Bring back the punk
“Everyone’s getting too drunk and lazy. The bands and the fans.” For five years Symonds made the pilgrimage from Auckland to Newtown for the annual Punkfest, but in 2011 it disappeared when the Wellington Car Club renovated into a place too nice for a bunch of dirty rockers and nobody bothered to find a new venue.
Scheming over coffee with Tamara Buckland, owner of Bar Medusa, they hatched up a plan for more punk: Capital Chaos. Twelve hours of 12 bands, a punk version of Buckland’s popular heavy metal festival Capital Punishment. She put Symonds on the lineup.
“I knew all the bands that are playing,” says Symonds. Even though he could use the coin (he got fired from his job demolishing buildings last Monday), he’s not expecting to make any money from the show – pre-sale tickets are just $15.
“I’m just into it to see something happen here. I may as well get the band I grew up with as a bonus.”
That’s Flesh D-Vice, one of the best known New Zealand punk bands of the 1980s. They rocked into the early 90s, but faded out after lead singer and Shihad manager Gerald Dwyer overdosed in 1996. The remaining band members, Dwayne Yule, Eugene Pope, and Brent Jenkins, played a few gigs after the loss, including Punkfest 10 years ago, but it’s been mostly silence. They’re reuniting for Capital Chaos.
“It was a lot of convincing. Me nagging him every day,” says Symonds.
Across the counter of Vanishing Point, the record store Yule owns with his wife Jenni, he looks every bit the aging rocker, all twiggy black hair and faded blue tats, but his face is sharp and boyish. He’s been keeping busy running the shop, which recently moved to Cuba Street, and playing in a surf band called The Makos. After a few rehearsals, he’s eager for some punk.
“We played about 10 years ago and it gave old fans a chance to see us again, but now it’s a whole new generation of gig goers,” he says. He’s a bit worried about sets running over time, but as an elder of the scene he put his foot down – Flesh D-Vice is going on at midnight, no matter what.
“It’s a nice, civilised time to play. I’ve done too many shows at 3am.”
Other bands include The Methadonnas and Black Chrome from Palmerston North, Hamilton’s Electric Mayhem, Prowler down from Auckland, Gripper up from Nelson, and a Wellington line-up that runs from the all-girls group Fantails to the ska-tinged Dimestore Skanks, as well as the metal band Bulletbelt.
“All I’ve ever known them to play is death metal,” says Symonds. “But they approached us. I was shocked when they said they wanted to play a punk set. Why not give it a little variety? It would get boring if everyone was playing the same music for 12 hours.”
It also draws a more diverse crowd, exposing the people to music they might not otherwise see. However, Medusa should be thick with Flesh D-Vice fans, young and old. Without a hint of dread, Symonds says, “My parents are coming.”
Capital Chaos, Bar Medusa, 3pm, October 6.