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For Flying Nun’s 30th Birthday celebrations, we asked Music 101 listeners for their memories of the gigs, records, and culture surrounding the label. Here’s a selection of their stories.
I'd just bought "Boodle, Boodle, Boodle", the Clean EP. I was seventeen years old. I raced home to my flat in Greymouth, which was populated by Doobie Brothers and Bob Dylan fans. (puke). I said to the brother of one of the flatmates, "You've gotta hear this. This is history in the making". He listened, he frowned, he rolled his eyes and then said, "That's terrible. Put something else on." As he reached for 'The Eagles' Hotel California, I knew I was completely right. They were stuck in the past. I was moving into the future.
My abiding memory of the early flying nun days was spending months trying desperately to get hold of their records when I was programme director for Radio Active in 1982. Through a friend of a friend of a friend I heard that a guy who worked at The Dominion handled their distribution in the North Island. I finally got the name and set up a meet. The deal was done and at last we had a connection. They kept Active supplied with a stack of Dunedin double-EPs and other goodies from then on....Best moment though was Martin Phillips popping into the studio to play us the tape of Pink Frost while Salient worked on the artwork for the 7" cover down the corridor... Un-forgettable.
Pete - Auckland
One of my fondest Flying Nun memories was dancing wildly at a Clean reunion concert some years ago at the Kings Arms with another flying Nun legend beside me. Mr. Chris Knox.A night which had a wonderful friendly and frantic atmosphere.
Ian Henderson (The Puddle)
1. Seeing Straitjacket Fits open for Jesus & Mary Chain at Sammy’s in Dunedin just after they had released the Life in One Chord EP and blowing the dour Scots off the stage with their power and passion.
2. Buying Flying Nun Records releases in shops in NZ and sending them to John Peel in the UK because Flying Nun Records were so completely useless at getting their music to him to play on his show. Highlights were hearing my copy of JPSE's Precious 7" played on his BBC World Service programme and then getting a thank-you postcard from the great man.
3. Getting free Flying Nun Records from Roger (and Hamish and Chris and Bruce Russell) to review
for The Southland Times with notes and Chris Knox cartoons scribbled on the boxes.
4. Designing the labels for The Puddle's Pop Lib mini-album and not realising record labels had catalogue numbers so giving it a PUD01 catalogue number which stuffed up FNR's catalogue numbering forever.
My now husband and I were in a campground in Ambroise by the Loire. Pouring with rain and were sitting in a car after the obligatory bottle of vin ordinarie. Tuned into a student radio, the announcer mentioned "Flying Nun played le Verlaines, then le Jean Paul Sartre Experience. Going to see The Chills in London and seeing the Christchurch Gladstone crowd again transposed. Such a lovely way Flying Nun would move around the world with you.
I first saw the Puddle back in about 1990/91, in the tiny upstairs bar of the Empire Tavern. At the time I thought that they were the worst band I'd ever seen. Actually, that night they probably were. But after seeing them (by default, as part of multi-band gigs) they soon became one of my favourite bands. Admittedly that was with a new line up, formed following George's release after a stint inside for an escapade involving a Chemist Shop. A marginally more stable line up combined with George's great pop/rock songwriting to make them a compelling live act with an enthusiastic and friendly group of followers.It's great to see GDH and The Puddle back and playing in these last few years - and putting out albums!
Liz - Kaukapakapa
Many Flying Nun memories but my all-time favourite is my partner applying to be part of Martin Phillips band. He sent the application then was sent a hand written reply asking to supply a photo to check that he didn't look like an "axe-wielding murderer"!!! My music collection includes the gorgeous records of the early Nun releases. When I went overseas I sold everything but my record collection and left it in the tender care of my folks. It lives today!! Thanks for the memories. The sounds of the Nun and Karen Hay brought tears to my ears.
I think one of my best memories is of going with a car load of friends down to Dunedin circa 1984 to witness a double-header - The Verlaines and The Chills at the (in)famous Captain Cook pub - the Chills were playing again (after considering throwing it in) following the death (to cancer) of drummer Martyn Bull in '83 - the line-up that recorded the Rolling Moon / Flamethrower single. Just as well they did (come back) - it was a fabulous night. I recall the 'full' signs were up so to get in, I had to slip in through a fire escape window! Both bands were arguably playing at their peak live intensity at the time. Chills line up featured another Martin, Martin Kane - who went on to form Stereolab.
I have a copy of the first record released by Flying Nun. It’s called Ambivalence and it’s by the Pin Group. It has a hand screen printed cover and is stamped FN 001, great track. I think I paid $2 for it, not sure what it would be worth now...
My partner has a collection of 45s and first release Flying Nun songs in a box in the garage. No way am I allowed near his records. He has never really forgiven me for selling a collection of his early 80s band posters in a garage sale when I was in cull mode.
Caroline - Christchurch
Excitedly holding my copy of The Witch by 25 cents, having just heard you say itshandmade cover is a Ronnie van Hout! One side has the song and band details in fading coloured felt pen, the other 3 colour print of a cowboy with head bent over a cigarette. Great, rough primal song. Bought it as a young'un. Wouldn't sell it but middle-aged me would love to show it off at an Antiques Roadshow!
Karen – Auckland
Two enduring memories. Buying records from roger shepherd in a Christchurch record shop in the early 80s .. I, then a shy indie-obsessed 17 year old, thought he was very cool ..And then living in London, circa 1992, still remember hearingthe awesome sound of the fits first album featured on John Peel's Radio One show one night, and the shock and pride i felt when i heard him say they were from New Zealand.. 20 years later, still a Shayne Carter devotee.. thanks for all the music Roger and bands ..48 now, married and a mum, but she still 'speeds' !P.s and i still have my cherished vinyl 'Boodle, Boodle, Boodle' EP bought in 1981 or 82 from Mr. Shepherd in said Christchurch record store...god bless The Clean' ..Hearing all this stuff makes the years melt away ..must dust them off and fire up the turntable..
I am a vinyl addict and always trawl the Opshops for good Flying Nun scores and very rarely my wee heart nearly pounds through my Polyprop clad chest as I find a scratched ex library Nun album but one day at a Wellington Oppy where the records were $1 each 2 my utter disbelief i found about 10 classic Nun albums! Let’s just say i had to go home and have a shower afterwards. The lovely shop owner knew what they were worth and still maintained her normal price. What a good nana.
Growing up in Dunedin in the 80s I felt out of place(+time)loving electronic sound - but looking back Flying Nun was my roots my blues my country my culture…
I saw Straitjacket Fits filming she speeds in Lyttelton Tunnel
She speeds takes me back to straight jacket fits tour of the U.K. in 93 and dancing like crazy to sadly a very empty dance floor. They rocked!
I remember we used to go see The Verlaines and Sneaky Feelings at The Dunedin Music Club in St Andrews St, we were all under age for booze, but we always managed to score cheap bottles of Chardon fizzy wine and drink it thru straws then dance like loonies in frenzy to these great bands.
Hank - Canterbury
Waiting outside Colin Morris records (Wgtn) before work to pick up latest Nun 45's and EPs. Seeing the Stones (Wayne Elsey) two nights running at Cosgroves in Wgtn and knowing i was definitely living in the wrong town for music!
We would sneak In to bars like the Euro Empire + Cook not to drink but catch the bands
Fetus Productions, Dancing Toys + the Stones... getting booked was always the fear... the loudest band i ever heard was Snapper, we were pressed against the back wall by the soundwaves. The Dunedinsound gave those growing up in Dunedin in the 80s a mechanism to believe, express themselves above alcohol+cover groups... maybe no one remembers but that energy found friends...
One of the great Rock 'n' Roll stories, full of big personalities, high ideals, opportunities both seized and lost, and a soundtrack to die for because, in the end, (as in the beginning) Flying Nun is all about the music.
The Classic Flying Nun EPs
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