Songs They Never Play on the Radio: Dadamah

...aaaaand we’re back. And with the least conventional Songs They Never Play on the Radio yet, at that. Like many bands from the NZ ‘scene’ teetering on the fringes of the famous (yet still inadequately documented) Flying Nun, there isn’t much information on Dadamah, even in the sometimes seemingly comprehensive expanse of the internet. 

So, what do we know? Dadamah were a Dunedin band with a typically brief existence, releasing two 7”s and an LP over the course of 1991 and 1992 before promptly splitting up. Guitarist Roy Montgomery was in The Pin Group, who were the first band released on Flying Nun, and went onto release several well-regarded (if still somewhat obscure) solo records of head-expanding delay-ridden guitar music, including a relatively recent split LP with Grouper. Indeed, it’s Liz Harris (AKA Grouper) that first brought Dadamah to my attention, having released an excellent posthumous 7” on her own Yellow Electric label in 2012. Drummer Peter ‘Buck’ Stapleton played in many great NZ bands including (original NZ punks) Vacuum, The Victor Dimisich Band and Scorched Earth Policy. After Dadamah split, singer Kim Pieters went on to form bands Rain, Sleep and Flies Inside the Sun (amongst others) with Stapleton, as well as founding the Metonymic label.

Having began with the usual YouTube-based listening research of the band, I soon stumbled across the above video and was instantly captivated by the raw, slightly ramshackle sound. As with other STNPOTR (and, indeed, many other NZ bands), there’s an undeniable Velvets influence at play here, if heavier on the organ and altogether even more ragged around the edges than Lou and co. This of course is not one song, but a full live set – a bootleg cassette may seem like a strange way to start with a band but I listened to it twice a day for a week once I downloaded it, so, y’know. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Dynamite Hemorrhage for making a download of the cassette available for us all to enjoy (and to the thoughtful YouTube poster of the recording too, of course).

The most exciting aspect of all this may be that, in looking into Dadamah, I’ve begun to explore a raft of related NZ bands – expect more NZ action as I get deeper… In the meanwhile, a good starting point is the 1988 XPRESSWAY PILE=UP compilation from Bruce Russell of The Dead C’s Xpressway label (a variation of the compilation was also released on Edinburgh’s own Avalanche Records in 1990).

Andrew R. Hill