Flying Nun has shaped a lot of lives. Not only during the eighties or just in New Zealand - to this day they're supporting new and upcoming music artists.
I was eleven in 1981. I have a big brother who was in his mid-teens who listened to Student Radio (we grew up in the Manawatu, listening to Radio Massey), and played bass with his band, Clearlight, in our garage. So it's not surprising that I listened to the same stuff as him. At a very tender age I was listening to Straightjacket Fits, The Chills, and Look Blue Go Purple, to name a wonderful, unique few.
In 1988, I was annoying the prefects at Feilding Ag with my Dad's big old transistor radio playing the Verlaines over and over. By then I was nearing nineteen and sneaking into gigs at Massey. My brother, Simon, and I discovered what was to be a lifelong passion for The Bats - pogo-ing in our Docs for hours to their uplifting beat.
A few years later, while on my OE, I had the great pleasure of hearing Martin Phillips' The Chills, I love my Leather Jacket, on British radio. The eighties were a heyday for New Zealand music - an era of the dispossessed, if you were into punk. Young people were actively political, following movements overseas, and there was high unemployment at the time, which made the future after leaving school uncertain. We put our angst and outrage into music. Songs like the Blams' There is no depression in New Zealand, and the Knobz' Don't Give Me Culture threw the gauntlet back at the old school.
Flying Nun was formed by Roger Shepherd (who has written his own biography, In Love With These Times) in Christchurch, which had its own underground music scene. The Flying Nun label reflected all of this, giving bands not just a platform for creative statement, but support to produce records and gigs.
Last year Christchurch Art Gallery hosted Hellzapoppin! the Flying Nun exhibition, an interactive experience showcasing the cover art, gig posters and videos of the likes of Chris Knox (Tall Dwarfs), Look Blue Go Purple (an all-girl band from Dunedin) and Straightjacket Fits, who formed in 1986. Shayne Carter went on to form Dimmer, and experiment more with sound as Shayne P. Carter.
Phantom Billstickers played a part in this too. They're also still around after forty years of supporting music and the written word, pasting up band posters all over town (and overseas) in the wee hours.
A little bird tells me some important people will be in attendance at the launch - Roy Montgomery (The Pin Group), Bruce Russell (The Dead C) and our very own Rachael King, author, WORD presenter and sometime bassist for Battling Strings.
I really enjoyed writing this, reliving my youth while I listened to some of these bands. I can't wait for this!
Remember this one? The Headless Chickens Gaskrankinstation:
'My name is Ivan, my occupation, well I've been working thirty years at the gas crankin station downtown...'
Needles and Plastic Book Launch: Wednesday 16 November 5.30pm Lyttelton Coffee Company.