEE, a electro-acoustic three piece started the evening off. Then DEAD, what can you say, a two-piece power house, of tightly observant music. Heavy, charged, and fucking loud! Touring south east Asia soon, it should be a n exciting tour. Then us, our final show for the tour. Was amazing to see people return from shows played earlier in the week. After the show, pack up and driven to the airport by Jem, cheers, we had an early check-in so we decided to spend the hours between playing and flying hanging out in the quiet & cold Melbourne airport.

Day 10:

4.19 am, cant sleep anymore on the cold airport chairs. Chrissie, 4.30am, Melbourne airportFinished tour with last show at The Vic and came straight to airport as theres only a few hours to kill, DEAD were awesome! very pleased to see them exibit their majesty. Also brilliant to see a bundle of people return to see the show who attended previous event, good on ya. So here’s a HUGE thanks to everyone who helped out, came along, played silly buggers and generally made our brief experience this time around in Oz wicked.


Thanks to Shaun[Tenzenmen] Tom & Charlie at Black Wire, Tim for hanging out, Even for being lovely and organising spectacularly, Jake and the folk at Jake’s Hais, John – super lovely John of the Accordion, Don – Neumusak, Edo, Mishu and the other Video Nasties, Sean MIUC, Troy, Bar Open, Jen and Zac – your star’s, Jem – thanks extra, Dave and KOF – the pleasure was ours, all those others that we contacted and that helped in their own way during the organising phase, and to all you other miscreants, cheers!


mr sterile Assembly Australian tour poster April 2011

mr sterile Assembly Australian tour poster April 2011

TRANSIT exhibition, album release: Russian Frost Farmers Gallery, March 25 2011

WHAT: EXHIBITION & ALBUM launch party!

WHERE: The Russian Frost Farmers Gallery, 2 Eva St, Wellington CBD

When: 6pm

Cost: NIL!!! album $20

With guests DJ P-Pants!


Transit, the 5th release by Aotearoa New Zealand’s mr sterile Assembly is stonking.

Dubbed as “one of the most interesting, if hopelessly below-the-pop-culture-radar bands in New Zealand,” the irrepressible two-piece of mr sterile and Chrissie Butler have reeled in a swathe of Aotearoa’s finest musicans and artists.

Mixed and mastered by the fine hands of Mike Gibson, the sound is a rich weave of heavy bass and drums built around multi-layered vocals. Jeff Henderson, of screaming jazz improv sax fame brings the melodics, alongside a scattering of Nell Thomas (Orchestra of Spheres) on the gamelan gender and the solid bass grooves of Aaron Lloydd. Dean Hapeta aka Te Kupu, Upper Hutt Posse, has been a key collaborator on the project, recording all the vox, sax and extra sounds as well as contributing his own vox and text. Lyrical collaborations with Wellington poet Maria McMillan have also found their place.

The gathering of the 11 images for the 11 tracks has been a momentous effort. Eight of the works have been commissioned specifically for Transit. The artists, Andrew RossDeborah Barton, James RobinsonCampbell KnealeStefan NevilleKerry-Ann LeeJeff Henderson, and Garage Collective, responded as they desired, creating a powerful collection to accompany the songs. Two works are from artists Tao Wells and Roger Morris, who have gifted established works to be tagged to the songs. The eleventh art work is a very special Wayang puppet received as a gift when the Assembly played in Java on their south east Asia tour in 2007.

In 2011 mr sterile Assembly will tour the exhibition across the country in between tours to Australia in April, and Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia in July.

Transit has been released by both our own Skirted Records (NZ), in Tenzenmen Records (Aus), with the support of Creative New Zealand.