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Interview: The Terrorways – Punk It Up IV

Interview: The Terrorways – Punk It Up IV

Interview by Rinse Dream / Photo credit: Murray Cammick / Thursday 23rd May, 2019 2:57PM

In anticipation of New Zealand punk pioneers The Terrorways' imminent performance at the sure to be riotous Punk It Up IV festival at legendary Auckland venue Zwines, Melbourne-based music buff Rinse Dream rolled up his sleeves and tracked down the band's guitarist Dean Martelli (fka Justin Sane, also of Rebel Truce) for a no-holds-barred electronic interview...

Punk It Up IV
Saturday 25th May - Zwines (The Bluestone Room, Durham Lane), Auckland (sold out)
Featuring... The Spelling Mistakes, Proud Scum, The Terrorways, Newmatics, bankRobbers, The Bombers, DJs Dubhead, Miss Dom, Lise, Phil A & Wastemaster

Rinse Dream: You guys are probably best known for your killer contributions to [scene-defining NZ punk compilation] AK79. How did you cross paths with Bryan Staff, Simon Grigg et al? Do you still own the guitar on the cover?

Dean Martelli: Thanks, glad you like our songs. We were asked by Bryan Staff to record a couple of tracks for his nighttime radio show. Those tracks, plus tracks recorded by other bands for his show, were the basis of AK79. Simon was around the scene back then but we didn't have much direct contact with him. I WISH I still owned that guitar. They're super rare now as not many of the Burns Flytes were made. I got it because I'm a huge glam rock fan and Marc Bolan and Slade used to play them. A couple of years ago we tried to track one down for the Volume exhibition at Auckland Museum and even Burns in the UK didn't have one in their museum! I traded it in for a 12 string Rickenbacker after I left the Terrorways and formed Rebel Truce. Obviously I hugely regret selling my Flyte now. I would love to get another, but any that do come up for sale are very expensive.

Punk It Up IV looks like a good time, and I’ve just realised it’s at Zwines! How long as it been since you played there? Any choice memories from early shows there and at the Windsor Castle?

Punk It Up keeps getting better and better every year thanks to the incredible amount of energy and passion that Andrew Boak and his crew put into it. PIU 2019 is shaping up to be the best one ever, and I think it will be a gig people will be talking about for years to come. I doubt some of the bands that are playing will ever play again after this one. Some of us are just getting too old!

Zwines is the Terrorways spiritual home. We last played there 40 years ago. We had a residency there for a long time. We used to play there every Friday and Saturday night and then stagger back to our rehearsal rooms on Elliott Street. Sometimes to sleep until the following night's gig, but often most of Zwines would come back there for a party. The rehearsal room was in a big old stone office block and as it was the weekend no one was there except us! Too many memories! There was the night someone died at Zwines. He wasn't a regular. We used to get a lot of random people coming in once or twice, never to be seen again. Lots of freaks and outcasts felt at home there. This guy apparently died of a drug overdose. The police came in and shut the club down for the night. Someone quipped that The Scavengers had bored him to death.

Then there was the constant battles with the disco kids. They were really aggressive and violent and unfortunately we had to walk past Babes Disco to get to the alley where Zwines was located. Babes and Zwines were in the same building. Babes below and Zwines above. We tried to walk past Babes in big groups. Safety in numbers!

I’ve always loved your far-ranging cover choices, how were you discovering music at the time? I don’t think I’ve heard a Chris Spedding cover anywhere before.

When I first met the guys from Rooter (who became the Terrorways) I had only just arrived in NZ after my family emigrated from the UK. I was 16 at the time. The first thing we discovered was that we all had a very similar taste in music. So we used to take some of our favourite old '60s pop songs and speed them up. I was born in London, and grew up on the Essex coast, and my musical heroes were all the Essex RnB bands. Doctor Feelgood, Eddie & The Hotrods, Kursaal Flyers, plus Joe Strummer's band at the time The 101'ers.

When I was 14 / 15 at school everyone's guitar heroes were Jimmy Page or Keith Richards, etc. My guitar hero was Wilko Johnson. No one at my school had heard of him, even though the Feelgoods came from just down the road in Canvey Island. Wilko is still my guitar hero! I was playing that style of hard fast Essex RnB in bands since I was about 12 years old and that slowly morphed into more of a punk rock style in 1976 and into 1977. So I brought this music with me when I moved to NZ, plus lots of the latest punk stuff that wasn't available in NZ at the time. Rooter played lots at Zwines and we eventually changed our name to the Terrorways as we found it hard to get gigs with our name. None of the newspapers would print the word Rooter! We were all heavily into 60's pop, Bubblegum, Glam Rock. Even Funk and Disco. Meat Loaf, ABBA and the Bay City Rollers were always on the record player at the Terrorways house.

Were Rooter huge Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac fans, or is The Rezillos version of ’Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite' more your thing?

I think we were aware of the original song by Earl Vince & The Valiants (aka Fleetwood Mac) but we basically took our inspiration from The Rezillos version.

What sort of impact did the Iggy Pop tour in 1979 have on your scene? He sure seemed to enjoy himself.

I know Iggy came to see us play at The Gluepot but we never got to meet him as he left straight after we finished. Apparently he really liked us. I remember John No One, our singer, went to Iggy's press conference where Iggy fell asleep. Definitely a lot of bands were influenced by the Stooges, and Iggy's NZ promotional tour must have sold a lot of records because his albums were always playing at gigs and parties. I remember Iggy autographed a friend of mine's handbag. She would always walk around proudly showing off that bag.

Finally one just for you Dean, any unreleased Rebel Truce recordings out there?

Yes! I recently discovered two cassette tapes of unreleased Rebel Truce songs that we recorded at Harlequin Studios with Steve Kennedy. These were final mixes. The original master tapes would have been lost long ago. We would like to release these on vinyl as an EP at some stage. These two cassettes are the only remaining tapes from Rebel Truce.


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Punk It Up IV
Sat 25th May
The Bluestone Room, Auckland