Thorazine Shuffle were the student radio band of the mid 1990s – brash upstarts poised for bigger success. Their early sound was noisy early-’90s grunge/pop but their best songs aspired towards a more classic 1960s rock sound.
Band members included Josh Hetherington - vocals, guitar, Jules Barnett - drums, vocals, Aaron Carson – bass, Antony McDonald – guitar; as well as members of earlier inceptions of the group, Chris Familton – bass, Blair Miller – drums, Murray Hood – bass, and Mette Dale – flute.
In 1993 Thorazine Shuffle self-released the four-track cassette EP, Stir which was recorded at Frisbee Studio. They began to garner student radio play with hits such as ‘Succumb’, ‘Nausea’ and ‘Blame’ and sold out their first run of 200 cassettes within a month. Later, crowdpleasing singles ‘Queer’, ‘Unsaid’ and ‘For this Long’ were recorded at bFM by Jules Barnett and grabbed more airplay for the group.
Picked up by former Supergroove manager and Semi Lemon Kola manager Stuart Broughton, and signed to his label Chronic, their next demo, ‘Clutter’, dominated student airwaves throughout the country and led to some envious support slots with the likes of Redd Kross at the Gluepot, and The Beastie Boys and Helmet at the Logan Campbell Theatre. ‘Clutter’ was released on bFM compilation, Louder (1995).
Thorazine Shuffle’s formidible live reputation led to a run of reputation making shows from 1994, including University Orientation appearances with JPSE, HLAH, and the Hallelujah Picassos, notable bFM Private Function and Summer Series appearances, a national tour with Supergroove, and repeated Big Day Out slots, and an auspicious national tour slot with Silverchair (Logan Campbell Theatre, Wellington Town Hall).
Two York St Studio-recorded EPs featuring catchy new singles ‘An Affair’ and ‘Harry’ were released in 1996 – and the band played the Auckland Supertop, and Wellington Events Centre supporting California funk rockers The Red Hot Chili Peppers, opened for Grant Lee Buffalo and Everclear, and notched up a main-stage spot at the ‘final’ BDO in early ’97.
After management, label and band member changes, the band finally released their debut album Your Own PR in 1999 (produced by Supergroove’s Karl Steven and recorded at York St ) featuring further catchy singles ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ and ‘More than Anyone’ in 2000.
Thorazine Shuffle disbanded in mid 2000, leaving behind a considerable swathe of young NZ music lovers, many of whom seemed to come of age during a period of burgeoning enthusiasm for locally grown music – fuelled by the influence of bFM and student radio, along with independent music channel Max TV, and a frequency of all-ages shows the group were frequently associated with – at a time when original, locally produced NZ music was fighting to keep its head above water and reach a broader audience. These music fans remember Thorazine Shuffle, and many of their songs, performances, and indeed the era from which they sprung, fondly.
The band are still on good terms with one another and they can still be enticed to reform for the (very) odd special occasion!