Local Produce: Bored Games

Local Produce: Bored Games

For New Zealand Music Month and for the 40th anniversary of Radio One, Local Produce will cover four iconic Dunedin bands by way of interviewing a member of each selected band and asking them about their legacy.

While some only see it as a jumping off point for Shayne Carter’s career, many people in the Dunedin music scene now recognise Bored Games as a pioneer when they formed at Kaikorai Valley High School in 1978. Often playing in Battle of the Bands/talent show type competitions, the original five members (Shayne Carter, Wayne Elsey, Fraser Batts, Jonathan Moore and Jeff Harford) never managed to record anything while active. In 1982, after the band had split up, they released ‘Who Killed Colonel Mustard’ from Flying Nun; with Elsey having left to form The Stones, Terry Moore joined the band to play bass on the EP. Many have noted that the EP does not truly reflect Bored Games’ sound, but it’s all we have. To learn what Bored Games was truly about, Critic Te Ārohi interviewed drummer Jeff Harford about his time in the important Dunedin band.

Jeff acknowledges that Bored Games’ sound is not typically considered to be included in the ‘Dunedin Sound’. There aren't a lot of “jangly guitars”, mainly “power pop and punk like The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks.” He says “it’s a lot of power chords and bar chords”. In Ian Chapman’s book ‘The Dunedin Sound’, he describes Bored Games as “raucous new-wave”. The recording of the EP was a “back-catching” of the sound the band had created in their 18 month history. Roger Sheppard, co-founder of Flying Nun, wanted to back the band and have evidence of its existence. “I think it’s a pretty cool EP and it still holds up,” says Jeff. “Having something tangible for us was quite important and a lot of fun. We left on good enough terms so it wasn’t a problem to come back and do it.”

The EP managed to get a re-release in 2014 and managed to shift enough units. “No royalty checks have come my way – I’m a drummer, I don’t get any writing credits,” he says (clarifying later that he doesn’t give a shit). Jeff has remained in music but not in the way a lot of his former bandmates have. He played for The Rip, The Weeds, Valve and more. Most notably, he now works for OAR FM and plays in the band OMMU: “I couldn’t imagine life without music, original music or radio.” 

Jeff also spent time in print media: “I worked in print for the ODT and did reviews but I always thought of it being a fraudulent position because no matter how much I liked or disliked the music, I knew there was blood, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluids put into the music. I felt better about a series I did about what I thought were important albums.” Asking if this reviewer's perspective has changed how he felt about Bored Games, Jeff says, “I probably take Bored Games more seriously now than I did then. I can look at it now and know it was filling a spot in the scene.”

Bored Games recently reunited to play their first show in 43 years. “The two guitarists didn’t even own a guitar and hadn’t played in years but once we played we sounded like Bored Games, which was great.” Their legacy continues to live on through their EP ‘Who Killed Colonel Mustard’ which is streaming on Apple Music and Spotify as well as on vinyl from Flying Nun. 

To read more about Bored Games, head to www.audioculture.co.nz.

This article first appeared in Issue 11, 2024.
Posted 5:15pm Saturday 11th May 2024 by Jordan Irvine.