Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Nov7
Noel Ellis - Stop your fighting
Prince Fari - Good music brother
Sister Nancy - Aint no stopping Nancy
Joe Higgs - I'm the song my enemies sing
The Skatalites  -Exodus
Gregory Peck - Pocoman jam
Little John - Fade away
Ragga twins - Love talk
Al Green -  Love and happiness (Shoes edit) AL GREEN LIVE IN AKLD at the Civic Jan 21, 2010!!!!
Dabrye - Won
Wajeed - Jeedo suave
Hypnotic brass ensemble - Balliki bone
Romanowski - Romjack steady
Barrington Levy and Beenieman - Murderation
Linton Kwesi Johnson - Brainsmashing dub
Congos and Big Youth - Feed a nation
Willie Royal  - General alarm
Jah Wobble - Get Carter
Serge Gainsbourg - Aux armes etcetera
James Brown - The Bose (Giesha boys - Gamm Doin James Vol 4)
Donae'o - Riot music
Ragga twins - Spliffhead (original)
The Clash - Magnificent Seven
Unitone hifi  -Sneeze off
Umod - Cowboy lovin
Oddisee - Evrything changed nothing inst
Al Green  -So glad you're mine / Take me to the river

Friday, November 06, 2009

ACTA fun and games. 
ACTA is an anti-counterfieting treaty that NZ is about to sign up to. The worl'ds biggest culprits in counterfieting, Russia and China, are not part of this trade agreement. It has shifted into a copyright treaty, with the relevant chapter on copyright being written by the US. And it's all being done in secret.

Why is it so bad? Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing points out the following problems...

  • That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn't infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.
  • That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet -- and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living -- if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.
  • That the whole world must adopt US-style "notice-and-takedown" rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused -- again, without evidence or trial -- of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.
  • Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM, even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM).

For a local perspective, read more about it here. on Mark Harris's blog.
Computerworld NZ also has some good articles on it. Check here.
P-Money, meet P-Money.
"One’s a hip hop DJ turned producer from New Zealand who’s best mates with Zane Lowe. The other is a south London grime MC who has a habit of making people utter the words ‘What did he say?’ Both are called P-Money."
This interview is great fun, have a read here, at (NZ) P-Money's blog

Thursday, November 05, 2009


 So, last month I did an interview with Trevor Reekie for his feature, Moments Like These, where he gets a muso to dig out an old photo of themselves and rabbit on about it. Read on. 

Moments Like These: Peter McLennan
Published in NZ Musician, Oct/Nov issue 2009. By Trevor Reekie

"Peter McLennan was once the guitarist in Hallelujah Picassos and these days makes music as Dub Asylum. He is a self-described Auckland musician, a DJ, writer, graphic designer, music blogger and pop culture junkie who buys lots of magazines. His creative curiosity and eclectic taste is only some of the sum of his many parts… a musical gent who is always on time!"

Can you remember who took this photo and when?
Wildside label boss Murray Cammick shot it. Gavin Downie had recently joined the band, which makes it 1994 I think. It was in a car park in central Auckland in the middle of winter, and we were freezing our butts off, hence the beanies, jackets, etc. At that point, we were heading in about a million different directions musically – we put together the ‘Gospel of the DNA Demon’ EP which came out in late ’95 and toured to support it. Shortly after that Johnny and I left the band for spiritual reasons.

What was your relationship then and what are the others doing now?

They were my bandmates, and today I can still call them my friends, which I’m very proud of. The Picassos were a tribe, not a band, or that’s how we described ourselves in interviews. It was about including our fans in the equation. When we’d do gigs, we’d always come back out and sit round on the front of the stage afterwards and talk to the folks who had come to see us play. There was some other bands round Auckland at the time who thought they were better than their fans and that they were special, and we weren’t having a bar of that crap.

Bobbylon and Roland are still lurking around Auckland city. Johnny Pain was in Singapore making animated kids TV shows for the last few years – he’s recently shifted to Toronto to do more of the same, but is going back to Singapore as he’s joined a thrash metal band there. He also recorded as Pains People post-HPs, and played bass in the Nudie Suits – the man is a musical chameleon. Gavin was in The Managers and a few other acts, and is working as a guitar tech for hire.

How did you get the name ‘Hallelujah Picassos’ and how did the band evolve?
We started out playing as a garage punk band called the Rattlesnakes for about a year and a half. By then our sound had evolved, adding reggae and ska, so we needed a new name. I turned up late for practice one Sunday afternoon (I’d been at work, I think), and the others had a sheet of paper with heaps of names scribbled on it. They’d narrowed it down to three, and the only decent one was Hallelujah Picassos. I was at art school at the time, so I went for that name. And of course, as Jonathan Richman sang, Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole.

The Picassos live was a full-on thing. One of the best things about the Picassos was that people either got it or they didn’t. That style of mashing up genres (labelled ‘crossover’, back then), no-one really got it on a widespread scale until a few years after we split, when US ska-punk outfits like Sublime and Rancid found mass popularity with it.

As we evolved musically, we basically kept adding new genres to our musical ammo, and didn’t attempt to limit what we attempted stylistically. We had four strong personalities in the band, with the contrasting vocal styles of front man Roland’s aggressive rasp, and crooner Bobbylon on the drum seat – he was once labelled as the Dirty Harry of NZ reggae – face of steel, voice of gold. All four of us wrote songs, so we never had a shortage of material to play with, and pretty much everything we wrote we recorded too.

We ended up with these descriptions of our music with A LOT of hyphens; reggae-ska-thrash-rap-punk-funk... which is why, when people asked us what sort of music we played, we said ‘Picasso core’. Much simpler. And we had a song mentioning it, with the delightfully subtle chorus, “Picasso core will fuck your mind”. We even made a video for it, which got played on television. Once. True story.

When did the Picassos come to an end?

The others carried on for about a year after we left, going through six drummers. I kept meeting guys in the street who would tell me they were the new drummer for the Picassos (as Bob moved to bass). They got a new line-up together, with Roland moving to guitar and a new vocalist filling his slot, and they did a few gigs and recordings. Johnny and I went and saw them play at Squid one night, and it was the weirdest thing. We were standing there watching them play songs we knew inside and out, except it wasn’t us playing them, it was this other band. We were both a bit dumbfounded by that.

I’m not sure when the band ceased as I wasn’t a member, but I gather it was sometime later in ’96, when Roland left the band. We’re working on a re-release of some of our favourite songs and our audience’s faves too, getting them re-mastered and putting together a tasty CD package for them, with the aim of getting it out by the end of the year. It will also be available as digital downloads, and if anyone wants to give us two or three grand (seriously), we’ll do a vinyl release too.

How has your musical career progressed since the time this photo was taken?
A rapid descent into poverty! I started working on a solo project under the moniker Dub Asylum around 1998, although I notice I’m wearing a baseball cap with Dub Asylum on it in this photo. I’ve released an album, two EPs (one of which was on vinyl) and a handful of singles under that name. I’ve also directed a few music videos for Dub Asylum too. I think I did a jungle/drum n’ bass cover of I Love My Leather Jacket by The Chills back then, and it got used on the closing credits on a music TV show.

My musical career has pretty much devolved back to what it was like before the Picassos got a record deal – which was DIY, The Picassos recorded and released two cassettes independently before we got a record deal. Do it yourself, you ain’t got no one else to blame. It’s not hard – just ask someone who has already done it. There’s plenty of people to give you advice and encouragement. If it’s any good, people will like it and buy it.

Who is one artist and/or record that you would say has had the most influence on you and why?

Argggh, back then we were listening to Fishbone, Urban Dance Squad, African Head Charge, Bad Brains... just one? Okay, ‘London Calling’ by The Clash. I heard it when it first came out, taped it onto cassette off a mate’s 2LP set, and have revisited it numerous times since. Like a lot of skinny white boys, it marked my first exposure to reggae and ska. It was an education, and a damned good record filled with great songs.

When the deluxe re-issue package came out in 2004 I discovered the stories behind this album, thanks to the bonus DVD that came with it, including watching old video footage of the album’s loose-nut producer Guy Stevens swinging a broom round the studio while Mick Jones tried to play. But mostly, I revisited these tunes and was reminded what a great band the Clash were. They were a gang.

What would you consider your proudest musical moment?

Dunno, still to come. Making music that people like is pretty damn special. You make music because you want it to connect with people. Opening for Screaming Jay Hawkins was special. We opened for him two nights in a row, and he saw us on the second night, at the Gluepot.

We asked him after we played if he saw any of our set, and he said, “Yes, I did. I like to hear other bands, cos I get sick of hearing my own”. We asked him if he had any advice for us. He told us to “Keep rocking”, so we did. He strolled out of the Gluepot at the end of the night with a beautiful woman on each arm. He knew how to live.

We also opened for Violent Femmes, Faith No More, Primus, Ice T and Body Count, African Head Charge, Beastie Boys, Soundgarden and a few others.

The most imposing presence I have ever been in the presence of was?

Screaming Jay Hawkins. And Noam Chomsky. He handed me my award at the Media Peace Awards when I won a Highly Commended for an article I wrote for Pavement magazine. He had a firm handshake, which was reassuring.

The most important thing you have learned from your creative endeavours is?

Do it yourself.

What are your recollections of the music scene back when you started compared to now?

Local music was not cool. NZ music was less than 2% of NZ radio play – if you weren’t Dobbyn or a Split Enz derivative, you were invisible. I think it’s really cool that there are kids growing up now that think it’s normal to hear NZ music on the radio. Back then there was still a debate going on over alternative vs mainstream - glad that idiotic notion died. The closest we ever got to commercial success was one of our singles Rewind grazed the Top 40. It was at number 39 for one week. But we still packed out venues around the country, so we didn’t really care.

As a music blogger what pleases/annoys you most about the current local scene?

What pleases me is that musicians are getting motivated to make music without waiting round to see if they get an NZ On Air grant or whatever. What annoys me? People’s sense of entitlement. Earn my respect, fool.

What’s the best book about music that you have read?

Please Kill Me, by Legs McNeil, cautionary tales in drug taking and NYC punk rock, and Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, an essential read on the history of the disc jockey – from Northern soul to disco, reggae, hip hop, house and more. They also wrote a fantastic book called How To DJ (Properly) which is a must read for any DJ, no matter whether you’re a veteran or a newbie. That’s three, and then there’s this other book...

What can people read about on your blog?

Music that I like. That simple. I’ve got a pretty eclectic taste,and that’s just got broader as I get older (although I tell myself it’s got more refined! Ha ha). There’s music from Jamaica, Canada, Ethiopia, Argentina, all over. Good music is where you find it.

What’s on your playlist right now?

Albums by Mayer Hawthorne, Quantic and his Combo Barabaro, Opensouls, Wheedle’s Groove, Ze Records 30th Anniversary compilation, Best of Steely and Clevie, and the Esso Trinidad Steel Band. And a ton of vinyl 7s and 12s.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Flyin' Cut Sleeves

"Portrait of the lives of street gang presidents in the Bronx over a 20-year period. A remarkable perspective on life in the ghetto.

Sleeping Dogs Films and MVD Visual are proud to announce the DVD release of Flyin' Cut Sleeves on October 20th in North America. This 60-minute documentary was produced and directed by Henry Chalfant (of Style Wars fame) and Rita Fecher.

Flyin' Cut Sleeves, completed in 1993, portrays street gang presidents in the Bronx. The project grew out of the experiences of Rita Fecher, the film's co-producer, who taught in a South Bronx school in the late 1960's and early 1970's, became intimately involved with the gangs, their leaders, and the leaders' families and began to document their lives. Their world was the streets, set against a backdrop of uprooted families, cultural alienation, drugs and violence.

Neighborhood teenagers responded by organizing into street groups known to the members as "families", but labeled in the most alarming terms as violent gangs by the press. In fact, the "families" had a stabilizing effect, enabling the youths to cope with their troubled environment. The political climate at the time, movements of national liberation and such organizations as the Black Panthers and Young Lords Party influenced the young gang leaders to aspire to be more than warriors and to become, to some degree, a positive force in their communities.

When Rita Fecher returned after twenty years to see what had become of her old friends, she found that they had stayed in the community of their youth, that they were deeply committed to improving conditions there and that they were engaged in helping their own children survive in the hazardous street environment. The documentation of these lives over a twenty-year period offers a remarkable perspective on life in the ghetto (spanning four generations), and the means that people devise to cope from the time that they are children to when they serve as parents and role models for a new generation."

Hat tip to Different Kitchen

Monday, November 02, 2009

Making music
I have been working away on getting a Dub Asylum vinyl seven inch single out and it's finally coming together. One side will have the title track of my latest EP Ba Ba Boom, and the flip will have a killer remix of it in an afrobeat/dubstep style from OoGuN, more on it soon. Out in early December. Just sent it off to be pressed today, rather excited.

I've also got a remaster/reissue project under way for my old band, Hallelujah Picassos. We're going to remaster a handful of tunes that were faves with us and our fans and put them out on CD/digital. There's a fun interview I did with Trevor Reekie for NZ Musician's latest issue (the one with Gin Wigmore on the cover), talking about an old photo of the Picassos, check it out. (Will ad a link when NZ Musician put it up online)