If you were to tell me in 2011 that Tauranga Music Sux would have lasted this long then I would have laughed in your pathetic still living at home with the parents , suffocating student debt suffering, alcohol reddened, vape wheezin', sun blistered, weed smokin' droopy eyed faces. TMS was nothing but a mere folly to keep me sane before fleeing this 2 star retirement home for opportunities more be fitting of someone with a rare Tauranga intangible those in other more prosperous areas label as 'motivation' and or 'hope'.
Yet here I am near a decade later living in the same house I started it all in like some bad Ian Mackaye tribute, living my life week to week, month to month to lose money putting on shows I now abhor doing seemingly in order to get everyone 'run from your personal problems' tragically drunk.
Living in Tauranga in 2011 and having an IQ above 100 meant that I was already not of this norm. Coupling a slightly above average intelligence with a thirst for culture made me a completely isolated figure. The first Tauranga Music Sux zine (Which I presume none of you even remember because all the TMS originals either wisely left or retired long ago) was a call to arms for people like myself. Those sick of living in Tauranga and having no one to play or listen to punk music with, no interesting gigs to attend and no like minded souls with similar tastes to talk shit about and just be with. For $1 a zine available only from perennial patsy Stefan Braunias at Tracs you could enter this new club but only if you were one of us. I could hear your cries of loneliness from the deepest of deeps and you heard mine.
Love makes the world go around but hate is the axis on which it turns. And with our combined hatred for that which was already here we worked to burn it down in order to start a new scene. Not just any scene but one in our own image. No pretension, no expectation, not even talent was a requisite. It would be fun, it would be stupid and as long as you were one of us (oh and we could always tell if you were or weren't) you were always welcome to join in the demolition job.
Long before our ideas were run into the ground with repetition and imitation we built a reputation for ourselves as being the town that did things their way. With a salvo of dick jokes we played in tunnels, under bridges, on mountains, boats, at cemeteries, bowls clubs, yacht clubs, strip clubs, in backyards, toilets, parks, lounges, backyards, theaters, skate parks, churches, next to 5m burning dicks and occasionally even venues. Bands formed from the dust and before long we had a better scene than most cities with decades of incestuous musical history behind them.
Then it all turned. In 2014 TMS passed its best before date. Sure we continued and to this day if you were one of the newer attendees - which oh so many of you are; you would have no idea of this being so but the scene started to go through the motions. Bands began to break up, reconfigure or more scarily even get better. Expectation began to creep in. Pretension reared its ugly head and we became just another scene. Sure we still did what we used to do but the limits had been pushed as far as they could in terms of fearless stupidity. Gone were the days of innovation and in crept its black sheep, banjo strumming, inbred 2nd cousin complacency.
On paper we achieved more after the TMS milk had curdled. Tauranga bands like Super Narco Man, Threat.Meet.Protocol and Flogging a Dead One Horse Town all managed to get national/international airplay and distribution through Muzai records. Infamous and internationally acclaimed acts like Guitar Wolf, King Brothers, David Leibe Hart, King Missile, Supersuckers, Vottones, D4, Grant Hart, Cosmic Psychos etc played TMS events to mixed reviews. And people flocked to events because we became what I never wanted us to be 'hip'.
With 1000's of syphilitic students soon to stampede into this ghost town en masse we are perfectly positioned to transition into a big bucks money making enterprise but that isn't the Tauranga Music Sux way. TMS was proud to be unpopular, forever stuck in the margins looking in, doors closing briskly in our faces. Challenging not just ourselves but the very definition of music and a scene. And above all keeping it interesting for not just ourselves but those who supported us along the way.
Unfortunately it is too late for TMS, it has become what it hates. We are the new status quo. So we must forgo the insurance payment and burn the house down in order to rebuild again.
For too long Tauranga Music Sux has been a crutch for which bands can rest their muscle wasting limbs upon. Like an overbearing parent who does everything for their children only to see them grow up to be adults with an inability to function I apologise for the musicians you have become.
To suck was an essential ingredient in coercing apathetic musicians out of their semen smelling, curtains closed, 3m x 4m childhood bedrooms. By decreeing it ok to be unable to master a musical instrument, singing without tune or writing songs about whatever petulant fancy came to mind meant that people like myself with:
a.) Zero talent
b.) Little self confidence
c.) No style
d.) All of the above
Could unite together under a banner that not only welcomed musical deficiency but lauded it. We were playing to no one but each other, having fun doing so and boy were we proud to suck.
As the years passed those that didn't trade in their guitars for kids, bongs, Playstations and girlfriends actually grew musically and without any irony or hyperbole are members of some of the best kept secrets in NZ music. Unfortunately though it is like the musicians of Tauranga are collectively psychologically scarred. Believing that they still suck and will always suck. Guys, it's ok - you aren't the dirt poor, yet mysteriously overweight child who shat itself in front of all the other kids in class anymore.
Instruments have been mastered. All musical genres consumed. You have gigged and jammed for hours upon hours. Written your worst and now best songs. You are as good as any musician from any other town/country. The only thing stopping you from reaching the next level is yourselves. Put the beer bottle down, stop smoking chop bongs, get a job and keep it, work hard, save harder, stop waking your Mum to pick you up at 3am after your set is finished, believe in yourselves, make plans and stick to them and have confidence. Super Narco Man, I'm talking to YOU! Get your shit together cause your Dad's cutting you off from the trust fund titty....
What does worry me is the lack of new musicians coming through. A scene can only continue as long as it has enough bands to prop things up. With Threat.Meet.Protocol going on a hiatus after their Japan tour, Hemmordroids, Edward Gains and the Human Reamains going on a hipreplacement after their Tauranga suburb tour and Spoonfed, Grown Downz and Diehards of Deepdish essentially just being Super Narco Man extensions our bands are realisticaly made up of 14 people. All exceedingly good. When Tauranga Music Sux started talent was not a requisite. With the original TMP leading the way it was welcomed and expected that the bands of TMS would be a touch inept. This was something that disarmed many, if Stefan and I could happily 'play', 'perform' and still be liked with out having much in the way of musicianship then anyone could do it. Worse you were the better in fact - see Flaming Teabags, Liberated Squid, Slob.
A casual outsider looking in could possibly become overwhelmed by the talent of some of our bands. I know if I were an observer I wouldn't wish to compete or partake as I would feel as though I would have to have some talent, an issue that didn't worry me in 2011. While it would be impossible and or contrived for us to unlearn our instruments in order to revert to the levels of 'have a go' ineptitude we originally embraced we must welcome any new human sacrifices we can. Rubes are the life blood of any scene. If you hear of any one who can play or wishes to learn an instrument that isn't a cum drizzling cunt then please coerce them in to starting a band. Remind them that talent isn't a prerequisite or a necessity. Show them why with a quick guided tour of the history of punk. Hook them up with other untalented yet ingenuous kindred spirits. Give them a gig as soon as they have 4 songs. Tell them you enjoy their stuff even if your face reveals a resounding and conflicting look of distaste and disgust. Go to their gigs, bring your friends, buy their stuff, don't spend their set smoking, give them compliments even if your nose grows doing so. It is what I did for your bands.
Mostly however new bands of our kind must form otherwise Tauranga will quickly regress back to the sorry state it was in pre-TMS times. This is a metal/reggae town, some how I managed to brainwash enough of you to pretend that you were always degenerate punks but without my despotic ways this town is rapidly in danger of being reclaimed by the dross.
"Every great scene has numerous venues where bands can play. Tauranga has 2. They are not great."
For those of you with long memories or unsubstantiated claims of being year one, original TMS'ers you may remember the above aphorisim from Issue 1 of this very zine. Fast forward 7 years and this quote still rings eerily true.
Venues have come and gone... From hipster heaven Major Toms evolution in to the consummate craft beer drinking, family amnesia, Dad bar the Hop House to it's current form as a pile of rubble. The loss of industrial backwater Brewers Bar and bogan cesspool Krazy Jacks near killed the metal scene in Tauranga before low testosterone in Millennials locked and targeted the death blow. The G2, Rosie O' Gradies, The Bach, The Bureta Trust, Crate Bar, Settlers, Armazem, Pap Tav we have had options over the years but in a climate where live music is being replaced by twats with decorative turn tables the need for live houses has diminished. Fortunately those which remain are far better than any of the venues that preceded them.
With the wharfie dive bar that was Brewers Bar being turned into a family feed bag Totara Street has been able to fill a much needed void in the Tauranga music climate by hosting national and international bands that would have otherwise avoided Tauranga and specifically Brewers Bar for fear of catching Hep C. Owned by two long time champions of the local live music scene , Ross and Jay - these guys have invested and probably lost a small fortune establishing a state of the art music venue in the Mount. One which we have taken advantage of with Woodcock, Loserpalooza and many 'TMS presents' international acts playing there . Despite a rocky start to our relationship Totara Street have been very good to Tauranga Music Sux and myself so please continue to support them. By going to gigs there promoters will see that their events are always successful and will keep bringing a wider variety of bigger and better acts to the Bay. If not there will always be a sold out Kron show to buy scalped tickets for.
Just around the corner another Ross has welcomed us in with an ever worsening high pitch ringing in his ears at Arcade/The Voodoo Lounge. Still trying to find it's way in the cut throat world of Tapas Bars Ross needs all the support we can give him. Venue hire is free, all you need is a PA system, backline and enough sobriety to run the door for a few hours without letting all your friends in for free and then losing the little entry money you have made after leaving the door unattended in order to go have a smoke. It really isn't that hard. Try it. What's the worst that could happen? Oh, finding you are the only one sober enough to do so without hitch and losing 7 years of your life in the process. Right.... Maybe not then huh?
Not that Tauranga Music Sux ever really needed venues. As alluded to earlier we made our own. Where ever I could take my generator there would be a show. And while I feel as though I tapped out every possibility for guerrilla shows many of you have never experienced the thrill of carrying all your gear like a pack mule, red faced and completely out of breath into some remote part of town to piss off those trying to enjoy their serene surroundings with 1000watts of sludge.
While guerrilla shows will continue without TMS sponsorship as my generator, PA and years of accrued mics/leads etc are being bequeathed to the newly anointed King of the Guerillas Joel Burguerillagin -please continue to think outside the box. If you want to see bands and no traditional venues are available it isn't that hard to promote your own shows and there are always other kind souls to help. Willie and Lynne always have a shed for you to reverberate the walls and then vomit on the floor of. Elliot at Zeus will lend a gallery for those who like a bit of culture with their alcohol fueled 'dance' moves. There is the Incubator for quieter shows. Hire a hall. Or just offer your lounge. I must stress the importance of fucking tradition in its dried, a touch brown and puckered little butt hole - everywhere can be your venue.
But please and I mean this, when I say think outside the box I also mean think outside my box. The reason why Tauranga Music Sux has gone as long as it has is due to my deep seated and realistic fear that when I stop you will not evolve but instead take my already tired ideas and ram them into the ground from such a great height that all the original memories and sentiment are destroyed forever. And it isn't that they aren't good concepts but left in the crippled, thalidomide hands of any of you they will be reduced and boiled down to nothing. I want to see what you guys can do. And please prove me wrong because currently my expectation is so very low.
Despite what you may have been mislead to think over the years I didn't start this scene in order for you to have something to do on the weekends. I did so for me and only me. And maybe Stefan. And maybe Stefans drinking problem.
I did it so I could draw big hairy scare your Nana dicks. I did it so I could swear and rant like a vile heel. I did it so I could bring bands to Tauranga for my band to play with that weren't of the used douche variety. And ultimately I did it to keep myself sane in a town not befitting my kind. Unfortunately as a by product of being motivated I developed an ever growing following of lobotomites unable to forge their own identities or paths and in need of someone to tell them what the zeitgeist is and where it's happening.
Which isn't to say that there haven't been good people along the way. For every Dale marching in, stupid hat on head with competing calf muscles and a mischievous impish grin disguising the fact that he is a 6th generation TMS'er - there were many from the start now either forgotten, retired or in absentia that helped make this town vibrant enough so that we could go from putting on shows to 40 people in the Matua tunnel to 400 at Willies for Woodcock. With out the Stefans, Daves, Cates, Beaus, Shannons, Lukes, Conars, Kanes, Robs, Kalous, Toms, Veronicas, Derrins, Bob Mcbobs and the rest of the Class of 2011 not only willing to embrace my overwhelming hatred of everything and barely fleshed out ideas but more importantly to help bring them into reality then the majority of you that came later and sucked the life out of me would never have had the opportunity to witness or involve yourselves in such visions of grandeur as Woodcock, Burning Wang, The Sleazeball, Bummerslam, Scowlin's Super Sweet 16 and so on beacuse like so many that came before that tried then failed I would have been destined for the same quick 'Why did I bother?' Tauranga demise.
While the majority of the original TMS'ers wisely tapped out early due to a perpetually dimming series of successors coming on the scene and my propensity to repeat my already insubstantial ideas. It was generations 2 and 3 that really latched onto the Sux brand and despite my deep yearning for more interesting attendees have somehow (despite my antipathy for their gormless faces and interloping ways) have become the backbone of TMS, coming to near on every gig and still helping to bring new victims to shows. Sure you are the weakest pack of chinless sycophants I have ever met but thanks for being willing to pay whatever I asked of you. It meant that instead of going completely broke I only went broke.
Even prior to the circumstances leading me to euthanise this old fly ridden dog I had expected TMS to wind down this year. In 2017 very few new suckers were coming to the gigs. Patronage was always the same series of sublimating saddos. Then this year something weird happened. New people started coming to the shows. Young people. They were even good looking. Well dressed. Cool even. The last ever Woodcock had its best attendance levels, gigs at Arcade were packed and people even figured out after all these years that the gigs under the harbour bridge actually happened. But what was this? Tauranga Music Sux wasn't for the cool, trendy and especially good looking. TMS was a respite home for the socially maligned, lock em in the basement and throw chicken bones at them freaks with zero ability to talk to another human due to their autism spectrum rating of Leamy. The Dads, the sads, those that didn't even like music but realised they would never get in to any other clubs due to their three quarter pant/cheese stained 'I love NYC' Tshirt/beach sandal fashion abomination combo, 30 year olds still living at home and an average attendance age of Mahjong night. This new generation, TMS #7 they are not like you and I. They are able to have sexual intercourse without first putting a sack over their partners head and then their own. They left home at 15 after getting a scholarship to attend Oxford university for Theater, got a loft apartment in New York at 16 with their Instagram model partner Zulina and made their first million at 17 with an App that rates the worlds best Baristas from pretentious to more pretentious. Where did they come from? Why did they come to us? Do they not realise that they haven't posted on Twitter for 15 minutes. I dunno but something tells me that I should blame Dales hat....
POST TAURANGA MUSIC SUX-CORE:
I hear your worries but don't worry they are unfounded. Well some are. I am leaving, Tauranga Music Sux is ending and with it my organisation, financial responsibility, sobriety, ambition, drive and scope for advancement are going with. But that isn't to say that some of which made this scene great? good? moderate? average?ok? won't still remain.
I would like to think that all my years of hard work building this town up to the point that it is at now will mean that it won't be squandered in the first 3 months of my absence. The name will be gone but it is just that - a name. It will be the same bands playing, at the same venues with the same people attending. You have at least 2-3 years repeating my formula before you start to resent each others lack of ideas, poor organisational skills, shit eating faces and stop leaving the house.
The formula is simple, any of you can do it. Book venue. Invite bands, preferably one from out of town to keep things interesting because localised over exposure is the enemy. Organise backline. Create poster. Make Facebook event. Annoy and remind everyone with repeated updates. Paste posters everywhere. Use hyperbole to create hype. Appoint door person. Annoy people with more updates. Remember float/stamp/pen/paper. Collect money. Leave midway through gig with door takings. Head to nearest Kmart. Blow it all on cheaply built, faux shabby chic, balsa wood furniture. Spend last $2 on bus ride home. Disguise guilt with 14 slices of peanut butter toast. Food coma. Apologise to everyone on social media for your actions. Repeat formula the next weekend.
The rest of you must continue to go to gigs. Let bands crash on your floors. Buy booze at the venues to keep them in business. Welcome any new faces that show interest. Actively champion bands like Spoonfed/Joe's Van/Grown Downz that are still young and actually have a friends that come to gigs.Start bands. Loan equipment. Help out on the door. Tell your friends. Open your house for after parties like the High Mistress of TMS: Cate did nearly every weekend in order for you and the bands to bond properly as degenerates. And keep being the eager little skid marked, brill creamed, music nerds you are so that out of town bands tell their friends that Tauranga is a must stop destination... if they can't book shows in Raglan, Hamilton or Auckland. A must. Remember this is a community - work together and it will thrive.
I really don't know how long I will be gone for. It could be weeks, months, even years and for this reason it may seem like ending Tauranga Music Sux is a premature move. It is not. We have had several years of exceptional events, immense fun, built friendships and or tolerated acquaintances to last a lifetime. We can keep it going so that it becomes a pathetic parody of itself or we can use the sentiment and ethic I have tried to build in order to take Tauranga music further than we currently can. Of course I jest, you are screwed without me....
Thank you everyone that has supported me for the past 7 years be it by playing, attending, paying, helping - you are all really appreciated and this I could not have done with out you.
And while this is goodbye for now I will be back at some point to complain bitterly that you actually did better in my absence and all made a shit ton of money off my blood, sweat and tears.