Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Headless Chickens frontman scattered Grant Fell's ashes on stage at Civic's Wintergarden

From Radio NZ: "The Headless Chickens won the prize for Independent Music NZ Classic Record Award for their 1988 album Stunt Clown. Guitarist and vocalist Chris Matthews then produced a small vial of deceased bandmate Grant Fell's ashes and sprinkled them on the stage.

Speaking on RNZ's Morning Report the Taite Music Prize co-host and Music 101 presenter Alex Behan said it was "one of the stranger situations" he had been in as MC.

"I spoke to members of the band afterward and they feel it was their moment to have and that they were meaning it in the best of faith."

Musician Moana Maniapoto said she was "horrified" and that it was "absolutely bizarre".
"[It was] kind of disrespectful to a lot of people in the room.

"I understand the love they have for their musician but they didn't give anyone else in the room a choice in the matter," she said.

"There's no doubt we all love the Headless Chickens and Grant Fell. You know, he is adorable and a wonderful musician but I find it hard to believe that someone could grow up in New Zealand and think it is okay to do that."

Maniapoto presented the 2015 Independent Music NZ Classic Record Award and said winners Herbs would never have sprinkled the ashes of dead band members.

"They are there in spirit, they are there in the words, they are there in the music. Much like Dylan Taite is and that's what the award is named after. Human remains are tapu."

Fells' partner Rachael Churchward said "On the night, Chris asked if he could scatter a little on the stage and I agreed. It was spontaneous. Grant was proud of his Ngāpuhi whakapapa, as am I of my own family's Māori heritage. We were not setting out to shock or offend anyone, but Grant wanted his ashes scattered in places he loved - and he loved being on stage playing music.

"I think anyone who knew Grant understands that he would have loved this. I understand this was not in line with tikanga, but we all come from different places and we don't adhere to every tradition. Music is a big part of our identity too."

via Stuff: "Former Headless Chicken member Rupert E Taylor understood some people felt awkward about the gesture.

"I felt like he was there with us and it was a total magic moment for me. I waved his ashes into my face and all over my Workshop suit. It was a surprise and it should happened, he should have been there with us," Taylor said.

"It was a total surprise to me and it was absolutely wonderful and magical.

"But we are old whānau, we've known each other, we've lived together since the 80s. We are family and for Rachael, who is part Māori, to do that was an amazing thing, it was a beautiful thing."

Taite Prize nominee Teeks said on Twitter "First time I’m glad I didn’t win an award. Wouldn’t have gotten on stage with those ashes under my feet. Huge congrats to Aldous, still extremely humbled to have been nominated don’t get me wrong, but I was raised in a culture where that shit isn’t ok.

"PS not to diminish or take away from the Taite Music Prize in any way. Big up’s to @IndiesNZ and everyone else for giving us the chance to celebrate NZ music in this way. Don’t think anyone saw that coming."

Rob Ruha responded last night on Twitter saying "Wanna know how to clear Māori's out of a gig? Tip someones ashes all over the floor... #TaiteMusicPrize #OutOfIT #CultureClash"

The organisers and event hosts (IMNZ/Auckland Live) released a statement saying they were "unaware of plans to scatter the ashes of the late Grant Fell from the Headless Chickens during the Taite Music Prize. This was not scripted into the ceremony. Tangata whenua have been consulted and will be performing a blessing at The Wintergarden in the coming days."  Radio NZ reported the organisers refused to say what happened to the ashes.

Musician Tama Waipara told RNZ "Do you really need to know the tikanga to know that maybe it's not cool to sprinkle  someones ashes all over a place ... who then deals with the removal of those? The cleaners? ... why should they have to manage that? ... so many levels of not considering or thinking about how that impacts other people."
As Teeks observed the following day after the ceremony, "... I’m sure no offence was intended, totally understand the sentiment behind it and why they thought it might have been a good idea. I guess the thing we need to realise is that we live in two different worlds."  

It was the 2nd year in a row that a Flying Nun act has been chosen for the Independent Classic Record award.Taite Prize winner Aldous Harding is on Flying Nun, so the night was something of a clean sweep for the label.

For more on The Taite Prize itself, go and read The Spinoff on Taite Music Prize finalists: 'Why are most of the finalists white? And why do they nearly all have guitars?'

"... The economic barriers are immediately identifiable, but the main concern is access. The nomination process seems to suggest a preference for nominees who are on labels. Half of the finalists belong to Flying Nun, the champion of the ‘Dunedin Sound’ which, unsurprisingly, has traditionally been – and remains – very white. The initial nomination fees for independent artists (distinct from artists on independent labels) are disproportionate and unaffordable for many wishing to nominate themselves. It’s basically a gamble."

Radio NZ's livestream still available, watch below:


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