After Negative Theatre and the play Gimme Shelter I started playing with Barton Price (drums) and Jonathan Schwartz (bass). We didn’t get as far as a name when they were snaffled off by The Crocodiles – a recurring theme through the 80s with the Spines.
I was still at the art centre and so were the Hot City Cats, a pro jazz swing band. Caroline Easther (drums) and Rob Mahoney (bass) were the rhythm section and we started jamming my songs.
They were serious musicians and I had to raise my game. A new song every practice it was like they challenged me to write. I was still playing my Ovation acoustic but amped up through my shiny new Rockit Pro Chap 60. We got a big sound.
We kept arguing over the name – we had nothing really.
Our first gig was a lunchtime rave at Victoria University Student Union Hall during Orientation week – three other bands (all of them had names but I can’t remember them). Malcolm McSporran was to introduce us – he came up to me as we were about to start and said
“What do I call you?”
I looked down at the song list and the third song was called The Spines
We got a lot of gigs around town and we met Bryan Staff and Ripper Records. By this time Neill Duncan (sax) had joined us and we were in our ska phase.
Fishing was recorded at EMI studios in Petone with Frank Douglas. Four songs – It’s All Inane, Sideways, Gillian and Fishing. Hard to listen to now but it did get some traction; we got to make a video for Radio With Pictures.
Bryan, Brent Hanson and Simon Morris put it together. At the start of the vid we have a Fishing poster that catches fire – like the beginning of Bonanza and I am supposed to come through a door lip-synching the song. We only get one take due to budget. So I’m waiting for my cue and they have forgotten to turn the monitors on. The door opens and I look a bit surprised then the sound comes on – half way through the first line.
That original line-up developed into a great live band. Rob played relentless fretless and was hilarious. Caroline played powerhouse drums and sang harmony and was beautiful. They were strong personalities as well as being brilliant players and we kept evolving the sound. We played some memorable shows – Brown Trout, Not The Royal Wedding, a big festival in Masterton with DD Smash and The Knobz. We played all those legendary early 80s Wellington venues – Last Resort, Terminus, Electric Ballroom, The Rock Theatre/Billy The Club, Chips…
Then Caroline went off and joined Beat Rhythm Fashion, The Verlaines and The Chills…