I’d love to claim that punk and post-punk music is what encouraged me to pick up a guitar and join a band, but that’s just not the case.
Punk and post-punk let me know I could be in a band. I’d wanted to play in a band way before this, spurred on by the bands I was listening to while too young to buy my own records. As a young kid I loved Queen, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and many more. Top of the heap were Boston, in fact, they still are. Listening to these bands is what really made me want to be in a band, but as time went on I knew the musical ability to play like them was beyond me……then came punk rock.
The global punk explosion was acutely felt in New Zealand. The Sex Pistols ushered in the biggest shift in homegrown music since Elvis and The Beatles and this, combined with the Kiwi DIY attitude led to a musical revolution. New Zealand would become Noiseyland.
The Gordons were right at the forefront of this new DIY noise-rock movement. The three members, Gordon (John Halvorsen, vocals, bass/guitar), Gordon (Alister Parker, vocals, bass/guitar) and Gordon (Brent McLachlan, drums) emerged from other bands in the late 1970’s Christchurch pub rock scene. Coming together in March 1980 they quickly whipped up a set of originals that bridged the gap between Gang of Four and Joy Division and would pave the way for bands like Sonic Youth.
By November 1980 the band had recorded and self released their debut 7” EP, ‘Future Shock’.
The song Adults and Children from this EP captures the band at their catchy, frantic best. Just over two minutes of hypnotic bass interspersed with flailing noisy guitar and lyrics taken from the back of a cough syrup bottle! The EP didn’t set the charts on fire but it did start to energise a scene that would birth a number of highly influential bands and record labels (Flying Nun anyone?).
The Gordons toured hard playing whenever and wherever possible, all the while developing a growing set of songs, some of which would end up on their debut full length release in 1981. This eponymous release would receive critical acclaim by becoming Ripitup Magazine’s ‘Album of the Year’ for 1981.
The band split up shortly after receiving this accolade but did reform with an altered lineup in 1983 for the release of their second and final album ‘Volume 2’.
The original Gordons lineup would end up finding real success later in the 80’s as Bailter Space, a shoegaze/noiserock band that was based in America and has been described as the ‘Southern Hemisphere Sonic Youth’.
If you’re a music lover who wants to take up an instrument but feels daunted just have a listen to ‘Adults and Children’ by the Gordons and realise that nothing is stopping you. Plug in, turn it up, bash out a couple of chords and shout out the instructions from a bottle of cough syrup, if it worked for the Gordons it might just work for you!