The Bilders

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On tour in Vienna. Photo: Arno Loeffler
Background information
Also known as Builders, Die Bilder (1980s)
Origin Christchurch, New Zealand
Years active 1980–present
Labels Powertool
South Indies
Flying Nun
Members Bill Direen

Bilders (or Builders) is a New Zealand music group around Bill Direen who produced a string of self-recorded 7-inch vinyl releases between 1980 and 1982 leading to Beatin Hearts, the first studio-album from fledgling New Zealand independent record label 'Flying Nun Records'.

Also known as Builders, Die Bilder (german, for "The Pictures") or Bilderbergers, their alternative band names reflect a playfulness that predates the internet and its requirement for specificity of brand.

They have been recently brought out of obscurity by labels Unwucht (Germany) Grapefruit (USA), Siltbreeze (USA) and SmartGuy (USA). Bilder's latest releases are the vinyl release of the LP Beatin Hearts, the 7 inch EP Measly (Grapefruit, USA), 'Cell Songs' (on a vinyl compilation by SmartGuy Records), and (July 2017) vinyl release of the finished masterof cult album Chrysanthemum Storm (Zelle Records).

Bilders' material is known for 'rough' music making (often live in the studio), and a lo-fi recording style that has produced "many genuine classic compositions".[1]

Guests and collaborators[edit]

In the 1980s co-workers included Campbell McLay, mastermind of the Onset Offset label (bass, 1980–82), members of The Terminals, Scorched Earth Policy and Victor Dimisich Band, along with other prime movers such as entrepreneur/composer Alastair Galbraith 1994, artist and guitarist Alec Bathgate (recording project, 1984), Chris Knox (recording and production, 1982) of Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs, and poet/performer Alan Brunton (opera project Comrade Savage on the life of Australian-born NZ politician Michael Joseph Savage) [1] (Red Mole) and journalist Steve Braunias. Malcolm Grant was Bilders drummer (1980-82) before moving to The Bats.

Guests and collaborators have remained equally as varied in musical styles and backgrounds. Latest co-musicians are members of The Ghosts (U.S., Dave Nance, Chris Deden, Simon Joyner), Steve Cournane (drums, Dunedin, NZ) and Wellington (NZ) guitarist/curator/founder of Marineville Mark Williams with poet/composer/percussionist Jo Contag, in a group known in 2016 as Ferocious. Pianist Andrew McCully will join Builders in Auckland later this year to revive Songs for Michael Joseph Savage. Steve Cournane (percussion and drums) and Greig Bainbridge (bass), working with Stuart Porter of Primitive Art Group (saxophone) are among musicians essential to a Builders tour of New Zealand in 2016.

Other members include near-legendary Berlin violinist TThomthom G'schrey (Germany, violin, 1997, 2006–present), Stuart Page (of The Axemen drums and artwork, 1983-85, 2010–present), Robbie Yeats (Dunedin, The Dead C, 2014, drums), David Watson (NYC, 2013, bagpipes, 335 semi-acoustic guitar), Miggy Littleton (Brooklyn, 2013, bass), Hamish Kilgour of The Clean (Brooklyn, 1989, 2013-14), David Wukitsevits of Austrian band Der Nino aus Wien (2013, drums), Jess McCann (Melbourne, accordion), Stuart Porter (saxophones, percussion), Louise Johns (Germany/Singapore, bass), Mark Williams (Wellington/Germany, guitar), Jo Contag (Wellington, drums), Barry Stockley (Wellington/Melbourne, bass and instrumentation, 1987, 2013), Tama Stockley (drums, 2013), artist-guitarist Nikola Kapétanovic (2009–11, [France, electric guitar, dumbra, kalimba), dancer and actress France Hervé (France, 2010, chanteuse, actor), Kersten Ginsberg (Germany, drums, 1997), pianist, composer, improvisor, filmmaker Jonathan Crayford (Paris-NZ) - piano (2010–11, a special poetry-piano project), Rick And (2011, vocal), Peter Scott (2012, bass), Andrew McCully (piano, organ 2007-08, 2010, 13, 14) and Andy Maitai (drums, 2008). Further groups have played or collaborated in Europe, USA, Australia and NZ with musicians such as Jon Evans (Berlin, synthesiser, 2008, Berlin) and Parisian DJ Fred Morvan (beatbox, 2008, Berlin).

This list is not complete.

Selected Discography[edit]

Since the early 1980s, their music has been released on labels such as South Indies, Unwucht, SmartGuy, Grapefruit Record Club, Onec Records Plymouth UK, South Indies, Siltbreeze, Onset Offset Christchurch NZ, Powertool NZ [CDs only 2006–2010], EMI, and Warner Bros Flying Nun.

  • "Measly". Buildermash EP. Four tracks. Grapefruit Recs GY6-7.
  • "Beatin Hearts". Builders. Reissue of remastered album of 1982. Grapefruit Recs GY6-1.
  • "The Utopians". 7" 45rpm vinyl & iTunes download. Studio recordings from Melbourne and Auckland, with a live extract (Austria). 2014. SmartGuy Records smart35.
  • "Fiat Lux". Builders live recordings 1980-82. Democrazy Records DR 009.
  • "The Flavour of the Meat". 2013. 12 inch vinyl. 33rpm. Grapefruit Record Club.
  • "New York Songs". 2013. 12 inch vinyl. 33rpm. Unwucht.
  • Bilders Live. Tour merchandise CD. South Indies. 2012.
  • "Wonders". 7 inch lathe. OneC Records. Plymouth, UK. 2012.
  • High 30s Piano. (Live studio recordings, 1981-2). 2012. Unwucht.
  • Soloman's Ball. 2012. 12" vinyl (from the quality studio recordings of 1981). Unwucht.
  • Six Impossible Things. 2012. 12" vinyl (from the quality studio recordings of 1980-81). Unwucht.
  • Vacuum, two 7 inch vinyl releases from the cult Philadelphia label from cassettes of early (1978–79) group Vauum (Peter Stapleton, Steve Cogle, Peter Fryer, Allen Meek, Brendan Arnold). (Siltbreeze, 2011, 2012). Of these only the second remains in production.
  • Above Ground. Siltbreeze. Philadelphia, USA. LP. Vinyl (from cassette of 1983). 2011.
  • Krypton 10. 12" double vinyl album includes BD collabs with Onset-Offset stable in Christchurch c. 1980-82; taken partly from 20 Solid Krypton Hits (above). Unwucht, Augsburg, Germany. 2011
  • Parisian Friday. CD (jewel case). Non-studio recordings (gallery openings, practices). 2010. Bilders Paris Sessions (w. Nikola Kapétanovic). Powertool Music.
  • Flying Nun Box Set (Alligator Song). Limited period usage. Warner Bros. 2007.
  • Divina Comedia. LP vinyl compilation of Builders material 1980-88). South Indies. 1989.
  • Life in Bars. Bill Direen and Barry Stockley. 12" vinyl. 45 rpm. South Indies. 1987.
  • The Cup. Builders. 12" vinyl. 45 rpm. South Indies. 1987. (w. John McDermott, Stuart Porter, Bainbridge, Holdorf).
  • Let's Play. Builders.12" LP vinyl. South Indies. 1986. (w. Bainbridge, Tony Green, Karl Holdorf. Incl. a Vacuum archive song).
  • CoNCH3. Builders. 12" LP vinyl. South Indies. 1985. (w. Page, Bainbridge, various).


  1. ^ Dix, John (1988). Stranded in Paradise: New Zealand Rock 'n' roll 1955-88. Palmerston North, NZ: Paradise Publications. ISBN 0-14-301953-8 ISBN 0-473-00638-3


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