Alright, so out of all the possible things to know about New Zealand, from its pristine natural wonders to its rich indigenous culture to its sad colonial history, i'm sure we can all agree that the one thing that truly distinguishes this great southern island nation from all others is the fact that Timberjack's cover of Black Widow's "Come to the Sabbat" became a top-ten hit in 1971. Now that, my friends, is the kind of country I could pledge allegiance to.
Every television in New Zealand is tuned to broadcasts of either cricket or rugby and I watch intently, trying to deduce the object of the games from the body language of the players and officials. For those who remember the most popular mainstream newspaper comic strip of the late 80's, sport Down Under tends to bear a striking resemblance to "Calvinball", where whistles and stoppages in play seem to have no apparent external cause and gameplay itself appears as little more than of a spontaneous series of physical non-sequiturs. as the confusion mounts with beave and I trading wild speculations about how one actually accumulates points in a cricket match, I wonder if the world's patently greatest sport -- ice hockey -- would seem as curious and absurd to a New Zealander? No, i decide. It coudn't be.
One of the highlights of our 3 painfully short days in New Zealand has virtually nothing to do with us being here: in June of 1986, the day before i left rural Manitoba for a life in the big city, i paid a final visit to Busy Fingers Sewing Shop, a beloved and bizarro emporium of needlework and early 80's speed metal located in the heart of downtown Portage La Prairie. My last purchase there was Kreator's "Endless Pain". I remember the transaction well.
I can't tell you how many hours i spent immersing myself in Kreator's recordings from that day forward. The complete and utter pandemonium of Pleasure to Kill, the galloping thrash of Out of the Dark Into the Light, the crushing precision of Terrible Certainty and Extreme Aggression, the devastating tribute to Raw Power's "State Oppression" that closed the Cause for Conflict LP. I literally grew up with the sounds and the words of the German thrash pioneers scorched into my psyche.
So when our German record label, Grand Hotel Van Cleef, let us know by email the other day that Mille from Kreator had submitted a press blurb acclaiming the record we just made, "Supporting Caste", i just sat there staring at his words on the screen, in a state of surreal, suspended animation.
Maybe that seems a little dramatic. But the truth is the things that have most closely resembled a justification for my existence on this planet have been these subtle claspings of lifes little loops, where the people whose music and words accompanied me on my journey from a bewildered childhood to a much more bewildered adulthood, disclose an awareness and interest in our paltry contributions to the heavy rock diaspora.
What does this have to do with us playing shows in New Zealand? Not much, eh? Well, just wait till you read about what i don't write about us playing shows in Australia. It'll blow your mind.