ORIGINAL PHOTO: Lesley Paris
Bored Games formed around the punk rock self-belief of Kaikorai High schoolboy Shayne Carter. Snotty front man Shayne along with fellow band aspirationals Wayne Elsey, Fraser Batts, Jeff Harford and Jonathan Moore learned to play together and then perform as Bored Games for a year and a half from 1979 to mid 1981. This was a time when it was hard for an underage band, especially a troublesome punk one, to make progress. With no access to licensed venues and a subsequent lack of income, options for further development were limited. Battle of the Band events became the focus of all or nothing desperation. Disillusioned Wayne Elsey left to join The Stones to be replaced by Terry Moore. But the Bored Games were soon done with making modern music in a generally unhelpful and insular Dunedin.
Soon after their demise Dunedin music blew upon the national stage big time. The Clean released ‘Tally Ho!’ and Boodle Boodle Boodle before the end of 1981 to chart and sales success. Then 4 younger Dunedin bands recorded the Dunedin Double; these bands were maturing musically and starting to build national followings. It would appear Bored Games had broken up prematurely and missed the sailing of a flotilla.
Rather than fade away almost completely, Bored Games saw the wind change and seized the opportunity now available to put down a marker, to get back together and record an EP for prosperity. Bored Games were lucky, they found Leigh Harrison at Dunedin radio station 4XO. An audio engineer who actually liked the band and who had the skill and a studio that could do a pretty good job of recording the band for $250. It’s not flash but it captures the tight intensity of the band and clearly highlights the quality of Shayne’s burgeoning songwriting skills. Other than for the recording there was no reformed band, no release tour, just a record release with their 4 best songs for the record buying public to make what they will.
By doing so Bored Games rewrote themselves back into the history of Dunedin music and helped put in place a small but significant building block in the long-lasting career of Shayne Carter.
The front cover of Who Killed Colonel Mustard is a mess with photos of the band members heads, in various sizes and resolutions, stuck on to Cluedo like cards to which the title itself, Who Killed Colonel Mustard, alludes. Even in 1982 it was hard to find anyone under 40 years of age who had played Cluedo let alone knew what a butler was. A bored game?
The back cover is more revealing with another board game: Snakes and Ladders. Some of numbered squares on the universal and timeless climb to 100 and success (which here is to “sell 3 million records”) are amusing and revealing of the experiences of young band life. It clearly illustrates the set-backs and triumphs of a small-town band with an ambitious eye on the music business further north.
According to the record cover ‘Happy Endings’ and ‘I Don’t Get It’ are on the Marilyn side of the record. Marilyn Monroe’s once universally recognisable face consumes the whole record label resulting in the omission of important information like song titles and the record playing speed. ‘Happy Endings’ is the star song here and bounces along in a knowing pop song way. Flying Nun forked out a couple of hundred dollars for Peter Janes to make a very decent music video of that song which gave a wider New Zealand music buying public another window on Dunedin music when screened on Radio with Pictures.
The “Man” side of the disc has the Leonardo De Vinci drawing of the well-known stretched out multi limbed man. Of the songs ‘Joe 90’ and ‘Bridesmaid’, ‘Joe 90’ is probably the EPs winner and best shows the band for what they actually were: a punky power pop band who were plenty angry enough to avoid the dreaded New Wave tag.
For a band that had never left town and were long gone, Who Killed Colonel Mustard sold well nationally. The project fulfilled the objective of recording the best songs for prosperity.
Bored Games contributed players to other bands. Terry Moore joined The Chills. Jeff Harford later surfaced with The Rip. Wayne Elsey had got together with The Same’s Jeff Batts to form The Stones before eventually getting back together with Shayne Carter as Doublehappys. This time Shayne Carter was properly on his way but not before Wayne’s tragic death. Straitjacket Fits then became Shayne’s vehicle for international success before he settled into his later work as Dimmer.
Bored Games were a bunch of schoolboy punk rockers who worked their way into becoming a tight, concise and lyrically clever band. Possibly they were a band unable to develop past that sound and along the lines of the adventurous music that was starting to happen around them. Wayne Elsey sensed that when, inspired by The Clean, he left to form the bold and brazen The Stones. But Bored Games remain a key band in the early years of punk rock in Dunedin and Colonel Mustard is a lasting testament to their song writing skills and musicianship.