Saturday, December 1, 2007

TAB - The Argumentative Bastards EP

This 1989 Ima-Hitt 7 track LP from Wellington band TAB is a New Zealand underground punk rock classic. I've seen it listed for sale recently at US $35 on some punk vinyl website. The band were sometimes compared to Bad Brains due to their reggae song Sniffin' and vocalist Aaron Watson's dreadlocks. Sniffin' was about teenage frustration, drugs and unemployment. The singer, Aaron Watson, now the editor of the Capital Times, grew up in Porirua and wrote about the bored kids in the streets of Porirua at the time. Set to a slow two-chord reggae beat with a searing guitar solo at the end, it received some lukewarm reviews at the time but was ultimately classified as not radio friendly. However student radio loved it..

I remember Fred, a fast melodic punk song with a mid-song reggae beat about a cop killer receiving a life prison sentence, getting heavy student radio airplay from Radio Massey in Palmerston North at the time this record came out. The cover of John Denver's Country Roads is a classic New Zealand punk cover version.

I contacted Brian Wafer from Ima-Hitt records about a year ago seeing if I could get a replacement copy for my vinyl but unfortunately he didn't have one and his comment was that TAB record was bloody excellent.

The band line-up on this EP was Rob Stewart(bass guitar), J.P. de Raad(drums), Simon Gotlieb(guitars), Aaron Watson vocals. There were only ever 500 copies pressed. I recently contacted Simon and asked a few questions.

: Why were there only 500 copies pressed and is there any chance of it ever appearing on CD?

Simon: We had NO money. Brian Wafer from ImaHitt records in New Plymouth fronted up with the bucks for the pressings and yes we only made 500. I have both this EP as mp3s. I have the final 1 inch master of Ganja and Chocolate Fish but have not as yet had it digitised as it's really hard and expensive to find a cheap-ish recording studio with this sort of analogue equipment nowadays. But there's always the idea there. Ganja and Chocolate Fish is a MUCH better recording. Looking back Argumentative Bastards is a very naiive record, but hey, we were only 19, 20, 20 and 21 then.

Smalltakeover: I read that Hamish Laing (who played bass on the first Shihad
EP Devolve also played for TAB, is that true?

Simon: Yeah Mishy and me go way back. He was playing in both bands for a while. Played rhythm guitar (not bass) for TAB and bass for Shihad before he quit both bands to go semi-professional motorcycle racing. Karl Kippenburg took over from Mishy and he's a bloody good bass player. AFAIK Hamish is still with Avery Ford.

: Why did TAB split?

Simon: TAB pretty much split up because it had run its course. Both Aaron and Jean-Pierre were pre-uni students when we started the band and I guess Uni and work commitments took over too much. It was very difficult to make money out of music back then.

Smalltakeover: What do the guys in the band do nowadays?

Simon: Not sure what Rob is doing. I manage a digitisation company after spending many years working in the advertising industry. Aaron is the editor of Capital Times(the free Wellington weekly), and JP is the Deputy Director of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and has been a policy advisor in economics to the Government for ages.

Smalltakeover: What other bands have you been in?

Simon: Be cool to find a band to muck around with. I haven't played with others in a while. There's been a number of other bands (played Mountain Rock with Open Oyster and got good reviews) but none quite as much fun as TAB.

Cheers to Simon for answering my questions


Bloopy said...

Definitely an interesting band! Despite being punk their music has a kind of NWOBHM feel to it at times.

Anonymous said...

It would be awesome if this EP was available somewhere somehow. I remember taping a couple of tracks from this off the radio (Gerald Dwyers Wild Wild Rock Show on Active) in my late teens.

Chris said...

A CD re-release should really happen as it's an EP that deserves it.

Simon Gotlieb said...

It's been digitised. I'm talking with the guys in the band with a view to re-releasing both this and Ganja and Chocolate Fish - Simon

JR Love said...

What about a crowd sourced funding project to press unreleased tracks onto vinyl?

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