A brief history lesson pre and post Penknife Glides

Skeats’ musical career rose to prominence during the late 1970s New Zealand punk scene. After teaming up with vocalist Karel Van Bergen, the latter part of 1978 was spent penning some original tunes and gathering together an obscure collection of covers.

Sharing a house in Mt Eden, the pair soon joined forces with Chris Molloy (bass), Miriam Ludbrook (keyboards) and Dave Bebb (drums). After a few months rehearsing the five members quickly became a gigging band around Auckland, performing under the guise of The Primmers.

Clambering onto the arse-end of the Punk movement in 1979 the band were lucky enough to be spotted by radio DJ Bryan Staff who suggested the band record a bunch of their original songs under his watchful gaze. Two of those tunes, ‘You’re Gonna Get Done’ and ‘Funny Stories’, made it onto The AK79 punk compilation album of that year.

You're Gonna Get Done - click to hear on youtube
Funny Stories - click to hear on youtube
Love Sprouts - click to hear on youtube

It wasn’t long, however, before the band attracted a conscientious boot boy following, making them increasingly unpopular with the local constabulary and venue promoters alike. Despite this the band toured up and down the country. Only recently have four previously unreleased tracks been unearthed, which were recorded at that time in Hugh Lynn’s Mascot studio. Perhaps these tracks will one day see the light of day.

Like many bands of the time, however, fame was short-lived and by early 1980 the band members had gone their separate ways. Skeats moved on to assemble Penknife Glides, Karel was already fronting The Features and the others moved to Sydney and London, where they have remained involved in the music business.

PKG toured and recorded in NZ, releasing one single and two EPs before relocating to London and performing for a further three years.

In 1986, after the demise of Penknife Glides in London, Skeats teamed up with the singer James Vane after seeing him perform a collection of Walker Brothers’ songs with a string quartet. The pair then spent the remainder of that year hatching their wild plans for world domination over numerous ‘light and bitters’ in a local Notting Hill watering hole. Within months a band manager had heard that the lads were looking to recruit a rhythm section and arranged a meeting in his office off Regent St with Nasty Suicide (ex Hanoi Rocks), Terry Chimes (ex Clash) and Dave Tregunna (ex Sham 69 and Lords of the New Church), all of whom had recently split from The Cherry Bombz. Everyone hit it off instantly with the lads intrigued enough with James’ imposing presence that The Wyrd Things became a band before anyone actually knew whether he could sing or not!

Soul Injection - click to hear on youtube
No Way - click to hear on youtube
A Feeling - click to hear on youtube
Spiritual Sky - click to hear on youtube

The first six months of rehearsing proved a constant source of entertainment for the band, with James improvising wildly and an evolving sound showing inspired glimpses of ‘Jim Morrison meets the Walker Brothers’, with a dash of glam. Their live act became even more intriguing with James taking the songs on a journey of unexpected twists and turns, keeping the rest of the guys constantly on their toes.

The Wyrd Things wrote a dozen songs together, gigging up and down the UK for 18 months, but unfortunately never recorded any of their material in the studio. A Finnish rockerbilly band covered ‘Devil Calling’ in 1987 (originally a Nasty/Wyrd Things composition) and Nasty went on to record the same track with his next band Kill City Dragons. But, by the end of 1986, The Wyrd Things had split just as quickly as they had formed.

Today the only remaining evidence of the band’s existence is ‘The Wyrd Things Live in London’ DVD, available here.