In Thrust We Trust

In Thrust We Trust is a 48 track fundraising album by the friends and fans of Dr Dean Ballinger – local musician, artist, radio DJ, writer and educator. Recently Dean (aka Dirk Thrust) was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, so revenue from album sales will help him and his family. You can buy the digital album on Bandcamp.

In the latest Kelli from the Tron podcast, Andrew Dean and Greg Locke (friends and Hollow Grinder bandmates) join me to talk about why the late 1990’s and early 2000’s music scene was so strong – and resurrecting some of that previously unreleased music for this album. With Dean unable to join us, they took turns reading the responses to some of the questions I’d posed to Dean earlier in the week. (They’re published verbatim below).

Listen to the podcast here: or find it on Spotify.

But first, Dean Ballinger’s love letter to Hamilton … published in Waikato Times (2014).

Hamilton is nothing like the sun.

Perhaps more like the dark side of the moon:

Suburbs in which the main idea of fun is the annual festival of the balloon.

If roses are red and snow is white

This town is toned in hues of brown and grey:

The river runs a lovely shade of shite

And faces blanch at the rates they have to pay.

The fair music that fills the urban streets

Is in the form of gruntings from the munters:

The homeless snore on inner-city seats

While the malls groan with brain-dead punters. But although it may want for class and pomp

Deep down I will always embrace the swamp.

Kelli: You’ve been co-credited (or blamed) for the moniker The Tron –  how did that come about?

Dean: I was working on then-operating local radio station Ufm around the year 2000 doing the breakfast show with Greg Page. We had a contest on air to think up a better slogan for Hamilton than the then current ‘Hamilton – where it’s happening’. I can’t remember the exact genesis of ‘Hamiltron – City of the Future’ : maybe a caller suggested it, or Greg and myself bantered it out over the course of the morning? Think my main contribution was helping to popularise it. It is a goodie…

Kelli: If one of your songs was to be chosen to be a theme song for the Tron – what would it be and why?

Dean: The Hollow Grinders – probably The Hillcrest Incident, named after the suburb where Andrew and I used to flat together.

MSU – I think Stu’s Pie Cart is a classic ‘Hamilton folk-song’ – ode to Stu Nichols, corpulent character who used to run the Ham East pie cart next to Steele Park back in the 90s; favourite for students and band members to get a feed of artery-killing lard at 2am after a night out.

Kelli: You wrote your thesis “Conspiratoria – the internet and the logic of conspiracy” before fake news, misinformation and the NZ Public party  – what should we watch out for next?

Dean: I suspect the next election will see another conspiracy-based party here – American far-right conspiracy theorising like QAnon has become established in mainstream politics and spread internationally courtesy of the net. I think that there’s some energy for revolutionary change from the current neoliberal consensus that the likes of the NZ Public Party were tapping into, except their idea of revolution was based on American religious fundamentalism and nationalism. Not sure if ‘we need guns to defend ourselves from the satanic illuminati controlling our brains with 5G’ much of a substantial basis for a new social order. Academic hat on sorry, I’ll take it off now…

Hollow Grinders at Circle Jerk 2018. Photo credit: Ngamihi photography

Kelli: You must have some stories with 30 odd years of gigs up your sleeve – is there one that you’d like Andrew or Greg to read out?

Dean: The Hollow Grinders played at the Whangamata Beach hop a few times, lots of colourful incidents:

–          Being stuck in an opened truck trailer with rain blowing in – band had to stop playing for fear of being electrocuted

–          Drunk who commandeered the mike and asked us to back him singing his original composition “Martian Motel Number 9’. He was probably some famous old singer and if we’d backed him we could have had a hit (more likely amateur Elvis impersonator)

–          Was playing drums when another drunk guy walked up behind me, curled up at the side of the kit and started going to sleep. Should have at least insisted he was wearing earplugs…

–          Andrew may want to relate the infamous Easter Egg story…

Kelli: What’s the Tron’s music scene like compared to when the Hollow Grinders first started? What do you think we need to keep it going / improve it / etc

Dean: Always good bands around, e.g. Bitter Defeat, The Contenders, Glass Shards at the moment, but like many NZ cities issues with venues closing and bands/scenes losing momentum. Wailing Bongo and ContactFM at Waikato University were great focus points for Hamilton music back when the Hollow Grinders started in the mid-90s, but lack of that culture for contemporary students. Nivara lounge a current focal point, but uncertain if it will survive building of the new theatre on that block. Some good support online and on-air though – Hamilton Underground Press, Hamilton music wiki, The Hum 106.7 FM (if I’m allowed to plug another radio station)…and Free FM of course.

Kelli: We’re about to play Der Student von Prague – tell us about that project and the song?

Dean: Lumiere was a ‘solo project’ of sorts where I played synths and Andrew helped produced. I did an ‘album’ in the early 2000s and worked on some other material which never quite got completed – Andrew finished off ‘Der Student von Prag’ for the compilation. I think some of the music is alright but I wanted to have lyrics so I sang as well – should I say ‘talked/sang’ like William Shatner. Hmmm. Hopefully a decent contribution to sub-genre of ‘Hamilton eccentricita’…


I’d like to publicly thank Andrew and Greg again for their amazing efforts putting the compilation together – alongside helping me it’s also an excellent compilation of music by Hamilton artists past and present (including many H-Town expats).

Should also say something about MND. Meant to be a rare disease but, since being diagnosed a few months ago, have met multiple people who have had family members with the illness or know someone who suffered from it. NZ has one of the highest rates in the world apparently. Would be good to have more resourcing towards developing effective treatments, and/or making ones currently being trialled overseas more readily available here.

Don’t be cheap – buy the album

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