When the second wave of Flying Nun bands (Straitjacket Fits, Snapper, JPS Experience…) hit in the latter half of the eighties, I would often do solo support when they passed through Wellington. It made sense; I was on the label with the Spines and could offer up a strong set on my own with no fuss – just turn up with my Gretsch and plug in to the guitarist’s amp.
I always enjoyed the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience – these four really talented individuals with a big dense sound and good songs and it was a pleasure to hang out with them after the shows and get to know them. I had a bit in common with each of them in different ways through theatre and the arts as well as music. I thought they had huge potential.
Towards the end of the decade my friend Peter Tait had written a short film called The Rise and Rise of the Kumera Chip and he wanted me to play one of the characters – “Mr Inch”, a strange grumpy old man who collected shells and smoked on the toilet. I went to Auckland for several weeks for the shoot and to work on the soundtrack as well – I recorded a really nice version of my song The Desert Road with Mark Austin producing and “Mrs Inch” (Helen Adams) playing violin.
The JPS Experience was playing at the Powerstation one night and I went to see them. They were a powerful band by this stage and had a big crowd but they were arguing during the set I noticed. I went backstage and caught up and we all went to a big after-party – they were still quarrelling in the car on the way there. The party went on for hours and everyone got trashed – I wound up trading songs with Jim on acoustic guitars and then I suddenly remembered that I had to be on set first thing in the morning for Mr Inch’s toilet scene.
I had to go and Jim asked if I’d be OK. I said yeah and that I just had to get back to Ross Burge’s place where I was staying and sleep it off. Half way up the road I realised I didn’t have a clue where I was. There were three guys in a group up ahead and I asked them for directions to Ponsonby. One of them punched me in the ribs and pushed me to the ground, they took my wallet and just left me there.
I somehow managed to find the house by dawn and I crashed for about an hour, borrowed enough money for a cab and headed for where we were filming my big scene. The taxi had to stop several times so I could vomit out on the street.
My memories of the shoot are a bit vague but I do remember sitting there on the toilet and then having to turn around, throw up between takes – it lent a certain credibility to the Mr Inch character I thought.
The JPSE spit up not long after that I heard and I never did see Jim again.