Monday, November 19, 2012

Picassos, What Now 95

I found this on an old vhs tape, there's a few minor dropouts but it's pretty entertaining. It's us playing Yardie, live on What Now, 1995. We had to get up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning in Christchurch to go play this, then drive to Dunedin for a gig that night, from memory. Quite how we looked so lively before coffee is beyond me, even now. Spot Jenny Morris standing next to the presenter.

Yardie is available in a flash, remastered form on Rewind the Hateman (cd/digital).

Friday, October 5, 2012

OJ and Slave

Shot at the Powerstation, uploader writes that "I shot this because the Manager of supergroove paid for the camera hire. However I as i got slightly more drunk the ability to shoot straight wore off."

We played a bunch of times with OJ and Slave, like as part of a huge bill at the Auckland Town Hall, for Push Push. Great guys.

PLUS, go read Graham Reid's writeup for Billboard on the state of NZ music in 92... He says "If any one album could be seen to symbolise what has happened in the small but vigorous NZ market in the last 12 months, it would be "What can we say" by rap duo MC OJ and Rhythm Slave..."  AND there's a pic of my old band, Hallelujah Picassos too....

Friday, August 3, 2012

The glamour

I had forgotten about this...

BEST COVER (NZ Music Awards, 1994)

Brett Graham - Te Rangatahi

Johnny Pain & Jonathan King - Drinking With Judas (Hallelujah Picassos)
Chris Knox - Duck Shaped Pain and Gum

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nick D, fashion plate

George FM Breakfast host Nick D with his guest, legendary NYC DJ and producer, Francois K. Nice shirt choice, Nick! Source

Monday, May 14, 2012

Picassos 95 IV

Photo: Karl Pierard

From Pavement magazine, 1995, by Gemma Gracewood. 

If there's a band that can preach passionately about the state of our society for hours on end, it's the Hallelujah Picassos. The five members have been key players on Auckland's music and social scene long enough to know what they're talking about when they call for unity in our community. With the release of their new EP, Gospel of the DNA Demon, a 13-track "genetic mix-up'' of styles and sounds, the Picassos manifesto is at the forefront again.

"lt's very important for us that the community that we live in right now shakes up and we start believing that the individual is worth something,'' says vocalist and guitarist Raudra Bayanaka, aka Harold aka Roland. "What we've seen in the last 15 years in the media and in the music is the deconstruction of the individual. For example, we had the grudge period where it was cool to be a loser, it was cool to be down and out, it was cool to talk about how fucked up your childhood was." Peter McLennan, keyboards and samples, picks up the thread.

"We've learnt that cynicism is a totally healthy way of thinking, which to me is extremely unconstructive.'' Johnny Pain, bass, agrees. ''It constrains people from solving problems. They wallow in trash culture and drown in self-pity. The thing is, no matter how bad you feel, there are ten million other people in exactly the same predicament, and you should take strength from the fact you're not alone,''

Continues Harold: "There's too much selfishness, too much 'fuck you, fuck you'. We've had enough of that. Evelybody's worth something again. We need unity. But the unity thing doesn't mean that everyone should be homogeneous. That's not the idea at all. You're supposed to salvage individuality. You can be wildly different and still be all pushing in the same direction.'' A bit like the Hallelujah Picassos, really.

[I remember the photographer for this article thought he had a great idea, of shooting us all with our shirts, off, then overlaying them. Catch was, Harold didn't want to take his shirt off.]

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Picasso Core Jukebox review by's Graham Reid

Hallelujah Picassos: Perfect (1995)

"Thanks to the enthusiasm of former member Peter McLennan, Auckland band Hallelujah Picassos -- once a fixture on the New Zealand music scene in the late Eighties to mid Nineties -- are being given their dues through a series of reissues.

First out of the blocks was the compilation disc Rewind The Hateman (reviewed here) and now there is an 11 track collection of their covers entitled Picasso Core Jukebox (which is available digitally here).

As mentioned previously, the HPicassos were pleasingly uncategorisable and often sounded like a collision between someone's classy reggae and ska collection and bus driven by a funkmaster containing a metal band. In fact when you think their peers were Supergroove, Head Like a Hole, Salmonella Dub and various hair-metal bands playing the "five bands for five bucks" nights at the Powerstation it all maks sense. Sort of.

They were like all of those (without the poodle hair) but sometimes hopped up on anger and most likely other things.

The Picasso Core Jukebox collection tosses out some very bent covers, among them Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love, Sixties garageband the Sonics' Psycho and Strychnine folded into one, Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown as reheard through Britain's The Beat, local singer-songwriter Greg Johnson's Talk in this Town . . .

In their own strange ways, they all made sense.

But this, a one-off previously unreleased run-through of The The's poised ennui of Perfect seems an unusual choice.

In the notes which accompany the collection, McLennan says they originally did it as a noisy grunge version as far back as '89 (that makes sense) but this version evolved over a day in the studio and what you hear is the first run-through with Bobbylon trying out a new drum pattern.

He thought they were just rehearsing it.

But folks, that was a take."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jukebox review - Groove Guide

"I’ve always been a sucker for a good cover version, but suspicious of an entire album's worth. The willfully eclectic Hallelujah Picassos have cobbled together a range of favourites recorded over the last 20 years, and their dub/thrash remains incomparable, if somewhat of a mixed bag.

The James Brown, Bo Diddley and Smokey Robinson tributes are all dementedly worthy ...  the extensive e-booklet is jam-packed with behind the scenes insight into each songs genesis, and hearing them deliver an angry and evil take on ‘Air’ by Head Like A Hole (who have previously made the Picasso’s ‘Hitskin’ entirely their own) is worth the price of admission alone."

By Chris Pole, Groove Guide.

Available from AmplifieriTunes and Bandcamp...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jukebox review: The Listener

Auckland’s Hallelujah Picassos may have been predominantly politics with a small P back in their day, but compared with the current crop they were fully seditious. PICASSO CORE JUKEBOX (Loopy Fruit) continues their excellent reissue programme with a selection of distinctive and worthwhile cover versions, including previously unreleased takes on Tears of a Clown and The The’s Perfect. It’s a delightfully uneven affair that typifies the band, showing that although they might not have claimed to have all the answers, they were definitely asking the right questions."  The Listener, March 24, 2012, review by Jim Pinckney (Stinky Jim).

Stinky Jim contributed to the digital booklet liner notes for Rewind The Hateman, late last year (buy it here on CD/digital). If you haven't seen that, here's what he wrote. Thanks, Jim.

"Gotta to be honest, it's hazy….. good hazy though - Picassos’ gigs, and in fact a fair chunk of time spent with the band (DJing, loafing, shuffling at gigs, call it what you will etc etc), was just like that back then - and you wouldn't have it any other way. So 20 odd years later (and the years were even more refreshingly odd back then, it should be said) and here's some random thoughts on one of the randomest bands Auckland, hell ….New Zealand, maybe even the Southern Hemisphere has ever thrown up (pun fully intended).

They blurred lines, constantly.... on all fronts. Sometimes it may not have been deliberate, most times it was. As a fully operational and downright rockulating live band they engaged with technology and the use of the mixing desk as an instrument, in a way that was infinitely far more effective, genuine and successful than the vast majority of their dilettantish so-called contemporaries.

When they covered a song it was delivered like a lovingly given shiner. Most times their covers sounded like originals, and conversely some of their originals came across like covers. Them kind of grey areas are sadly all but gone in today's overly sanitised, depressingly genrified, and stomach churningly commodified, conservative music scene.

We really don't need any f#cking reunion tour (from anyone at all any more... thanks) to remind us, but a few bands with the awareness, adventurousness and downright danger of the Picassos certainly wouldn't go amiss in Kommander Key's blighted millionaire’s playground right now.

Even as four individuals (and yeah.. I know.. there was more later, but no disrespect intended - the original four person iPicasso Classic line-up is the one that I refer to) they shouldn't have fitted together, yet... like all the wrongest right things, and many of the best…they just did.. gloriously.

Live they were a force of nature, some might say not always necessarily a force for good… but sod the sad sacks - they were never to be underestimated. Their releases weren’t so far away from exceptional radio shows or masterful mixtapes, some might say that you need to know the rules to ignore them but that doesn’t apply when you’re making it up as you go along.

They were, and remain, a bright splash of colour amongst a predominantly dreary monochrome music scene - for sure they didn’t do it entirely alone (potty mouth Hornblow, LVDA et al ...take a bow) but Bob, Harold, Peter and Johnny you cop the broader than Broadway biggest salute, Picasso core for life!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Talking Heads: Hallelujah Picassos and Trevor Reekie

Photo: Ted Bagurst/Volume

Talking Heads: Hallelujah Picassos and Trevor Reekie, Volume magazine

"With their groundbreaking fusion of everything to reggae to nascent hip-hop to thrash, the Hallelujah Picassos defined a vibrant, close-knit and avowedly non-conformist time in the Auckland music scene that’s gone undocumented since – but a pair of retrospective compilations are putting the record straight.

Trevor Reekie was there from the start as a producer, Pagan Records owner and fan - for this Talking Heads, he and Picassos Peter McLennan and Harold 'Roland' Rorschach talked about what their music means now, fitting in then, and finally reveal why they ditched Trevor's label."

Listen to the full interview below or here. Thanks to Trevor Reekie and Sam Wicks at Volume.

Friday, March 9, 2012

PCore by Martyn P

Hallelujah Picassos – Picasso Core Jukebox (album stream)

March 7th, 2012 by Martyn Pepperell, Vanguard Red 

"Simon Grigg (@Opdiner on twitter) has already written about Auckland, New Zealand art-punk/reggae auteurs Hallelujah Picassos with an almost definitive degree of passion and experience, excerpts of which you can read over on the Hallelujah Picassos Bandcamp by CLICKING HERE

While I’m not comfortable with (or interested in) scaling a monolith already so thoroughly conquered, I am very keen to hip you to their new release Picasso Core Jukebox, a collection of far-too-long-hidden cover versions of songs as recorded by the Picassos, including amongst others, a fuzzy version of ‘It’s A Man’s World’

Revisionist history is a funny thing, and within the documented historical narrative of New Zealand music, there are a few sources which would have you believe that Flying Nunn Records were the be-all-and-end-all of local music in the eighties and early nineties; and the only people pushing the boundaries. 

That blatantly isn’t true though, and looking over the existing Hallelujah Picassos catalogue and the extensive e-liner notes associated with recent re-releases, it’s amazing to reappraise how stylistically fearless they were in their era.

You can stream Picasso Core Jukebox below. Afterwards, consider purchasing a digital copy, complete with extensive, illuminative liner notes."

Radio Ponsonby

Peter interviewed on Radio Ponsonby by Nick D'Angelo, have a listen...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

P-core with Wammo

KiwiFM interview with Wammo, from monday. Cheers, fella!

Tune in to Radio BFM this afternoon at 315pm, I'm chatting with Cameron about the new reissue, Picasso Core Jukebox

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

P-core Jukebox review

Johnnie and Roland, photo from the ebooklet that comes with the album. 

Review: Hallelujah Picassos 'Picasso Core Jukebox'
By David Carroll (aka Bro90)

"I want to educate people to the fact there are always more possibilities than the situations you have encountered. Naivety is still so strong among people. The Picassos are about social and cultural observation." - Harold 'Roland' Rorschach, Hallelujah Picassos (1992)

I remember coming to Auckland from a rather rural upbringing in Waihi Beach, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and first encountering the Hallelujah Picassos. I was gobsmacked. As a young man wanting to get my teeth into playing in a proper band, these guys blew my mind. They played reggae. They played rock. They played most everything - hard, and loud. I was sold.

What's more, they hung out at what became my local: DKD Cafe. What was curious to me was they never really received their dues. Shit, there are kids worldwide right now trying to piece together what these guys did years ago! Perhaps Picasso Core Jukebox (alongside last years' originals collection, Rewind The Hateman) might address that? Probably not. 

That's a shame, as these guys were the real deal and even now, well over a decade later, the excitement, the genine intent, the sheer passion seeps through these incredibly diverse grooves. Imagine what this sounded like to a fifteen year old kid from the country!? It was like nothing I'd ever heard before. Scratch that. It was like everything I'd ever heard before, thrown together in an aggressive, vibrant, liberating whole. 

Put aside the decidedly average recording quality on some of these tracks and put yourself into the shoes of early 1990s New Zealanders as the Hallelujah Picassos tore through a set littered with these (severely) re-imagined covers alongside their own material. 

One of the criticisms these guys have always copped is that their records sounded like compilations. Fuck that. And fuck the Great New Zealand Songbook, while we're at it. If you want some proper NZ music history, and you want to pay respect to some of the actual originators in our scene, buy Rewind The Hateman, and then buy this. Makes me proud to be a Kiwi again.

4 out of 5 stars.

Available from AmplifieriTunesDigiramaMarbecks Digital, and on Bandcamp (MP3, FLAC, etc).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Out now!

The brand new Hallelujah Picassos reissue Picasso Core Jukebox hits digital stores (see Amplifier, iTunesDigiramaMarbecks Digital, etc) today! Very exciting. It's a collection of our cover versions, newly remastered and sounding rather splendid. Listen to it here, on Bandcamp.

You can catch Peter talking about the new reissue on the radio today (Monday) on KiwiFM at 835am, and on Radio Ponsonby at 1130am, and also on Tuesday morning, Peter will be on GeorgeFM at 7.20am, and  BaseFM Breakfast around 8am.

We've also had coverage online from NZ Musician, Cheese On Toast, and Conch Records.  Cheers! More coming. And big thanks to BFM's Stinky Jim and Andrew Tidball for giving us a spin last week.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Picasso Core Jukebox - out March 5

Newly remastered swag of Picassos covering everyone from HLAH to James Brown to Greg Johnson to The Sonics.  Out next Monday. Have a listen!

here's the official press release...

"Following on from last year’s remastered collection of Picasso classics, Hallelujah Picassos are releasing the next installment in their reissue series - a newly remastered, digital album collecting the cover versions from Auckland’s legendary ska/ punk/ reggae/ pop/ thrash/ hiphop/ hardcore outfit. It’s a bunch of songs originally done by the likes of Bo Diddley, James, Brown, HLAH, The Sonics (who are touring NZ in April), Greg Johnson and more, given a crazy sonic twist.

Kicking off with Peanut Butter, a hugely popular tune on student radio when released on cassette in 1991, 21 years ago. The band took the original reel to reel master tape to Stebbings and had them digitise it - they had to bake it first to get it to a playable state! Never heard it sound so good.

There are a few cameos in there too, like comedian/actor Alan Brough turning up to add vocals to Homegirl, a song originally done by Bobbylon and Roland in their Picassos’ side project, Riot Riddum Sound System.

There’s two previously unreleased songs seeing the light of day, covers of The The - Perfect, and Tears of a clown (Smokey, via The Beat, or English Beat). Picasso Core Jukebox comes with an e-booklet with extensive liner notes looking behind the songs and how the band discovered them, along with previously unpublished photos.

Out Monday March 5, thru Bandcamp/Amplifier/iTunes and all good digital outlets. Digital only release. PCorp 004. Released by Loopy Fruit Recordings.


1 Peanut butter (One way streets, 1967)
2 Who do you love (Bo Diddley 1957)
3 Psycho/Strychnine (The Sonics ,1965)
4 Tears of a clown (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, via The Beat’s version from 1979)
5 Talk in this town (Greg Johnson, 1993)
6 Air (Head Like A Hole, 1991)
7 Perfect (The The, 1983)
8 Catman (Gene Vincent 1957)
9 Homegirl (Riot riddum sound system 1991)
10 Crying Again (Prime Movers 1982)
11 It’s a man’s world (James Brown, 1966)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We all love peanut butter

The original reel to reel master of Peanut Butter. Now digitised (by the clever folk at Stebbings, after they baked the tape) and remastered.... sounds awesome! Next reissue release out in March.  More details shortly.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Picassos NZM

Hallelujah Picassos, NZ Musician interview by Mark Bell.

With their recorded output of two EPs (‘Lovers +’ in 1992 and 1996’s ‘Gospel of the DNA Demon’) and two albums (‘Hateman In Love’ from ’92 and 1993’s ‘Drinking With Judas’) unavailable for love nor money for over 15 years, the five members of Hallelujah Picassos have finally decided to set the record straight and claim their rightful place in the pantheon of Kiwi music history with a remastered 18 track re-release of their choicest cuts – ‘Rewind the Hateman’. 

Mark Bell met up with Harold ‘Roland’ Rorschach and Peter McLennan at his local watering hole to get the skinny on Picasso’s dub things, and to discover why they’ve chosen this moment to re-introduce their unique sound to the music listening public.

There was no problem identifying the Picasso pair when they arrived, what with former frontman Harold Rorschach’s sartorial style remaining intact from two decades ago – the tall lean frame, chunky boots, black jeans, braces hanging down, beanie, the leather wrist bands and arty pendants – ever very much his own brand. By contrast, guitarist Peter McLennan, who now works for a major newspaper, was always the least extreme-looking member of the Hallelujah Picassos, and these days would not have turned any heads on the ferry coming over.

Much as their music, the Hallelujah Picassos were a very diverse bunch of individuals, but there was always a keen intelligence and shared vision behind their sprawling musical output. With a reputation for high energy live shows and a wildly diverse grab-bag of influences including (but not confined to) punk, reggae, garage rock, dub and Jamaican dancehall, the Picassos were trail-blazing, genre-mashing misfits in a late ’80s/early ’90s Auckland scene dominated by big-hair rock and shoe-gazing angst. 

This band– fleshed out by Bobbylon (drums), Johnnie Pain (bass, keys) and Gavin Downie (added later on second guitar) – were manifestly neither of these things. Their influence on a generation to come, for which the concept ‘genre-mashing’ would become totally commonplace, should not be underestimated.

Not surprisingly this self-released compilation album they’ve titled ‘Rewind the Hateman’, is an idea they’ve been nurturing for a while. 

“Yeah, it’s something that’s been knocking around for quite some time,” explains Peter. “Basically when our releases came out they were available, and then the record label that released them [Wildside] stopped operating and Festival disappeared, which was the distributor. So for most of the last 20 years our music has been out of circulation. I’ve had people over the years come up to me and go, ‘Aww man, I lost my Hallelujah Picassos CD, where can I buy another one?’ and they don’t really exist.”

The opportunity to re-master their output was another major motivator, and was completed by Alan Janssen and Rick Huntington at Uptown Studios. Sent to Australia by Festival to be mastered, their first album came back “way quiet” according to Peter. 

“We were on Wildside and we weren’t earning money for Festival, like Kylie Minogue was, so they didn’t really care about us, and fair enough.

“Hearing it in the studio when we started on the re-mastering project, we digitised all the music and got it all tracked in there and set up, and hearing it on the studio speakers again, it was really gratifying because all the crazy production ideas we had back then still sounded really good.”
Harold describes the band as having a dualist approach to their music. On stage they were there to entertain. 

“We wanted to get the audience as excited as we were,” Peter explains.

Harold seems a little annoyed (to this day) by the critics who said the band failed to capture the excitement of their live act on tape – they made studio albums in the studio, not live albums. Back in the day there was a slight dearth of trained sound techs and one could imagine a group like the Hallelujah Picassos might have difficulty finding recording engineers adaptable or knowledgeable enough to execute the band’s unconventional (for the time) production ideas. 

“We were really lucky,” continues Peter. “When we first went to bFM we worked with Mark Tierney, who was the in-house engineer for bFM before he started working at The Lab. So we moved and did our first album with him at The Lab as well. He was really good because we’d basically come up with these ideas like, ‘We want to take Harold’s vocals and throw them into a backwards delay… and then throw some distortion on them!’ and he’d sort of laugh for a second and then go, ‘Oh yeah, let’s give it a try and see what it sounds like’. Because the worst kind of recording engineer you can get is someone who says, ‘You can’t do that.’”

They were also fortunate to hook up with live soundman Dave Hornblow, who the lads tutored in the dark arts of dub and reggae production, allowing them to transfer some of their studio-inspired effects to the live situation – although creating carbon copies of their studio recordings was never a priority.

With all four original members contributing songs the band was never short of material, and once even managed to commit 26 songs to tape in a nine-hour session – probably some sort of record. Budgets were tight due to the band financing their own recordings (although this has paid dividends with the new release, as they own the tapes) and they quickly learned how to work fast and efficiently in the studio.

Despite some of the songs sounding like they’re goofing off or taking the piss, in reality they were very well rehearsed and had detailed cue sheets for every song. And having four individuals contributing equally to the creative stew didn’t make for many difficulties in terms of focus and decision-making. 

“We were always open in terms of each other’s ideas,” says Peter. “We had strong opinions because we were passionate about what we were creating and we all had different elements we were bringing to it.”

This also led to a certain amount of musical cross-pollination between members, allowing the band to evolve and solidify its unique sound. 

“And I think that’s one of the reasons we get on well today. We’re still friends and we’re also passionate about the idea of what we did, we truly believed in it,” Harold finishes.

Which naturally leads one to ponder whether we can expect to see the Picassos whipping up a frenzy on stage any time soon? 

“We’re talking about doing some sort of live event next year,” Peter confirms. “But Johnny’s in Indonesia so I’m not sure what we’re going to do about that. But we want to do some sort of gig or… I don’t know what it will be like… and I mean the thing with the Picassos is that we had this reputation for doing quite wild live gigs, and people didn’t know what to expect when they went along, but they knew it would be good. 

" So that’s basically what we’re going to do with this event we’re gonna do next year – we don’t know what its going to be like, but we know it’ll be good!”