Cripple Mr Onion – A Brief History

Twenty years in the New Zealand metal scene, going up and down the country, Cripple Mr Onion will certainly leave their mark on NZ metal for years to come. Though the band was formed in Christchurch their origins begin in Dunedin where Mike ‘Fud’ Fudakowski and Andy Wood first met while both studying music. From there they went on to form their first band together, Umlaut, an eclectic metal band. In 1996 Fud moved to Christchurch to study at Jazz School with Andy also moving up a bit later.

Cripple Mr Onion’s original line up in 1996 featured Andy on guitar & vocals, Fud on bass, John ‘Hooves’ Clayton on drums and Jeremy James Brown on keys. John and Jeremy were with the band through till 1999 when the both left to pursue overseas music contracts. Lacking a drummer, the search for a replacement lasted until July 2000 when René Harvey joined the group and the band took to the stage once more.

Looking to expand their sound in 2001 they enlisted a second guitarist, Aaron Burns, and finally in 2002 we saw the release of their first CD, Chronocide. Show-casing the bands skills, Chronocide brought an interesting mix of tracks, from bass-heavy songs like Six Days of Silence, to heavily atmospheric tracks such as (prologue), into homes around New Zealand. This primal atmospheric style of heavy metal became iconic of the band.

Despite the bands growing popularity, Fud left the band in 2004 to pursue a different musical direction. Not an easy man to replace it was almost a year before CMO returned to the stage. After five months of the band searching, an employee from a local music store discovered Shoki Kamishima in the back of store playing the bassline from ‘Six Days of Silence’ and recommended he audition.

After a decade of hitting the stages of Christchurch, in 2006, Cripple Mr Onion relocated too Auckland. Two years later Antigravity was released, likely the more well-known album, with a more polished and well-recorded sound but keeping that heavy atmospheric quality so iconic. An impressive blend of sound the release showed that despite the changes in line-up their original sound hadn’t been lost, likely due to Fud’s continued contribution with his bass-lines featuring on most of the album tracks.

Issues arose once more in 2010 when Shoki’s contribution to New Zealand music wasn’t seen as a viable reason for his visa to be renewed. Sadly, after his deportment Shoki took his own life, a story that is far too common in music, which prompted Jennie (Devilskin) to write the lyrics which became their second single ‘Never See the Light’. Evidence that his loss was a loss for the whole New Zealand metal scene.

The current line-up for The End of Aeon’s Tour features only one of the original members, Andy Woodd on guitar and vocals. With René Harvey (drums – 2000) and Aaron Burns (guitar – 2001) performing with Daniel Hawkins (bass). After twenty years of music Cripple Mr Onion are performing their final shows. Returning to Christchurch for their last show it will be a sad day for the scene but a show the audience won’t forget.

 – Vince Clark

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