The Spines came to it after being disillusioned at Jayrem. I’d met Roger Shepherd several times over the years at gigs and he’d always expressed interest in the band so it was a no-brainer. I thought it would be a really good fit, having met and played alongside a lot of their bands and it would give them a stronger Wellington connection.
Roger was great to deal with and let us just get on and record the album Idiot Sun. That line-up had been together a few years by then and we delivered a quite unique piece of work I thought – it certainly didn’t sound like any other Flying Nun or New Zealand band of the day and it was a pretty good document of the experimental way we were taking our music.
By the time we recorded the follow up, the Miscreant, Roger had left the label and that album was not released – it all went south you could say.
Although my songwriting differed substantially from the other writers on Flying Nun, I truly did feel a kinship with the core bands and felt we had that same ethos and came from a similar place but something went missing along the way and we were annexed.
Some years later I met Carey Hibbert and we became firm friends
Carey was something of a genius. At the time I met him he was drafting law at the Beehive and walking in the corridors of power. He had grown up in Dunedin and had been an influential part of that scene before Flying Nun ever existed and was still close friends with all the major players – Martin Phillipps, Shayne Carter and David Kilgour had all been the best men at his wedding to the lovely Catherine Povey.
The three of us were at a strange time in our lives and we had to look after each other. I remember endless nights when Carey would tell the whole family tree of the people behind the music that developed out of Dunedin in those years. I would sit on their couch and just soak in the wonderful anecdotes and he introduced me to the music itself from that insider’s perspective.
We both remained outsiders in a curious way though and he wound up taking his own life.
There was one day when I was painting their house, I brought my Idiot Sun album around to play on his turntable at lunchtime and when You Seem To Be Happy came on I started bawling my eyes out. Carey came home unexpectedly from work and caught me. We sat on his couch and listened to the song over and over and he understood.
I know he wrote a lot of those stories down and I know I’ll write more about him and our strange relationship.