That Dunedin Sound feeling

Matthew Bannister returns to Dunedin to play as One Man Bannister.
Matthew Bannister returns to Dunedin to play as One Man Bannister.
Many will be familiar with the name Matthew Bannister, and the bands Sneaky Feelings and Dribbling Darts of Love.

This Scottish musician/author arrived in Dunedin in 1979, when he was 17. This was just in time for the climax of the local punk movement and the beginning of the so-called "Dunedin Sound". In 1980 he formed the band Sneaky Feelings with his friends, David Pine, Martin Durrant and Kat Tyrie (replaced in 1984 by John Kelcher), which went on to record, tour Europe (twice) and have a hit with the single Husband House, in 1985.

"When punk came along I thought it was exciting, but it didn’t influence my style particularly. I grew up on classic

’60s British bands like The Beatles, The Who and the Stones. Later I got into ’60s girl groups like The Ronettes, and singers such as Joni Mitchell and Dionne Warwick, and also folk rock along the lines of Fairport Convention, Love and Buffalo Springfield," he says.

"I’m not a natural performer myself, more of a songwriter.

"My original vision for Sneaky Feelings was that David Pine should be the front person and I should back him up, but that’s not how it panned out."

When Sneaky Feelings split up in the late ’80s, Bannister formed Dribbling Darts of Love, an Auckland band who were active in the early ’90s and put out several releases on Flying Nun. Since then he’s been involved in other music projects and is also a published author.

In Dunedin music circles, he’s most well known for his book, Positively George Street (1999).

"The book was the first one to come out about Flying Nun and the Dunedin Sound and it’s got a different point of view to the later books, which all seem to me to just talk about how great it all was.

"I just tried to tell the truth from my perspective. I liked the music, but wasn’t really part of the club. At the same time, we got a lot of opportunities which bands these days don’t get, so I’m grateful for that."

Are Sneaky Feelings going to get back together?

"We probably should have broken up after Husband House. That was the high point. We got back together in 2016 and did a couple of albums and some shows.

"Musically, we’re on a similar wavelength, but it seems unlikely we’ll do more in the near future as David is working overseas (as New Zealand’s High Commissioner for Sri Lanka and Maldives)."

Next week Matthew, as One Man Bannister, will perform music from Rosemarean Time, a career retrospective, collecting songs from times past that are also all about time. Supporting are songwriters Matt Schobs (Oamaru) and James Dignan (Dunedin).

The gig

 • One Man Bannister plays Pearl Diver, Dunedin, Saturday, June 15, 8pm.

 • Listen: The Saddest Noise, The Sweetest Noise by One Man Bannister on Bandcamp and YouTube