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Interview: Rebel Truce Talk About 'The Lost Tapes' EP - Punk 'O' Ween

Interview: Rebel Truce Talk About 'The Lost Tapes' EP - Punk 'O' Ween

Chris Cudby / Wednesday 28th October, 2020 11:24AM

Perfectly timed for the spooky season, Punk 'O' Ween takes over Tāmaki Makaurau's Galatos this coming Saturday with more hellraising groups than you can shake a studded leather-clad fist at. Lurking amongst a top notch bill featuring Hamilton's Contenders, Gisborne's Sit Down In Front, Morning Horns (playing a special set as a memorial for their bass player Tubbs) and horrorpunks Die Gruwel, is the long-awaited return of legendary punk crew Rebel Truce — who are not only playing their first live event in nearly 40 years (!) but also launching their The Lost Tapes EP via the Punk It Up imprint, with exclusive 7" vinyl editions only available on the night. In celebration of this momentous occasion, we touched base with Rebel Truce's Dean Martelli (also of Rooter and The Terrorways) and Adolf Soeteman, who generously shed light upon the near mythical group who previously had only one single song publicly available, their spiky early '80s anthem 'The Man Inside'...

Punk 'O' Ween
Featuring... Contenders, Sit Down In Front, Morning Horns, Die Gruwel, Rebel Truce
Saturday 31st October - Galatos, Auckland

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Chris Cudby: For those not familiar with Rebel Truce, can you please give us a run down on when you were originally active, and what you got up to at that time?

Dean Martelli: Rebel Truce were a group of friends who met through the early Auckland punk scene in 1980. Taking to heart the punk rock DIY ethos we decided to write a few songs and form a band. The original band, none of whom had ever played an instrument before, consisted of Adolf Soeteman on vocals, Terry Towelling on bass and Bones on drums. What the band lacked in musical talent, they made up for in energy and ideas. The band needed help to put music to the words that Adolf and Terry were writing so reached out (hassled endlessly!) to me who they knew through my previous bands Rooter and The Terrorways. I joined the band and we started knocking the songs into shape. I also came up with our name via a slogan I’d seen on a shirt worn by Joe Strummer. We were literally a garage band, writing songs and rehearsing in Adolf and Terry’s garage.

Adolf Soeteman: I think we were active for about 12 plus months 1980 - 81. We gigged approx 12 times in various bars and clubs in the city before they all gradually closed, did a performance in Vulcan Lane to muster up some attention as there was nowhere to play at one point. We also played at Sweetwaters that year, I think Brian Ferry was the headline act.

Adolf Soeteman and Terry Towelling lived together over in Northcote Point — was there much of a punk scene on the North Shore in the early 80s? Did you have to cross the bridge to mingle with fellow punk rockers?

Dean Martelli: At that time, the scene was mainly centred around the central city. Places like Zwines, lots of pubs who had live bands and also some suburban dances. The suburban dances were particularly great as they were usually all ages gigs and lots of the kids who couldn’t see the bands play at the city venues got to see them play in their local hall. Something happened on the North Shore around the time that we formed Rebel Truce. Pretty much everyone we knew on the Shore were forming their own bands and playing gigs on the Shore. We had a big group of Shore mates that included bands such as The Screaming Meemees, The Ainsworths and The Killjoys to name but a few. Someone once quipped that the North Shore had a band in every garage, and that wasn’t too far from the truth. We all hung out together, played gigs together and went to all of the same parties.

Did Rebel Truce get to play around the country or did you mainly stick to Auckland? When did you originally call it a day as Rebel Truce?

Dean Martelli: We mainly played in Auckland plus one gig in Whangarei. We also played at the Sweetwaters festival. My favourite gigs were the ones we did on the balcony at Adolf and Terry’s house on Northcote Point. A lot of people turned up for those Sunday afternoon gigs and we brought traffic to a standstill, the front garden overflowing with people out onto Queen Street. The other interesting gig was playing Vulcan Lane in the central city. I’d arranged with a record shop to run a long power lead from their basement shop up to the street. We turned up on a Thursday lunchtime and set up all of our gear right in the middle of Vulcan Lane, set up our gear, turned everything up to 11 and let rip. Fantastic gig! The police and council turned up and some builders working on the scaffold above us were throwing bags of cement mix down at us. It was one big loud chaotic mess and I loved it! This time we stopped the traffic in THE Queen St and made it into the papers. We were trying to highlight how few live music venues there were to play at that time. Sadly Auckland City is in the same position in 2020. The E.P. cover photo was taken at the Vulcan Lane gig. The band came to an end in 1981. This was about the same time that I moved back to my hometown London.

Adolf Soeteman: We played mostly in Auckland but did host a gig in Whangarei and also Sweetwaters festival. We called it a day shortly after the 2nd recording session with Rebel Truce iteration # 2 some time in 1981, it was a long time ago so the memory is a bit jaded.

The one song I've heard by Rebel Truce is 'The Man Inside', which was on the Class Of 81 compilation but I'm sure I must have listened it elsewhere too. Did you guys record / release much material at the time? Is The Lost Tapes EP the complete package from Rebel Truce?

Dean Martelli: 'The Man Inside' was only ever released on two compilation albums. The Class Of 81 and It’s Bigger Than Both Of Us [that's where I would've heard it - CC]. 'The Man Inside' has always been a super popular song. I was quite surprised, when I moved back to NZ twenty years ago, to hear it played on the radio a few times. I still get people coming up to me telling me how much they love that song. We did two studio sessions over the life of the band. The first session was where 'The Man Inside' was recorded by the original Rebel Truce line-up. The second line up of the band had Dave Donahue on bass and Phil on drums both of whom were great musicians. That was the line-up that did the second recording session. The Lost Tapes E.P consists of five tracks which is our entire recorded output.

Adolf Soeteman: The song 'The Man Inside' was also featured in a NZ TV drama show about The Exponents [2017's Why Does Love?]. We recorded twice, in total 5 songs, the only song released was 'The Man Inside'... We had plans to release but we never completed that before we disbanded.

The work that would have gone into organising, recording, and releasing even a single back then must have been immense — compared to today's home recording / put it on the internet setups. How did ‘The Man Inside’ originally come to be released?

Dean Martelli: Even though we had an intense DIY attitude, I doubt we could have got it together to release our own record back then. We financed both of the recording sessions ourselves and used to get a cheap all-nighter rate at Harlequin Studios with the brilliant Steve Kennedy at the controls. We were lucky that 'The Man Inside' was picked up by Simon Griggs’s Propellor Records and got a vinyl release.

Adolf Soeteman: There were a bunch of northsore bands recording mostly under the influence and encouragement of Hillary Hunt, we actually never considered recording but he heard the Simon Grigg was releasing a compilation album and encouraged us endlessly to record. We saved all the money we got from gigging and eventually had enough to do a midnight to 6am recording session at Harlequin studios.

What sparked the idea to release The Lost Tapes EP? Was there any challenges in tracking down the tapes, or any archiving disasters in assembling the material?

Dean Martelli: The main thing that motivated us to release the E.P was me finding the tape from the second recording session which had three never released songs on it. It had sat in a box of tapes, including the first session tape, since 1980, travelling around the world in various moves. Unbelievably the tape was still in good condition when I played it back and I immediately digitised it. The tape from the first session was unusable due to deterioration of the tape. Luckily, a couple of years earlier, we secured the original reel to reel master of the first session tape and had digitised it. So we had two tapes with five original tracks on them and thought why not release these songs. Andrew Boak’s company Green Recordings are responsible for the release and have done an excellent job. All five tracks were remastered in the U.S by Adam Gonsalves so they’re sounding really good.

How long between gigs has it been for Rebel Truce? Have you guys been rehearsing hard for Punk 'O' Ween? What can we look forward to on Saturday?

Dean Martelli: It’s been forty years since our last gig, but it won’t be forty years until our next one as we’re playing both nights of the Punk It Up festival in February next year. We had our first rehearsal last Saturday and it went really well. One more rehearsal and then the gig. Lots to look forward to on Saturday at Punk-O-Ween. Four brilliant punk bands, a great DJ and Rebel Truce doing a short set. Plus of course it’s the only place you will be able get a copy of the very limited edition E.P!

Adolf Soeteman: It has been many many years since we last played / sang these songs. Last Saturday's rehearsal was the first time I've sang the songs since 1981 and next week will be the 1st live performance in 40 years.


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