Margarine sculpting is quite clearly an incredibly
frustrating art form, every time you get the angle just
right and your artwork begins to take on the life and
movement of your study and it slips away, quite literally.
The temporal nature of the medium appeals to Jimmy
Christmas one fourth of New Zealand’s latest rock
and roll export, The D4. Well, either that or
he’s winding me up and to be embarrassingly honest I
can’t be sure either way.
Having met Jimmy and Vaughn backstage at the very noisy
K-fest tour, my confusion arises from my opening
question just how did they make their money before their
music made it for them? Vaughn, not that you’d know
it from his shy demeanour, tells me he was an actor
doing walk-ons in Shortland Street and Xena
Warrior Princess and bit parts in, and I quote,
‘shitty drama shows’. Just as well then that Jimmy teamed
up with guitar playing Dion back in 1998, recruiting
drummer Beaver from god knows where and saving Vaughn
from the acting wilderness:
‘We started out in this kind of musician’s collective’
Jimmy explains ‘Everybody was just borrowing each others
gear, borrowing their band mates, just getting together
and bashing out some music. That was the cool side’.
The place he’s talking about is North Shore,
The D4’S hometown, several thousand miles away in Auckland,
New Zealand. But in the same breath, Jimmy is drawing
a picture of the place that’ll be familiar to those
of us a little closer to home:
‘It’s a real fucking suburb, very middle class, benign,
safe, there was just nothing to do. The sound of fucking
lawnmowers used to do my head in every Sunday. So all
there was, was music, playing it, listening to it, that
was the only escape’.
So what kind of music was saving these wannabe rock
stars from getting lawn mowers of their own? Jimmy and
Vaughn seem to agree that Guitar Wolf rocks, that The
Rolling Stones were Gods and that The Stooges will live
forever but it is at the mention of The Sonics that
Jimmy begins to foam at the mouth:
‘Yeah The Sonics were fucking wicked, you know they
used to get sounds by punching holes in speakers with
screwdrivers and stuff, they were doing that whilst
The Beatles were off making pop music. Its amazing.’
Having recently been listening to the D4’s X Fm
championed ‘Get Loose’, a decent, rock-a-long, call
to party but by no means a Sonics classic, I’m curious
as to how The D4 see themselves. Do they wield the same
kind of musical aggression as their heroes?
‘Well on stage, its not aggression its just energy’
Jimmy tells me ‘Cos of the nature of our show we don’t
take to much care of each other, its kinda every man
for himself but the music is all about fun’.
‘Fun’ I can tell you in hindsight, it definitely is,
but judging from Vaughn’s tales of on stage injuries,
‘painful’ comes a close second.
‘We hit each other in the face with our guitars quite
often, with three of us up front in can get quite messy
when we all get really in to the music and often the
stages are narrow’.
The Mean Fiddler stage, the venue for this evenings
gig, being less than panoramic, I am now expecting some
serious bloodshed but what else should I be expecting?
I know the D4’s sound is guitar heavy, AC/DC, jump up
and down, forget about cool, rock n roll but the lads
aren’t keen to define it, analyse it or even talk about
it apparently. Their first European album ‘6Twenty’
came out on Infectious Records in June featuring
one or two smash and grab tunes of absolute teenage
hedonistic brilliance such as 'Rock ‘n’ Roll Mother
Fucker' (it truly is music for the kids) but when asked
to expand on the record Jimmy and Vaughn’s responses
are minimal - to say the least:
“It’s a record” er yeah?? ‘Its just rock and roll’ adds
They sound bored so I decide to liven things up a little.
Vaughn is grinning knowingly at me as I question The
D4’s decision to gig at a Virgin Megastore (8th
July, Oxford St). Jimmy is less amused.
‘I read two reviews of it; one said it was great and
one saying it was absolute shit. To me its not about
the show being in Virgin Megastore or wherever, its
about the people writing the article and whether they
enjoyed it and enjoy music’.
I tell him that the negative reviews I had seen were
based more around the disappointment that a rock band
with half decent influences would make that move in
to blatantly corporate marketing. Jimmy sighs, staring
at the table. ‘I don’t give a fuck what people think
of this band, I really love it’. He sounds like he most
certainly does give a fuck but perhaps now isn’t the
time for amateur counselling. I move on.
The band is due to follow Mika Bomb, The Briefs
and Brighton’s obscenely good, British Sea Power
on the K-fest stage in about an hour. The line up is
representative of what has been described as a ‘new
rock revolution’ but the press seem undecided so perhaps
The D4 could clear this up for us. Are we in the most
musically exciting times since Grunge or is all this
garage rock a bandwagon, a marketing trick with an endless
production line of sell out bands?
‘It’s a tricky one’ Jimmy decides ‘a lot of the bands
that are around now will continue to be around for a
long time but as with everything, people will follow
trends’. Vaughn can’t be swayed either way, as far as
he’s concerned its brought about some really good music
so who cares about the rest.
But just what is this good music amongst the bad (Of
course here I refer to ‘Busted’, long may they burn
for their sins against music). Having gigged with the
best of them from ‘The Datsuns’ to New York’s
‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ (and just for the record they
didn’t fancy Karen O so that’s 2 out of….) I decide
to again ask for The D4’s guidance. Vaughn says he loved
supporting The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion whilst
Jimmy, concerned to not mention any names, makes a very
‘I get more fun out of a band that plays 3 chords badly
but are themselves and really enthusiastic than a band
that’s practiced to perfection but plays without a drop
For The D4 this isn’t just empty rhetoric – whilst their
actual material is still slightly limited, even shallow
on occasions, their stage show could never be accused
of lacking in full-tilt g-force adrenalin, passion,
blood, sweat and tears (both those of the audience in
the mosh pit and Dion’s as he’s crushed in a crowd surf!).
But The D4 have been doing what they do best all over
Europe and to oddly mixed reviews, since March. Tiredness
is taking its toll so despite being an unashamedly live
band the boys are looking forward to some much needed
studio time and I’d imagine getting some sunshine back
in New Zealand.
But thankfully that’s all one hour of The D4’s stage
diving, riffing, wailing, windmilling, crowdsurfing
performance away and I for one am glad of the time.
Kim Hollingdale for Crud Magazine© 2002