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Chris Knox – quotes


Chris’s own verbal autobiography, from an unpublished 1986 interview with the author

“Are you all sitting comfortably 12-year-olds? Um, born 1952 Invercargill, went to school for far too long, went to university for a year, got a bursary for the next year but stayed at home and learnt far more by doing so, reading books in bed and stuff like that. That brings us up to 72. Worked, went to prison overnight for shoplifting records. Son Of Schmilsson, actually. It was a dare. We’d done every shop in Dunedin except for this one, thought we’d better do the last one."

"Formed The Enemy late 77, brought the Enemy up to Auckland thinking it was the holy grail in 1978. Broke up the Enemy about the same time. Formed Toy Love 1979, played a lot, an awful lot, recorded some singles that were okay, went to Australia and recorded an album that was horrible, came back, did a ghastly tour broke up halfway through, finished the tour anyway, went our separate ways. A bit later formed Tall Dwarfs with Alec Bathgate, guitarist from Toy Love, put out five records, Alec went to England, temporary hiatus in career, meanwhile I’ve had two kids and a great relationship and with parents’ help bought a house, started writing for The Listener late 1985 purely because Gordon Campbell seemed to think I ought to. And am getting fat bald and more children by the minute.”

Unpublished quotes from 1997

On punk

“Punk was such a jolt… the sheer adrenalin of making a good loud rocky thing is still glorious. There’s still nothing better than thrashing away in such a fashion that your body can only just take it. You can only just get to the end of the song, and if you can do it, there’s a sense of enormous exhilaration.”

On performance

“Investing all of your energy into a piece of music is still an extraordinary thing. I know some people who go into recording studios and do these incredibly angst-ridden singer-songwriter things, and come out sweating and palpitating and shitting their trousers, because of the intensity of it all. I find it hard to take myself that seriously, so it’s better to do the physical thing. It’s a bit like the alien coming out of John Hurt’s stomach!”

On teenage obsessions

“I would put ‘Revolution Number 9’ on the turntable, and put as many radios as I could find in different stations around the room, turn the TV on, turn all the lights off, and lie on my back in the middle of the room and listen to this smorgasbord of noise. That was a little ritual I did on a Saturday night when my parents were out!”

On love songs

“People like words about love, because love is something they aspire to but very seldom have. I try to undercut that by being realistic about the whole process. Love, which is a word I don’t often use, is a very complex thing. There’s an awful lot of loathing, bitterness and compromise, all sorts of stuff mixed in there to result in what we call love, and that’s what I want my songs to talk about, not this ideal thing that most love songs are about, which to me is mostly unrealised lust.”

On lo-fi

“The difference between what we were doing and what some of the lo-fi kids have been doing is that they were trying to degrade things in order to get a sound that was different. We were never trying to do that. We were trying to record as best we could. I’ve never been lo-fi, I’ve been lo-tech.”

On being idolised

“People will be sitting there waiting for every word, and I get up there and do something really dumb to start off with, and this idol fractures before their very eyes!”

On living in the moment

“I crave novelty. I’ve got a very short attention span. I’ve got no short term memory. I have no aims and no plans. I’m one of these people who just lives for the moment. And that’s the way I like it. I vowed and declared about the time of the formation of The Enemy that I’d never work a 9 to 5 again, never get into that predictable rut, and so far, touch wood, I’ve made it. There are joys to that, and rather large yawning chasms of terror. Generally, I am aimless and drifting.”

Shayne Carter on The Enemy

“The Enemy played at my high school dance in 1979 and got kicked off after two songs. I thought Chris was absolutely terrifying. Years later I found out that he had seen Phil Judd in exactly the same light when he'd attended an early Split Enz performance, so it just goes to show that the most terrifying, disturbing performers are amongst the most effective! Certainly both those guys were way out of the ordinary when you're thinking of the dark ages middle earth Telethon world that was New Zealand in the late 1970s.”

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