Sunday, August 25, 2013

Snatch

One of the things I’ve wanted to achieve on everythingsgonegreen is to cover off some of the things that were important to me growing up. To record a few thoughts for posterity, to document things that shaped my pop culture world. In this day and age of instant communication, where every last detail of individual lives can be shared immediately right across the globe, and be recorded forever, it is easy to forget that life before the internet made everything so much more private, intimate, and regional. And the reality is that the real smalltown stuff is in danger of being lost amid the cracks. As much as it would have been nice to be able to share some of those experiences at the time, it was inconceivable, and it always felt like it was enough to just be there. It was all we knew.

And so with that in mind, I’ve written before about growing up in Palmerston North, a small university town, in New Zealand’s lower North Island. I’ve covered off local bands like Shades of Grey, and small scenes like the early Eighties clubbing scene in Palmy … and while neither of those “events” has any global significance whatsoever, it felt right to indulge in a few words about each. And hey, a blog is nothing if not a self-indulgent collection of thoughts – everythingsgonegreen is written by me, primarily for me, and if anyone else can dig it then that’s great too. One day (soon?) I’m going to suffer from Alzheimers, and who knows how useful this blog might prove to a grizzly old man.
 
Aside from those two formative pop cultural experiences prior to my move to Wellington in 1986, Palmerston North also gave us Snatch, another great – if largely unheralded – band that plied its trade around the local live circuit. Snatch, not to be confused with the New York art-punk duo of the same name and same era (and yes, upon reflection, some 30 years on, the name is rather naff), was essentially a covers band, but the four-piece did manage to get some originals down on wax when it recorded the ‘Eye Contact’ EP at Auckland’s Mandrill studios in 1982.

That five track EP was produced by studio co-owner Dave Hurley, with the help of the band’s regular live sound tech, Mike Smeaton. It features compositions from guitarist Kevin Downing (co-write credits go to Keith Newman) and the style of these originals is very much in keeping with the synthpop covers the band played live – which ranged from the straightforward pop of Tears For Fears and the Human League, to harder edged stuff like 801’s ‘Third Uncle’ (where Downing in particular always excelled).

Snatch: Kevin, Nihat, Alan, and Mike
Snatch had two significant live residencies in Palmerston North, firstly at the central city ‘Majestic’ (or the “magic stick” as it was known locally) and secondly, more famously, at the suburban ‘Cloverlea’ pub venue. The line-up that recorded ‘Eye Contact’ was Mike Miers on moog, synthesizer, piano, guitar, and vocals; Alan Currie on bass, bass synthesizer and lead vocals; Kevin Downing on guitars and synthesizer; and Don Stevenson on drums. Stevenson would leave shortly after the recording – to form Shades of Grey – and he would be replaced by Nihat Orerel to create what will surely be recalled as the band’s definitive line-up.
 
I often wonder what would have happened with Snatch if they’d toured more widely. As it was, ‘Eye Contact’ sold well enough in a local context but it never really had the marketing or push that a follow-up tour would have given it. These guys all had interests beyond performing music for a living; lead vocalist Currie was starting out on an Accounting career, Miers had/has his own hairdressing business (but continues to perform live today with Tom The Band), while Downing has gone on to become something of a local legend in guitar tutoring circles.

Very much for its time, of its time, here’s Snatch with ‘Eye Contact’ … so very very 1982:
 
 
video
 

 

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