Fun Foremost For First Fifteen Four

Another Blast From The Arse Reproduction, otherwise known as 30 Years After The Event

The following appeared in the Times, these days known as the Sunday Star Times, in September 1982.

WELLINGTON’s First Fifteen have turned to music making. But this lot are not, as it happens, much into rugby. And there are only four of them.
The First Fifteen create raw, uncompromising noise together. They are the best of Wellington’s revitalized musical underground.
Together for five months, their origins are Eastbourne and they share a common weta fetish. They have played at the Perfumed Garden strip club, independent “boot boy” gigs, and at rugby club functions. Their main vocalist digs graves for a living.
The old Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood classic, ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, will never sound the same again. Neither will the instrumental ‘Green Onions’, with its guest appearance by Riot III’s Mr Void on vocals. Originals ‘Trouble’ and ‘Ashtrays’ are two of the best of the First Fifteen’s fifteen odd creations.
Their music has an edge. Says guitarist Blaise Oarsman: “We don’t care because what have we got to lose? We’re not expecting much. We’re all in it for a good time.” There is no future, let’s have fun.
The First Fifteen are very funny. Blaise: “If you analyse a lot of what bands are doing, an overt sense of humour is missing. Humour means communication, giving something out.”
Drummer/vocalist Jeff Miles: “Not putting anything false across to people.”
Their humour orbits around singer and sometimes drum basher Tim Scott. Looking like a slightly rotund beer-drinking potential rugby fan, he confuses those who must fit an image to a sound. Both his lyrics and visage hurl self-parody and twisted humour at an audience.
The line-up is completed by bassist Scott MacFarlane. All members could come from different planets. Their only image is a unified striving for individuality.
Says Blaise: “A band are on the right track if they get up and are obviously not dead serious musicians with stony cold faces who are worried about whether people will like them or not – just people who get up there with no expectations and play and laugh and fall over and pull the mike lead out and still manage to keep it together at the same time.”
The audience at a First Fifteen concert should be as much the band’s entertainment as the band is theirs. Fans are not always won immediately though, as the First Fifteen discovered recently when they played at a rugby club function and got pelted with food, bottles and cans for their efforts.
“They didn’t know what to expect,” says Blaise. “We just said, ‘if you don’t like our music, y our turn next, come up here and have a go. We’re not just going to play to our group of friends, either hate us or get into it.”
And, he says, they had a good time in the end. “At least they realized one thing – that if they didn’t like the music, at least the exponents of the music weren’t trying to snob them.”
The big lack is that of gigs, but it’s changing. Their set at the old Matauranga school building recently ended in a profuse food fight (the building is used as a food co-op during the week) and mountains of boot boy gob, but their Christchurch venture last week should bring a whole new audience to this young band.
The First Fifteen are a new face, another variation. They are not a “rock” band. Their musicianship could be better – “We don’t know the chords” – but their music benefits from its sacrilegious breaking of musical convention.
They threaten to become even more musically anarchic as they learn each other’s instruments and play musical chairs-like swap-rounds to limit the potential of individual ego.
Says Blaise: “We want to devise something more interesting than four musicians playing on the spot. We want to have as much fun as everybody else. We don’t want to get up there and say ‘this is our next single’, or, ‘sorry about breaking the guitar string’, and then playing ‘Anarchy In The UK’. GARY STEEL

• Note: Of course, what I should have said was how great they were. Almost forgotten now, their one EP gives a taste of their anarcho-punk sound with Tim’s yelping Fall-style vocals. I remember seeing them perform on one of those interminable Telethon marathon weekends at about 4am in the morning, lurching about the studio doing their thing in-between more jingling of change, counting of totals, and repetitions of “thank you very much for your kind donations.” They were fantastic. And no, I have no idea what became of them, except that Blaise who went on to feature in ?Fog. If anyone has any information…

9 Comments

  1. Awesome caught up with some of the recordings. Genuine Kiwi gem of a group. Hard to find more RIP Tim Scott. Wonderful vocalist great timing and great delivery. Very observant Kiwi humor better than the Front Lawn by a mile…less bullshit and wank more rock ‘n’ roll. Oh by the way they did like Rugby. Just not the dick heads playing it.

    Rock on Eastbourne!

  2. Jimbo, I don’t know what happened to those guys. If you have any info, I would be grateful to receive it.

  3. Hi Gary. My brother Tim was the singer of First XV. He passed away last year from liver cancer. Jeff, the drummer, died in 1987. Blaise, the guitarist and Scott, the bass player, are both still in Wellington.

    After the First XV broke up Tim went on to form Freedom for Sheep who, as you mentioned, had a rather memorable appearance on Telethon. I reckon I’m probably the only person on the planet who has First XV on their iPod lol

  4. Personally I reckon ‘Do the Jug’ should’ve been the Rugby World Cup theme song lol

  5. Thanks for the info, Jane. Seeing the First XV rehearse was one of the best gigs I think I’ve ever seen. One of these days they’ll get rediscovered. I wonder if there are unreleased recordings languishing in storage?

  6. Oh yeah Gary and Jane my sister Bek is in the Welly Ukelele orchestra. She was also in Cortina she’d have gotten on with Tim and the guys like a house on fire by the sounds. Similar outlooks for sure.

  7. yes Gary there are a few. I found them going through Tim’s things. A few which spring to mind are Trouble, Do The Jug and Residential Background. Do The Jug and Residential Background are both on the Capitol Kaos album from 1983.

    heres a link if u wanna have a listen:

    http://www.upthepunks.co.nz/wiki/index.php?title=First_Fifteen

    its very raw but a great blast from the past

  8. apparently Jello Biafra from Dead Kennedys loved them and bought their EP when he was in Wellington many years ago

  9. Thanks for the link, Jane. Fabulous.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*