20 Apr 2021

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Operation - An Interview with Operation

18 Apr 2005 // An interview by Shade
by [email protected]
11 June 2004

"I'm Renee and I am in a hospital-theme band called Operation - you should come see us play. We dress as doctors and nurses."

How am i supposed to resist such an introduction?

After some exchanges of eMails, I thought it would be interesting to find out more about Renee-Louise Carafice and her band. I met Renee and Anita for coffee at The Odeon Lounge last week.

So, who are Operation?

"That's a really broad question..." mulls Renee - whose voice is one of those voices you could strangely listen to for hours, "... we play...", she hesitates, thinking.

Anita, the other, more softly spoken, nurse, waits a moment, watching Renee gathering her thoughts before she politely interjects - "I play the drums, Steve is on bass and Renee plays guitar and sings. Renee wrote all the songs in hospital last year - that is where the theme comes from."

"Yes, I was institutionalized on my birthday last year", Renee emphasizes the word birthday, perhaps in a mock incredulous tone. I mean, what does one get a girl who has everything for her birthday - you get her committed.

Renee laughs at the bad joke. She has a loud, warm laugh - and, as I discover during the interview, a wicked, and disarmingly honest sense of humor. The best kind.

"It was a weird turn of events", Renee continues, "I was severely depressed and I told a counsellor that I was contemplating suicide and her instructions were if she felt that if she feels that someone's life was in danger she had to contact the crisis team". Renee changes the tone of some words, as if to verbalize putting inverted commas around them. The phrase 'crisis team' was emphasized in such a manner.

"They turned out to be cops", she continues. "They held me in an interoggation room for eight hours". This time the word eight was underlined by Renee's voice.

"Now, I was pretty fucked off - and being me - I gave them the finger a lot and said 'piss off' a lot - I was really quite angry - eight hours down the track a German psychiatrist woman walked into the room - and she said to me - 'Renee - can you tell me vot ze problem is?'". Renee does a comic German accent.

"And I said to her - 'I'm not willing to tell you anything because I dont trust vot you are going to do'" - I could sense that she was fucked up".

I sit and listen to the story unfolding - enthralled. I glance at Anita, who I suspect has heard the story several times before, but, regardless, she is hanging on every word, just as I am.

"And she says to me - in these exact words 'I vill tell you what i am going to do' and she read me my rights!"
"I did what you do, stereotypically if you are told that they are going to take you away - I ran screaming! And they stereotypically knocked me down and sedated me and put me in a car and took me to a high security mental institution." Renee described a scene from a movie that was, in fact her real life experience.

"While I was in hospital, to keep myself occupied I wrote a little book of lyrics and pictures", she hands me a copy - neatly stapled and typed in Times New Roman font - entitled My Heart on Ultrasound (Songs from the Connelly Unit). "they record my experience in there - and I said to myself that as soon as I got better enough to get a band to perform them, I would."

So, that is who Operation are.

They dress up in fake doctors and nurses uniforms.

"They audience are like 'wow - costumes'" - enthuses Anita - "but then they hear us play." I gather that the comic relief of the outfits is in direct contrast to both the content and the sound of Operation.

"We bust into a really really mellow sound", smiles Renee, who tells me people have compared the sound of Operation to that of Radiohead.

"I think we have a beautiful melodic sound" Anita quietly smiles, "the sound is mellow and pretty but the lyrics are so shocking and dark - but also funny.... " she pauses, reflecting, "but really sad."

Renee agrees - "Its kinda a rollercoaster ride - it's intended to confuse the audience - not to the point that they dont know waht is going on - but it is supposed to somehow give them the experience of that week - the juxtaposition of humour and sadness"

Like Renee's experience?

"Yeah - that is what it was like - half the time I was pissing myself laughing and the other half bursting into tears - it was both sad and really really funny."

Renee recounts another story from her time in hospital to illustrate the humour of the situation. She explains that the food is served in trays - much like you get on a plane (well, not anymore on domestic travel) - in fact, it is apparently supplied by the same people. One meal, she decided that the custard dessert was not for her. As she was walking down the corridor to the dining room in order to return the tray she passed a guy in a room who was out of control and was fighting off, rather violently, three male nurses who were attempting to calm him down. In that moment that she passed - he stopped fighting - to glance up - "Are you not going to have that custard?".

Renee laughs warming, remembering the bizarre situation - and ponders how it illustrated what is meant by 'out-of-control'. Clearly he was in control of his faculties enough to notice when there was spare custard on offer.

Anita asks if we had seen 'Girl Interrupted', explaining how she can see some parallels to that film and Renee's story - how the line between noticing that everything in the world may not be quite right and expressing your concerns and being told that you are crazy can be a very thin line.

"I hate Winona Ryder!" Renee verbally italicizes the word hate. "She has that annoying lisp... no, its more of a whistle...", Renee does a brilliant impersonation.

"Beetlejuice" she lisps, mockingly.

About Operation

Operation was formed only 8 months after lead singer and guitarist Renee-Louise Carafice was released from Te Whetu Tawera, Auckland's mental institution.

During her stay there, Renee-Louise wrote songs of the restriction and sadness of her environment in order to bring it to the light of day.

In December 2003, she joined forces with drummer Anita Worthington and bassist Steven Jallard (later replaced by Jonathon Corker), who helped her perform her "hospital songs".

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Operation


There are no releases to display for Operation.

Other Interviews By Shade

Maciek Hrybowicz Newsletter Interview
28 Oct 2020 // by Shade
Maciek is a New Zealand guitarist born in Poland. After spending much of his life in London he moved to New Zealand where he lives with his wife.
SLiP Newsletter Interview
22 Oct 2020 // by Shade
Throughout the course of their musical union of over 35 years, the members of SliP have won over the hearts of music lovers from all walks of life. They have just completed an album of 11 songs.
The Nighthawk Experience Newsletter Interview
19 Apr 2020 // by Shade
The story of The Nighthawk Experience (NHE) follows two different character's named Kage and Yume. Kage is a 17 year old boy who feels nihilistic about the world and is trying to find meaning and purpose.
Sex Beard Newsletter Interview
19 Sep 2019 // by Shade
Sex Beard have been taking New Zealand by storm with their original blend of 'get your ass on the dance floor' rock and punk music. Their unique sound has seen them play support alongside heavy hitting NZ acts such as Skinny Hobos, His Masters Voice and Skelter.
Interview with Iveta & Simone
25 Jul 2019 // by Shade
Iveta & Simone are New Zealand’s edgy female vocal duo taking the region by storm with tracks such as Sunshine, More Than A Man and the newly released L.O.
Emily Fairlight Newsletter Interview
23 Aug 2018 // by Shade
Wellington based musician Emily Fairlight has just released her latest work Mother of Gloom - and muzic.net.
Boycrush Newsletter Interview
07 Aug 2018 // by Shade
  Boycrush is the project of Alistair Deverick, also drummer of The Ruby Suns, with a live band comprising multi-instrumentalist Hayden Eastmond-Mein (Lawrence Arabia, Panther & The Zoo) and The Ruby Suns frontman Ryan McPhun. Alistair answered Shelley's following questions for muzic.
Captain Festus Mcboyle's Travellin' Variety Show Newsletter Interview
02 Aug 2018 // by Shade
Captain Festus McBoyle and his motley crew have been successfully infecting NZ for over 7 years. Armed with cheeky humour and side-splitting songs, this Madcap Troupe is more fun than a squirrel up ya’ jumper!
View All Articles By Shade

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Justin Bieber feat. Daniel Caesar And Giveon
    Polo G
    Lil Nas X
    Silk Sonic
    Doja Cat feat. SZA
    Glass Animals
    Masked Wolf
    Olivia Rodrigo
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem