The morning after Nuts. A 6 hour bullet train ride is the method of momentum to assist our arrival in Wuhan. Wuhan, we are told, is the most punk of the Chinese cities in terms of music and venue. This message has been reiterated several times, along with the impression that it’s a brilliant fun place to play.
The train ride to Wuhan is beautiful, moving through the haze and the low cloud. Those impressions from old Chinese landscape painting in the flesh, in Terra and timber. Mountainous regions are cast with garden plots. Every portion of the land is used to produce food. On steep inclines and in the deep valleys, single or double story dwellings scatter through the landscape making up the villages and small cities free from skyscrapers.
And there are so many tunnels. Blackouts then flashes of beauty, then back to the black. A deep valley to the left holds major roads and homes, we must be high up. The core of many mountains have been drilled to make way for this transit network. When travelling at 140+ kph, the precision needed to ensure confidence and safety is mind bending.
We arrive in Wuhan, take the Metro into the city then take time to hail a cab to take us to the venue Coastlines. The city is built around rivers and long roads which are difficult to turn round on. We are meant to be at the venue at 5.30 and at 6.30 we are still stuck in traffic.
We find the venue located down a small side lane. Scratty in a cute way, it’s small and well equipped. Out in the back room we dump our gear between four 8 x 10 bass speaker cabinets and amps. We wonder if they hire stuff out or just got a bulk deal?
We get food in a tiny restaurant in the same lane. The owners are intrigued and quiz Kristen about us, what are we doing and how do we make a band work? It’s possible not many foreigners visit this eatery at all. We talk of inviting them to the show but they will still be working when we finish.
Even though the club is only a couple of hundred meters away from the restaurant the owners have never been in. They comment that they frequently see drunken foreigners late at night coming from there but have never felt like it was a venue for them.
There were to be three bands on the bill but one has cancelled due to injury. The first band is called Panic Worm. Their sound is great. Five guys playing post-punk sounds and the singer has studied the intonation of Mark E Smith of the Fall. We get the sense they are quite popular and they deserve to be.
The audience is really responsive to our set. There’s a lovely energy in the room to play with and we have a blast. Probably the most dancing since Guangzhou. There are more foreigners at this show than others as well, all young men in Wuhan teaching English.
One conversation sticks from a talk with a local. He says he’s a trained musician, works as a bass player, and comments on the ‘fun’ of our performance. He says how ‘fun’ is impossible for him. Making music has always been work, and a sense of necessity was instilled from early on in life to work hard. ‘Playing’, or playfulness never led to success. He can see what he’s missing and not sure how to access it, even doubts it may be possible to relearn. He says he thinks this is something foreigners are better at. His denim jacket is covered in band patches, Slipknot and the like. You can see his interests, and also feel his resignation. We’re conscious to not be dismissive, or overly optimistic. His assessment may be correct for him? Hearing him out feels important.
We pack with a sense of urgency, we need to get back to the train station to catch the 01:40 sleeper to Beijing. And we don’t want to run.
We saw tiny bits of Wuhan, at night. Had a great time.
Depart on a train full of sleeping bodies.
It’s a two hour train ride fron Chengdu to Chongqing. We go to grab a cab from the queue. We avoid the ‘dark taxis’, the independent operators. Kristin relays stories of passengers being ripped off, and of massive delays and unpredictable travel times. We’re get our cab and deftly load in gear, this game of physical tetris is impressive.
That is until the front corner of our cab kisses the back end of another. Then our travel stops as a heated debate ensues on the main thoroughfare. Offers of cigarettes to offset the damage are handed through windows. The arguement is over a slight graze to the back of the front cab, which to be fair to our driver, is barely noticeable. Haggling escalates over money to pay for repairs. There’s no police but a gathering crowd watches the entertainment.
Face needs to be saved and we’re unsure whose going to win. Our driver gets back behind the wheel, drives half a block then ejects us onto the side of highway. It’s like being dropped in the middle of a motorway intersection. The two cabs then leave for a panel beaters and we’re left trying to hail another ride in a spaghetti of roads. We walk a bit, the god of taxis smiles and we hail a ride.
Chongqing is a major city located on a rolling landscape. It looks more liberal on a first impression, outwardly affluent with a very busy CBD of highrise and lightshows. It’s not a long walk from our taxi departure to NUTS Livehouse, tonight’s venue, located in the heart of a massive shopping complex.
Nuts is a large space, a long established venue in the Chongqing music scene. Stickers adorn everywhere of local bands, punk and otherwise, and there’s a graffiti wall outside the venue which includes a large tag from Orchestra of Spheres.
It’s a welcoming venue, supplying fruit and beer to the performers, super helpful sound techs and great gear. We’re playing with one other local band called You Come Twice, with a guitar/bass/drum/electronics arrangement. It’s an early in the week show, a big band from Japan played the night before, and elsewhere in town is a German punk band who we seem to be shadowing across China. Our turnout was decent though. We all felt warmly received and had plenty of great conversations afterwards.
We spent the night at a backpackers. Initially it looked like there was no room at the inn but the reception staff were brilliant at locating a second, and most welcome, option, when our booking got eaten by the booking system.
Awake early, sitting in the window at Kristen’s apartment 14 stories off the ground in Chengdu. It is raining. The city’s grey. Down below the cars, buses, scooters, bikes, three-wheeled scooter-like-utes with incredible haulage capacity, and people with umbrella-heads navigate the random non-contact wrestle match across the slickened roads.
There is an incessant, deepthroated and pervasive roar, a thrumm, a background constant in the lower register, a tinnitus of bass. Above the drone is the goose call of commuting critters, the arrhythmic non-linear choir calling out in unison, in random, in response, or alone to the audience directly in their personal point of view. From up here we just get the overview, the overtones, a box-seat to the show below.
Its musical at a distance, quite something else to wrestle with on a daily basis.
We arrived in Chengdu yesterday morning after a 20 hour train ride from Guiyang. We so nearly missed the train on the Monday morning. The cab we took got mired in the morning traffic close to the station, we bailed and ran, ran through security checking tickets and passports, ran through the terminus to the gate, bolted through 2nd level security with bags getting scanned, ran to the gate, ran down the escalators to the platform where carriage 2 was in front of us, then ran to our carriage numbered 14 on an empty platform with the guards telling Kristen and us to hurry up! Helpful and encouraging advice! We were the last passengers to board.
We had three hardsleepers booked for the journey. Sleeper carriages are fitted with flatbed bunks three high. They were not as hard as they sounded. In fact we all slept an enormous amount while cradled inside the soporific rocking. Surprisingly our slumber was not even disturbed by the constant high volume pop music, including the occasional unusual interpretation of an American pop songs from the early 80s played on saxophone. Even the regular rattle and roll of the food trolley at 30 minutes intervals was not enough of a distraction to break sleep. Occasionally we convened to eat and chat and revel in the perfectly placed downtime in transit to rest, recover and graze.
There were also wonderful window seats on which to perch. A great opportunity to gaze out at the passing scenery, the cities with their changing architecture, the resourcefully farmed land, the industrial sites and the ever-present construction sites. Massive towers to hold overhead tracks for bullet trains are being constructed everywhere, arterial connections weave across this expansive geography. The erecting of skyscrapers seems to be happening everywhere as well, towers upon towers upon towers rise up from the landscapes. And almost everywhere is the brown haze that obscures the sky, the horizon, and sometimes things in close proximity.
We arrived in Chengdu at 5am Tuesday morning. We catch a cab and travel through the relatively quiet streets of early morning Chengdu. Out of the blue we get the chance to experience a skilful subversion by the driver. We turn left into a street and the boot of the taxi pops open. We shout out to let the driver know as all our gear is in the back. He continues to drive and Kristen continues to try and convince him to stop so we can close the boot protecting our gear. He doesn’t stop. Moments later though, once around the corner, he pulls over and closes the lid, locking our gear away safely. He then let’s us know that this was an intentional manoeuvre. The left hand turn was illegal. To make the turn and not get caught on the CCTV camera he would need to pop the boot, this made the licence plate unreadable to the cameras. This made our trip shorter, cheaper, and the driver would not get in trouble.
We arrive at Kristen’s apartment all bags intact. Decant from the cab, into the apartment and are introduced to our soft bed where we then sleep for another two to three hours.
It’s cooler here in Chengdu, but not cold. We’re deep inland far from the equator, possibly the furtherest we’ve ever been from the ocean. There’s also a lot of well established trees in this city, alongside the river, down most of the street we have walked as well as some impressive roof top gardens. Havent noticed much in the way of bird life though, only one mini-murmer of homing pigeons. In fact there’s been an overall lack of animal life anywhere.
This absence of beasts reminds us of a fascinating conversation from the previous day. It’s a curious thing pondering the vastness of meat consumption here. It seems everything protein-based is up for consumption. It makes an interesting topic to discuss. One of the most interesting and thought provoking explanations offered suggested that it’s linked back to the Great Leap Forward and the policy of Mao. After the massive famine in the early sixties where millions upon millions died, food became rationed and obtainable only by coupons. These coupons were received on a weekly basis and were never enough. Everyone remained hungry. But it was a shared hunger. The person in our conversation said every household never got enough so there was a collective camaraderie in hunger. As the people who lived through this hardship aged, grew up and went on to have families, their lives have also coincided with China’s astonishing growth in prosperity. In response, to ensure that the next generation of children would not experience the deprivations that their parents endured, high priority is given to food, particularly to food that was in the past scarce, such as meat and protein. So from having next to nothing to having an extreme access to everything, the Chinese diet revolves around meat and it dominates every meal.
We wake for the second time today and then head off for a meal in a local eatery. It’s amazing. Peanut milk, green beans and chill, mapo tofu like we’ve never had before, sweet and sour lotus root, and a green leafy vegetable, that is know as heartless greens, cooked in vast quantities of garlic. Sensational.
Next we taxi to the venue NU Space as Kristen has some work to do there, and we get to see the venue that are going play in tomorrow. We chill on the cafe with beer and books. We scoff pan-fried dumplings on the way back to the apartment then slip into rest.
Tuesday is all about the show. We wake and eat a marvellous green meal of pancakes and soup and oily chilli peppers and unfamiliar leafy greens before heading back to Nu Space. The afternoon is occupied by sound checks and arranging stages. The Nu Space venue is one aspect of the Min Town facility. This space has a cafe, art gallery and the performance area. One of the key focuses is the creation of a new space to help facilitate the creation of new creative works. Programming the venue is one of Kristen’s key roles. The space is also in a development phase with explorations around creating a more online, live-streamed and interactive experience. It will be interesting to watch how the space develops.
The evening show opens with Don Trash, Kristen’s performance moniker. A solo guitar, looped and effected soundscape, reminiscent of Godspeed you Black Emperor or Grouper, but with more uplifting hooks to hold your ears amid the wash. We’re pleased to see Kristen’s performance and encourage her to keep playing publicly as currently she does so only rarely. It’s not easy to gauge how widespread the free music scene is here, there’s real potential for it to flourish at Nu Space and we are sure Kristen’s role will be pivotal.
When our turn comes comes we crank out a strong and lively set illuminated by PLGRM, a bloke from the US who has lived here for a number of years doing VJing. The photos give you a glimpse playing in the spaying colour was even cooler.
After the show we pack our gear and head for a late meal with Kristen and some folk who came to see the show, including the HiPerson crew, whose album we had been admiring earlier in the day. There we get to experience the amazing local meal that is tofu in a box, a spicy fried/baked dishes that is totally amazing to the tastebuds. Washed down with beer and other local treats it is a fine way to complete our respite in Chengdu.
Leaving Guangzhou just as the temperature stats to rise. This city is close to Hong Kong and therefore the equator. I’m told it’s 31° at 8 am. Close by to our hotel we find breakfast in a street food enclave of noodles with pickled beans and lettuce. We also grab pancakes, red-bean buns, 2 minute-noodles and other supplies for the train ride.
The Guangzhou train station is truely gargantuan – the main streets of any smaller NZ town would easily fit inside this complex. Miles and miles of polished rock slabs as flooring, the same rock as we’ve seen in many other buildings. It must be incredibly hard wearing for the thousands that pass through daily. Archeologists in the future with find these epithelial plates from some shredded mountain from somewhere else. We find out later that the origin of the rock is Africa.
We get to the bullet train. We move swiftly through the landscape. Greens and greys of hillside and inhabited zones lurk in the obscuring grey haze – a physical layer, a dermis of particulates, a cataract to the eyes rendering the vision obscure. Slowly the architecture morphs to a style more representative of classic Chinese pagodas. Tiered roofs briefly take over from the angular concrete apartment blocks.
The temperate drops as we head inland to the northwest. The train is full for our entire journey; a constant stream of arrivals and departures slide to and from allocated seats. It’s comfortable enough. We munch on our snacks along the way. There is boiling water freely available on every train, so prepping and consuming noodles on the train breaks the journey. Todays are particularly hot!
The ride takes about 6 hours. The fastest I noticed the train going was around 230kpm.
We arrive in Guiyang and get a taxi to the venue. Guiyang is a Tier-4 city, so not very big by China’s standard, but to us it remains huge and is densely housed with skyscrapers.
Arriving in the centre of Guiyang we find Jinn’s Livehouse, our the venue underground. Named after the owner, it is the only venue in Guiyang for original and alternative music. The space is brilliant, so much more than a conventional venue. Beyond the stage and bar Jinn has provided a practice room for locals to come and experiment with new sounds. There is a group practicing when we arrive and the music style is a combination of conventional rock and what sounds like local dialects and melodic scales, using local and traditional instrumentation. One of the musicians is playing a stringed instrument with three pairs of strings. The combination of voice, trad. instruments and rock songs is fantastic.
We sound check and then go for a fantastic tasting meal in a street side eatery. Jin is our guide for this meal time and makes a selection of colours, smells, tastes and textures that blows our heads away. Spectacular.
We head back to the venue, and the first band is about to start. 走失的小马 (Lost Horse), a three-piece band that sounds like a cross between alt. rock and Neil Young in his Rust Never Sleeps stage and a mash up of those local dialects and melodies discussed earlier. It works really well and sounds unique.
We go to get ready for our set, make-up and costume. The first band’s set is shorter than we expect so we need to rush. And then the spicy noodles return! It’s a hell of a thing to hear the bass tuning up on the stage while emergency ablutions are required as a gut takes a turn for the worst! More than you may want to know but this is an often undiscussed side of touring. And the fear of ‘evacuation’ on stage is a real thing, it’s never happened yet, and may it never ever happen!
We manage to both meet on the stage at the same time and deliver a good set. We discussed the shared predicament with Kristen later and she says she had no idea. And no accidents were had! Bravo!
Our accommodation is upstairs from the venue, a gaudi red and gold foyer into the hotel. The accommodation is sandwiched between the venue and a nightclub upstairs where the local sex workers work from, we know this by the advertising found underneath our rooms door.
The night has a restlessness to it as the noodles continue their journey.
Waking in Shanghai, a little worse for wear, we head for breakfast and coffee beside the Coy Carp pond at the hostel. We watch large white and orange fish with long dropping tails loll in and out of each others company and a larger yellow brutish-looking carp sporting a deft mustache, almost double the size of the rest, cruise at half speed in the shallows.
Strolling back over familiar terrain, we head to the Metro to make our way to Hongqiao airport where we’ll fly from to get to Guangzhou for the next show. We get to the airport, check-in and are gutted when we lose the whiskey we had incorrectly packed in our cabin baggage rather than checked in stuff. We also discover that somehow we seem to have business class seats and find ourselves fed and on the front row amongst the suits. The three hours from Shanghai to Guangzhou slip by.
Flying over Guangzhou is a mind blowing experience. The city is vast, sprawling and massive. Skyscraping structures as far as the eye can see, immense structures house who knows what. And it goes on and on and on. A truly staggering spectacle. It is like the Earth is a city.
Landing is uneventful, we collect our gear and make our way to the Metro, to the suburb where the show will be. Exiting the Metro, up the stairs to run street level. Here we meet the wonderful Kristen Ng who has been chief organiser for the next six shows and who will travel with us to Beijing. We’ve been in communication for sometime and she’s managed to book us a impressive tour covering many, many kilometers in our short space of time in China.
Having Kristen with us now is a massive bonus. Being NZ born to parents of Cantonese heritage, she has made China home for now, learning the Mandarin language, working in the Chengdu art space Nu Space as a skilled organiser and promoter, and now facilitating tours “Bringing weird bands from NZ to China since 2015.” In 2016 she helped Orchestra of Spheres get here, this year her help has been essential for us to get to where we’re going. Her blog Kiwese is a great read.
It’s noticeably warmer here. Guangzhou is not far from Hong Kong. A huge river runs through the city and there is music coming from the park across the water. It feels equatorial, smells equatorial.
We head off in the direction of the venue, unloading our equipment in a safe haven then head to find a meal in a small street side cafe. This area of Guangzhou plays host to many street artists and there is a vast number of elaborate styles and designs to look at on the way to the venue. Having Kristen help us order vegetarian options is immensely helpful … otherwise we’d be struggling.
Then we head back to Loft 345, collecting our gear then making our way to the venue. It seems the entire internal wall space of the building has been handed over to large street-styled artworks. The venue itself is an internal mid-sized room with good equipment and a bar. It’s also hot!
We are playing with a local group called Die! Chiwawa Die!. A five piece group playing interestingly-arranged hardcore, dual vocals that swing between screamo to catchy-pop-like melodic lines, keyboards, guitars and drums. A very excellent performance.
We follow Die! Chiwawa Die! and the crowd remains enthusiastic. We manage to sell almost all the cds we have and we’re a little concerned now we didn’t bring enough. But there’s plenty of opportunity to hang and chat with many of the locals, and bizarrely connect with someone who saw us play a random show in a back alley lane in Sydney years ago. Loft 345 seems to be a staunch d.i.y venue in the China circuit where a different way of working is still a relatively burgeoning concept.
Post show, we pack up and head by taxi across the city to our accommodation. Tomorrow Guiyang!
We’re about to play the Tora! Tora! Tora! Festival on Easter weekend on the East coast, in Tora.
Bring a tent 🙂
It’s been a long time coming, but will a feeling of pomp and fanfare we are thrilled that the release date for the new album, It’s All Over, is upon us.
Saturday 5 December, at Moon 1 in Newtown, Wellington we crack a bottle against to bow of this Chanel-clad beasty.
And man are we thrilled with the friends we have sharing the stage with us:
Sendam Rawkustra – that most amazing percussive, free-spirited and redemptive unit from the heart, and is the heart, of Newtown.
Gold Medal Famous– delightful, unafraid, sonic cliffs, squalls and cackles wrestle with the bowels of a disemboweled R2D2 to make you grove.
Antlergram – Barely conventional in a conventional framework, sliding-lines to make you smile, a rambling rumble of wonderfulness.
And DJ’s Kedron and Axelotl, seen on Radio Active Global Roots radio show, with the BEST music from inbetween!
Sendam will kick the event of sharp at 8.30 [don’t be late].
Entry: $10 through the door, $20 through the door with a CD
And here is one last teaser, the title track to the album It’s All Over, an anthem to and for the protesters at the front-line of the climate crisis; for Black Lives Matter, for Refugees are Welcome, for No one is Illegal; for resistance, for persistence; for workers struggling to obtain a living wage, decent conditions, a dignified workplace; Occupy, Anonymous, BDS, frontline communities; the opposers of the corporate wars, the oil wars, the water wars, the cyber wars; those fighting for transparency, equity, liberation; old folk connecting with young folk in affinity; for those fighting for potential and hope in health, education, housing; for fighting for freedom of expression from medieval thinking; for the radicals, for the first-timers; for us, for It All, for Everywhere, for freedom, for life!
To commence the release of the new cd we are taking a jaunt north. The ‘official’ release is next week but this album is like a dollar burning a hole in your pocket, got to get the bugger out. So we head north with a small quantity. Help ease us of our burden.
Friday 27 November at the Wine Cellar with The Biscuits and Bonehead. Totally stocked to be playing woth Biscuits, they werw recently in wellington and played a blinder, fantastic. And the last time I saw Bonehead was when he won a award from Arts Access Aotearoa in the halls of Parliament, he then had the opportunity to present a piece of work…sonic anarchy.
Saturday 28 Nov at The Audio Foundation 2pm. Were gonna chat about stuff, maybe the process and thinking behind the cd and artwork???maybe something else? We are open to distraction.
Saturday 28 November 8pm at UFO with Mucus Kids on their home turf. After doing a bunch of shows with Mucus this year it’ll will be cool to see them in their most familiar environment.
Other big things happening this weekend is the civic mobilisation around the country in response to our precipitous man made changing environment.
And a lively show at the Audio Foundation in auckland on sunday for our goid friend Pumice to release his 19th album…gutted to missed this one.
A years worth of planning, preparation, working and reworking comes to completion. We welcome our new album It’s All Over.
The task at hand now is to kick them out of home now, to help them make their way into others homes.
This little gem was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mike Gibson ar Munki Studios. We think he captured us well. Have a listen:
About 70 people also need extra thanks for committing to our crowd funding project earlier in the year. The funds raised were used to produce the beaut packaging, mtistly heavy duttg card with full colour printing, minimal plastic, and a pretty colour booklet of lyrics and text. We have started to send out the gifts that each pledged on. We hope you are happy with what you get.
The offical release date is December 5. To mark this we are hosting a show at Moon 1 in Newtown, Wellington. We are very exciting to have some very exciting friends coming along to play as welk. The Glorious Sendam Rawkustra, Antlergram and Gold Medal Famous.
The CD will be available for $20 from shows and our Bandcamp page.
A fundraising celebration of radical and independent publishing in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond!
AK Press is a worker-run, collectively managed anarchist publishing and distribution company, in operation since 1990. On March 21st of this year, a fire in a building behind AK’s caught fire and the fire spread to AK’s warehouse. Two people living in the building died in the fire, much of AK’s inventory was damaged by water and smoke, and the city has deemed their building uninhabitable. While they have suffered a major blow they are carrying on and continue to publish and distribute anarchist and radical literature around the world, including to Aotearoa New Zealand. But they need all the help they can get and all money raised at this event will go directly to their fire relief fund.
Jared Davidson (The only NZ published author on AK)
The Freedom Shop
Leilani A Visesio
Kerry Ann Lee
When: Saturday September 26, 2015
Where: Moon, 167 Riddiford St, Newtown, Wellington
$10 to $10 million depending on how generous you’re feeling!
Readings from 6:30 pm, music from 9pm
AK Press books will be available for sale through The Freedom Shop.
An 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
2.35-3.10 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
9.00-9.45 Spiteful Urinator
10.30-11.15 No Idea
11.15-12.00 Pavement Saw
1.00-2;00 DJ Skullduggery (and between each band).
Here’s a wee vid film at the recent show in Napier by Vorn I believe – ta.
It’s a newish song called Useless Shoplifter that is about to be recorded for the new album.
Many thanks to all the fine folk in Sydney for the organising, attending and encouraging at the 3 shows we have just played.
The Record Crate, in Glebe, on Friday was grand…who knew the pub owner was an old boy from Palmy, the apple don’t fall far. Huge thanks to Pale Heads from Melbourne, Dead Farmers, and Yes, I’m Leaving for letting us jump on the bill.
Saturday was the Sydney Anarchist book fair after party, rocking away in the shop window at Jura Books. The photo to the right is a sculpture in the Addison Rd Community Centre, where the bookfair was held this year – a fantastic space reclaimed from a once-upon-a-time army barrack site.
And Sunday at Black Wire in Annandale – hard to believe it’s been 4 & 1/2 years since our last show there – great to see it still going and great to see the line up – Arafura, Twinrova and Ted Danson with Wolves
But we are very pleased to say, hooray, we’re going back to Sydney, very soon…this weekend!
We have 3 shows in Sydney.
Sunday June 14 : Venue : Black Wire Records : with Ted Danson with Wolves, Twinrova, Arafura (& us). Starts 3pm, $10, All ages show, BYO …(Really looking forward to this….LOVE Ted Danson with Wolves)!!
Therefore, see you across the ditch! We’re predicting it’ll be a blast.
Next up, some shows in Sydney…
Four weeks to go, four weeks to hone & practice & tighten our chops before we return to the studio to record the new album.
We have been loads more organised this time, songs have been finished into the basic shape for a while but now we’re tweeking lyrics and contemplating any other wonderful sounds that will enhance the final effort.
There’s an audiological goldmine in the digital cave tonight.
Sometime the difference between one’s performance life, and ‘grown-up/professional’ life blur. Often our songs look to stories and anecdotes that we feel belong in contemporary culture. Tales of protest and subversion, important actions rendered invisible because they challenge dominant narratives, and individual characters who have stood up and totally been themselves – warts and all, full of opinion, opposition and determination to confront power by the means at their disposal(…and sometimes our songs are just nonsense). Our songs also look at the opposite: the inequalities, the inequities and injustices that burden ordinary life in this neo-liberal capitalist environment.Happy times.
Looking for problems is easy, we can condemn, damn and rail with our eyes shut in the dark. It takes an effort to stick your cynicism in a sack and drown it in the river (I remember being particularly moved by the small pamphlet Thesis Against Cynicism – worth hunting out) . It takes an effort to commit, to participate and advocate for something better/different/more humane. Now finding solutions, even a hint of a possible solution…that takes work!
It seems like an ordinary thing to be an active participant, I’d suggest the ‘Think Global, Act Local’ remains a vital maxim to apply to one’s political activity – work for making a better Big Picture, but work where you can, with the resources at your disposal, and on the things that you know.
Today (Tuesday May 5), I presented a oral submission to the Wellington City Council about the further implementation of the Living Wage to contracted employees of the local council. This submission been worked on and hammered out at home. The topics of inequalities, equability and accessibility and frequent conversation starters here, they are often the guts of our creative work, but also a significant driving force in the motivation for our participation in our paid employment as well.
What is the Living Wage? It is a grass-root’s civic-led movement asserting that a decent living wage needs to be paid for a day’s labour. A wage then ensures a life beyond poverty, a life of potential and participation. Not a minimum wage that benefits the employer by paying as little as possible to the worker, while making the greatest profit possible and damn the social cost. The Living Wage movement is affiliated to NO political party, and proactively organises amongst community, union and faith communities – with a equal balance of representation between the three to assert social change away from inequalities.
Personally, it seems like an achievable campaign, growing a broad-based coalition of diverse groups with a shared affinity to reduce poverty. It’s also a campaign we support.
I am employed a Primary Health Care nurse in a local Youth health clinic. I have been working in Primary care since 2006 – specifically in Very Low Cost Access health centres in the Wellington Southern suburbs, providing care to communities with some of the highest mental, physical and social health needs, and some of the more vulnerable health situations in this city.
I am speaking today to advocate for the inclusion, and implementation of, the Living Wage for all additional workers who are employed by Wellington City council-controled organisations and other contracted workers. It is excellent that already 500 employees now live on the 2014 Living Wage rate. The reported impact of this decisive action to implement the Living Wage to these employees has been a greater ability to access the services and delights of this city, to attend higher education, to be at home being a parent rather than needing a second or third job, and to be able to participate – and be a participant, in the civic life of Wellington city. Now is the time for the Wellington City Council (WCC) to implement the next step and become the first fully-realised Living Wage Council in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Since the last submission process for strategic planning, there has been a global surge in civic movements looking for alternatives, other options, to stem the growing inequalities. For example, last week in The New Statesman, a UK-based political commentary magazine, in a article titled Forget healthcare: the trick to making people well is to make them more equal, it stated that “…policymakers… need to address the problem at its root by acknowledging that income inequality is a major cause of health inequality, [and] not just an indicator.” Paying he Living Wage is a part of this solution, a tangible and practical tactic to address the growing social burdens that affect us all through the widening inequitious divide.
From a nursing perspective it is almost not contested that inequalities are a major player in the determinants of health – it’s the solutions that are quibbled over. It is widely recognised that inequalities are significant determinants of:
- poorer mental health and wellbeing
- greater use of alcohol and drugs
- more likely to come in contact with the judicial system
- more likely to leave school without adequate education for exciting employment options
- greater teen pregnancy rates
- at greater risk of exposure to violence- random and domestic
- poorer long-term physical health outcomes across the life span -from childhood asthma, rheumatic fever, eczema to diabetes and cardiac disease in later life
- Premature death
The research is clear, these inequalities do not affect only the individual, but society as a whole does less well. We all benefit when we are all better off. Reducing Inequalities is a ‘Major Project’ that requires a long view. For those on the lowest wages in the WCC structure, the gains will be immediate, the ripples with then continue out.
In my time working as a Primary Care Nurse, I have met many good hard working people, good people working too hard to make ends meet – needing second or third jobs to pay the bills. And then they don’t arrive in clinic for a minor health check because amongst the ranges of poverty they are also so time poor that it’s impossible to manage self-care alongside the other necessities that needs addressing. Sometimes, on a hard day, I can match these lives to the gloomy research, and it doesn’t end well, and it’s tragic. And for the most part this tragedy is completely avoidable. We are world leaders in this downwards spiral, we are among the most inequitious societies. When we spend time negotiating over about the incremental changes of minimum wage, we need to know that we are implementing poverty- it’s that clear. And regardless of the rhetoric, when you’re poor, for the most-part working hard does not pay off. The “coolest little Capital” is becoming a city where the working poor are becoming reliant of Food Banks and emergency accommodation.
From a Youth perspective, because that is the area I am now working in, I have had a number of conversations with patients where the decision are made to choose sex-work over other employment options, the simple fact is the money is better. The needs of Youth are not less because they are young: food, rent, essentials are not offered at a cheaper rate because you are young. The bills still have to be paid. Is this what we encourage by holding tight to supporting paying poverty wages? What is the message we send to our next generations? How do we let them know they are valuable and valued?
However, at this moment we have an opportunity to not continue in that direction. Here is a line in the sand. This is our You-Shall-Not-Pass moment where the WCC can banish poverty from it own employment structure. It will be a day worthy of celebration when this city can claim to be the first to say, actually, we can do better that this, and this is how we prove it.
- We recent played our first shows for the year, at the fantastic A.E.B in Levin, and Great Job in Palmerston North. Two very warm and supportive venues. We’d been shut away in doors for months working on new songs and now they are ready to road test…so off we go.
- And we have a bunch of shows lines up already, including a jaunt to Sydney in June, and Dunedin in August for Onslaught 11 – details to the right
- We currently have our costume hanging in Thistle Hall, Wellington, as part of the Disrupting the Narrative exhibition. “Disrupting the Narrative is a week-long event incorporating an exhibition of contemporary art, historical material and public talks that seeks to reframe existing narratives about New Zealand’s participation in the First World War and link it to contemporary issues.“
- We have book Munki Studio in early July to start recording the 11 songs for the new album. Really excellent to get this confirmed, and doubly-so to be working with Mike Gibson again, who had his hands securely on the wheel when we recorded Transit.
- And alongside the recording process we will be rolling out a crowdfunding project to help raise a few dollars so we can package the coming album as a pretty piece of art. So needless-to-say, there will be some fine, tasty, and sparkly items to be obtains in various pledge categories – more on that later.
A new date has been penciled for the future, to yet be finalised.
Firstly, this easter weekend we having our first shows for the year on this mini-tourette of Whanganui/Palmerston North and Levin.It would be lovely to see you all, it’s been a while and will be nice to be out and about once again.
Friday 3 – Whanganui – Space Monster with Vorn and Gold MedalFamous
Saturday 4 -Palmerston North – Great Job with Felix and Jack and P90s
Sunday afternoon 5 – Levin – Alternative Entertainment Bureau – 10 bands/10 bucks! – with Black Chrome, The G/Nomes, Valerie and one of my personal all-time-favorites NZ punk bands No Idea!
Next though, is work is progressing nicely on what will be our next album – with the working title of either Persona Ficta, or It’s All Over, yet to be fully decided. We’re finishing off the demos and honing some of the ideas, and stripping back others. We’re certainly leaning towards lean. It’s the thinking about it that often takes the longest and then ‘blink’ it’s all over.
On the 10th of December 2004 Hulagu, the first album for the mr sterile Assembly, was released into the world. And today marks it’s tenth birthday. Who would have thought this project would still be going after this length of time?
It was a monumental first release, no clear plan or direction but an exuberant outworking of the first songs into the sterile world. It gained wheels and traveled and played. We managed to even tour eastern Europe on the back of this release, with the help of great community support here, and brilliant friends in the Czech Republic.
One abiding precious memory was arriving to play in a small cafe in Slovakia, the album had no distribution here but when we played the song Feed the Machine the whole front row started to sing along! This was a first direct experience of the beauty of peer-to-peer sharing. Somehow these people had found access to the audio files via a much younger internet and adsorbed the tune, it was magic and a great lesson in connectivity!
Massive thanks must be lain at the feet of Hilary Binder and Chris Rankin, from SABOT, then based in the arts space CESTA, Tabor, Czech Republic, for planting such an awesome seed of an adventure in our minds.
But more so, the bigger thanks need to go to the players in this early iteration of sterile: Jana Whitta, Elisa Kersley, Cara Conroy, Aaron Lloydd and Francesca Mountfort for adding their music, enthusiasm and confidence in this endeavour.
On listening to this album a few months ago, for the first time in many years, was pleasantly surprised at how much it still seemed to hold it ownt, it seems to pass a continuous personal quality and remain comfortable in the continuum of what we have gone on to make. Line-ups, instrumentation and presentations have changed greatly but essentially the song still remains the same, looking for optimisms, cracks in the accepted narrative, words from the shadows and front-lines, words of different angles, words of hopes.
Also, a huge shout out to Aidan and Rob who were the very generous and responsible hosts. They were the team who had their hands on the mics, knobs, faders, making sure what ever we did sounded as good as it good.
Finally, an ongoing thanks is towards the local animator Mike Hayes who made this lovely stop motion animation to the title track, it still holds an enduring magic!
It’s been a remarkable journey, full of silly stories, tiny adventures, and wonderful life-validating moments.
Thanks for it all!