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Bill Direen

INFLUENCES I started with a US/UK folk ("They'd better hang me till I die", "The Ballad of Hollis Brown") and depression-years blues (Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie) and a few of my own songs at the Christchurch Folk Club. Then I picked up an electric guitar and joined two others in 1975 to play original songs influenced by 60s garage and East Coast US sounds. The band was later called Vacuum. The Punk revolution occurred while I was in Wellington discovering cabaret and electronic music. Douglas Lilburn opened my ears to 1950s magnetic tape pioneers and to everyday sounds, like cicada-song. Punk and New Wave were great, but Vacuum was not one of those bands. We reformed and continued our own counter-offensive. Peter (Stapleton) and I put a lot of work into the words of our separate songs, and the group was known for its own kind of controlled anarchy when we split once and for all in 1979-80. I then formed band after band: hard-folk, electronic music, freak-form and independent- or garage-pop, story-songs of despair and endurance. We played in New Zealand bars or theatres and in underground venues overseas. I often played with people spontaneously (in London, Cambridge, Bordeaux & Berlin), but once I stayed in a place long enough for a true band to take shape. I wrote a bunch of songs on guitar in a New York hotel during a tough two months, then hired a studio in Manhattan to record with the band with no name - three kiwis and three New Yorkers. Hamish Kilgour, Allen Meek, Tony O'Blaney(NY), Lisa Siegel(NY), Liz Silver(NY), and guest Steve Cournane. Graeme Downes and his soundman Victor Grbic dropped in to lend a hand with the sound and a complete album was finished before I returned to NZ. So here they are, together at last -- Twelve Songs: The New York Sack.


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