17 Apr 2024

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Sneaky Feelings


Sneaky Feelings were the poppiest Nun band, preferring poise to noise. They didn't set out to be cool; they set out to make great, hummable records with thoughtful lyrics. Their main musical influences were The Beatles, The Beach Boys, soul music, Fairport Convention, The Brill Building songwriters of the 60s for a start).

They formed at the University of Otago in Dunedin in 1980, where they were all students, and debuted with The Chills in November of that year, mixing original material with covers like 'Hey Joe' played slow like Jimi Hendrix. The line-up eventually settled as a four-piece. David Pine and Matthew Bannister were the guitarists and main songwriters; drummer Martin Durrant also contributed the odd tune. Kat Tyrie played bass.

In November 1981 the group played their first out-of-town gig with the Verlaines at the Gladstone Hotel in Christchurch. Roger Shepherd saw one of the gigs and asked both bands to participate in the 'Dunedin Double' EP with The Chills and The Stones. Three songs; 'Pity's Sake', 'There's a Chance' and 'Backroom' were recorded in a Christchurch bedroom in early 1982. The band weren't happy with the recordings, or with their next single 'Be My Friend' b/w 'Amnesia', which was made during the band's first trip to Auckland in late 82.

The following year, however, they recorded their debut LP 'Send You at Mascot Studios' in Auckland (as were all their subsequent recordings, with a couple of exceptions). The 16 track studio gave the band the sound they'd been looking for, and the album established the band as a major force in NZ music. It was recorded and mixed in four days and cost about $2000. Much of the bass on the album is actually played on a synthesiser, as Kat had a nerve problem in her arm that prevented her from playing bass with her customary vigour.

In 1984, Kat left the band and was replaced by John Kelcher of Christchurch. The album came out to good reviews, and the band found themselves in demand. They recorded the single 'Husband House' b/w 'Strange and Conflicting Feelings' and 'Major Barbara'. This came out in 1985 and reached number 17 in the NZ Singles Charts. It featured cello and horn overdubs and was the group's most complex and accomplished project to date.

Another single 'Better Than Before' b/w 'Wouldn't Cry' and 'Here's to the Other Six' (recorded at Strawberry Sound, Dunedin) came out in 1986. 'Wouldn't Cry' was notable for being the first "proper" song David ever wrote!

The LP 'Sentimental Education' came out in 1987. It eschewed loud guitars in favour of a more varied musical palette. A single 'Coming True' b/w 'Wasted Time' was also released. By this time the band were living in Auckland, except for Martin, who was still in Dunedin, finishing his English Ph D. This tension eventually led to a break-up. In August to October 1987 the Sneakies toured the UK, Netherlands and Germany.

In 1988, they recorded their final LP 'Hard Love Stories' and toured Europe again, using Ross Burge (now Mutton Birds drummer) in place of Martin, who was unable to come due to work commitments in Wellington.

After the tour, there was a general consensus that members would go their separate ways. David went back to Dunedin to study law, and played in a band called Death Ray Cafe, who recorded for Pagan Records. Matthew stayed in Auckland, where he formed a new band, Dribbling Darts of Love, who recorded for Flying Nun. John went back to Christchurch, where he made solo tapes for Failsafe Records and recorded with a group called Creeley. Martin stayed in Wellington, working as a civil servant.

The band have reformed on a couple of occasions in 1992, to promote the re-release on CD of 'Send You' (they also recorded three new songs for it) and in 1996 for the Nunfest.

John Kelcher now lives in Christchurch and co-runs a recording studio called the National Grid. Martin Durrant lives in Wellington and drums for Let's Planet. David Pine lives in Canberra and has released a solo album called 'Up Roses'. Matthew Bannister lives in Auckland and has a band called The Weather.

Band Members:
David Pine
Matthew Bannister
Martin Durrant (drums)
John Kelcher (bass)


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