Domestic Blitz

From Up The Punks
Jump to: navigation, search
Domestic Blitz
Section2b 05.jpg
Domestic Blitz
Background information
Years active 1979-1981
Associated acts Condemned Sector, Shoes This High, The Normals, The Wallsockets
Past members Dave Maclennan (guitar), Mike Gilmoni (bass), Karl Scutt (drums), Sherryn Congdon (vocals)


Full description of Domestic Blitz by member Dave MacLennan.

"The freshest-sounding new band I've heard in six months." - Chris Orange, The Features, June 1980

Domestic Blitz were one of the "also-rans" of the early Wellington punk/undergound scene. We were, in a word, crap -- but at least we got off our arses and TRIED, which is more than most of the people who used to abuse us or throw things at us ever did. And more than a few people actually liked us!

Domestic Blitz began in November 1979 when bassist Clark Gregory and I started jamming together. I'd met Clarke through an ad I'd placed around town looking for people to start a punk band. I'd only been seriously playing guitar for about six months (if you can call thrashing about with three chords "seriously playing"…). By the following month we had a practice room and a name (courtesy of a friend of mine named Zak) - but still no band.

The week before Christmas The Spies played three nights at Willy's Wine Bar in Manners Mall. After a few too many gins on the first night, Clarke and I hatched a mad plan to put together a sort of ad hoc temporary band to play a New Year's Eve gig at Thistle Hall that Shoes This High & Co. were organising.

The group of friends who were sitting with us that night were roped in to make up the rest of this temporary lineup - my flatmate Bruce, and Lynette Moss and Sue Forbes (who, the following year, would end up in The Wallsockets and Life In the Fridge Exists, respectively).

In the time remaining before the gig we managed to get in about four rehearsals (when we weren't getting drunk at the pub across the road from the practice room). Bruce was supposed to be the drummer, but he couldn't drum to save himself, so he ended up on bass while Clarke switched to drums. Lynette had to bow out because she was going to be out of town, so another friend, Sue Cumming, ended up sharing the vocal duties with Sue Forbes.

By New Year's Eve we'd thrown together a 15-minute set comprising four covers and one original. We were the second band up on the night, and the sheer amateurishness of what we did struck a chord with the crowd, and we actually went down very well! And it was probably the most fun I ever had on stage.

After that we promptly broke up, as planned.

Fast-forward to March 1980….

By the end of that month, after many ups and downs, a new lineup had come together: myself on guitar and (VERY reluctantly!) vocals, Mike Gilmoni on bass, and former drummer for The Normals Karl Scutt.

Between then and our first gig on June 1 we put together a set of sorts, most of which were originals (if not particularly memorable originals: the big problem with our songs is that they always sounded half-finished, and we never practiced frequently enough to further develop the songs and get the playing tighter. The one exception was "Fake It To Make It", a sort of Buzzcocks tribute, and the only one of our songs I can still listen to today without cringeing!)

Our public debut was during the Queen's Birthday weekend Rockfest, at Billy The Club (the former Rock Theatre, behind Trades Hall in Vivian St) which held a multi-band extravaganza over three nights and two afternoons. We weren't really ready, but you did your growing up in public in those days. We played on the Sunday afternoon (terribly) and again the following evening (which was a bit better - we actually got a number of compliments from people after the gig).

June 1980 was probably our busiest month that year. There were several more Billy The Club gigs (including one supporting The Features from Auckland, who actually liked us -- see the quote at the top of this piece; he really did say that to me!). Then we played four nights at The Last Resort in Courtenay Place supporting Pop Mechanix, for which we were paid a princely $100.

More Billy the Club gigs followed in July, including a couple supporting The Gordons, and the following month we went into Sausage Studios in Thorndon to record a five-track demo.

Our last gig was at the infamous Battle of the Sounds contest in October. We played really well that afternoon, the best gig we ever did. Hell, even one of the bootboys told me later that he liked it! And so did one of the judges (but we were still unplaced…)

The reason we played so well is that we'd been rehearsing intensely leading up to the gig. Karl had been out of action for some weeks with glandular fever, and when we reconvened we only had a couple of weeks before the contest, so we really got stuck into it. Practice did indeed make perfect (or near enough to it in our case).

But Karl left the band the following month, and it took us until March 1981 to find a replacement (Eoin Christie). By then we also had a female singer, Sherryn Congdon, who also ended up doing most of the songwriting.

This lineup of the band never really worked, at least not for me. My own musical tastes were changing, leaning more towards bands like the Au Pairs, Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire, than the more introspective songs Sherryn was writing. We did record another demo, and managed to play two gigs late in 1981 before splitting for good. (In fact, we never officially split up - we just stopped playing together.)

Summing it all up, for me, Domestic Blitz was fun sometimes, but it was also largely an exercise in frustration, especially the final 1981 line-up. No disrespect to the others, but frankly, the music I was hearing in my head could not be expressed through the people I was working with. I sort of wish I'd knocked it on the head at the end of 1980 (and I very nearly did in mid-'81) and gone and done something completely different, with different people.

RIP Domestic Blitz, then. Maybe we sucked, maybe we didn't. But at least we gave it a go!

David Maclennan May 2002