Just ask New Plymouth trio Sticky Filth, who’ve been putting punk rock before New Zealand eyes and ears for 30 years now. They have toured Australia twice, played more New Zealand shows than they can remember and released the country’s finest catalogue of metallic punk.
Between 1987 and 2014 the trio released four quality albums (Weep Woman Weep, Nektar Der Gotter, Stainless and Fourth Domain), two fine EPs (Def Thru Misadventure, Witches) and two stray singles of “made up true stories”.
Their evocations of provincial punk and working class life are among New Zealand’s finest.
Mainstays Craig Radford (bass, vocals) and Chris Snowdon (guitar, vocals) are as integral to Taranaki’s musical identity as Peter and Graeme Jefferies and long time supporter Brian Wafer of Ima Hitt Records. Their evocations of provincial punk and working class life are among New Zealand’s finest and most honest and the sound they make – punk power chords raining down to a howling vocal and constant beat – one of the most distinct.
That’s why they have some of the most dedicated fans of any New Zealand group. Sticky Filth have always stood up for them and stood beside them and in the violent days of the second half of the 1980s and well into the 1990s that was no easy thing. The upside is they’ve been able to play regularly in their own right over three busy decades and support many of the bands that inspired them.
It’s an older and wiser Sticky Filth who talk to the media these days. They’ve had their share of tragedy in recent years with the near loss of guitarist Chris Snowdon, who was knocked down on an Auckland road in July 2010. It was a hard blow but Sticky Filth bounced back to release their fourth album and return to the live stage. The working class New Plymouth band are punk “lifers” and it’s too late to stop now.
The humour in the title of Sticky Filth’s first record was lost to most on its release in July 1987. A play on the phrase, “Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll” – activities the group knew all too well – the music was a promising brew of raw fuzzed punk with Craig Radford’s already distinct gruff vocal cutting through the pointed mire.
‘Paranoid’, ‘Lobotomy Baby’ and ‘Witch Of Fitzroy,’ the names said it all, especially the third one. Witches would be a topic and song name constant in years to come. The new single’s cover featured Sticky Filth’s distinct ornately fonted logo, indicating the care and creativity that would go into all the group’s cover artwork.
Sticky Filth had already been playing for two years when the three-track single appeared on Brian Wafer’s Ima Hitt Records, which was based out of the New Plymouth record shop of the same name and making the step from tape to vinyl. Punk fan Wafer had spotted them at an afternoon gig he organised and seen the early promise.
Guitarist and singer Radford collected up the first Sticky Filth line-up on the rebound from a Neil Young concert at Western Springs in Auckland in 1985, after dropping in on bass guitarist Colin Long at his mother’s house in Hamilton. Radford was a southpaw guitarist who played right-handed guitars upside-down the way he had at Otako College. On drums, Dave Hunt completed the trio.
The group’s first gig as Sticky Filth was in August 1985, just three weeks after they formed; it was the afternoon gig at Ngamotu Tavern, now a church, and Brian Wafer used the PA for "a four local bands" gig on the Saturday afternoon. The bands were Loving Homes for Rotting Gnomes, Ecnalg (glance backwards), Sticky Filth, and a now-forgotten fourth band. The Birds Nest Roys and Exploding Budgies were playing a nighttime gig there; later Sticky Filth would support the Roys at the Bell Block tavern on New Plymouth’s northern edge.
Long departed six months in and was replaced by Casualty’s Chris Snowdon, launching a creative partnership and friendship with Radford that survives to this day.
Other early Sticky Filth shows include New Plymouth’s Lion Tavern and the White Hart in 1985, and Palmerston North’s Commercial Hotel on Anzac weekend 1986. When the White Hart’s management objected to the group’s name it was changed to Shady Front in newspaper ads. “Rodger, the owner at the time, didn’t want Sticky Filth or any band that would attract punk rocker types,” recalls Wafer. “One of the guidelines he stated was that I could not book ‘bands that attract people with hair of varying lengths’. He was trying to make sure no punk types turned up. I used the name Shady Front Blues band because it still had SF in the name and people knew what that was. Rodger said never to do that again, and that I tricked him, never to do that again – but the bar take was brilliant so all was forgiven.”
Sticky Filth later shared a Friday and Saturday night bill at the White Hart with Manson Family. On both nights, punters smashed up the toilets. Replacement toilet bowls were sourced and fitted by the older brother of Chris Snowdon, Sticky Filth’s guitarist. Terry Wilson the owner of the White Hart took up Wafer’s suggestion that drink prices be temporarily increased by $1 to pay for the damage.
Come January 1987 and Sticky Filth was venturing south to Wellington for early month dates at The Cricketers with mid-1980s punk heavyweights Flesh D-Vice. They were back at New Plymouth’s White Hart in early July with Manson Family.
The New Plymouth punk trio returned to the capital in August for a multi-band show at Railway Hall on the 8th with Wellington’s punk and hard rock finest. Following a support slot for touring Australian cow-punks The Johnnys in New Plymouth on August 15, Sticky Filth lined up at the Kuhtze No Ordinary Band contest at the Bellblock. One of the judges was former Radio With Pictures TV host and pioneer Christchurch punk Dick Driver.
Beating out 14 groups from the middle of the North Island (including Gisborne’s Big Fix and fellow NP punks Casualty), Sticky Filth took out the $1000 prize. The money was put to good use, going towards recording their first album.
In September Ima Hitt Records showcased New Plymouth’s new groups on What Is This Place?, a New Plymouth new group compilation that featured Sticky Filth’s ‘600 Witches’. The 4-track recorded track had first seen the light of day on The Witch and The Lion tape, composed mostly of songs recorded live in New Plymouth’s Lion Tavern on April 16 and May 5, 1986.
Earlier that month Number Nine had come up from Wellington for a two night run at the White Hart with Sticky Filth. The New Plymouth-Wellington punk axis was still going strong in December 1987 when Sticky Filth hooked up with Wazzo Ghoti in the capital.
“It would be harder to find a more honest examination of the psyche of a rejected male than ‘Weep Woman Weep’,” Richard Wain wrote with some insight in April 2006 about one of Sticky Filth’s best-loved songs.
The title track of the New Plymouth punk trio’s first album certainly has the common touch and a wounded honesty about it, atop one of the most infectious punk riffs ever written in New Zealand. From the moment the bass kicks the track off, it has you and never lets up.
From the get go, ‘Weep Woman Weep’ was one of the group’s defining songs and a constant in their live sets.
From the get go, ‘Weep Woman Weep’ was one of the group’s defining songs and a constant in their live sets. In the early 1990s when a Melbourne publican halted a Sticky Filth show before the song had been performed, the crowd rioted.
‘Weep Woman Weep’ was vividly reinforced by a Stuart Page directed video depicting Sticky Filth and their punk mates in and around New Plymouth, messing about at Ima Hitt Records and knocking punk tracks out onstage at the White Hart in front of their hardcore followers.
Recorded in sixteen and a half hours in Wellington in 1988, Weep Woman Weep remains one of New Zealand punk’s finest albums. Chris Snowdon and Craig Radford had switched instruments by then for the majority of the songs, captured with Brent McLachlan (The Gordons, Bailterspace) at Writhe Studios, a change that would be permanent.
Controversy soon flared over the cover art, which shows a naked woman in the arms of a horned demon. But when the image was changed for German label Gift Of Life’s reissue in 1990, it was over concerns that permission hadn’t been gained from the original artist.
Strong and memorable songs abounded within the eight-song album’s grooves. ‘Dig You Up’ and ‘Be A Lover’ in particular proved popular, although fans have other favourites. ‘Dig You Up’s shock-horror lyrics provoked a threat from People Against Pornography who wanted to take Sticky Filth to the Human Rights Tribunal. When the band wrote back and told them what they thought about it, they heard nothing more.
It’s the words of ‘Your Life’ that had the real potential to offend. What starts off as a defiant statement of being slips too easily into stereotypes that may have been indicative of personal and community belief, but seemed to stretch beyond the group’s actual experience. When the group later compiled their early work on Archives, ‘Your Life’ was left off.
Sticky Filth headed north in June 1988 to Auckland and the Rising Sun on K Road, returning again in September with the best of New Plymouth’s punk brigade – Colin Long’s The Toxic Avengers, Casualty and Manson Family – for two nights at Ponsonby Community Centre. Then it was back to Wellington in November for shows with Nazgul and Columbian Necktie.
June 1989 found Sticky Filth with a new drummer, Pete Westbury, replacing Dave Hunt for dates at Palmerston North’s Superliquorman with AXEMEN before heading to Auckland for shows at Siren and The Basement. The following month, they were back in their second home Wellington with a young Shihad at the Clarendon and in New Plymouth with heavy metallers Confessor for two nights at the White Hart. In Auckland in late September they had two nights at The Venue.
A mid-October show in Brooklyn, Wellington with fellow Ima Hitt Records act T.A.B was closed down by police with 20 arrests, but worse was to come when Colin Long was assaulted and died in a New Plymouth street on January 19, 1990. Shows at the Clarendon closed out a tragic month for Sticky Filth.
It was a dangerous time to be a time to be a punk in provincial New Zealand.
It was a dangerous time to be a time to be a punk in provincial New Zealand as Craig Radford explained to Richard Wain: “There was a lot of violence, times were a lot different, there was a lot of violence in our community, against us and among us. The police were a lot different towards us. We were like an objective. The police wanted us to stop doing what we were doing and all we were doing was playing music.
“We played a gig and there was a riot. A group of people from another part of Taranaki came and were beating up people outside our show. And they would do it all the time and we would fight them. We ended up going out and stopping the show and having a big riot. The police came – big fight on the street. Cars were smashed up, people were hurt and went to A and E and there was a big fight in the hospital. It was on the front page of the paper.”
Sticky Filth’s second album, Nektar Der Gotter (German for Nector of The Gods) arrived in early 1990 on Ima Hitt Records. Recorded while Dave Hunt was still in the band, the album was a more metallic sounding record than its predecessor, reflecting the coming together of harder rock sounds that happened in the second half of the 1980s both internationally and in New Zealand.
The 10-song record is another yet strong effort with set constant ‘Spartacus’, the apt ‘Beer’ and the punk acid blues of ‘Witch Hazel’ standing out. Sticky Filth took those songs out to the public that month at Auckland’s Powerstation with The Warners and Salad Daze before returning mid-March to University of Auckland with Salad Daze.
Sticky Filth went on before US hardcore icon Henry Rollins and his band at The Gluepot on June 6 and 7, before heading offshore to Australia where the trio teamed up with Cosmic Psychos, The Hard-Ons and Seminal Rats and played shows in their own right. Post-tour band members played around Taranaki as Fascist Bully Boys From Hell with members of The Nod.
March, 1991 saw Sticky Filth teaming up with S.P.U.D. and Reptiles At Dawn at shows in New Plymouth. The gigs with Spud were part of Ampitheatre at Govett Brewster Art Gallery: six nights over two weeks. The Reptiles At Dawn show was at the Railway Hall.
In May they were back in Auckland seeing out the month at Rocks In The Attic. July found them at Wellington’s New Carpark and mixing an EP for release on Full Moon Records. Before it could be made the Sydney record plant they’d entrusted the pressing to went into liquidation. Sticky Filth not only couldn’t get their get money back, they couldn’t find the owner or the master copy of the recordings. It’d be four long years before the EP emerged.
Closing out what was a busy year, Sticky Filth headed south for shows that took in Christchurch and Dunedin in December before featuring at Pakiri Surf and Rock Festival north of Auckland on New Year’s Eve.
After years plugging away, New Plymouth finally got some of the music media spotlight in July 1992 with a large Rip It Up spread on the punk province, “New Plymouth Rocks” by writer and fan Donna Yuzwalk. Sticky Filth proved a surly subject at first, but later relented, talking about Chris’s role in Tension (ex Das Unter Mensch), past controversy over lyrics, the punk rock file that local police used to hold and how the cops would raid parties then but now concentrated on individuals.
The boys pointed to new drummer Paul Tattersall and how their sound was changing before expressing annoyance that they didn’t have a record contract despite selling out shows and record pressings.
“We need to go back to Australia,” Craig Radford told Yuzwalk. “We need to get out of New Zealand. We beat a track around New Zealand all the time and it’s just the same thing. What you need to do is treat Sydney and Melbourne as part of your tour. Every few months go to Auckland, then to Sydney for a few weeks and back to New Plymouth.
“Then you have to go and base yourself in Sydney, and from there, jump over to Europe. That’s what happens with bands like Cosmic Psychos and The Hard-Ons. Playing in New Zealand only 0.9 per cent of the people are ever going to dig your music. That may work out to be a thousand people. Go to Germany and 0.9 per cent of the population, that’s a million people.”
There were shows that month at Superliquorman in Palmerston North and Auckland’s Boardwalk Bar in Newton with Nefarious, before heading home to Burundi’s in New Plymouth.
Sticky Filth went on before US hardcore punks Suicidal Tendencies at Auckland’s Powerstation on October 25.
The pedal hit the metal in August 1993 and Sticky Filth returned to Australia for 11 shows with the Sydney based Casualty before the storming punk pair flicked back across the Tasman for three New Zealand shows. One of the year’s highlights followed when Sticky Filth went on before US hardcore punks Suicidal Tendencies at Auckland’s Powerstation on October 25.
1994 would be one of Sticky Filth’s pinnacle years. The rest of New Zealand got a look at the country’s best punk rock group on a national tour in February. Auckland in particular was seeing a fair bit of them, at Pod on March 2 and with American punks All at Pelican Club on April 6. Then it was back home for a show at Section VIII with US band All.
In early May Sticky Filth impressed with The Warners at Auckland’s The Powerstation. “What can I say?” RIU’s Donna Yuzwalk wrote. “Tonight they were New Zealand’s greatest punk rock band even though sound quality was poor and you couldn’t see them for dry ice for half the show depriving us of the spectacle of Craig, who is to the bass what David Mitchell (The 3Ds) is to the guitar.
“Craig is hot wired to the fucking thing, he loves it, he abuses it, he makes it cry itself to sleep. He was in some kind of mood tonight and also knocked over his mic stand in disgust and bashed his bass up at the end of the show. Chris soloed wildly over the top and the drummer held it all together with his customary awesomeness and there was not one plodding lifeless moment in the entire set.”
On May 13 and 14, New Plymouth’s Section VIII was the scene of that year’s Mushroom Ball, the wild event that been held in New Plymouth every year bar one since 1987 at the peak of magic mushroom season. Sticky Filth played them all (and did so again in 1995), but they were indifferent that night after Chris Snowdon crashed his car prior to the show. Craig Radford was in fine form up front of Nefarious, freed for once from his upside down bass to concentrate on singing.
The pace hadn’t let up, with recent gigs in Mount Maunganui, Wellington, Auckland, Gisborne and Napier and Rocks Hard2 on June 25 at New Plymouth’s Section VIII, staged for a German magazine of the same name that had taken a shine to Taranaki’s best.
On August 3, Sticky Filth joined black Washington DC punks Bad Brains at The Powerstation. They followed the prestigious support later in the month with an outing with seasoned Australian punkers The Celibate Rifles and US hardcore act All You Can Eat at Section VIII on the 20th.
Australian outfit Front End Loader hit New Plymouth in late September for a night at The Glasshouse with Squirm. Brian Wafer was bringing a surprising array of hard rocking overseas talent into New Zealand and hitting his stride as a promoter.
In late November, Sticky Filth, Casualty, Tension, Tonguelash and The Nod celebrated the release of the Rocks Hard CD featuring 12 local groups. The “Naki” was on fire. It had the bands, it had the promoter, it had the venues, and it had a fine, printed music newspaper in Raw Beat For The Malcontents that would publish five issues in 1994 and one more in January 1995.
Remember that EP Sticky Filth recorded way back in 1990 and mixed in 1991? It bounced back and forth across the Tasman four times before finally landing in July 1995 and surprise, surprise (no, not really), it was worth the unplanned wait.
The Def Thru Misadventure single got it just right, all romping head-down metallic punk on ‘Smile’ and ‘Vodka, The Devil and Me’ complete with gruff spot-on vocals from bassist Radford and diamond hard punk guitar from Snowdon. ‘Dead Girls’ has all that and a sombre piano outro with a suitably solemn vocal from Radford.
For Sticky Filth, 1995 began onstage at the Big Day Out festival, January 20 at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland. Early February found the punk rock trio on tour to Palmerston North, the Crown Hotel in Dunedin, Warners in Christchurch and Millers in Lower Hutt.
The late Willy “Slammy” Edwardson was a young Māori punk originally from Whakatane, who had followed the mid to late 1980s punk rock trail through Auckland to Christchurch then Wellington and finally onto Taranaki, where he ended up as a roadie for Sticky Filth.
Slammy who died on July 30, 2007, wrote one of the best accounts of the wild punk years of the 1980s and 1990s. Published in instalments, initially on the PunkAs website and more recently on Wellington’s Up The Punks, “23 Years of Hell Yeah!” is a fascinating and articulate memoir.
He picks up the story: “I was asked to roadie for Sticky Filth after their roadie, Milano, had to leave. Tension’s drummer, Paul (Tattersall), had joined the Filth (after Pete Westbury left). Mainly, it was the usual driving, security, load in shit, but drum teching as well, cos Paul had a ‘rack system’ that was a bit of a bastard to set up.
“Paul, being from a metal band, had the tightest drumming I had ever seen up to that point. Chris is a fucking demon on guitar. He does shit with his gat that sends chills and thrills up your spine! I’d often stand there wasted as and just stick my head in the stack to get the full-glory of an arpeggio (or whatever you call them). Craig’s bass playing is solider than iron and pounds away at your cerebellum and his vocals are sometimes haunting, other times, driving, daring you to get the fuck up and slam.
“Touring with the Filth was fun. We were all round the same age group and had known each other from parties and gigs for years. They had filmed part of the ‘Weep Woman Weep’ video at Dudley road [Slammy’s punk house in Inglewood] and we were always at their gigs.
“My fave places to go were The Pod in Auckland, Valve in Wellies, Framptons in the Mount, Riverbar in Gizzie. They did so many gigs back then they all seem like some crazy, roller-coaster ride in a rental van down a slippery hill to Perdition. The Filth had friends everywhere, skins, punks, hardcore, all listening to that distinctive sound.
“I remember Steve [Riverbar, Gisborne] giving Chris and I the leftovers of all the top shelf bottles because I had helped him out in a small set-to. We sat up all night getting drunk as skunks before heading to Napier to play at the Shakespeare.
“[There was] The Nile River Festival, where we shared our hotel with Shihad on one side and Snort on the other getting fucked up with both bands and discovering Canterbury Ale and Old Dark. Gigs at The Pod, shows with The Warners, Bad Brains, ALL, Sick of It All, two shows with Suicidal Tendencies, Gobsmackt at The Powerstation, Flesh D-Vice in Wellington and the all night drinking session at Indigo (when some mates of ours were the barmen!), Strawberry Fields Festival [near Raglan] and getting cheap(ish) dozens with my band pass.”
In September 1995 Sticky Filth visited Palmerston North’s The Stomach and Bar Bodega in Wellington, following up in October with a date with Hideously Disfigured at Senior Citizens Hall in New Plymouth.
The set that night was Cosmic Psychos’ ‘Pub’ alongside ‘Dig You Up’, ‘Weep Woman Weep’, ‘Girl With A Gun’, ‘Vanguard 6 Hellride’, ‘Astronaut’, ‘Jahbullhesboosay’, Too Deep’, ‘Scrap Metal Man’ and ‘Mother’. It was Paul Tattersall’s last show. Mark ‘Boot’ Hill, late of The Toxic Avengers joined and Sticky Filth closed out 1995 with a return to Pakiri Surf and Rock Festival.
No rest for the wicked. 1996 kicked off for Sticky Filth with three major festival appearances: Big Day Out, Nile River on the South Island’s West Coast and Strawberry Fields near Raglan. They were at Wellington’s Sonic Temple in early June and Auckland’s Squid Bar at month’s end. Fellow dark rock heavyweights Shihad and Loves Ugly Children joined them at New Plymouth’s Mill on October 27 for the Big Day In.
On April 18, 1997 Sticky Filth lined up beside two of the better groups from the new punk wave in Muckhole and Kitsch at Grey Lynn Community Centre.
A fresh record was long overdue. It’d been two years since the Filth’s last and that was delayed for five years.
A fresh record was long overdue. It’d been two years since the Filth’s last and that was delayed for five years. The group had plenty of new songs and had been playing them for a while, which is why the Witches CD EP that finally arrived in October 1997 was so strong and the sound so distinct.
Craig Radford talked about their sound to Dave Borgioli-Jones in November 2011. “Most of the songs I write have three chords in them. I play a lot of blues and I think that’s reflected. And punk rock has got three chords as its basic structure. Rock ‘n’ roll. When I’ve started to stand back and listen to everything, it’s like, hey, this is the blues. It’s punk rock blues.
“We get to play at the heavy metal festivals and the punk rock festivals and we’re the most un-metal band at the metal festivals and the most un-punk band at the punk festivals, but we sort of fit in the middle somewhere.”
And that name – Witches? Radford already had the word and subject in a lot of his song lyrics and more was to come. “I was looking at it [in 2011] going, ‘hey, there’s another witch haha! There’s a witch in all of them.’ There has been witches being burnt and ‘600 Witches’ on the first thing that we ever did – the What Is This Place? compilation. Then you’ve got ‘The Witch Of Fitzroy’, ‘The Burning’, then ‘Witch Hazel’, ‘Witch That Got Away’ and ‘Nadia’. Gotta have a witch in there somewhere.”
Recorded by the late Alan Muggeridge at Rowan Studios at Kaponga in Taranaki in June 1995 with Paul Tattersall still on drums, Witches’ ‘Too Deep’ has Chris Snowdon singing with Craig Radford up front on ‘Jahbullhesboosay’, the mighty ‘Astronaut’ and ‘Scrap Metal Man’. The EP was self-released by Sticky Filth with Brian Wafer’s Truly Fine Citizen issuing a lathe cut 10” record of the disc.
In November Sticky Filth were in Auckland opening for Los Angeles surf punks Agent Orange and sharing the bill with Hamilton surf rockers The Hollow Grinders before returning yet again to Pakiri Surf and Rock Festival on December 21.
It’d be a long time between drinks for Sticky Filth fans thirsting for another record. Eight years later in 2005 Stainless appeared on Al Sorley’s Hawera-based record company AlleyKat Records. Just how old the tracks were is indicated by the fact Paul Tattersall is drumming on them and all four songs from Witches have been included on the composite album’.
The 17 songs were again recorded by the late Alan Muggeridge at Rowan Studios at Kaponga in Taranaki and mixed and produced by Spencer Fairhurst at Rockbottom Studios in Auckland and featuring yet another witch song in ‘Nadia’.
Talking to John Russell at Herald On Sunday (July 7, 2005) after the album’s release, a philosophical Craig Radford looked back on the group’s early days. “Life was a lot different then, it was a hard fought time. Nowadays you can go into Hallensteins and buy a skull and crossbones tee shirt and jeans with rips in them.”
The group itself was spread out over the North Island with Craig Radford in New Plymouth where he was working on oil rigs, Chris Snowdon in Auckland and Mark “Boot” Hill in Wellington.
The group itself was spread out over the North Island with Craig Radford in New Plymouth where he was working on oil rigs, Chris Snowdon in Auckland and Mark “Boot” Hill in Wellington. That just made getting together all the more special. Fans who’d followed them for 20 years would still travel long distances to see them.
Details of their live shows in the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s are scarce although I remember Sticky Filth on typical form at a renovated car sales showroom on Anzac Avenue in Auckland in the late 1990s and storming through a set in the early 2000s at the Kings Arms, whose music bar manager Lisa Gordon, Chris Snowdon would marry.
Soon after Stainless appeared Sticky Filth stepped out at the Taranaki Festival of The Arts in mid-August 2005. The following year, Craig Radford appeared on National Radio. In July 2007, he sat beside latter day Guns N Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke on a panel at New Plymouth museum and cultural centre Puke Ariki.
On October 19 and 20, 2007, another primal influence on Sticky Filth rocked into New Zealand to play before two and a half thousand fans on each of two sold-out nights at New Plymouth’s TSB Stadium. Motorhead were the original punk-metal-acid blues hybrid and there was no more apt support band on the Kiss Of Death tour than Sticky Filth.
With new album Fourth Domain recorded at Hill Street Studios by Zorran Mendonsa and mastered by Concord Dawn’s Evan Short,due out on Auckland’s ElevenFiftySeven Records, tragedy struck the tight trio in 2010.
Chris Snowdon was left fighting for his life after being struck down by a car when he stepped out onto Auckland’s Dominion Road just after midday on July 16, 2010. He sustained serious brain injuries then a stroke. The album’s release was postponed, as was a tour support for British hardcore punks GBH and 25th anniversary shows planned for the Kings Arms and White Hart in New Plymouth.
The previous year in Rip It Up, Snowdon had given a rare interview in which he talked about balancing family and Sticky Filth. “It’s a like a marriage, mate,” he said. “You’ve got to work hard at it. In the early days when you start off with a band, you’re keen as. But later on it gets tougher.”
Three months after Chris Snowdon’s accident, Craig Radford got a taste of his own mortality when his leg was badly damaged and his heel shattered in a work accident. Having survived years in one of the hardest parts of New Zealand’s music culture, the two old friends, now settled down with families, had been caught unaware by fate.
The following year on June 11, 2011, their old stomping ground The White Hart closed as a pub. As its storied past emerged in newspaper accounts, Craig Radford, who would be present on the closing night, had his say.
“The White Hart was one of those bars, a lot of places wouldn’t let us play, but they let us play there. It was a place where anyone could go. Everyone was welcome there. It was a time when the whole dress code thing came in and you couldn’t do this and you couldn’t do that, well, you could go to that bar and play rock and roll and everything was sweet.”
Manager Terry Wilson had this to say. “Although the place has a shocking name around town as being full of sex, drugs and rock and roll, once they came in and saw what it was like, it was nowhere near as bad as they envisaged it would be.” And the memories? “Most of it you couldn’t print, otherwise you would end up in jail.”
Fourth Domain it turned out would have two lives. First as a 16 song CD on ElevenFiftySeven Records in November 2011 and again in February 2014 as a double vinyl LP release through Vinyl Countdown Records, the well-regarded New Plymouth record store.
“Things change and rearrange and they all end up back the same really,’ Craig Radford told NZ Musician after he found himself signing the new CD at Vinyl Countdown in late 2011. “Like here we are. New Plymouth has got a record shop and we’re doing a signing there and they’re selling records in old Ima Hitt. It’s where Ima Hitt originally was when I first went there. How’s that for going around in a circle! The circle of life. The world turns around and here we are back at the record shop. Who would’ve thought?”
A still recovering Chris Snowdon returned to New Plymouth in February 2012 for a songwriting workshop at Puke Ariki, meeting with his old mate Craig Radford, who had prepared two new songs the night before. Radford, who’d started stepping out as solo act Billy Rubins in the second half of the last decade, was back and billing himself as Craig Radford. That month he joined Scott Kelly and John Buizley, and British gothic rockers Sisters Of Mercy at The Powerstation and sang on Cobra Khan’s Adversities LP.
In May 2012, Radford sat on the panel discussing The Sound of The Taranaki Music Scene at Puke Ariki, having previously been a New Zealand Music Industry Commission Music Mentor in Taranaki schools. October found him with Devilskin at The Basement Bar in New Plymouth and the next month on a national tour with Amanchine and Shakahn.
In January 2013, Sticky Filth returned with The Murderchord at Auckland’s Whammy Bar and with British punk pioneers The Buzzcocks at New Plymouth’s Mayfair. Chris Snowdon, who had only just recently come right, had to re-teach himself guitar and the group’s songs. Radford played solo as Billy Rubin; Inebriation played as well.
In July Sticky Filth provided the party music for roller derby team Pirate City Rollers when they hit New Plymouth. September 2013 saw the release of a Top 10 single of ‘Happy Birthday” from Fourth Domain backed with ‘Weep Woman Weep’ on Vinyl Countdown.
There was still some controversy left in the old team. In February 2014 when New Plymouth’s Magog Motorcycle Club (Sticky Filth were regulars at outlaw motorcycle club events over the years) staged their 40th Anniversary at Peggy Gordon’s in the city, the punk trio was pencilled in to play. After council complaints the street party at which Sticky Filth would perform was scaled down and the Magog name was dropped from the event.
Another vital punk pioneer hit New Zealand that month when Irish punk group Stiff Little Fingers played the Bodega in Wellington and had Craig Radford open for them as a solo act.
Craig Radford - vocals, bass, guitar
Chris Snowdon - vocals, guitar, bass
Dave Hunt - drums
Colin Long - bass
Pete Westbury - drums
Paul Tattersall - drums
Mark Hill - drums