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Sat 22 Nov 2008, 8:00pm

Where: Al's Bar, 31 Dundas St, Christchurch

Ticket Information:

  • Adult: $20.00
  • Additional fees may apply

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Dysfunction, fist fights, alcoholism and drug abuse, a reputation as the fiercest live act in the country, platinum sales of their debut album Geographica and no band to tour it. So what exactly happened to Weta? New Zealand audiences are about to find out, as the revered quartet dust off their instruments and hit the stage this November for a limited run of New Zealand dates.

After forming in Wellington in 1995, Weta (comprised of Aaron Tokona on lead guitar and vocals, Gabriel Atkinson on guitar, Clinton Tokona on bass and Clinton den Heyer on drums) quickly rose through the ranks to become tour mates of choice for fellow Wellingtonian rock stalwarts Shihad. They shared the stage with the likes of The Foo Fighters (Dave Grohl is rumoured to be a big fan) and Soundgarden. In fact, Soundgarden’s Ben Shepard liked Weta so much he gave them a bass guitar.

Despite Shepard's generous offer, Weta were more interested in a record contract. That came soon enough as the band caught the eye of leading Australian A+R man Dan Hennessy. Soon after Weta signed with Warners Australia, shifted to Melbourne and began touring with Silverchair, The Living End and Powderfinger (Aaron guested on their 5th album Odyssey Number 5).

The group recorded a demo with former Nirvana engineer Jonothan Burnside, but was unhappy with the results. Enter Steve James, a Grammy Nominee and Aria-winning Producer who worked with The Sex Pistols, The Jam, and (ahem) The Teletubbies. Weta and James went into pre production in Sydney with a rumoured astronomical recording budget – and the results spoke for themselves.

The band recorded their debut LP Geographica at Melbourne’s Sing Sing Studios. Released in 2000, Geographica yielded radio hits ‘Let It Go’, ‘Got The Ju’ and the epic ‘Calling On’, takin Weta to the top of the Kiwi music charts and securing commercial airplay in Australia. Weta also won ‘Best Video’ and a nomination for ‘Best Male Vocalist’ at the New Zealand Music Awards.

Geographica left an indelible impression with fans, the press and the music industry in New Zealand and Australia. However, the jump towards the limelight proved to be the beginning of the end for this once happy go lucky quartet. Despite the promise of success, the cost of poverty, touring and excessive riders all took their toll. After a sell out tour of New Zealand with Shihad and Fur Patrol, Weta – a band that built it’s reputation on being loud – suddenly fell deafeningly silent.

The band went their own ways in 2001: Aaron started a family; Clinton Den Heyer opened a bar; Gabriel and Clinton Tokona started another band in Melbourne. So what’s all this talk of a reunion then? What makes a bunch of guys seemingly sick of the sight of each other reconvene in Wellington to make music together after seven years apart?

There’s only one way to find out . . .

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