What have Graem Downs and the Verlaines been doing for the last ten years? Who are the Verlaines, may be another question you have. The Verlaines were one of those Flying Nun bands in the early and mid 80’s that put the New Zealand music scene on the map. They never seemed to get as much attention as the Clean, Able Tasmans or the Chills, but they did release records here in the US, on Homestead and later signed to Slash/Warner Brothers for two albums (the very underrated Learing to Fly and Way Out). The band’s first single Death and the Maiden had a rousing memorable chorus repeating Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, the French poet the band is named after. Besides a great first single, the albums Bird Dog and Some Disenchanted Evening were both pretty darn good being released back to back in 1987 and 1990.
To answer my first question, Graem Downs has been teaching contemporary music at the University of Otago in Dunedin. He also released a solo album on Matador back in 2001. And now in 2007 he’s decided to resurrect the Verlaines and make a new album. It just came out back on 10 December on the venerable Flying Nun. It’s called Potboiler and if the first track is any indication of the quality of the record, I’m excited. It seems like these seminal New Zealand bands don’t die, they just go away for a while and do other stuff, the Clean has just reformed and done some shows in New York and Martin Phillips of the Chills has been sporadically releasing stuff the last few years. And so now the Verlaines are back in action! Now, would Flying Nun please reissuing their first three albums, especially Bird Dog, which is a classic?
Here are a few old Verlaines songs.