Skip to content

Air Strike – rock stars minus the stardom

The southern band had expertise, appears to be like and large self-belief, strengthened nightly by the crowds in pubs they packed nationwide. What may probably go improper? Silly query. Michael Fallow stories.

The world does not lack for glamorous-yet-grovelly tales of rock’n’roll extra.

What makes drummer Peter Chilton’s memoir What’s The Identify Of Your Band? such a trip shouldn’t be that it deviates from the clichéd trajectory of a nearly-made-it-band, however how evocative it’s of the follies.

They have been all about 20 once they struck out from Invercargill, calling themselves Air Strike and making the declare to tell apart that they have been the nation’s loudest band. Opponents re-baptized them Earache.

What adopted was, yep, women, medication, dangerous enterprise choices, run-ins with the regulation. Harmless of their outlook, however actually not their behaviour. And, seemingly, incapable of constructing a great enterprise determination.

* A Southland band with a coronary heart of gold
* Southland leisure awards have a good time 30 years
* Corridor of Fame museums on the prepared in Invercargill

“Simply children, experimenting,” writes Chilton. “We by no means got down to do something unlawful or damage anybody, however generally that is what our thoughtlessness resulted in.

“Nothing we did was deliberate or thought out – we simply reacted to what was in entrance of us every day.”

The story reads not a lot as a confessional as an acknowledgment. Sincere sufficient to speak the sense of sheer enjoyable they felt in occasions of misbehaviour, or for that matter the generally contemptuous, egocentric remedy of the parades of native ladies whom they handled to – it says right here – southern hospitality.

Many occasions, says Chilton, I’ve puzzled whether or not he ought to inform a specific story. Then he’d assume bugger it.

“I believe,” he says, “if you happen to begin censoring whereas writing you would not write something.”

Possibly, he provides, it might be totally different if his dad and mom have been nonetheless alive. And he did not need to damage anybody who may be embarrassed by a few of the drug-related tales.

“However I additionally assume that if you happen to go away elements out and solely write the completely satisfied stuff, it impacts on the entire story and devalues ​​it as an entire.”

Neil Chilton: big voice.


Neil Chilton: massive voice.

The band had Chilton’s brother Neil as lead singer – quick in stature massive in voice – bass guitarist Neil Burns, most likely the least musically gifted, perhaps extra punk than basic rock, a dominant presence on stage the place it most mattere; keyboardist Neil Sutherland most likely probably the most musically proficient, who and absented himself from chemical indulgences, and so they quickly took in Paul Maaka, an ace guitarist-cum-Māori warrior, who was married and in some respects a father determine.

And Peter himself. A high-energy moderately than significantly dextrous drummer and (this being his ebook by him) the best-looking within the band.

The tales from the highway have been mixtures of triumphs, cheerful confrontations and a bunch of fortunate escapes.

Together with authorized ones, such because the Hamilton police frogmarching Neil Chilton again to the band’s room within the not completely unfounded expectation that medication can be discovered therein – solely to burst by means of what he assured them was the improper door to search out all kinds of drug-taking nudity afoot.

However the perpetrators have been the Aussie band The Reels

And since The Reels’ Dave Mason’s father John was the NSW Liberal Social gathering chief, the bust grew to become a global story within the midst of which the suddenly-uninteresting Air Strike have been free to go.

Paul Maaka – in a band so young, he was the father figure.


Paul Maaka – in a band so younger, he was the daddy determine.

Peter Chilton was the band member most suited to the next author’s position.

“Generally as a result of my quiet nature, I might perhaps watch with out collaborating as a lot because the extroverted characters within the band and a few of these occasions bought locked away till I needed to write about them.”

Because the tales got here again to him he’d test together with his bandmates, these days a cleaned-up crew with respectable jobs, and their totally different views would inform the tales.

Not that reminiscences have been crystal clear. Among the extra vivid ones have been topic to distortion.

Resembling Chilton’s account of being seized with excruciating cramps whereas drumming after taking a white powder of god-knows-what. They referred to as it go-fast powder.

“I observed the punters leaning on the entrance of the stage have been observing me with what appeared like morbid fascination. Their eyes have been locked on me as my face and physique contorted.”

A jug of extremely salted orange juice was swiftly tried however scarcely appeared to assist.

“I used to be holding the sticks with palms so distorted all I may do was preserve time hitting the drums weakly with withered arms and kicking the bass drum with a leg that was in spasms of agony.”

The others performed themselves mindless to make up for his weakened state and he painfully crawled off stage “as If I used to be Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man”.

The band made some questionable enterprise choices and Chilton regrets the way in which they turned from their first promoter and champion, the homosexual, enthusiastic and conspicuously touped promoter Benny Levin, stiffing his firm on some band money owed.

Their one TV look was miming to their very own recording on able to roll, although they by no means noticed themselves on TV as a result of it screened Saturday evening and so they at all times labored Saturdays.

Neil Burns - bassist


Neil Burns – bassist

Chilton the observer additionally writes of his alarm, approaching an Australian Customs desk, when his companion Burns advised him: “I simply remembered, I’ve some acid sheets in my case.’

Then he noticed one other Customs man open a ringbinder containing the sheets, and flick by means of the clean acid-laced pages, sometimes pausing to review the odd web page that had musical notes scribbled on it, then licking his fingers to show the web page.

“We puzzled later whether or not his day bought a bit extra attention-grabbing.”

In Australia Air Strike rocked gigs, however ultimately not sufficient of them and the sense of profession momentum was misplaced. Burns departed and transformations have been upon the remaining band members.

They’d a recording cope with three firms desirous to signal them – and so they unerringly went for the improper selection, choosing Polygram, largely on the premise of their reference to its arts and repertoire scout Michael Crawley.

They day they hit the studio in February 1984 to document their first single, the corporate sacked Crawley over value over-runs with a special band. There was their champion gone.

The extra perilously modern side of the Nineteen Eighties was upon them as they’d remodeled with some lineup modifications.

Among the many doable collaborators was an Asian man named Jeff. Various children on the market can be happy that he wasn’t amused from his future profession path with The Wiggles.

They re-emerged as Strika, failing to endear themselves to Australian Crawl as that bands opening act, entertaining the group when Chilton chundered on his package and soldiered on, every pound sending the outcomes airborne in backlit splendor.

The gang favored it, although the principle act did not discover the on-stage setting enhanced when it was their flip.

The very, very 1980s band KamSha


The very, very Nineteen Eighties band KamSha

Subsequent the identify KamSha, by which stage they have been tidied-up Nineteen Eighties pinups to make sure.

The identify meant nothing, by the way in which. Not even camshaft. Nothing.

A lot trusted the success of their contracted three singles. So think about their response once they have been requested to vacate the Paradise studio in Sydney, if just for an hour, as a result of a visiting act needed to have a take heed to the combination of his new album by him.

Identify of Elton.

Elton John with his then wife Renate Blauel, whom he married in Sydney,

LGI Inventory/Corbis/VCG through Getty Photos

Elton John together with his then spouse Renate Blauel, whom he married in Sydney,

Certain, they have been followers of his early work however not his early-80s albums. They have been up and are available and he was a bit over the hill.

In hindsight: “What a bunch of smug little sh-ts”.

When he confirmed up it happy them to maintain him ready downstairs a couple of minutes.

“I believe he bought a kick as a lot as we did of constructing a giant star await us, but additionally we needed to run off a tough combined copy of the track we have been doing so we may play it to Elton John”

Once they let him and his entourage in, it was removed from a case of tiaras and tantrums.

As a substitute he properly thanked his hosts and scrupulously launched himself to everybody within the room.

“And we have been all as well mannered as our dad and mom would have wished for.”

Afterwards he listened to their observe He Will Sleep,

“The mono sound of the monks at prayer

Praying for the person in search of refuge there. . ”

“It is fairly a darkish form of observe, is not it?” Elton instructed.

He requested who the drummer was.

Maybe a pointed query. Chilton had drum tracks programmed earlier than the studio periods so once they bought there all he needed to do was add some dwell percussion excessive.

“Oh,” mentioned Elton, conversationally, “my drummer does not actually like digital drum sounds or drum machines. I can by no means get him to make use of them.”

In time KamSha got here to surprise if this was much less a grievance than a wee trace that they might have completed nicely to have taken up.

“Numerous music on the time had this sound and I suppose we bought sucked into it,” writes Chilton. “We needed to sound extra fashionable, totally different from our earlier rock bands.”

As a substitute, when their music got here again from being remastered in England, nicely. . . Rattling.

“We appeared like everybody else.”

KamSha had its crack, miming as soon as once more on TV’s rely downtrying clear and tidy with their quick, spiky hair, making the odd teen journal, and there have been these tedious cliché moments like snorting coke from a rolled up $100 invoice.

However the future closed up. Stay acts have been struggling, their three singles hadn’t detonated pleasure and the corporate dropped them.

Sutherland and Maaka remained in Sydney, marrying native women. Maaka stayed within the enterprise, enjoying with numerous musicians, and Sutherland went on to turn into a spectacularly profitable a number of APRA award profitable composer for his display soundtrack work.

Neil and Peter Chilton, nowadays.


Neil and Peter Chilton, these days.

The Chilton brothers wound up again to Southland, again to household with households themselves.

And when the now grownup and sorted-out members of Air Strike held a memorable 35-years-on reunion live performance in a packed Invercargill Civic Theater they paid an emotional go to to Burns’ grave. He’d killed himself after an actual property enterprise went bitter.

Chilton’s ebook is stacked with encounters with the well-known, semi-famous and eccentric. She scrapes with authorities and with the legal guidelines of physics. Luck good and dangerous. Judgments good (a couple of) and dangerous (aplenty).

We ask – any recommendation for younger bands?

”Simply play as a lot as you’ll be able to. These days musicians are inclined to have a lot know-how they’ll simply play and document of their bed room. I imply, that is nice. I nonetheless do this. However enjoying with others in entrance of a crowd is the place it is at.”

Everybody will need to provide you with recommendation, he says.

“We bought a lot of recommendation from many alternative individuals over that point and we by no means listened to any of it. We have been headstrong and perhaps we needed to make our personal errors to actually perceive the lesson.”

One lesson he has taken on board: “All the things we have ever completed leads us to the place we are actually.”

What’s The Identify of Your Band is obtainable from Invercargill retailers Little Hearth Music Works, 153 Dee St; Windsor Stationery, and might be ordered on-line

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *