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The Verlaines


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The origins of New Zealand’s Verlaines can be traced back as early as 1979, with the group’s founder Graeme Downes took direct inspiration from fellow Dunedin group, the Clean to form a band of his own.

It wasn’t until 1981 that the group made their first public appearance with their initial five-piece line-up.

The band have so far released seven full-length albums on three different labels, one mini album, three singles and two compilations.

Their most recent album after a 17 year hiatus from the Flying Nun stable is 2007’s Pot Boiler. In 2008, the group released a free online-downloadable single, Yanghtze Cod & Chips.

The Verlaines were noted for their angular, “difficult” song structures, wordy and downbeat lyrics, unusual subject matter all contained in often frantic up-tempo playing. The Verlaines were led by songwriter and vocalist/guitarist Graeme Downes although many other New Zealand musicians played guitar, bass, drums and brass instruments during the different stages of the band.

These members came from or later joined the likes of the Chills, Snapper, the Same, the Dead C, Trash, the Able Tasmans and Sooty & Sweep to name but seven.

Their signature songs included Death And The Maiden, C.D. Jimmy Jazz & Me, Bird-dog and Ballad of Harry Noryb.

The band’s recorded debut was on the seminal Dunedin Double EP released by Flying Nun Records to debut several bands who would go on to be central to the mythology of the Dunedin Sound.

Downes is an academic at the University of Otago teaching contemporary music and with research interests in Mahler and Shostakovich and has released one solo album, Hammers and Anvils, released on Matador Records in 2001.


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