“Often obscured by the ascent of Flying Nun’s legendary roster is New Zealand’s late 1970s / early 1980s punk scene. Based in Auckland, a cadre of acts influenced by The Ramones and Stooges briefly thrived. The Dum Dum Boys—the first NZ punk band to record and release a full-length in their native country—were hooked on the Ann Arbor sounds of Iggy Pop.
“The Dum Dum Boys’ Let There Be Noise (1981) is chock-full of James Williamson and Deniz Tek riffage; it also contains elements of Iggy Pop’s nihilism. Take the lyrics to “Something To Say”—it’s refrain repeatedly asking ‘What am I living for?’—and juxtapose them to the band’s namesake track from Pop’s The Idiot (1977): ‘What happened to Zeke? He’s dead on jones, man.’ ‘Stalking The Streets’ taps into the meaninglessness of James Taylor and Dennis Wilson’s Two-Lane Blacktop journey through the American Southwest.
“The Dum Dum Boys understood the proto-punk sounds of 1970s Ann Arbor and Cleveland. More importantly, they also got the vibe. Life stinks—sometimes in the places (Auckland) you’d least expect it.
“As the title suggests, Let There Be Noise is anything but a record incessantly focused on introspective doom and gloom. ‘Don’t Be A Bitch’ rivals Radio Birdman’s ‘I-94’ for lyrical thick-headedness—like sticking a hot 454 in a Ford Falcon gasser, the song’s simultaneously awesome and dumb. That’s a difficult balance to strike.
“Let There Be Noise (1981) was self-released and copies quickly became damn near unobtanium, even in New Zealand. (I should know: I lived there.) In The Red has performed a major service by reissuing this obscure and outstanding record. Independent New Zealand releases from the early 1980s didn’t get their due; distribution out of the country was essentially non-existent. It’s nice to see that finally getting corrected.”