Condemned Sector at Last Resort, 1981
|Associated acts||Neoteric Tribesmen, The Resurrectionists, Flesh D-Vice, Ambitious Vegetables, Domestic Blitz|
|Members||Nigel Elder (guitar), James Gilberd (drums), Richard Watts (guitar/ vocals), Jenny Whyte (bass)|
|Past members||Caroline Forsythe (vocals), Peter Henderson (guitar)|
FormingCondemned Sector was formed from the bones of Onslow College covers band The Vultures in early 1980 by Richard Watts and James Gilberd. The band initially featured Peter Henderson on bass until Jenny Whyte of Wellington Girls East College joined.
“Although Richard had introduced punk and new wave cover material into The Vultures set the intent of Condemned Sector was to perform solely original material. Richard's dad was probably the first and only solicitor in Wellington to be listening to bands like The Stranglers, The Clash, and Sex Pistols. He also supplied Richard with various punk badges and clothing brought back from his business trips to London.” (James Gilberd)
Condemned Sector shared a practice space amongst the wooden horses, ropes and gym equipment, at Clyde Quay School with Rongotai punks The Ambitious Vegetables, members of which would later form The Red and chart topping pop-band, The Mockers. These connections led to Condemned Sector's first public performance, supporting the later at Victoria University’s student union hall in September/ October of 1980. Richard’s then girlfriend, Caroline Forsythe, had joined the band at this stage and sang backing vocals for three months before leaving.Condemned Sector played at the few venues available around Wellington from August 1980 until about April 1981, but most often at the Last Resort in Courtenay Place.
“The pattern was to carry guitars, snare drum and cymbals, around the corner from the practice room, and past an amusement arcade frequented by Rasta’s, simply showing up at the venue and asking to play. Other times things were slightly more organised, allowing time for posters to be photocopied. Sets were typically forty minutes of high energy, flat out playing, usually getting through eight or nine songs. I remember my hands would often cramp up on the drumsticks after about half an hour, and I would struggle through the last few songs, which were usually the fastest.” (James Gilberd)
“There was always friction between us Punks and the Rastas – who were basically young Maori kids who listened to Bob Marley and wore Rastafarian colours. Nothing serious to begin with but things got a little more serious when the Rastas started to affiliate themselves to the Black Power or Mongrel Mob.”
“I remember one time when Caroline and I were walking up Courtenay Place to our practice rooms at Clyde Quay School and we passed the amusement arcade. A drunken Rasta came out and started mouthing off at me. We answered back and he let rip with a hook and I went flying (I was pretty light weight in those days). My guitar, which I carried around in a cardboard box, also went flying and ended up with a rather impressive dent in it.”
“In the early days we used to spend a lot of time at the Rock Theatre / Billy the Club in Vivian Street. A group of us used to come in from Khandallah and meet at the railway station. I also used to come with my trusty sun tan lotion bottle full of my dad’s gin – It was the only thing I could find to fill up, and even though I cleaned it several times the gin always had an interesting taste. We would either hang around behind some buildings getting drunk or head off to Vivian Street. We always took the long way so we wouldn’t get hassled by the police or anyone else.”
Gary Stone and Lance Hurst used to be the most original of the Punks. I remember at one time Gary pushing a safety pin through his cheek and walking around for the rest of the night with his face getting more and more swollen. Lance always used to have the best haircuts and clothes.
I used to wear just about anything but mainly an old suit jacket that my Dad had thrown out. I had written band names all over it in pen and paint, and pinned a number of badges to it (some I made myself). I also added zips to just about anything.
At one point, when Stiff Little Fingers album had just come out, I made an armband with SLF on it. The deputy head of our school asked me what it stood for one day and I said it was ‘Student Liberation Front’. I don’t think he was very amused. The odd thing was that I got on very well with the headmaster who was interested in music and my ‘style’. There were complaints about my clothes from some of the teachers and parents, and the headmaster came round to speak to my parents but he refused to make me change or wear anything else. Nice guy. The big thing for me at that time was shaving bits out of my hair. I used to cut big lines in my hair. I also had various crests, mohawks and the like. At one point I grew two little points that look like horns. I used to put soap in my hair to make it stick up, though when it rained there was a bit of a soapy mess.Hair dye was a real problem. The only ‘different’ colour you could get was red, so I had my hair various shades of red at one point. We did find that you could dye your hair using food colouring or crepe paper, but it always used to run when it got wet. I even had my hair bleached but it went yellow and I looked like some old man. My Mum ended up giving me a blue rinse to try and get rid of the yellow. It just made it worse."(Richard Watts)
In August 1980 C-Sector made their first recordings at Thorndon’s Sausage Studios followed by second recording session in January 1981. By this time fellow Onslow College student Nigel Elder had joined as a guitarist, vocalist, and additional songwriter with the tracks Bridge for One and Instrumental. Six tracks were laid down – Bridge for 1, Stay In, Pop Bop, (with Jenny on lead vocal), Obscene Caller, Instrumental, and Sounds OB. Bridge for 1 and Instrumental show Nigel’s songwriting input and influences. Sounds OB refers to the "rigged" Battle of the Sounds competition of October 1980, the OB standing for Phil O’Brien.
“I remember when we played at the Battle of the Sounds - we got up on stage and started playing but our mics hadn’t been switched on so we ended up making a bit of a mess of it. We were also in darkness for a lot of the time. I think it was Peter Henderson of The Red who sorted things out for us.” (Richard Watts)
The material from these two recording sessions was only used for demo purposes, being played on various radio interviews (National Radio, and late at night on 2ZM a couple of times). Other songs in the regular C.Sector set included Gun Control, Trendy People, Death on 8 Wheels, Forget the Idol, Machines That Do and Mutants. All of these except Trendy People later found their way into the Neoteric’s set.
Condemned Sector’s first mention in the press was in RIU’s ‘Rumours’ column of August 1980. It had the band as hailing from Palmerston North – the error being corrected by a surly letter from Richard that appeared the following month.
In early 1981 Jenny Whyte left the band and the remaining three members, James, Richard and Nigel, renamed the band as Neoteric Tribesmen, taking on a darker post-punk sound.
In December 2013 Condemned Sector and Neoteric Tribesmen held a one off reunion gig in Wellington.
- Condemned Sector: Second Tape, 1981, independent, tape, 6 tracks
- Condemned Sector: First Tape, 1980, independent, tape, 4 tracks
Condemned Sector: 1.Mutants 2.Pop Bop 3.School Days