Waves (band)

Last updated

Origin Auckland, New Zealand
Genres Folk rock
Years active 1974 (1974)–1977 (1977), 2013–present
Labels Direction Records
  • Graeme Gash
  • David Marshall
  • Kevin Wildman
  • Michael Mason
Past members
  • Michael Matthew
  • Rex Carter

Waves was a New Zealand folk rock band that recorded a top-selling self-titled album in 1975 before disbanding in 1977. Its lineup emerged from an acoustic trio, Rosewood, which originally included Geoff Chunn, who later joined Split Enz. Despite making only sporadic live appearances—one of which was a double billing shared with Split Enz—their singles gained major airplay on Auckland radio and the Waves album reached No.7 on the New Zealand album charts, later becoming a sought-after collector's item.

Folk rock is a hybrid music genre combining elements of folk music and rock music, which arose in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s. In the U.S., folk rock emerged from the folk music revival and the influence that the Beatles and other British Invasion bands had on members of that movement. Performers such as Bob Dylan and the Byrds—several of whose members had earlier played in folk ensembles—attempted to blend the sounds of rock with their preexisting folk repertoire, adopting the use of electric instrumentation and drums in a way previously discouraged in the U.S. folk community. The term "folk rock" was initially used in the U.S. music press in June 1965 to describe the Byrds' music.

<i>Waves</i> (Waves album) 1975 studio album by Waves

Waves was the debut album by New Zealand folk-rock band Waves. It was released in 1975 and reached No.7 on the New Zealand album charts. The album, which became a sought-after collectors item on vinyl, was re-released in 2013 on vinyl and CD with a bonus disc, Misfit, a previously unreleased album recorded by the band in 1976.

Geoff Chunn is a New Zealand musician, best known as an early member of Split Enz.


In 1976 the band recorded a second album that was rejected by their record company, which later erased the tapes. Dejected, the band split up in September 1977. A surviving rough mix of the second album was released in 2013 as Misfit, a bonus disc with the first official CD release of Waves.

A co-founder of the band, Graeme Gash, released a solo album, After the Carnival, in 1981.

Waves reformed in 2013 for a record store performance in Auckland and announced they were writing songs for a further album.

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. Auckland is the largest urban area in the country, with an urban population of around 1,628,900. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,695,900. A diverse and multicultural city, Auckland is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. The Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki-makau-rau, meaning "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers", in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions.


In the early 1970s Auckland Technical Institute art and design students Graeme Gash and Kevin Wildman formed Rosewood, an acoustic folk-pop trio, with Geoff Chunn, gigging regularly at an Auckand venue and also at the 1973 Ngaruawahia Music Festival. [1] Rosewood disbanded when Chunn left in April 1973 to join Split Enz as drummer. [2]

Auckland University of Technology university at Auckland

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is a university in New Zealand, formed on 1 January 2000 when a former technical college was granted university status. It has five faculties across three campuses in Auckland: City, North, and South campuses, and an additional three specialist locations: AUT Millennium, Warkworth Radio Astronomical Observatory and AUT Centre for Refugee Education.

The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival was the first large outdoor music festival in New Zealand. It was held on a farm at Ngaruawahia on the Waikato River, 19 kilometres north-west of Hamilton, for three days from 6 to 8 January 1973.

Gash and Wildman continued to meet to play guitar and work on their vocal harmonies, mixing with other Auckland musicians at the Parnell Rd home of Geoff and Mike Chunn. Gash recalled: "One day David Marshall crashed our jam; we were gobsmacked. He was great. We snapped him up. Michael Matthew was hanging out with a bunch of musos we knew, and we cajoled him into accompanying us on the bashwalk to glory." [3]

Adopting the name Waves, the band—with Gash, Wildman and Marshall on guitar and Matthew on bass—played at folk clubs, cafes and eventually at Auckland Town Hall, His Majesty's Theatre, the Maidment and the Mercury, playing soft rock and singing four-part harmonies. They avoided the pub circuit, as Gash explained: "They wanted something to drink to, not think to. So we needed venues where the intricacies of our music would be heard." The band had three writers, with each member excelling at singing or guitar-playing. [3] Gash said the band felt proud playing original New Zealand songs. "Back then it wasn't particularly popular to front up and play all your own music. People tended to get a little bored with that." [4]

With continued performances, the band sensed a building excitement and air of anticipation. "Split Enz had embedded themselves into the national psyche, or at least the leading edge of it," Gash said. "Hot Licks was championing a lot of local work. Radio stations like Hauraki were into doing their bit for the locals as well. Hauraki were great in those days; they used to do Buck-a-Head concerts. Big venue, one dollar for two bands."

Radio Hauraki

Radio Hauraki is a New Zealand rock music station that started in 1966. It was the first private commercial radio station of the modern broadcasting era in New Zealand and operated illegally until 1970 to break the monopoly held by the state-owned New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. From its founding until 2012 Hauraki played a mix of classic and mainstream rock music. In 2013, it changed its music content, playing modern rock and alternative music from the last 25–30 years. As of 2019 more classic rock and progressive rock is being increasingly played. In its modern legal form, Radio Hauraki's head office and main studios are now located at 2 Graham Street in the Auckland CBD, as one of eight stations of NZME Radio.

Waves album

In 1975 Roger Jarrett, the editor of local music magazine Hot Licks, introduced the band to Kerry Thomas and Guy Morris, co-owners of the magazine and Direction Records, a retail chain and independent record label. On 7 July 1975 the band began a five-day recording session for their debut album at Stebbing Studios in Jervois Rd, Ponsonby, across the road from the eight-bedroom colonial villa where Waves members lived. Gash recalled: "Before walking through the front door of Stebbings, we’d prepared, done a lot of practice and a lot of live work with the material, so we knew it back to front. Let’s face it, we’d been living across the road getting ourselves ready for this moment for about a year." [3]

Thomas arranged expatriate New Zealand producer Peter Dawkins, then living in Sydney, to return to Auckland to produce the album. Gash said: "Dawkins had five days, and he marshalled us through the procedures in a most efficient fashion. That was his job, and he did it well. He was tough though: one of our friends wasn’t cutting it quickly enough with his solo, and Peter made me go into the studio and fire him on the spot. We freely availed ourselves of notable contributors. Some—Mike Chunn, Mike Caen, Roy Mason—were personal friends; others—Vic Williams, Murray Grindlay, Mike Harvey, Paul Lee—were introduced to us in the studio." He told The New Zealand Herald: "We were in a world we had dreamed of being in. It was a mix of excitement and terror." [4]

At the end of the week, Dawkins flew back to Sydney with the finished tapes to mix them. "No doubt, in his world this was standard procedure," Gash said. "However what it did was disengage us from the process. When the mixes came back to Auckland, we didn’t understand them. They were not the way we heard ourselves. We voiced our desire to remix the album. Almost miraculously, Kerry Thomas agreed, and gained my gratitude forever. We kept Peter’s mixes of "Waterlady Song" and "Arrow"; the rest the band remixed at Stebbing’s with (engineer) Phil Yule, and that is what appeared on the album." [3]

The album was released in October 1975, reached No.7 on the album charts and became one of the best-selling albums by New Zealand artists of the 1970s. [1] Three singles were released—"The Dolphin Song"/"Letters", "Arrow"/Clock House Shuffle" and "At the Beach"/Waitress".

Follow-up and breakup

The success of Waves attracted the attention of major record labels and in 1976 the band—now with a drummer, Rex Carter, and new bassist Michael Mason, who replaced Michael Matthew—entered Mandrill Studios in Parnell to record their second album for WEA Records. [3] Some of the songs followed the folk-rock style of the debut album, while on others the band began to explore a new direction with electric guitars. [3] [4]

Gash said: "We were producing it ourselves, and it was all ourselves; unlike the first album, there were no guest performances. The rhythm section was jelling nicely, the songs and the playing seemed a step up and we felt much more relaxed and in control of the process than we had previously. Things were looking pretty good." But with just a few solo overdubs to complete and on the verge of mixing, the band was told that label boss Tim Murdoch didn’t like what they had done and had ordered that the multi-track tapes should be recorded over. [3] [4]

Studio boss Dave Hurley allowed the band to copy a rough mix of the tapes before it was wiped. "That is the only record we have of our endeavours, an entire album’s worth of work," Gash told NZ Musician magazine. "We had worked hard. It deserved better. Maybe we just weren’t tough enough; certainly, after a few good blows to the head you start to wonder what it’s all for. The second album being wiped just prior to the mix broke our hearts." [3]

In July 1977 the band recorded one last song, "Vegas", at Mascot Studios and delivered it to Murdoch. "It was some of our best playing," Gash said. "Almost unbelievably, the plug was once again pulled just prior to mixing." [5]

In 1981 Gash produced a solo album, After the Carnival, [3] while Marshall became a member of Lip Service in 1980 and Martial Law in 1984. [1]

2013 revival

The band reformed in 2003 for a one-off gig at the St James Theatre in a lineup that included Dave Dobbyn, Don McGlashan, Anika Moa, Liam Finn and Martin Phillipps. In 2012 the band was contacted by Roger Marbeck of Ode Records and music enthusiast and archivist Grant Gillanders to reissue the 1975 Waves album—by then a collectors' item fetching high prices—on CD and vinyl for Record Store Day in April, with the release launched by a live performance at the Real Groovy record store in Auckland. [6] Neither Marbeck nor Gillanders was aware a second album also existed, albeit in a rudimentary form and decided to re-release them both as a double CD. "I think it was the idea of getting that out of the shadows and into the light that swung the deal for me," Gash said. [3]

As planning began, it was discovered the original master tapes for the Waves album had vanished with the collapse in the 1970s of Direction Records. [7] "It came down to the small number of unplayed vinyls I had stashed away under the bed for the last 38 years," Gash said. "They were old, but mint, and I took them to Stebbings, where we ran them on a very high-end turntable and transferred it all to digital files. It worked superbly. We then mastered it there for vinyl with Steve McGough, pulling in the original engineer, Phil Yule, to listen as well. I then redid all the cover art and designed a new insert for photos and info, Kevin did a take on the original Direction label, and we sent it all off for cutting, pressing and packaging to United Record Pressing in Nashville." [3] He said: "It actually sounds good, if not better, than the original." [7]

For the previously unreleased 1976 album, McGough also took the single tape that existed of the unmixed recordings and transferred it to digital, while Marbeck succeeded in locating the multi-track tapes of "Vegas", the final song Waves recorded. Gash said: "They are the only multi-tracks we have of any of our material, and therefore the only song we had the opportunity to do an actual mix on. And so, we have 'Vegas', recorded July 1977, mixed January 2013. We had to bake the tape at Stebbings prior to running it, but we retrieved everything. We then took those files to York St Studios in Parnell, where we mixed 'Vegas' with engineer Hayden Taylor and mastered the Mandrill sessions. I would have loved to have mixed them as well, but with the multi-tracks destroyed back in 1976, that was not an option." [3]

The end result was the Waves album, remastered for both vinyl and CD, plus a bonus disc, Misfit, containing nine of the original 12 songs of the previously unheard second album. [3] [6] Five hundred copies of the vinyl album were pressed and 1000 copies of the double CD package. The band played at Real Groovy and signed copies of the new releases. Gash said: "We started rehearsing every weekend and working it back up. But it was lovely because people had come from all over the place to see us. Most of them were old, but not all of them. Some came up clutching their original Waves album, but then some of them also bought the new vinyl. Some we had to sign both, and some came up with After the Carnival. There was a flurry of doing interviews, stuff which I hadn't thought about for decades. It was exhausting but interesting. We were amazed at where the fans were: this radio programmer still had the T-shirts, that television producer wanted us to do the show because he was a massive fan. We were amazed at the level of interest and didn't expect it." [6]

The band announced they were rehearsing and writing again for a new Waves album. Gash said: "I'm very conscious it's very hard to beat the old songs that people will love. You tend to disappoint people with your follow-up stuff, but having said that I think what we are doing now is better. It is just as song-based so it's not like it's gone somewhere else, but as songs there is some really strong material there.

"Kevin Wildman—who really only managed to put a stake in the ground twice, but they were spectacular songs—is now spinning them out practically one a week and there are some gems. So he has prompted me and David (Marshall) to try harder because we can't let them get away with that. It's always been a band with three writers." [6]




Related Research Articles

Crowded House Pop rock band from New Zealand/Australia

Crowded House are a rock band, formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1985. Its founding members were New Zealander Neil Finn and Australians Paul Hester (drums) and Nick Seymour (bass). Later band members included Neil Finn's brother, Tim Finn, and Americans Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod.

Neil Finn New Zealand musician

Neil Mullane Finn is a New Zealand singer-songwriter and musician. With his brother Tim Finn, he was the co-frontman for Split Enz, a project that he joined after it was initially founded by Tim and others, and then became the frontman for Crowded House. He has also recorded several successful solo albums and assembled diverse musicians for the 7 Worlds Collide project; contributor Ed O'Brien, also guitarist for Radiohead, has hailed Finn as popular music's "most prolific writer of great songs".

Split Enz New Zealand band

Split Enz were a rock band from New Zealand that was popular during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was founded in 1973 by Tim Finn and Phil Judd, and had a variety of other members during its existence. Split Enz had eight songs listed in the APRA Top 100 New Zealand Songs of All Time, more than any other band.

Tim Finn New Zealand musician and member of Crowded House

Brian Timothy "Tim" Finn is a New Zealand singer and musician. His musical career includes forming 1970s and 1980s New Zealand rock group Split Enz, a number of solo albums, temporary membership in his brother Neil's band Crowded House and joint efforts with Neil Finn as the Finn Brothers.

Citizen Band (music band) music band

Citizen Band were a New Zealand band formed by the brothers Geoff and Mike Chunn, both of whom had previously been members of Split Enz.

The Crocodiles was a New Zealand pop/new wave band formed in 1979 with lead singer Jenny Morris, who went on to commercial success as a solo artist in Australia; and later included drummer Barton Price, who subsequently joined Sardine v and then Models. The Crocodiles top 20 hit single in New Zealand was "Tears" in 1980 from debut album, Tears; a second album, Looking at Ourselves, appeared in November. The band relocated to Australia in February 1981 but disbanded in July without further releases.

Th Dudes New Zealand rock band

Th' Dudes were a late 1970s / early 1980s pop/rock band from Auckland, New Zealand. Hits include "Walking in Light", "Right First Time", " Be Mine Tonight" and "Bliss".

Eddie Rayner, is a New Zealand musician who spent twelve years as a keyboardist in the band Split Enz. He has also played in the groups Orb, Space Waltz, Crowded House, The Makers and 801.

<i>Dizrythmia</i> 1977 studio album by Split Enz

Dizrythmia (1977) is the third album released by New Zealand new wave band, Split Enz. It was the first Split Enz album without co-founding members Phil Judd and Mike Chunn. Neil Finn and Nigel Griggs, the first being the younger brother of band leader Tim Finn, replaced them respectively. Meanwhile, Nigel's old friend and former bandmate Malcolm Green took the place of Emlyn Crowther who also left around this time. The album was released domestically by Mushroom Records, and overseas by Chrysalis Records.

<i>Mental Notes</i> (Split Enz album) 1975 studio album by Split Enz

Mental Notes is the 1975 debut album by New Zealand art rock band Split Enz. The album cover was painted by band member Phil Judd. Original vinyl copies featured Phil saying "Make a mental note" in the runout groove of the record's second side, causing the phrase to be looped ad infinitum on manual turntables until the stylus is removed.

<i>Second Thoughts</i> (album) 1976 studio album by Split Enz

Second Thoughts is a 1976 album by New Zealand art rock band Split Enz. It was recorded in London with Roxy Music's guitarist Phil Manzanera producing the album. Four of the songs on the album were reworked versions of songs from their 1975 debut album Mental Notes. Two other songs on the album had been first recorded during the Mental Notes sessions, but left off and re-recorded for Second Thoughts. There were two new songs, both written by Phil Judd, and a re-recording of an early Judd/Finn composition ("129"), which for the Second Thoughts version, was renamed "Matinee Idyll".

<i>Frenzy</i> (Split Enz album) 1979 studio album by Split Enz

Frenzy is a 1979 album by New Zealand new wave band Split Enz. The album, like much of the band's work, featured mainly Tim Finn compositions. Frenzy ventured even further beyond the band's art rock roots to more of a pop sound.

David Tickle is a British record producer and engineer. As a producer, he is noted for his work with Split Enz, and in Canada, for his mid-1980s work with Red Rider, Platinum Blonde and Gowan. Latter produced Joe Cocker The Divinyls "I Touch Myself" massive international hit with 4 Non Blondes "What's Up?". As an engineer, mixer co production he has worked on best selling albums by artists such as Blondie and U2; as a mixing engineer, he worked on several hit 1980s releases by Prince.

Philip Raymond "Phil" Judd is a New Zealand singer-songwriter known for being one of the founders of the bands Split Enz and The Swingers.

<i>Rootin Tootin Luton Tapes</i> compilation album by Split Enz

The Rootin Tootin Luton Tapes is a collection of demos made by New Zealand band Split Enz in 1978. During their 2006 tour of Australia it was announced that these recordings would finally be released as an official album after lengthy pressure from the fan club Frenz of the Enz.

<i>Scented Gardens for the Blind</i> 1975 studio album by Dragon

Scented Gardens for the Blind is the second album by New Zealand group Dragon released in February 1975 on Vertigo Records before they relocated to Australia in May. Scented Gardens for the Blind, along with their first album Universal Radio, is in the progressive rock genre—all subsequent albums are hard rock/pop rock. "Vermillion [sic] Cellars" was released as a single in March and was followed by non-album singles, "Education" in May and "Star Kissed" in August but neither albums nor singles had any local chart success.

Paul Emlyn Crowther was the drummer of Split Enz from July 1974 to November 1976.

<i>The Beginning of the Enz</i> 1979 compilation album by Split Enz

The Beginning of the Enz is a 1979 release from New Zealand rock group Split Enz. The album is a collection of songs from the early days of the band. Several of these songs, such as 129, Lovey Dovey and Spellbound were later re-recorded and included on albums such as Mental Notes and Second Thoughts.

Stebbing Studios is a recording studio in Auckland, New Zealand. Artists who have had their work recorded over the years, include: Ray Columbus & The Invaders, Bill & Boyd, Gary Havoc & The Hurricanes, The Human Instinct, and Waves.


  1. 1 2 3 Sergent, Bruce. "Waves". New Zealand Music. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  2. Chunn, Mike (1992). Stranger Than Fiction: The Life and Times of Split Enz. Wellington: GP Publications. p. 53. ISBN   1-869560-50-7.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reekie, Trevor. "Moments Like These: Graeme Gash". NZ Musician. 17, No.6 (April/May 2013). Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Kara, Scott (13 April 2013). "70s band Waves set to gain new generation of fans". The New Zealand Herald. Auckland. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  5. Graeme Gash, liner notes to Waves reissue, January 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Reid, Graham (4 October 2013). "On the crest of new waves". Elsewhere website. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  7. 1 2 Street, Danielle (19 April 2013), "Waves of vinyl roll in from the 70s", Auckland City Harbour News, retrieved 17 June 2014