Various Artists #1: Underground Resistance

New Zealand punk compilation

The explosion of local music that happened in the 2000s is something we probably won't fully appreciate until we look back at it with a bit more retrospect. Bands stew over releases until they hate them, re-record, break up or fade out and sometimes a short run of compilations is all that's left. While the medium gets a bad rap from major label curated, vaguely themed showcases for their artists and whatever number Now That's What I Call Music is up to, a really great compilation can be as good as any single album. At its best, a compilation can act as a snapshot of a moment, locale or musical scene.

At All Things Musical we thought it was worth revisiting some relatively recent local compilations. One of these is Underground Resistance. Compiled by Joel Pinkham and Matt Barnes (he of the local punk site and messageboard, it's a great cross section of local punk bands circa 2003. As Matt explains, it captures a variety of loosely 'punk' related bands: there's the old school punk vibes of the legendary Missing Teeth, the melodic sound of Dunedin stalwarts Ritalin, an early Bleeders track, The Rabble before they become hilarious and the spazzy post-hardcore of This Night Creeps.

Here's Matt answering a few questions about Underground Resistance, and if your interest is piqued, it's well worth scouring the second hand bin at Real Groovy for it, or borrowing Auckland Libraries' copy of it here.

Listening back to this compilation, what do you like about it?
I like the consistency of the compilation. A lot of tracks were hand-picked, but there were a few where it was the band that was chosen and they submitted a track of their choice. And yet, I think it holds up pretty well. It feels like a good cross-section of stuff that was going on at the time.

Compilations document a certain musical moment. Can you paint a picture for me - what was happening in music at that time? And what did you want to preserve from that time?New Zealand music has always been influenced by overseas movements and I don't think punk is any different. So, while the US saw a boom in the mid- to late-90s in the genre, it was more like the late-90s and early-00s here. More by accident than by design, Underground Resistance came out pretty much at the peak of that, before the likes of post-hardcore and metalcore and the like replaced punk and pop-punk in popularity in this country.

Can you tell us about the moment when you decided this was something worth doing, and what was your initial concept for the compilation?
Actually, it was Joel Pinkham's idea. He was a young guy in a band who liked also booking shows for other bands and just really wanted to help the scene out. He'd never put out a CD before and so came to me and I was also able to get to a lot more bands through my web site at It came together really very quickly - but even then, punk being punk, a couple of bands still managed to break up before the CD actually got out there!

What did these artists have in common that made them belong on a compilation together?
They were loosely 'punk' related bands that I or Joel liked. There really was no more thinking behind it than that. I did want to try to cover a bit of geographic ground, I didn't want it to be just say an Auckland/Wellington compilation. But that was really the only deliberate choice in there.

Did it seem to springboard anything for any of the artists involved?
I have no idea, but I doubt it. It sold pretty well, though, so maybe the bands had an extra few people at shows? I wouldn't know.

Tell us about your favourite track on the compilation...
Ah, that's tough. I love Missing Teeth, and their shout-along Brydon Utd was always one of their best. Same with Wellington band Dirk Drent and their wah-heavy Tailbone Terror. But possibly my favourite was My Two Cents' track Memories. They were unusual in that they had broken up while we were putting the compilation together, but we made an exception to put them on there - in fact, there is also a track (find the mp3 here courtesy of 1157 Records) on there by the band they formed subsequently, This Night Creeps.

Not counting this one - what's your favourite compilation?
I liked the two Puppykiller Records compilations - Pick of the Litter 1 & 2. They were very much Auckland-oriented, but there was lots of great stuff on those and they were much more focused in terms of sound.

Is there anything else interesting that you can tell me about the compilation and its creation?
It was really simple to get together. We had a couple of release shows and that was about it for promotion, but it sold out within a couple of months - possibly because we sold it pretty much at cost. I think it was nominated for a couple of awards, too? (Underground Resistance was nominated for Compilation of the Year at the 2004 bNet Awards)

Who did the artwork?
The artwork was by me, riffing on the logo from the Japanese movie Battle Royale, which has as its central conceit a Government initiative to repress youth rebellion by having the kill each other. There's something in that metaphor and punk rock that appealed to me. The liner notes were then loaded with a million in-jokes from the PunkAs web site forums.

Tell me about the first compilation you ever owned? Mine was The Rhythm Volume 16 (I think?) and I wish I still had it.  
I never really bought compilations growing up. I do remember getting one called Faster & Louder: Hardcore Punk Volume 1 and I'm pretty sure there was never a Volume 2. It had so many great bands on there like Mission of Burma and Bad Brains, plus one of my all-time favourite songs in Dead Kennedys' Holiday in Cambodia. I thrashed it to death and got so used to that version that I was thrown when I finally got the Dead Kennedys album it's off (Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables) and found it was a slightly different arrangement.

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