It was Jim Moss and his Wellington answer to the South Island’s Flying Nun and Auckland’s Ripper or Propeller Records and yet it was totally different. Those other labels had their own style or ethos whereas Jayrem would release any type of music in any given genre – from the Upper Hutt Posse to the Body Electric to Flesh-D-Vice. Jim also released reggae and roots music here from overseas through the label and moved a hell of a lot of records. It was like a clearing house.
After the Spines put out Punch/Your Body Stays on Ripper, Wendy and I recruited Ross Burge on drums and toured the country with the Body Electric to promote it. By the end of that tour Ripper was no more, Wendy had joined the Body Electric and the Spines were now on the Jayrem label – even though I didn’t actually have a band as such.
It was complicated. Wendy was working for Jayrem and still my mate but couldn’t play on the Spines record I was going to do next. I had met Greg Bryce and talked to Jim about recording in Auckland at Last Laugh studio with Greg producing and just me layering guitars and vocals it turned out pretty well and we released it as a six-song EP Act Your Age. Jim liked the first track – the Lions but didn’t do much to promote his records and it kind of sank.
By the end of 1984 Wendy and Ross had returned and the Spines were playing live again and ready to record a full album. Neill Duncan was playing with us on sax and he keyed up a two week period at Capture Studios in Gisborne where we recorded the Moon with Maurice Priestly.
When I think about our years with Jayrem it feels like it was always summer, always hot and sweaty – recording and playing live, that is the abiding memory. All the gear in the back of Ross’s Escort van, swimming and cricket, strange time signatures and the funky groove.
Like Bryan from Ripper, Jim gave us total artistic freedom and he trusted his artists – though I must admit he and I never really connected on any level. It was fine when Ross, Wendy or Neill, with their huge personalities, were around but for some reason he just wanted to beat me over the head with low record sales figures when we were alone.
It all came to a head when we were filming a video with Brian Kassler for Lily and I and about to do some Summer City performances. I went in to see him about some record company support and he hit the roof. He got really angry and talked to me in a way that crossed a line that never should get crossed for any reason. It was one of those rare times in my life where something has taken over and I’ve stood up and said “nah fuck this – you don’t talk to me like that no matter who you are” and walked away.
I wrote a letter to Roger Shepherd that same day and we high-tailed it to Flying Nun…