Monday, November 28, 2011

Radio radio

Nick Bollinger of National Radio  interviewed me recently on the Picassos reissue, the interview was broadcast on Saturday, and repeats this Tuesday night. Listen to it online here....

Also, read Auckland Public Library's Kelly Sheehan, reminiscing about the Picassos.
Excerpt... "It is too easy to characterize the Picasso’s sound by just piling musical genres on top of one another. Punky- reggae-surf-guitar-funk go the lazy lines. Really, what they played was Picasso Core and it needed to be experienced live because it was not only genre. It was pace and frenzy and the band changing on a dime. It was Bobbylon’s buoyant vocal thrown hard up against Roland harsh growl, with room still for Peter’s plaintive pop. It was the fact the band had a sense of humor that showed on their recordings and live shows. It was the speeding up and the slowing down. It was the pandemonium on the stage and the mayhem in the audience. Most of all, Picasso Core was fun..."

Andrew Dubber reviewed Rewind The Hateman on his music blog...
"Apart from all that jazz I was listening to at the time, the Picassos were the sound of Auckland in the 1990s for me. This retrospective compilation brings together so much of their brilliant work. Track 11, ‘Rewind’ was the big hit (turn it up loud to see why). Reggae/punk/funk/ska/thrash/pop from the early days of NZ’s alternative café bohemian society. I’d say “you had to be there” – but you didn’t. It’s still great."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hello Brizzy

In October, I got an email from John O'Brien, a journalist who works for Brisbane paper the Courier Mail. He was an old fan, and it turns out he does an annual Google search fro Hallelujah Picassos, and discovered the reissue. I sent him a digital promo copy, and low and behold, he reviewed it in the Courier Mail at the weekend. Thanks heaps!

Volume review

Review by Joe Nunweek, Volume Magazine

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 5

Let's face it, lists are fun. I got asked to do a Top 5 list for Volume magazine, and slipped in a plug for the Picassos - Rewind the Hateman collection.  I came up with this list.. unfortunately Volume doesn't have space for pics, so I've added them in...

Top Five Cheesy Album Covers

Herb Alpert - Whipped cream and other delights
The king of cheesy covers. Super-sexy Dolores Erickson covered in cream, which was mostly shaving foam [and she was 4 months pregnant at the time].

O'Donel Levy - Everything I do gonna be funky
The title tells you all you need to know about this record. Almost everything. Seen the cover?

Herbie Mann - Push push
Guys who played jazz flute in the 70s liked posing shirtless.

Count Basie - E=MC2
there’s a weird bunch of records that came out in the 50s and 60s that thought they would sell by putting a picture of an atomic bomb exploding on the cover.

Bo Diddley - Big Bad Bo
The legendary Mr Diddley on a chopper, on loan from the Hells Angels. Kickass.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

From Sunday Star TImes writer Mike Alexander - On The Beat column...

Hallelujah for the encore?

Almost 15 years after they officially disbanded, Auckland-based Hallelujah Picassos have released a career retrospective?

So why now?

"We've been talking, for about four years now, about getting our music back in circulation," says founding member Peter McLennan.

"It has largely been unavailable for nearly 20 years and, over that period, I've been asked numerous times by fans about where they can get our CDs. There is so much great NZ music, from even just the past 20 years, that has disappeared and we wanted to bring back our part of that.

"I know there's a lot of hype around Flying Nun's 30th anniversary but they weren't the only thing happening in the 90s. I think it's important to remind people of that."

There's even talk of another Hallelujah Picassos reunion gig (they last played as the support for Asian Dub Foundation at the Powerstation in Auckland in 2000).

"As always with the Picassos, expect the unexpected," McLennan says. "No plans to tour. I have no great desire to leave the house - I am too comfortable!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Picassos on The Joint

Picasso Core! God bless the Hallelujah Picassos. From The Joint radio show, RDU, Christchurch. Cheers, fellas.

"... First time I ever heard the Hallelujah Picassos was in 1989 on UFM (formerly Radio U and now RDU) with their track “Clap your hands”. Loved it so much I went out and bought the Pagan Records “Positive Vibrations” compilation.

At the time, with a lyric like “…clap your hands for Jesus…” I did wonder if they were a Christian band trying to put the “fun” back into “Christian Fundamentalism”, but a closer listen to the lyrics revealed that they probably weren’t.

The Hallelujah Picassos were active from 1988 through to 1996, and like contemporaries Salmonella Dub, Supergroove, and Head Like A Hole amongst others, brought some much needed colour to the local music scene.

I loved the Picassos because they crossed genres (garage, pop, reggae, dub), could be light and dark, and sounded like they were having a blast.

“Rewind the Hatemen” ... still sounds quite fresh. “Black Space Picasso Core” is still nutty sampledelic, “Bastardiser” still garage rocks, “Hello Pablo” still has sweet melodica action, and “Shivers” is still The Bats / Able Tasmans collaboration that never happened..."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Graham Reid's review

From "In one of the liner note essays here Ross Cunningham says when he first got a copy of Auckland band Hallelujah Picassos debut album Hateman in Love he kept playing it because "it sounded like a compilation".

I always felt the same.

Cunningham says he came to them through hip-hop, I'd heard them from the reggae direction but, again as Cunningham notes, when you saw them live you "believed them". Up there on the small stages they played, they gave it all in the manner of an angry rock band.

And Lisa van der Aarde, formerly of bFM, says in her notes she enjoyed them because she'd always been a fan of garage music. Simon Grigg calls them "happy misfits" and says it was "both exhilarating and exhausting to be in their presence".

I always assumed you could still get their albums and CD singles simply because I had them and used to play random tracks on my radio show. But apparently they've all been out of print, which makes this cleverly programmed compilation brought together by the band's Peter McLennan (aka Dub Asylum) more than just interesting but essential.

Hard to believe there is a generation or two which have never heard the Picassos.

Emphasising their dark reggae and dub sound ("Murder!" is still an arresting opening line) up front, then diving into their raw guitar grit on Bastardiser, this one drops the hook then slowly reels you in for 18 diverse but oddly coherent tracks. A compilation from a band whose albums sounded like compilations, for sure . . . but this still sounds utterly coherent and from the same source.

Dark and sometimes malevolent they may have often seemed -- Harold's leathery personae and clothes doubtless enhanced the perception -- they could also be funny I thought (I'd cite Sister Stacey here by way of supporting evidence) and here -- wrapped in a cover by the late comix artist Martin Emond -- is evidence of their broad musical church: reggae, dub, garage, electro, wit and menace.

And Shivers could have come from a Flying Nun band like the Bats.

On the back cover [of the liner notes] is a photo of a live gig and on every face there is a glow of liberating enjoyment. That sums them up too.

Oddly enough to coincide with this long overdue compilation the Herald has retrieved a '92 interview I did with them (here). McLennan says he finds it funny how serious they were back then.

I took them seriously, still do."

Here's the photo of a live gig that Graham mentions. Its a shot by Greg Rewai at Kurtz Lounge on Symond St, in 1994.

UTR review

"The Auckland-based group started life in 1988 as a Cramps-influenced garage band called The Rattlesnakes. Frontman Roland Rorchach (aka Harold) had seen guitarist Peter McLennan performing in a café he was working in. McLennan’s strung out version of James Brown's 'It's a Man's World' had Roland buzzing enough to later approach him about starting a band. 

The duo soon picked up other members, drummer Bobbylon and then bassist Johnnie Pain, and it didn't take long to evolve into the dynamic Hallelujah Picassos, a group that became renowned for pushing the boundaries of musical styles.

Rewind the Hateman reveals a sample of the wealth of material recorded by the group before they broke up in 1996. Their cooperative approach to recording saw the Picassos’ music morph from punk to dub, hiphop to rock, reggae to thrash - often within the same track - a sound they dubbed ‘Picasso Core’. The 18-track retrospective encompasses the ethos of the group - their eclectic style, transitioning moods and the issues they felt needed discussion. It is a beautifully reflective album, the liner notes filled with memories from friends, photographs and illustrations by the late Marty F. Emond.

The ebb and flow of the Picassos’ musical tone adds a rich texture to the album. Reggae kickback track ‘Lovers +’, with guests Greg Johnson on trumpet and Alice Latham on saxophone, is a sweet, lamenting song of polyamory.

On the other end of the scale is the stripped back, percussion driven track ‘Snakeman’s Cry’ which pulls Roland’s unusual inflection to the fore with a diatribe of righteousness. While other songs, such as ‘God gave us Boom Boom Washington’, are all-out uproarious. Upbeat pop-ska numbers such as ‘Rewind’, the hit that gained the group a place in the charts, though obviously much more commercially friendly still sit well with the more experimental tracks.

No matter which musical style, the passion that the Picassos felt for what they were doing shines through. Conscious-driven lyrics deliver messages surpassing genre and, more than 15 years since their disbanding, the songs on Rewind the Hateman still sound innovative, and the message is as relevant as ever." 8/10

Thanks to Danielle Street and Under The Radar for the kind words.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cheers, Chopper

from Cheers, Chopper blog...

"Ooh, ooh, ooh! The Hallelujah Picassos retrospective, Rewind The Hateman was released at the end of October.

I only ever saw the Picassos live once, at Otago Orientation in 1994, but I’ll remember that show for the rest of my life.

I bought their album Drinking With Judas the next day and spent the next two years playing it and playing it and playing it until the tape got so loose and worn so that when my walkman inevitably chewed it, bits of tape got stuck so hard in the walkman’s winding/threading mechanism that It was never able to successfully play a tape again.

That’s right: the Picassos were so good my walkman committed suicide when it couldn’t play them any more."

Sorry we killed your Walkman, dude . And thanks for the kind words.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

T shirt

All sorts of stories are coming out of the woodwork from Picassos fans, like this one I got via Twitter from Jeff...

"... check this tee i bought 20 years ago from the grumpy chef at the London Bar now fits me like a halter top..."

Speaking t-shirts, we're working on doing a limited run of a couple of our old t-shirt designs from back in the day...

And please get in touch if you've got a story about the band, like the first time you saw us. We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

GeorgeFM interview

Had a fine chat with Nick, D this morning, thanks fella. Listen to it over here.

Wammo interview

Doing tons of radio this week. I did an interview with Wammo on KiwiFM yesterday, lovely chat.

Tune in today to GeorgeFM [listen] at 9.10am for an interview with Nick D, and 95BFM [listen] at 11.10am - Roland and Peter chatting with Charlotte Ryan.

Wednesday I'm on BaseFM [listen] at 815am. Righto.