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Man on The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown - by Roger Shepherd

The Story of The Victor Dimisich Band 12” EP 1983


I saw this band a few times back in pre 1981 times and the recollections are of being awestruck in a misty Old Testament way. The band didn’t so much rock as roll on primal rhythms and connect with the deeper notes. Singer and guitarist Steve Cogle had the presence of a prophet and a voice that predated religion. 
The Story of The Victor Dimisich Band 12” EP 1983

by Roger Shepherd

Founder of Flying Nun Records in 1981, Roger has been involved in the label for much of the past 40 years. In 2016 he published the book “In Love With These Times: My Life With Flying Nun Records" (Harper Collins).


Victor Dimisich Band: Victor Dimisich Band 12” EP - 1983

I saw this band a few times back in pre 1981 times and the recollections are of being awestruck in a misty Old Testament way. The band didn’t so much rock as roll on primal rhythms and connect with the deeper notes. Singer and guitarist Steve Cogle had the presence of a prophet and a voice that predated religion. A man solidly built and fiercely bearded with a voice that demanded respect. A deep resonating baritone like no other I have ever heard. You took notice.

Steve Cogle and Peter Stapleton had both played in the Vacuum Blue Ladder and had left to form the Victor Dimisich Band leaving Bill Direen to continue as the VacuumAlan Meek (the World, the Vacuum), Mary Heney (25 Cents, Scorched Earth Policy) and Tony O’Grady were all involved in the new band at some stage. Steve Cogle and Peter Stapleton had an interesting songwriting relationship in that Steve wrote the music and Peter wrote the dark, quirky and often amusing lyrics. This was a relationship that was resurrected when the two later formed the Terminals and many of Victor Dimisich Band songs were carried into The Terminals and Peter’s later band the Scorched Earth Policy.

The Victor Dimisich Band were over by the time I had got started with Flying Nun but they thought they had something that was worth documenting so got back together in 1982 and recorded this EP. Five songs often inspired by the darker side of 1960’s music. Mostly 60’s garage bands from the dull awkward American mid-west that had one great song that few ever got to hear in anglophile New Zealand. These garage bands were usually distinguished by presence of a strong and unique vocalist who could really belt out that one regional hit they had in them.  Peter Stapleton loved and collected this stuff.

The songs: Native Waiter, Thirteenth Floor, Claude, Jonah and It’s Cold Outside stomp, twist and strain, this is the heavy stuff. The band grinds a darker groove than any 60’s garage rock band dared. And then there is that voice singing about the big things, life and death, light and darkness, “you and me”. This is one of my favorite Flying Nun releases.

The late Alan Meek put the enigmatic cover together and the first few were hand printed in gold.  I own one, gold, which is what this EP and the four songs it contains are, pure gold. It must be worth a fortune.

Victor Dimisich Band: Victor Dimisich Band 12” EP Gold Edition

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