City Lights in conjunction with Rock and Roll Book Club of SF and Third Man Books present
Matt Goody with Tony Green and Richard Langston
celebrating the publication of
NEEDLES AND PLASTIC: FLYING NUN RECORDS, 1981–1988
by Matt Goody
Published by Third Man
In this remarkable tale of creativity and chaos, do-it-yourself innovation and extraordinary attempts at world domination, Needles and Plastic tells the inside story of one of New Zealand – and the world’s – great independent music labels. Hundreds of full color & black and white photos illustrate the story!
Founded in 1981 by Roger Shepherd in Christchurch, New Zealand, Flying Nun Records unleashed an extraordinary wave of music that had an impact around the world. Needles and Plastic is the first comprehensive history of the early years of the label and its bands covering the critical period from 1981–1988 when many of the most influential and critically acclaimed artists emerged on Flying Nun, bands like – from The Clean, The Chills, The Verlaines, Straitjacket Fits and Bailter Space. The influence of the obscure label became apparent in the 1990s, when big-time indie acts like Pavement, Cat Power or Yo La Tengo started covering Flying Nun bands.
In entries on over 140 records from The Clean’s ‘Tally Ho!’ 7″ in 1981 to The Verlaines Bird-Dog LP in 1988, Matthew Goody tells the story through the records themselves. His book draws on years of in-depth research to reveal the stories of the bands, the recordings, the songs, and the audience, with a host of significant characters contributing along the way – Shepherd, Chris Knox, Doug Hood, Hamish Kilgour and many more. In this remarkable tale of creativity and chaos, do-it-yourself innovation and extraordinary attempts at world domination, Needles and Plastic tells the inside story of one the world’s great independent music labels.
Matthew Goody is a Canadian editor and publisher who has worked in the book industry for over a decade. A fanatical record collector and researcher, he has spent years combing through the archives and records stacks to compile this comprehensive discographic history of Flying Nun’s early years. He currently lives in Vancouver, Canada.
Tony Green is a former music journalist and currently manages Ameoba Records San Francisco.
Richard Langston is a journalist and the founder and editor of GARAGE a music fanzine based in Dunedin, New Zealand published during the 1980s. He is thew author of author of PULL DOWN THE SHADES: Garage NZ fanzine compendium 1984-86.
Praise for Needles and Plastic
“With his gratifying archive, Matt Goody details one of the most successful eras in the history of rock music – Flying Nun Records, formed in 1981 by Roger Shepherd in a Christchurch record shop. Shepherd and his brilliant cohorts served up the legendary output of not only kingpins like The Clean, The Chills and Tall Dwarfs, but also captured the best from favourites of mine like Able Tasmans, Bird Nest Roys, Look Blue Go Purple and The Verlaines. Goody provides the most comprehensive presentation yet of Flying Nun’s rise from Shepherd’s notepad to international underground rock sovereignty – and a vital part of one nation’s collective art history.” — Bob Nastanovich, Pavement
“Bruce [Pavitt, Sub-Pop co-founder] and I were huge fans of the Flying Nun model, a regional scene pulling itself up by its bootstraps with compelling personalities, a sense of place and musical continuity. The ‘Dunedin Sound’ wasn’t as catchy a tag like grunge but there was most definitely a sound, something dark and breezy at the same time, and it continues to resonate. The Chills’ ‘I Love My Leather Jacket’, The Clean’s ‘Tally Ho!’, The Verlaines’ ‘Death And The Maiden’, it’s all great. It’s the biggest mystery to me why Flying Nun has yet to really be discovered.” – Jonathan Poneman, co-founder of Sub Pop
“Needles and Plastic is so thoroughly and lovingly researched and written, it reads with the narrative drive and immediacy of a first-hand account. This from a writer and fan who came to the Flying Nun story two decades later and from half a world away. It is a remarkable achievement, and another bizarre twist in the Flying Nun story that its first meticulously written history should be produced in such circumstances.” – Richard Langston, Founder of the Garage fanzine and author of PULL DOWN THE SHADES: Garage NZ fanzine compendium 1984-86
“When anyone writes about New Zealand music, they mean Flying Nun records…. In its prime, Flying Nun’s embrace of all post-punk’s manifestations – exquisite psych-pop, cantankerous quasi-goth, warped folk, experimental synth warfare – meant it was New Zealand’s Rough Trade, Factory, Postcard and Mute rolled into one.” – Martin Aston, The Guardian
“There doesn’t seem to be anything on Flying Nun Records that is less than excellent.” – Billboard
“A fascinating and edifying book that is drenched in a wealth of fabulous photographs and illustrations throughout. And Matthew Goody really gets it: rather than simply expressing exasperation at the idiosyncrasies of the label in its early incarnation, he determines to untangle conundrums presented by them. His inspired methodology and meticulous research have resulted in this marvellous story – told as a series of stories – that is absorbing from go to woah.” — Denise Roughan, Look Blue Go Purple and The 3D
“There have been insider accounts of the Flying Nun story: how this ramshackle indie changed the game with a do-it-yourself alternative New Zealand music. Yet it is a Canadian record collector rather than an insider who has written the most detailed and palpable account of those reverberant early years, by using the records themselves as portals to the stories in this energetic, exhaustive review of the label’s Christchurch years.” — Nick Bollinger
Made possible by the support of the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/