Formed in the early 1980s and led by Matthew Bannister, Sneaky Feelings' seminal jangly guitar sound and layered vocals were influenced by the Byrds and the Beatles. The band's name comes from a song by Elvis Costello, ‘Sneaky Feelings’, (from his 1977 debut album My Aim Is True). Feeling's biggest hit was 1985 single ‘Husband House’. After the demise of the band in 1989, Bannister moved to Auckland where he founded the Dribbling Darts. He also wrote a book about his experiences during the heyday of Flying Nun - Positively George Street.
"The season's old and the leaves have turned to gold / And the wind blows cold from the south ..." The song is mournful, dreamy and elegiac, and so is the music video, from Steve Young. The clip features amiably laidback performances by the band members, hanging out in various Dunedin locations — including synchronised guitar dancing (a la the Shadows) on a wintry-looking beach: grey clouds, pale blue sky and a charming "out now on Flying Nun" drawn in the sand as the closing shot. The orange $50 note in the busking bowl is a notable 80s relic.
The South Tonight was a Dunedin-filmed regional news show. In these excerpts, Martin Phillipps and The Chills return home from London, and find album Submarine Bells is number one; legendary local band Sneaky Feelings play a last gig; Velvet Underground muse Nico plays Orientation Week; a ball is filmed at Larnach Castle for TV series Hanlon; rhododendron nuts ramble at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, and Jim Mora visits the Danseys Pass Hotel. Finally there’s a survey of dingy student digs circa 1985 (when rents went as low as $14 a week).
RWP reporter/director Brent Hansen (later head of MTV Europe) visits the South Island: checking venues, talking to local luminaries, catching live bands and generally taking the pulse of the local music scene. Flying Nun is on the rise (and just starting to attract international attention) although none of the label's major acts are playing near the RWP cameras. Christchurch is in flux waiting on the next big pop act to emerge, while Dunedin is a hive of activity with a new generation of Flying Nun acts starting to come through. Then there's Crystal Zoom...
This documentary tells the story of the legendary Flying Nun music label up to its 21st birthday. The label became associated with the 'Dunedin Sound': a catch-all term for a sprawl of DIY, post-punk, warped, jangly guitar-pop. The Guardian: "[it's] as if being on the other side of the world meant the music was played upside down". Features interviews with founder Roger Shepherd and many key players, the spats and the glory. The label's influence on the US indie scene is noted, and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus covers The Verlaines' 'Death and the Maiden'.
A fresh-faced Hugh Sundae interviews New Zealand’s own punk renaissance man Chris Knox, in this 2002 episode from TV2’s late night music show Space. Sundae quizzes Knox about a soon to be aired documentary celebrating Kiwi music label Flying Nun’s 21st birthday; Knox seems bemused (or abashed) that the documentary’s "first 20 minutes" focusses on him. Sundae knows the documentary well — he narrated it. Knox is at his mercurial best, batting off questions about his prolific output and berating the studio audience for applauding tales of "violence and anger”.
When Dunedin's iconic Sneaky Feelings met its demise in the late 1980s, frontman Matthew Bannister founded folk-pop act Dribbling Darts Of Love (later known as Dribbling Darts). Bringing Alice Bulmer and Alan Gregg on board, the trio released their first album, Florid Dabblers Voting/Shoot in 1991. The group's second album, Present Perfect - featuring top 40 hit 'Hey Judith' (1994) - enlisted former Sneaky Feelings drummer Ross Burge, who was playing with Gregg in the Mutton Birds at the time.
Look Blue Go Purple were part of Flying Nun’s ‘second wave’ (along with Doublehappys, The Verlaines and Sneaky Feelings). Formed in 1983 in a Dunedin practice room under a motorcycle shop, the band developed a distinctive style as they layered vocal harmonies, keyboards (and even flute) over trademark Dunedin guitar strum and backbeat. They released three EPs before calling it a day. Though they'd made a conscious call to play with other women, LBGP never labelled themselves as a “feminist” or “girl” band, and grew tired of endlessly asked about gender in interviews. “Gender has nothing to do with it.”
Steve La Hood began directing on soap opera Close to Home, and went on to direct tele-play Swimming Lessons, Bruno Lawrence documentary Numero Bruno and episodes of Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. He also produced ground-breaking series The Marching Girls. These days he creates multimedia attractions around the globe with company Story Inc, alongside James McLean.
Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, animator, writer, cartoonist, and filmmaker. The former punk shaman has brought an energetic eclecticism to his work no matter what medium it forms in, and showcased his gift for DIY-style animation in many of the videos that accompany his music.