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AK 79 Live: A Celebration

Thursday, September 11th

95bfm and velvet tiger present …

AK 79 Live: A Celebration.

Well, who would have conceived of this ever happening? Three decades have surged by since the release of the superlative AK 79 album; and on Saturday
22nd November at the Monte Cristo Room, five bands from that culturally-important release are re-forming to take part in AK 79 live. Celebrating both the music that was created then and the undeniable social and cultural resonance it still carries, this show is a timely reminder that attitude, inspiration and fun doesn’t diminish with the passing of time.

The bands performing are Proud Scum, The Spelling Mistakes,the X Features, The
Terrorways, and the Scavengers. Each one of these bands played a vital part in
Auckland's exuberant and oh-so-crazy punk scene; and the AK79 show will be a unique night of hardcore rock n' roll, fuelled by an uncompromised old school punk attitude. This is not just a “revival show”, but a dose of authenticity -- punk as it was, punk as it is.

Sure, bands reform all the time -- this is something different. The Terrorways, Proud Scum, and The Features haven't been together for 28 years, and are unlikely to ever play again after this show – so this is a first and last chance opportunity to experience them live. This event will allow those who actually lived the culture and others who wanted to be part of it to get close to the real thing: despite the legions of people who claim to have seen these bands in their natural habitat of punk clubs like Zwines or on Saturday afternoon at the Windsor Castle, the punk scene was a very close knit culture of like-minded people. The mainstream was scorned, and not sought after as an audience – back then, “crossover” was unthinkable.

The lynchpin of the whole thing is the everlasting importance of the AK 79 album. In the late 1970s, the New Zealand recording industry was fairly moribund. Major companies recorded and released a few things, but the 'underground' was left pretty much untouched. Enter Bryan Staff. Although a DJ on commercial radio, he was an integral part of the punk scene who wanted to record and document what was happening. Forming Ripper Records -- the first punk-inspired independent record label in New Zealand and a template for others to emulate -- he arranged studio time for the cream of the crop-tops and artist Terence Hogan designed what has become an iconic record sleeve. 500 copies were pressed and initially sold from one record store. Over the ensuing years, the album became a collector's item and difficult to find until its eventual CD re-release in 1993.

AK 79 has become perhaps New Zealand's most travelled and most heard album ever; with people from all over the globe owning or listening to it. Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra featured it on an early Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll radio show; bands like The Lemonheads recorded Proud Scum's priapetic ‘I Am a Rabbit’; and early American hardcore acts performed The Terrorways' blazing statement of intent ‘Short Haired Rock ‘n’ Roll’. It has become a strangely inspirational record. On a personal note, I experienced its 'global' effect one day while working in a record store. Approaching me was Steven Van Zandt, guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street band and -- of course -- Silvio Dante from the Sopranos. He shook my hand and told me of Americans love for this "garage band stuff from down-under", and how much he himself liked it. This was both a surprise and a source of almost patriotic pride for me.

AK 79 has developed a life of its own, becoming a mythically-significant cultural artifact that allows it to be emblematic to the generations that came after. Now the album's cover
image has enough signification to be placed on expensive t-shirts sold in High
Street, and have fashion doyen Karen Walker comment on the impact the record had
on her. Perhaps the most succinct comment on the album is from writer Grant Smithies,
contained in his book Soundtrack: 118 Great New Zealand Albums.

"People generally talk of the local punk sound being fuelled by nihilistic anger, but I don't buy it. Underneath the obvious aggression of these songs you can hear pure joy - the sound of working class New Zealand youth, who were bored to death with the flabby indulgences of prog rock, bursting forth with a rude, rowdy and exciting pop music of their own."

Indeed 'rude' and 'rowdy' are perfect descriptions for the music and the times. Time for everyone to 'boot' up and get rude and rowdy.

Kerry Buchanan

WHEN: Saturday, November 22 doors 7pm
WHERE: The Monte Cristo Room, 51 to 53 Nelson Street Auckland
TIME: Doors open 7pm
TICKETS: Srtictly limited to 350 and available from

For more information please contact – John Baker

The Bands.

A seminal band that set the scene for all others, the Scavengers formed in 1977 with a shared love of Iggy Pop, New York Dolls and Keith Richards. They became the resident band at the country’s first-ever punk club Zwines, and rocked whenever they played. They returned to Auckland in 2004 for a well-received one-off show, and will certainly bring the noise on Nov 22nd. Most well-known tracks: "True Love" and "Mysterex".

The Terrorways
Originally known as Rooter and first of the second-wave bands inspired by the Scavengers. State house kids from the suburbs, the Terrorways were savants of punk's DIY street ideology. Key tracks: the anthemic ‘Short Haired Rock n' Roll’; the tribute to getting away with bad behaviour of ‘Never Been to Borstal’, and the storming cover of Ray Columbus's ‘She's a Mod’.

Proud Scum
Fronted by the engaging Jonathan Jamrag (ex-Rooter) who pretty much encapsulated
the mad spirit of the times. Proud Scum’s spray-painted graffiti may have caused them to be mistaken for a gang, but they were a consistently- great live band with fine songs in ‘I Am a Rabbit’ and ‘Suicide’.

The Spelling Mistakes
Formed in May 1979 from the ashes of two Zwines bands, Get Smart and The Aliens. Lead singer Nick Hanson was always hyperactive fun, and guitarist Warwick Fowler added a strong musical backbone (despite his politically-questionable clothes sense). Plenty of humour and smart song-writing in tracks like ‘Reena’ and ‘Feel So Good’.

An example of post-punk exploration formed in 1980 with the enigmatic Jed Town
and his medically inspired graphics pushing boundaries. The band also had
ex-Terrorway Chris Orange on bass. Well-known tracks include ‘City Scenes’ and
‘Victim’. They still sound like the future.


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