Chris Knox to Play at Temple
Chris Knox '...a cheerful misfit who has perfected the art of doing whatever the hell he wants!" $10 9pm Friday 7th March Note Change of Date.
Possessed of a superb voice, an ear for glorious melodies, a quick wit, and a taste for the unusual and eclectic when it comes to instruments and recording, Chris has carved himself a sizeable niche in the underground world. There's a strong political streak to Chris's writing too - often concerned with personal and body politics, but he doesn't shy away from the Big Issues, releasing the bitingly satirical "Song For 1990" in the year New Zealand celebrated 150 years of English colonisation in the face of growing racial unrest.
Politicians, fakers, and figures from the entertainment world come most regularly into Chris's line of fire through his weekly cartoon strips Max Media (published in the country's largest-circulation newspaper, the New Zealand Herald) and Pop Vulture (published in the Listener). Max is an obsessive little idiot (over four recent weekly episodes he joined a Hale-Bopp-like cult promising 3D reality for cartoon characters!) while Pop Vulture "feeds on the rotting corpse of the entertainment industry" according to its byline. In slightly a less acerbic guise, Chris also brings his good taste and informed commentary to movie reviews on a weekly TV network arts show, Sunday, and his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for music is aired in a monthly nationally-published cartoon-based music review column The Real Pits.
Add in Chris's reputation as a wonderful live performer, capable of frightening forays into the audience and lyrical extemporisation, and you have your veritable home-made renaissance man, a cheerful misfit who has perfected the art of doing whatever the hell he wants. French magazine Rocksound recently referred to him as "that gentle psychopath, Chris Knox" - on a good night, with a banana-short bedecked Knox bearing down on you from a stage, maniacal grin fixed in place, we can definitely understand what they mean. But then there's also the guy who created "Not Given Lightly", the love song to end all love songs... the obsessive collector of Disney comics... the man with the amazing John Lennon conspiracy theory... the multi-talented, unique individual that is Chris Knox. Love the guy.
By early 1977, Chris Knox was the misfit lead singer of one of New Zealand's very first punk bands, the Enemy. Their live shows were legendary - culminating in "Iggy Told Me", where on a good night, and they were all good nights, the audience would be treated to the sight of the Enemy's frontman hacking into his forearms with a broken beer glass.
Within a year, the Enemy headed for Auckland, where the band mutated quickly into a new outfit, Toy Love. A few Enemy classics like "Pull Down The Shades" stayed in the set but Toy Love was a vehicle for the more ambitiously melodic tunes emanating from Knox's songwriting partnership with guitarist Alec Bathgate.
Toy Love set about conquering New Zealand by 1979 before being washed up 18 months later in a sea of indifference in Sydney, Australia. Chris returned to New Zealand disgusted with the experience (which had included the classic big label-big studio recording trip) and bought himself a four-track, with which he and room-mate Doug Hood proceeded to record young Dunedin bands for a fledgling label called Flying Nun, and so we got records by the Clean, Chills, Verlaines et al.
Chris also continued his partnership with Alec Bathgate as the Tall Dwarfs.
These two have delivered a string of wonderfully demented records ever since (the latest, Stumpy, was released just this year). Tall Dwarfs projects have given both Chris and Alec the opportunity to take the do-it-yourself ethic as far as they like. These two accomplished graphic designers usually take turns at creating all visual aspects of Tall Dwarfs releases, resulting in unique packaging concepts and swags of stickers, postcards, day-glo covers and more.
aided in recent years by his partner Barbara Ward, has been
making videoclips to accompany Tall Dwarfs' records since
day one, as well as clips for his solo songs and other
bands - including a video for Flying Nun's first single,
"Tally Ho" by The Clean. His frenetic clips, featuring
anything from stop-frame animated pieces of meat to
carefully drawn stories, have had plenty of attention - the
claymation "Half Man Half Mole" (from Chris Knox Songs Of
You & Me, Flying Nun/Caroline, 1995) even had Beavis and
Butthead debating the relative merits of claymation versus