Radio with Pictures - John Cale and Tall Dwarfs

Television, 1983 (Excerpts)

Former Velvet Underground member John Cale’s first visit to New Zealand in 1983 is marked with this Radio with Pictures special. Indie legends Tall Dwarfs opened for Cale, and part of their performance is captured too. The venue is Christchurch's Hillsborough Tavern, where the cameras catch Cale's intense solo readings of classic songs including VU's ‘Waiting for the Man’, and Cale’s own ‘Leaving it up to You’. The Welshman also reflects briefly on his early years in New York, meeting Lou Reed, and his then most recent album, Music For a New Society.

Artist

Tall Dwarfs

After playing together in The Enemy and Toy Love, Chris Knox and Alex Bathgate decided to leave mainstream music behind. The underground lo-fi pioneers made do without a drummer, instead using household objects and handclaps as percussion. 1981 EP Three Songs marked the first of over a dozen releases by the duo, including one (1994's 3 EPs) where they invited fans to send them backing tracks. In 2009 Knox had a stroke. Benefit album Stroke demonstrated the global influence of both Knox and Tall Dwarfs; it included tracks from Yo La Tengo and Will Oldham. Tall Dwarfs also contributed a track.

Collection

The Chris Knox Collection

Curated by Roger Shepherd

Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, cartoonist, critic, filmmaker, and jandal wearer. As this collection demonstrates, his genius takes flight in the DIY aesthetic of his music videos. As Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd says in his backgrounder, “this is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free-wheeling imagination”. Russell Brown adds his view here. Alongside music videos, the collection also includes interviews with Knox and profiles of bands Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs.

Interview

John Callen: The distinctive voice behind Oin the Dwarf…

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Actor and director John Callen has a voice that is hard to forget. Callen has appeared in a number of TV shows and films including Close to Home, The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and, more recently, The Hobbit. His directing credits include Shortland Street, and the documentary series Epitaph and Taonga.

Interview

Mark Hadlow: From a teenage bully to a troll and a dwarf…

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Actor Mark Hadlow first appeared on our TV screens as a teenage bully in Children of Fire Mountain. Later he worked alongside Ilona Rodgers and Billy T James in the sitcom version of The Billy T James Show. His flair for comedy earned him starring roles in the film Just Me and Mario, and TV series Willy Nilly. Hadlow has worked twice with director Peter Jackson – first providing voices to a range of characters in Meet the Feebles, and then playing both a dwarf and a troll in The Hobbit trilogy.

Collection

The Peter Jackson Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Peter Jackson has gone from shy fanboy to master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood. With six journeys into Middle-earth now behind him, he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking. Led by early 'behind the scenes' docos this collection pays tribute to PJ's journey, from re-making King Kong in his backyard to err ... re-making King Kong in his backyard. 

Nothing's Going To Happen

Tall Dwarfs, Music Video, 1981

Chris Knox mines his immediate, 1981-era surroundings for this elaborate stop-motion clip. Record players go crazy, sleeping bags swallow people, and hardly anyone on screen seems to have a face. On the telly are Springboks and protests, plus the Ready to Roll top 20 countdown. And all this unravels a full two decades before editing programme Final Cut Pro made homespun hip again, and directors like Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep) started popularising the craft aesthetic. 

Phil's Disease (Day 4)

Tall Dwarfs, Music Video, 1984

Being one of Tall Dwarfs’ more experimental tracks, it probably makes sense that the accompanying video would be as perplexing. Chris Knox shows his penchant for bizarre DIY animation as line drawings of creatures morph into lines of lyrics, then into human figures who keep losing their heads. The song itself does little to provide any easy answers, the minimal vocals rumbling out of a swamp of muddy riffs. Both 'Disease Day' songs appeared on 1984 EP Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster, which website All Music called "another chillingly perfect gem". 

Gluey Gluey

Tall Dwarfs, Music Video, 1998

Gluey Gluey is an ode to snot and other gross bodily functions - and the clip illustrates this theme with disgusting relish. Like a Roald Dahl story imagined with song: giant nose-picking shots, snot eating, underpants itching, and more. Not for hygiene freaks or the generally faint-hearted.

Phil's Disease (Day 1)

Tall Dwarfs, Music Video, 1984

A simple line drawing animation for this little ditty from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP. The video features smoking sharks, animated versions of the Slugbucket character, Alec Bathgate, and Chris Knox himself. It’s fitfully low-tech as usual, but the clip still manages to use correct apostrophes throughout!