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February 20, 2006 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Chris Knox and the Nothing

Chris Knox needs no introduction. But we’ll indulge the slow kids.

Born in 1952 in Invercargill, Chris Knox went from being a chronically masturbating university drop-out in Dunedin, working a string of ‘very boring occupations’, taking lots of acid and heckling bands, to fronting New Zealand’s first original punk outfit, The Enemy. After two years of terrifying audiences the length of the country, in 1979 The Enemy morphed into Toy Love, a new-wave punk act which garnered an impressive fan-base for its unpredictable live shows and would just as quickly be shafted by bad management choices and a torturous stint in Australia. Following the collapse of Toy Love, Knox began recording his own solo experiments with a four-track he had purchased with cash bequeathed to him. Consequently he (and the now infamous four track) would be responsible for chronicling some of the classic Flying Nun recordings of the 80’s, forcing Knox to appear on our television screens every New Zealand music month to recall that chequered era in local music. Those recordings, and the albums made with Alec Bathgate as the Tall Dwarfs, inadvertently invented the lo-fi independent aesthetic that would come to characterise indie-rock.

Best known perhaps for his song ‘Not Given Lightly’, which was voted as New Zealand’s ninth best song of all time, by APRA members in 2001. A love song written for his wife Barbara, this track never became a huge hit on its release though it has belatedly generated some income for Knox (and a lot of requests for him to play at weddings) through its use in television advertising, and was later covered by the Australian pop band Frente.

A prolific songwriter, he acknowledges the last few years have offered ‘slim pickings’. His latest original offerings being his solo effort Beat from 2000 and the Tall Dwarfs’ 2003 Sky Above, Mud Below, an album of collaborations. In 2005 Flying Nun reissued the Tall Dwarf albums Weeville and Fork Songs while the Toy Love album was finally made available on CD with the addition of a superior disc of alternate recordings, meeting with much critical adoration and joyous celebration. Of late, Knox has concentrated on his original first love, film, hosting classic movie show The Vault for TVNZ and contributing DVD reviews and cartoons to Real Groove, The Listener, On Film, Mac Guide & the Herald.

Sadly these reviews have eaten up a lot of his time, but he has found moments to enjoy ‘hundreds of Beatles bootlegs’ plus the latest from Dave Pajo, The Akron Family and Ryan McPhun & The Ruby Suns. Between playing a few Tall Dwarf shows here and there, he now has a new

live band; The Nothing, which includes Stefan Nevile (Pumice) on drums & Jol Mulholland (guitarist/singer/songwriter) from the Gasoline Cowboys on bass & Roy Martyn (Baratone). They recently opened for Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy when he played the Sawmill Café in Leigh and, following their orientation show, will be heading off to Austin, Texas to play at the annual South By Southwest industry showcase/gangbang. An album is in the works Describing The Nothing online pharmacy as currently being akin to ‘the Beatles in Hamburg’, Knox assures his band is hungry to prove its worth and promises ‘a moment in musical history’. The band being very similar to the Beatles ‘in every way except the songs’. He is looking forward to playing for a ‘good and raucous student audience’, claiming they usually make for the best shows. He expressed concern that the early time of the gig would mean nobody would be drunk yet. But as the end of his set will kick off The Capital Punishment ’06 Pub Crawl, I suspect he has little to worry about.

Chris Knox & The Nothing will be attending the noon protest against fee rises on the Hunter Lawn on Thursday the 9th of March. So So Modern will kick off the music at 4pm. Capital Punishment commences at 6pm.


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