Paired with ‘Suicide 2’ by fellow Auckland second wave punks Proud Scum, The Terrorways’‘Short Haired Rock and Roll’ arrived posthumously on Ripper Records, New Zealand’s first punk-era indie label. It was one of only three songs that The Terrorways got to vinyl. Already available – on the ground-breaking New Zealand punk compilation AK79 – was their equally raucous original, ‘Never Been To Borstal’, and an inspired and roughed-up cover of Ray Columbus and The Invaders’ ‘She’s A Mod’. The trio of songs was a slim and engaging recorded legacy that ably captured the spirit of the times and the group.
The Terrorways evolved from early punk ensemble Rooter, which had formed in April 1978: vocalist John No One (Hunter), guitarist Pete Mesmer (Hoffman), bass player Jonathan Jamrag (Griffiths) and drummer Eddie Clanger (Kerry Buchanan). It hadn’t been all that long since the band members were fans in the audience of Auckland’s infamous punk dive Zwines.
Just 10 weeks after forming, Rooter were filmed by Eyewitness making the bus trip south with the best groups of Auckland’s punk scene to Wellington’s New Wave Spectacular. By then they were already regulars at Auckland’s inner city, back alley punk incubator Zwines, knocking out a set of amped-up classics from the likes of The Who (‘The Kids Are Alright’), The Honeycombs (‘Have I The Right’) and Nick Lowe (‘I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll’). Alongside some their own originals they bulked out their repertoire with contemporary punk covers of tracks by ATV and The Saints.
Jamrag, a great heckler, would get physical with No One onstage, and with the audience. He left in July 1978 for The Atrocities, his first step on the road to Proud Scum, becoming one of the Queen City’s most memorable punk rock front men.
Rooter played on without a regular bassist until Chris Orange was added in September 1978, joining new second guitarist, Justin Sane (Dean Martelli). The new line-up was paired with Auckland punk pioneers The Scavengers for their Zwines farewell party in November and played shows at inner-city pub venues The Globe, Windsor Castle and Occidental Tavern. The police were never far away, with mass arrests for underage drinking soon cooling venue owners on Rooter and prompting a name change to The Terrorways by December 1978. (Rooter’s unreleased 1978 recording ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’ finally saw daylight on the 2008 expanded reissue of AK79.)
In the following months, The Terrorways would share the Zwines stage with The Aliens, The Tigers (not the Wellington band of the name), Toy Love, Fire Engine and Gary Havoc and The Hurricanes. When Clanger departed The Terrorways in April 1979, they plucked new drummer Gary Hunt from The Hurricanes.
As 1979 headed into winter, The Terrorways were busy, with shows at HQ Rock Café, Windsor Castle, Zwines, the Island of Real, and the Globe Tavern. In June there were gigs at St Thomas Hall in St Heliers and at the State Theatre Dance in the central city.
With the Auckland live scene hotting up, the gigs continued into October, including a mainstream showcase The Gluepot in Ponsonby, all-age cafe venue Squeeze, the newly opened Basement club in the old Busby’s Wine Bar premises in the CBD’s Elliott Street, and the even newer (and just as short-lived) Cavern in Darby Street.
There was also a trip south to Wellington in September for The Terrorways to headline three nights at The Last Resort and an afternoon in Cuba Mall. Some of Auckland’s boot boys followed the band down to the capital, destroying the toilets and a few of the local fans at the Last Resort. The short North Island tour also took in Palmerston North and New Plymouth.
For the October 1979 issue of Rip It Up, the group filled out an informative Band File that disclosed their current management by Larry Young’s Sunset Promotions and revealed the group members musical pasts and tastes. Drummer Hunt (born 22 November 1957) had not long returned from the United Kingdom where he pounded the tubs for Scottish band Droner. It was a skill he’d learnt at least in part from drum tutor Frank Gibson Jr in Auckland. Hunt’s musical tastes veered towards the recent with ATV, Wire, Lou Reed and The Clash name-checked alongside some older classics.
Dean Martelli (UK born, 20 April 1961) threw The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Sham 69 and 999 into the mix, and name-checked his Burns Flyte guitar: the same one featured on the front cover of AK79. Peter Mesmer (born in New York, 18 December 1956) was educated at Auckland’s Selwyn College and pointed towards the previous rock and roll era as inspiration. His Rosmini College alum John No One (27 February 1959) indicated Joe Strummer was a vocalist he favoured. He joined originally as bassist and switched to guitar when Chris Orange returned from the UK.
Orange (1 November 1959) had seen The Clash, The Damned and The Ramones in London and played Fender Precision bass. Reggae, Stiff Little Fingers and Slade featured on Orange’s playlist, while the bass players he liked were Glen Matlock, The Enemy’s Mick Dawson and John Entwistle.
Before the year turned, AK79 would be in the shops, with two strong Terrorways songs among its 12 tracks. Fittingly, given the group’s live set, The Terrorways contribution was one original (‘Never Been To Borstal’) and one cover, the 1964 New Zealand classic ‘She’s A Mod’. Ray Columbus gave the new version of his most famous song, the thumbs up, “even if they did get a few words wrong” (Australian Women’s Weekly, July 1981).
On 29 August 1979, the band, plus The Primmers played the final night at Zwines and on 1 December played what they said was their final gig at Mainstreet.
However, The Terrorways reformed in March 1980 with a Toy Love support at the Windsor Castle. Sometime in the following months, they captured ‘Short Haired Rock and Roll’ with producers Bryan Staff and Mike Chunn, released in May shortly after the band’s demise. In mid-October, however, there was another brief Terrorways reformation for a belated farewell gig at XS Café in mid-October 1980.
Kerry Buchanan next joined rockabilly act The Wild Matadors, who had two tracks on the 1983 Ode Records genre compilation, Rockin’ In the Streets. Over the next few decades, Buchanan was an erudite presence working at Auckland’s second-hand record stores. He was a regular writer for Rip It Up in the 1980s and Real Groove magazine’s hip-hop columnist for many years. He wrote the liner notes to the 1993 Propeller/Flying Nun reissue of AK79.
After The Terrorways break-up, Pete Mesmer and Gary Hunt formed The SOBs with Michael Lawry and Hamish Kilgour. Dean Martelli later joined Rebel Truce whose track ‘The Man Inside’ appeared on the Class of 81 compilation. Chris Orange joined The Features in 1980, later moving to Japan for some years before returning to New Zealand. Gary Hunt worked as a roadie for Spandau Ballet in the UK and became a metal furniture designer.
It would be 28 years before The Terrorways revived their second generation Kiwi punk/bovver boy rock for the AK79 reunion. The extra LP on the unofficial 2008 reissue of AK79 featured Rooter’s previously unreleased 1979 take on Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’, alongside the three existing Terrorways recordings. At the two reunion gigs in Auckland, approximately 100 copies of a limited-edition CD were made available. Short-Haired Rock and Roll featured a Rooter demo from 1978, five studio Terrorways recordings from 1979-80, and 18 tracks from a 1979 Terrorways live recording. Several rock and roll classics (‘Be My Baby’, ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’, ‘River Deep Mountain High’) were included among The Terrorways originals; the final track was ‘Borstal Breakout’.
Kerry Buchanan wrote the liner notes to the 1993 Propeller/Flying Nun reissue of AK79. He was also a Real Groove magazine hip-hop columnist for many years.
Dean Martelli was later in Rebel Truce whose track The Man Inside appeared on the Class of 81 compilation.
Chris Orange joined The Features in 1980, later moving to Japan for some years before returning to New Zealand.
Gary Hunt worked as a roadie for Spandau Ballet in the UK. He is now a metal furniture designer.
Kerry Buchanan - drums
Peter Hoffman - guitar
Gary Hunt - drums
John No-one - vocals
Dean Martelli - guitar
Chris Orange - bass
Jonathan Jamrag - bass