“Journalists looking back at the early years of Flying Nun generally make two mistakes. One is to think that the main creative impetus came from Dunedin, when in reality there was as much if not more really memorable music coming from Christchurch, the town that actually gave birth to the label. The other mistake is to think that the music being made was simply a direct response to what was hip in the post-punk music of the day” Bruce Russell, ‘Time to Go’, Flying Nun Records

In 1980 Christchurch a loose collective of like-minded musical mis-fits assembled, many from the nucleus of Wellington band The Spies, a band which had coalesced from people drawn to Wellington from the provinces – Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch and beyond. The And Band and Perfect Strangers shared members and gear, often played together and were often banned together from live venues in Christchurch. You can read more about their adventures here in some old blog entries The And Band’s George D. Henderson originally posted on MySpace which were fortunately appropriated onto The Axemen’s website (fortunate because all this stuff is lost from the revamped commercial MySpace platform now).

Just prior to Flying Nun Records starting in Christchurch they managed to record and release a split 7″ EP. It appears that no more than 200 were pressed, and split between the two bands. It is now one of the rarest slices of NZ vinyl. Both bands were ‘punk’ in the very loosest sense of the word. In The And Band’s case, a very avant-garde experimental psychedelic type of punk, or, more correctly now – post-punk. They were drop-outs from literature and philosophy study and, like Scritti Politti in the UK, they took their influence as much from the post-psychedelic experimentalists of the 1970s (eg: Slapp Happy, Henry Cow, Syd Barrett, Robert Wyatt, Faust etc.) as they did from late 70s punk.

The footage in this was shot on Super 8 movie film at the Christchurch Art Centre by a person unknown in 1980. The song ‘We Are Right’ (track A2 on The And Band side of the 7″) was recorded late 1980 and released early 1981. The musicians are George D. Henderson (guitar), Susan M Ellis (Vocals, keyboards), Mark Thomas (drums) and Richard Sedger (Bass). If you are into archival internet digging there’s more material on The Axemen website, including this digitised tape by The And Band.
The And Band 7 EP
I never saw The Spies or The And Band play. But I was familiar with their music, being the recipient of regular cassette tapes from my older brother George D. Henderson, guitarist & songwriter of both The Spies and The And Band (and now, of course, The Puddle). He would compile their best recordings and forward these on to me, wherever I was in the world at that time. Strange little audio postcards from home.

Growing up amongst the music of The Spies and The And Band should help explain why I immediately understood and loved the music of Opposite Sex when I first saw them play, and why I wanted to record them and then release their extraordinary album. It’s not that they sound much alike, just that they depart from convention and play odd time signatures, melodies and incorporate diverse influences into their music – breaking many of the accepted rules of pop music in the process. Subversive pop.