Justin Maclaren- Vocals
After Amez Amez wound up in early 1992 Justin Maclaren set about re-acquainting himself with the guitar and song writing. Calling his solo project ‘Rex Everything’ he created some edgy alt pop recordings with some noisy guitar parts courtesy of brother Simon Maclaren (Loves Ugly Children). The song ‘Razor Blades’ made it to ‘A’ rotate on RDU at that time and a riff from the song was "borrowed" as part of an RDU advertising stab.
Moving to Auckland later that year he continued writing and learning music programming eventually teaming up with Simon Finnel to form alternative rock four piece ‘Coelacanth’ in 1994. The band played regularly, including support gigs for Loves Ugly Children, Pumpkin Head and Chris Knox.
Winding up in 1997 the band leaves behind two EP’s, 1995 ‘Miracle Body Rub’ & 1997 ‘Seven Fossil Apes', four completed music videos, three of which never made it to air. Two songs from the later EP entitled ‘Choke’ and 'Never' made it to Kiwi Hit Disc and were played regularly on now defunct ChannelZ.
Following this Justin worked as a DJ around south Auckland playing R&B, Hip Hop and slow grooves. He also worked with Billie Paea during the formation of the now world class DZIAH street dance group and company, and Justin is currently the chairman of the ‘Dziah 2 Dream’ charitable youth trust based in Otara. www.dziah.com
Justin later worked for Pop band Stellar* in the positions of guitar tech and stage manager for a 16 show tour of Australia supporting Alanis Morrisette and Garbage. He and Coelacanth guitarist Simon Finnel, along with Pearl Runga have an original synthpop band called The Broken.
Justin is now living north of Auckland city with wife Pearl Runga and son D’Angelo. He teaches music at an Auckland primary school, and is co-owner of Pitch Perfect Productions, an events management and production company.
Andrew Maclaren- Drums/Programming
After leaving Christchurch in early '92, Andrew set about putting together a band in Auckland with the sole purpose of writing and recording original music, somehow this lead to mainly working as a kitchen hand.
After two years of various minimum wage careers he co-founded with Boh Runga the start of a band originally called 'Four'( that's about how many people showed up to their gigs). They went through as many guitarists as Spinal Tap went through drummers and ended up releasing two singles over 3 years that were played mainly on short wave radio frequencies.
One of the singles titled 'Ride' was for a short film and it was at that moment the band changed their name to stellar ( the asterisk was added later by a graphic designer ). The second single titled 'Happy Gun' was released under local Auckland label 'Papa Pacific' and the video was directed by Mark Tierney of 'The Strawpeople' fame. He spent most of their video grant money on drugs and Fish'n'Chips, in turn inspired them to write a song called 'Bastard' which was renamed 'What you do' and became the first single of stellar*'s debut Album 'Mix'.
'Mix' went on to sell over 5 times platinum in NZ and stellar sold over 100,000 albums during their career. They also won 10 Tuis ( New Zealand Music Awards ) had 11 radio hits, 7 top 20 singles and two # 1 albums, toured extensively through NZ and Australia and played shows in Germany and London. Andrew co-wrote three of stellar's most successful songs, All It Takes, Taken and Violent. More detailed information on the career of stellar* can be found here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar*
Andrew states the highlight of his career as having the privilege to work with Tom Bailey of 'Thompson Twins' fame for the first two stellar* albums and is still able to count him among his friends.
Andrew has played on many other Artist albums including Carly Binding's debut album 'The Passenger' which he co-produced with fellow stellar* band member Chris Van de Geer. Last year Andrew added his skills as a drummer and keyboard programmer to the Industrial rock tband 'Solstate' on their album 'Whispers and Tremors' and debut album by singer song writer Ben Novak. His songs can be heard here : http://www.bennovak.com/
He continues to play with Boh on her solo project but only as a part of the live band. He teaches drums in Auckland.
Pearl Runga - Vocals
Pearl Runga started performing in bands in her early teens. She did a brief stint singing with Amez Amez in 1991 and fronted a number of different covers bands in the Christchurch scene in the 90s. She was the vocalist in arguably New Zealand’s first ever live drum n bass outfit Locuste, whose song “Sounds Like These” featured on Indie Hit Disc 1 in 1997, gaining heavy airplay on the student radio network.
As a session singer she has lent her vocals to recordings by The Lesser Men, DJ/producer Nomad, Splitter, James Malcolm, Greg Johnson, her sisters Boh and Bic’s albums, featured in the single “No One Like You” for Strawpeople, and is the voice of numerous radio and TV commercials.
Brett Wells- Bass Guitar
Immediately after the end of Amez Amez Brett and Paul Mason founded Machine Jam as a NZ music tribute band, originally with lead sing Dick ( now Richard) Driver ex Hip Singles and ex Pop Mechanix drummer Kevin Emmett. Once they realized that no-one would pay ANY money for that kind of cover band, Kevin swapped to vocals, local legend Al Olds took over drums and a classic / hard rock behemoth was born.
About the same time Brett began working for the Rockshop, which had - at the time - only 2 stores. An opportunity to move to Wellington and start a new Rockshop store took him there for nearly 6 years where he continued to play in covers bands such as Getafix and Big Mother. Throughout this time Brett managed to convince the Directors to make him General Manager of the Company and let him loose to develop new Rockshop stores all over the country. Now one of the Rockshop Group Directors, he is baffled by how he came to be in charge of the biggest chain of musical equipment retail stores in NZ with nearly 200 people, 3 wholesale companies and 22 retail branches. He travels constantly all over NZ, spends too much time in airports and thinks the Koru Lounge is the best thing ever.
He returned to ChCh, taking over the ChCh Rockshop and developing an unhealthy interest in extreme sports, spurred on by Chris “Rash” Warburton. These 2 (and later recruit Allan Smith - Amez Amez’s soundman) set about trying to kill themselves with a combination of rock-climbing, whitewater kayaking, extreme fear and freezing cold.
This left little time for music and he retired for several years.
Inspired by the movie “the Wedding Singer” Brett joined with Damien Riddell in 2005 as an acoustic musician. Initially an acoustic duo, Acoustic Solution (www.acousticsolution.co.nz) has gone on to be: an acoustic trio; a rock trio and a pop/ disco funk quartet and are now firm favourites of the wedding and corporate circuit. Brett spends all the money on his garden...except what he has to give to his wife… which is (actually) most of it.
Helen Wilson saved Brett from a carefree life of disposable income, travel and selfishness and married Brett in 2005 to much relief from his parents (and, indeed, from Brett himself). 4 years, 3 children (Sam, Rosie and Gabriel) and 3 houses later Helen and Brett have “retired” to the country.
Brett also discovered that children don’t care what time you get in from a gig..the day always starts at 6am. Period.
Paul ‘Ace’ Mason- Guitar
After Amez Amez disbanded, Paul enrolled in a full-time arts program at Hagley Community College. During this time he became a big fan of Japanese printmaking. Towards the end of 1992 Paul co-founded classic/grunge rock covers band Machine Jam with Brett Wells. The band wound up after a few fun years and Paul, inspired by Barney Gumble, concentrated on drinking and staying up late. One day he had a frightening vision of the future in which he was a fat aging pisshead playing country (and western) music at RSL clubs!
So Paul dusted off his brain and went back to school - well, several schools. At Lincoln University he had a cool Masters thesis that involved filming burning couches. This work led to an article published in the Fire Technology journal titled, "Estimating Thermal Radiation Fields from 3D Flame Reconstruction".
While studying (and later working) at Tufts University in Boston, Paul wrote a bunch of songs with Chip Jones. Chip played bass for 80's Richmond VA band Honor Role who, back in the day, shared stages with the likes of Husker Du, Sonic Youth and Fugazi. Paul and Chip's project was really about having a few beers and enjoying the process of creating music. The guys produced a CD titled "Regression" under the name "The Power Lines" and distributed it unofficially to interested friends.
Shortly after arriving in Sydney in 2006 Paul joined Paul Scott's band Montana. Paul Mason and Paul Scott had both been in New Zealand band Pop Mechanix in the early 80's. Most of the work in the last couple of years has been with Montana spinoff, The Gronks, which features Ken Stewart (of 90's Sydney indie band Mr Blonde) on vocals. They have recorded almost three albums of material, much of which is planned for release in 2010.
Paul now has a day job as a software engineer in Sydney and has never quite gotten used to getting up early in the morning.
Chris Warburton - Guitar
Chris was in Amez Amez from 1986 to 1989. After leaving he continued gigging around Christchurch until 1998 in
A few jam sessions is about the extent of his music since then. Most of the time since then has been spent climbing rocks, mountains, paddling white water in NZ and Scotland. Jobs have included video production, PE teacher, polytech tutor, canyon, rock climbing and white kayaking guide. Now he scratches out a living from all these vocations in Wanaka, Queenstown and Nelson.
HISTORY of AMEZ AMEZ
Amez Amez formed in Christchurch as an originals band in 1985. Influenced by the New Wave and New Romantics scene the band began writing and practising a set of synth based pop songs. They also focused heavily on developing their image and live performance . A large stage was built into a rather small practice room the band was renting in Sydenham Christchurch and all rehearsals were practised on stage with the P.A facing forward and with everyone in their set positions to get familiar with on-stage sound and positioning. Lighting was also a part of the rehearsals, with a home built light set-up, constructed and operated by Jeffrey Richardson. This seemed pretty extreme to some of the other bands practising in the same building at that time, but proved to be extremely valuable in the long run.
While playing a gig at the Carlton hotel one holiday weekend, they caught the eye of the late Mel Blokhuis. Mel along with brother Wally ran a P.A company called Ex-Ray Staging and Mel was keen to find a new act to put with his rig at the Papanui Hotel. The band agreed to learn some cover versions to do the gig as long as they could throw in a few of their original songs as writing and playing originals was the long term goal.
The rest is history as they say! From that point forward till the band finally called it quits in early 1992 Amez Amez played almost every weekend only taking a couple of short breaks between new venues. The band's best years were had playing at the historic Occidental hotel between 1987-1990. The band line-up had changed slightly and featured singer Boh Runga, bass player Brett Wells and Steve North on keyboards. During their time at the Occidental the band acquired a large and faithful fan base, many of whom have remained life long friends.
In 2009, the band decided to reunite for a show in Christchurch, entitled Back From the Future. After the success of that reunion show, Amez Amez continue to put on the ultimate Eighties shows each year.
© Amez Amez 2014