The creator of legendary Wellington club nights Atomic and 24 Hour Party People, Bill E has been getting crowds dancing to New Wave and synth pop for over 20 years. For NZ Music month he's playing a banging all-local set at Wellington's San Fran. He dropped in to pick some choice local cuts, especially for RNZ Music.
Bill's eclectic sets have been a staple of Wellington nightlife since he and a friend started playing their late 70s and 80s record collections at Bar Bodega’s original Willis Street location in 1996.
Now, he’s finally'“got enough records and courage' to do an exclusively New Zealand music night called See Me Go specialising an era of music he thinks has been overlooked.
“A lot of the focus of that kind of early 80s New Zealand music is on Flying Nun, but there was actually a lot of great stuff that actually wasn’t on Flying Nun, around Propeller, Ripper and Reaction records ... There’s a lot of great music around.”
Bill E shares five of his favourites:
1. Screaming Meemees - See Me Go
The thing about ‘See Me Go’ was it was the first New Zealand single to enter the charts at number one. It sold 500 12-inches and 4,000 7-inch records in about 24 hours. It was a breakthrough single that showed you could independently release a record in New Zealand and it would chart.
There was a buzz around that Screaming Meemees’ record coming out, I remember [people] going out on the day it was released to buy it. At the time it felt like the kids had won.
Really the student radio stations were all there was [for hearing local music]. You’d maybe get Split Enz on mainstream radio but you’d have to hunt [local music] out yourself. So you either had to see bands live or student radio - if you were lucky enough to live in a town with a student radio station.”
The Instigators - Hope She’s Alright’
This is a fantastic track. They were only around for a short time: 1981-82. They were an Auckland ska punk band led by Sonya Waters. They were relatively obscure. They obviously couldn’t be played on the radio, but they could still play gigs and make some money and put a record out.
The Instigators came out of the punk rock thing where walls were shattered down and people could play their own music on their own labels and sing their own songs about their own experiences: ‘Hope She’s Alright’ is about a murdered sex worker in Auckland.
It was an outcome of that whole punk rock movement, really which then kinda opened the vistas of music.
Editor's note: 'Hope She’s Alright' appears on the Bigger Than The Both of Us compilation, which Bill E reckons is the one record you should own if you want to find out what was happening in local music between 1979-1982.
Freudian Slips - Don't Look Up
Freudian Slips were an all-female band from Auckland. They were bringing feminism and politics into their music in a great way that started opening up opportunities for people to be more political. They were good live.
This was a post -punk time, a lot of reggae influences were creeping into music. It seems New Zealand bands just kinda picked up on that. I guess at the time these records came out it was the early 80s so The Specials, The Beat and everything else were pretty big.
Danse Macabre - Between the Lines
They were the classic post-punk doom and gloom. New Zealand’s answer to Joy Division. Led by Nigel Russell, who was in The Spelling Mistakes, one of the early punk bands in Auckland. These guys did it fantastically. One of my faves of all time.
Anything Could Happen - The Clean
This is Bill’s sure-fire dancefloor hit. He knows that this song 'should work at any time' he needs to get his dancers up and moving: “This is a fantastic song.”