PUMPKINHEAD
PumpkinheadChristchurch's premier grunge outfit Pumpkinhead came on the scene in the early 90s as a Red Hot Chilli Peppers covers band, building up a large following for their energetic performances.

The band comprised:
Brent Milligan - Vocals
Aaron Hogg - Guitar
Vaughan Watson - Bass
Jason Peters - Drums
Jason Harman - Guitar

The band worked their way around to including original material in their set and these songs had heavy influences from the New Zealand bands the members had grown up watching. Consequently Pumpkinhead managed to turn out some pretty poppy and hook-laden songs, which won them more fans and eventually saw them included in Failsafe Records Avalanche and Good Things projects. The poppy melodic "Ambulance Song" and Avalanche's "Swimming" and "Home" show what the band were capable of.
Unfortunately there was also a tendency for the band to drift off into sounding like the bands they used to cover and tracks like the Rage Against The Machine cloned "Time" (probably the only down point on the otherwise impressive Avalanche album), showed the band's tendency to emulate rather than create, this eventually leading the band off in less interesting directions.

After the release of the Avalanche CD Pumpkinhead were probably the biggest band in the South Island, drawing up to 1000 people to a concert and getting good money at their gigs.

The band had moved well away from the kind of music that the Failsafe label usually worked with tending toward the grungy and American funk punk sounds, and consequently label owner Rob Mayes was happy to see the band move on to a label more suited to it's sound if possible. However toward the end of the year the band had still not made any headway towards further recordings and the band approached Failsafe to discuss a future album. The label agreed to work with the band hoping to pursue Pumpkinhead's more pop sounds and negotiated an agreement toward recording and releasing an album.
Soon after the band announced that they had had heavy record company interest from labels competing for them to sign, but had chosen to go with the more suited Wildside label, a nice piece of media manipulation on the part of Pumpkinhead, but a move which succeeded in pissing off the Failsafe boss Mayes, with his anti 'music industry manoeuvring' views.
What followed was a pretty public exchange of words stemming from the incident which Mayes perceived as the band wasting his time and using his label to manipulate themselves a deal, and connect the label with the band's music style which it was not really interested in representing in the first place.

The band's singer Milligan used many interview opportunities to use the label as a lever, and later as a target.
Mayes didn't hold back his views on the band either, notably on one event as a guest on Christchurch radio station RDU's New Zealand music show the band were discussed by Mayes and DJ Tim Baird, Mayes calling Pumpkinhead Christchurch's own Spinal Tap, referring to the bands tendency to rock posturing including fire-breathing and rock-star-isms. Mayes and Baird also took the piss out of the band's recently screened video for their Wildside debut single water, a video which the pair found amusing for its cliché genre-styled efforts.
Pumpkinhead were not amused and at a local club the following Friday the band's drummer attempted to pick a fight with Mayes, and was quickly extracted from the venue by bouncers.
Milligan continued to use the tenuous situation with Failsafe for publicity and the situation peaked with music rag Rip It Up Magazine (owned by Wildside Records boss Murray Cammick) using the issue as a selling point for one particular issue.
Mayes resented being dragged into a marketing ploy and eventually steered clear of commenting on the situation again and the band slowly moved on to other things, ceasing the label's and band's connection.

Pumpkinhead went on to release another couple of singles and then the Sloth album with Wildside and continued to build it's following.
They sacked guitarist Harman for not fitting in with the band's image and replaced him with ex-Supertanker David Hunt, a creative and talented guitarist, but a surprising choice for the grunge stylings of Pumpkinhead.
The band were enlisted as Coca Cola faces, with the band performing an "I like Coke"-type song for a television ad campaign, boosting the band's bank balance considerably.

During this time singer Milligan had been developing a solid drug habit focusing on heroin usage, and this led to the band's financial ruin and eventual demise.
The situation came to a head on the band's ill-fated last tour where the band performed a show at Auckland's Powerstation. Milligan was reportedly totally trashed, but not too trashed to stop him removing the band's door takings and blowing the lot on smack. As if this wasn't enough he also completely depleted the band's funds from their accounts and blew that as well.
The band had risen to quite a height and so had a long way to fall.
The band sacked Milligan initially and then the remaining members split also.
Guitarist Aaron Hogg went on to form a hardcore three piece Glue Fist, which recently changed it's name to the more family-oriented Slim, singer Milligan entered a drug rehab program and eventually kicked the habit that killed his band. He and drummer Peters formed an industrial, sampler based rock band Defcon, a band heavily influenced by similar sounds from overseas. The band did have some well-attended gigs but locally the view was that the band were pretty bad on the creativity front and they eventually disbanded in mid 1998, Milligan to concentrate on paying back his debts built up from his drug habit, Peters to go on to Korn-styled rockers Submerge.
Bassist Watson moved genres a little and linked up with twisted pop merchants Squirm, as well as jamming with other poppists such as Cinematic man Jeremy Taylor.
David Hunt moved on to join The Stereo Bus formed by ex-JPSE man David Yetton.

PUMPKINHEAD RECORDINGS
 

PUMPKINHEAD MUSIC DOWNLOADS

"Swimming"

Back To New Zealand Music History

CHRISTCHURCH MUSICAL HISTORY