In 2003, this Dunedin trio picked up on a very specific thread of NZ alt-rock: bands like The Gordons/Bailter Space, HDU and Straitjacket Fits, dried and salted those ingredients, boiling them down to a taut, minimalist attack perfectly suited to just guitar, bass and high-pitched barking vocals.
And by 2005 – just two years later – Andrew Wilson, Michael Prain and Henry Oliver found themselves ensconced in a Chicago studio with the legendary Steve Albini, recording their self-titled debut album. Their hard-edged art-punk wowed alt-rock crowds on the international circuit, and a second album, Promises, Promises, was recorded in New York with Shayne Carter at the controls, and when released, elicited rave reviews from publications like the NME and The Guardian in 2007.
Album number three, Form, was produced at home by former Skeptics man Nick Roughan, but despite rave reviews and a No.1 placing on the NZ alternative charts, there was trouble on the horizon.
Another album, Harmony, was recorded in France in 2010 and produced by Chris Townend of Portishead and uh, Silverchair fame, but its release was delayed when the group – tired of six years of touring and being in each others’ company – considered calling it a day. Wilson took a day job to pay off debts, but the recording surfaced on their own label in 2012, and it turned out to be a strong reiteration of the band’s strengths, with Shayne Carter bolstering the vocal presence on some cuts.
The group recorded a second album with Townend in France and New Zealand in 2013, S.W.I.M., and this was released in August 2014 in NZ, Europe and the US. An EP What Did You Expect followed in late 2015 and the album Charm. Offensive. is planned for October 2017.
The trio has had ongoing problems holding on to bassists. Original bassist Kane Goulter left after the first two tours, and Henry Oliver was with the band for two EPs and their first album, leaving in 2006. Lachlan Anderson was in the fray from 2006 to 2011, contributing to three albums. Michael Logie – formerly of the Mint Chicks, and also of F In Math and Opossom – joined as bassist for their 2012 tour. And stayed on. But to complicate the story, Rory Attwell filled in on bass during the group’s 2012 European tour, because Michael was too busy.
The group has broken up several times. The first time was after their first two tours, when they broke up for six months. Then after part-recording their last album Harmony, “the band was sick of each other and ended,” Andrew told AudioCulture. “I finished Harmony on my own and there was no DDD for nine months. I didn’t know if I could be bothered releasing an album with no band. Then (new manager) Manu Taylor put the pieces back together.”
Golden Antenna Recordings
Andrew Wilson - vocals, guitar
Michael Logie - bass
Michael Prain - drums
Henry Oliver - bass
Kane Goulter - bass
Lachlan Anderson - bass