Monday, November 10, 2003

Remember the Box?
Over at the discussion forums on someone has posted the question "what was your favourite night at the Box nightclub?" I remember playing a gig there with The Picassos once, the crowd went nuts when we played Its a Mans World by James Brown. Not to mention many a late night down there dancing and so on...

One of the answers is from Simon Grigg (under the alias 'Asylum') who helped run the place...

"How about Jimmy Barnes punching out the guy from The Stray Cats for trying to pick up his sister whilst Eric Clapton looked on...true.
Rosetti [doorman] charging Mick Jagger five bucks and when asked by his manager if he knew who he was, saying "yes and he can afford it"
John Lydon who sent us a fax saying it was one of the best nights he'd ever had.
Nigel Kennedy asking me to look after was his Stratavarios Violin worth ??????,
Roland Gift and Vince Martin used to live down there. The UB40 party where one of them got arrested outside for smoking in front of a cop.
Or Hall & Oates singing "I Can't go for That" accapella after the bar closed
Or Debbie Harry putting on a wig and coming down so she wouldn't be recognised...people kept on coming up and saying "Debbie Harry's in there with a wig on"
The private U2 party was a goodie-thats why the pool table came down to CC originally-for one night at U2s insistence, but it stayed.
Or the Guns'n'Roses party when the band was doing handfuls of white stuff off a table top with any girls they found and Axl told DJ Geoff Wright he was a really good rock DJ.
But selling someone a Macs one night and realizing it was Harvey Keitel was a highlight. He came back about ten times...still got his credit card slip....I mean Harvey Keitel."

The poster of the question was local dj Sam Hill - the only man ever to get fired from The Box twice.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Not many?
16 of the top 50 albums on the charts this week are by New Zealand artists. Last week 4 of the top ten albums were local, this week its 5 of the top ten. And of course last week Scribe had the number one single and album, thanks to a wicked tune and some savvy marketing from his record company. From Stylus to Supergroove, Concord Dawn to Carly Binding... Not many? Nah bro, there's bloody heaps of good local product.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Back to the 80s
TVOne screened a cheesy documentary last night called Relive the 80s. They'd let someone loose in their archives, and they came up with a show that tried to jam in every cheesy bit of footage they found. This made for a densely packed jumble of images that was fun to look at, but wasn't really given any social or political context - the 81 tour was in there, fleetingly. The voiceover, written by Belinda Todd and mouthed by Charlotte Dawson and her lopsided lips (what's up with that?), was try-hard clever, and the brief interview snippets were so short that they didn't add much. Cept for Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie talking about their days back in the Thompson Twins - cue live footage of them playing at Live Aid to a huge crowd. That must've been some incredible experience; I'd love to have heard something about that. The focus on over the top fashions made it seem like every one dressed like that in the 80s - it was just a small group of Auckland central nightclubbers, really (who went on to become influential fashionista like Denise and Francis World). They covered breakdancing, but made no mention of rap music arrriving here. But there was heaps of music in the show, in fact I don't think there was a single second without some background 80s tune. Still, lots of great images.

One ad they featured made me think about how far we've come. There was the 80s ad for sensible drinking - the woman and man sitting at the bar having fun, he gets drunker and drunker, and she sings "Stop making love to that bottle, baby, you should be making love to me", which was too much for some folk back then, so it was amended to "Stop making love to that bottle, baby, and go and make a cup of tea".
In the Weekend Herald's business section there was a story about Lion Red's new ad campaign, to replace their previous 'red blooded' ad, with the boys night on the town, that screened last year. Lion Red dropped that ad, after one of the actors featured went on to play a gay character in a local tv show The Strip. Groan.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Raw power
Iggy Pop was on C4 last night - they were screening a live concert of Iggy Pop and his band, live in Belgium, apparently to coincide with his new album, Skullring. When the credits rolled, I discovered it was four years old (1999), but man, was it good. He rocked thru Search and Destroy, I Wanna Be Your Dog and a few other Stooges numbers, and it just made me wanna see it for myself. His band were a bunch of long haired metal poseurs, cept for the drummer who pounded the bejesus out of his kit like his life depended on it. Which is exactly how it should be.
Iggy reformed the original Stooges lineup earlier this year for a few select show in the US - they played their hometown, Detroit back in August - check this review.
Arthur magazine did a big feature on the return of the Stooges - you can download a pdf of it, if you feel so inclined.
They're playing at All Tomorrow's Parties in LA in a few weeks; its on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. It's a UK/US music festival thats guest- curated. This year, LA's is curated by Matt Groening (Simpsons/Futurama creator). If I win Lotto, I'm going.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Rockin with his hands

He's a one-man band, in his own right
Jam Master jams to the broad daylight
No instruments needed, just two record players
A stage, a crowd, and two rhyme sayers

Run-D.M.C. - "Jam Master's Jammin'"

Its one year ago yesterday that RUN DMC's DJ Jam Master Jay was tragically shot dead in his recording studio in New York. Police are no closer to solving this case, a year on, but new evidence has come to light.
One of the gunmen hugged Jay, then shot him, so Jay knew his killer. "Investigators have had to sort through Mizell's debts, which forced his wife to take a job at a Banana Republic [prior to his death] and may eventually top $500,000, allegations of drug dealing and finger pointing by Jay's associates as to who the killer might be."
AllHiphop has an interview with "a high ranking New York Police Department detective" who spoke with them, on condition of their identity remaining secret. The key to solving this case is a man named Derek Parker.

AllHipHop: Randy Allen seems to be a central character in this whole situation. What have you heard about this supposed insurance policy? I recently heard his older sister was the beneficiary of the policy.
AD: We are aware of it. We aren't sure who the beneficiary is at this time.
AllHipHop: So there was an insurance policy.
AD: Yes.
AllHipHop: Someone collected on it?
AD: That I don't know. Sometimes it's hard to penetrate these circles as an outsider. I do have a suggestion. The family of Jam Master Jay should contact a detective name Derek Parker.
AllHipHop: Who is Derek Parker?
AD: He's the guy that started and founded the rap and Hip-Hop squad. He's the guy they need to reach out to.
AllHipHop: What's the rap & Hip-Hop squad?
AD: The squad that goes around and uh, watches the rappers.
AllHipHop: So there is a Hip-Hop squad?
AD: Yes. Parker was appointed by the ex chief of the department, Lou Anemone and Commissioner Edward Norris.
AllHipHop: Do you think Derek Parker could solve the case faster and if so, why haven't they contacted him yet?
AD: The family may not know who he is. The rappers in the industry knows who he is cause he's dealt with alot of them at one point or another. He was in Los Angeles for the Biggie murders and Las Vegas for the Pac murder. Still to this day he's a private investigtar for his own company, Styles Security. Parker claimed that if he is in fact hired to assist in the case, he would have it wrapped up in a week."
Mighty mighty, letting it all hang out
Ronald La Praed played bass for the Commodores, back in the day; remember 'Brickhouse'? That's him. One of the greatest basslines in the history of popular music, no contest. These days he lives in Auckland and leads the band on Mike King Tonight.
"Some of his clothes are embalmed in museums in Nashville and Las Vegas. He has toured the world 18 times, thrown Diana Ross into a swimming pool and played games with Michael Jackson while the latter was still a normal-looking if not normal child..."

Halloween doesn't have much impact down this part of the world, but after checking out this site, I wish it did. Fun with pumpkins!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The disorderly business of life
APRA's Silver Scroll Awards rolled around Tuesday night. This event celebrates our songwriters in fine fashion. APRA's (Australasian Performing Rights Association) members get together and have a mighty fine knees-up featuring music, of course, and much drunkenness and tomfoolery, but that's later in the evening.

One of the highlights is the performance of each of the five finalists' songs being transformed by other artists. Damien Binder's 'Til Now' was sung by Heather Mansfield of The Brunettes with the SJD band and a choir. It was the first song performed on the night and a very mellow rendition - so laid back that it drifted by most of the audience. Perhaps starting off with something more raucous might've helped.

Anika Moa and Anna Coddington (from Handsome Geoffrey) strolled out to perform Golden Horse's 'Riverhead'. "This is our attempt at a Golden Horse song - wherever you guys are, hope you like it. Oh shit, you're right there," says a startled Anika as she spies the band sitting near the front. Anika and Anna performed a stripped down version that had its own delightful charm, especially in the middle when Anika slipped in "we made this next bit up" and did a little dance. Golden Horse later won the most performed song in New Zealand award.

Bindspott's 'Plhex' (love those wacky hiphop spelling lessons) was performed by Jordan Reyne, accompanied by Indra Hughes on the Auckland Town Hall's organ and a chinky sounding drum machine, which was pretty impressive.

The MCs for the evening were comedians The Naked Samoans, dressed in tracksuits which made them look vaguely sporty - or was it meant to be hiphop? Dunno. They told us that all those videos with people putting their hands in the air wouldn't exist if it weren't for the songwriters. "There'd be nothing to put your hands in the air to." Then one of them adds "You might as well have thalidomide, 'cos there'd be no reason to put your hands in the air," which caused some shocked laughter and horrified looks to shoot round the room. Now that's pushing the envelope for ya!

The Naked Samoans did a fine job of ribbing the official speakers, like coming back on stage after Arthur Baysting: "ladies and gentlemen, Arthur Baysting. Riveting speech, Arthur, you had us with hello."

The inaugural Maioha award, presented by Cliff Curtis, went to Ngahiwi Apanui for 'Wharikihia'. Ngahiwi thanked APRA in his speech, noting that their cheque usually turned up just when he was in the poo. "It's the most money I've ever got from music. When I do a gig, two people turn up and they're both cousins, AND they refuse to pay!" The Naked Samoans came back on stage after him and made several delightfully politically incorrect comments about Maori before getting it back on track with "Let's give it up for Maori people". After dutiful applause one of the Naked Samoans added, "It's their country - we're just paying rent."

Some politicans were in attendance. Judith Tizard made a speech after a ridiculously overhyped intro. She said that "Bill English sends his apologies." He'd lost his job earlier that day. Peter Biggs, chairman of The Arts Council at Creative New Zealand, suggested that what we needed was less statues of Queen Victoria and one of composer Douglas Lilburn, which I think is a brilliant idea.
Clasical composer Gillian Whitehead won the Sounz Contemporary award for her work 'Alice'.

Rock band Augustino ambled on stage and churned their way through Ill Semantics 'Highway', eventually getting their groove on mid-song to the approval of the Dawn Raid table, who waved their hands in the air like they just didn't care.

The winner of the Silver Scroll was Nesian Mystik with 'For the people'. The band accepted the award (and $5000 cheque) in a prerecorded video as they're currently in England plying their trade. 'For the people' was performed earlier in the evening by a gentleman introduced as "New Zealand's own Frank Sinatra" which gives you an idea of his take on it. Think 'Nesians are you with me' sung Vegas-style, with strings and band. It was so cheesy and twisted - in a good way, mind. Hats off to the incredibly talented Victoria Kelly, musical director for the evening, for such a great job.

This year marked the final Silver Scrolls for APRA boss Mike Chunn. After 11 years with the organisation he's leaving for fresh pastures. Mike's first play The Orderly Business of Life was recently performed in Auckland but he is giving no clues as to his next move. Before he made his way to the stage a video tribute from his staff at APRA played, with Jordan Luck leading them in a rousing rendition of the Exponents' 'I'll say goodbye', sung as "Michael; we'll say goodbye, even though we're blue.' It was touching listening to his staff talk about him with much affection, especially the comment that no one could ever call Mike aggressive 'cos he drives like a nanna. Mike took the stage to a standing ovation. He has done a hell of a lot in raising the profile of New Zealand music and helping expand the possibilities for many of the songwriters in the room. He had planned to wing the speech but got told to write something down, so he did. He thanked his staff in his usual witty, erudite fashion, mentioning various characteristics he would miss (congrats to the woman at our table who let her cellphone ring during Mike's speech - it was in her handbag, across the table - nice). He left the stage to another standing ovation but didn't come back out. The Naked Samoans tried to entice him back but with no luck. So later they just carried him back on and made everybody stand and applaud again, just so he didn't miss it. Nice blokes.

After that it all got a bit hazy. Once the awards have finished, the fun part of the night begins - the second stage. This is where anyone can get up and sing two songs maximum. All sorts of musical shenanigans go on here. The Silver Scrolls are a great night to catch up with people I haven't seen in ages; an event thankfully devoid of any music industry hype or self important BS. It's just a bloody good night out. There were some other awards and things, but you can get that from the official news sources.

(also posted at Public Address)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Can't get enough
I heard a great interview with three former members of Supergroove on BFM late last week - Ben, Karl and Tim talked about the crazy times on their world tour. They were all so young, and changed so much; as Tim observed on the radio, "when we got back from tour, I was gay!" That Tim, he's so wacky. Their record company has just put out a greatest hits cd with some fine remixes from Timmy Schumacher and Baitercell.

I remember sitting outside the Dog Club in Newton Rd (now the Dogs Bollix), when my band was doing a gig there, way back, and this geeky young guy comes and sits down next to me and starts chatting and introduces himself; "my names Karl, and my bands called Supergroove." He was so keen, which I thought was really cool.

We played a support for Supergroove several years later, on their first album tour, in a hall in Mt Maunganui. Their crowd was totally nuts, and I remember Slave, Otis and DLT were the other supports. After our soundcheck we went off to the hot pools (they were still finishing building the stage), and told recent band recruit Gavin D that they didn't let you show tattoos in the pool here, and he'd have to wear a t shirt. We all had tattoos, so he believed us, god knows why. We were lying thru our teeth.
Here's an interview with Karl, looking back.

If you're familiar with author Douglas Rushkoff, he's got a new gig - as keyboard player for a revived Psychic TV with Genesis P-Orridge. He says "It's a humbling prospect. Although it won't be my first time playing with a band, it will be my first time playing with a band in a couple of decades, and my first time playing with a band that people actually listen to by choice. I will let you know what happens, and if they decide to keep me. First gig, sometime in December."

Check out the human beatbox/harmonica. Warning-its a slow load on a fast connection, but worth the wait. A guy beatboxing hiphop styles, with a harmonica thrown in as well. Nuts.

Bush's Whitehouse has altered its website so that search engines can no longer show search results for 'Iraq' with their sites pages listed. This looks odd, but it may be a wayward conspiracy theory. Take a look.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Walk this way
Russell Simmons co-founded Def Jam Records, and bought us Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and helped his brother Run get started in Run DMC. Here's a comment from a recent interview with Mother Jones magazine.

MJ: If you could meet President Bush, what would you tell him?
RS: Fear is not the basis of governing this country.
MJ: Do you think Bush knows who you are?
RS: I think Colin Powell knows who I am.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Your personal recommendation is worthless to me
Its called whisper marketing. I first heard of this in William Gibsons latest book Pattern Recognition. The main character meets someone whose job is to go into hip bars and talk about their clients product, which then makes it desirable to those less attractive people around them.
Gibson talks about this in an interview on his site...
Q: "There's a phenomenon you describe in the book, in which people are paid to mention products casually in social settings as a part of marketing campaigns. How advanced is this, and are we likely to see more of it?
A: When I was writing that, I had heard of it being done, but assumed it was an urban legend. Then I ran across a news piece that claimed it was being done in Manhattan, but that the public response to it was intensely, almost violently negative. As perhaps it should be."

Its recently hit Sydney...
...and now its arrived here. The weekend papers covered the story, under the headline "Why that pretty girl really chatted you up." Its happening in Auckland right now - local ad agency Dot-ink's Reese Jensen says "Forget the billboards, this is what the consumer of today needs to cut through the clutter." The company had put "product ambassadors" in Auckland nightclubs - groups of attractive young people who order "X-drink" to sway the rest of the crowd to buy the same. They call it tactile media.
Your personal recommendation of a film/book/drink/restaurant/CD could soon become worthless. Just a thought.

British label Ninjatunes recently reissued C is For Cookie by The Cookie Monster - why? Apparently one their artists DJ Food tried to get a tune off Sesame Street for a mix cd a few years back, and its taken a long while to get clearance to release it. The tune is the disco version remixed by famous DJ Larry Levan - his very first remix. The flip is the Pinball Number Count, with backing vocals from the Pointer Sisters. Its a groovy record; I scored a copy from Fat City recently. It's choice! ( I am not being paid to say this - see above story.)