The spawning of the Club Bizarre Empire occured around the mid 80's, brainchild of self confessed 80's retro and weirdo sound freak, Aucklander Mark Wallbank (AKA Marq Bizarre) who, during the era of the 70's was highly influenced and inspired by early Industrial & electronic avant-garde performance artists such as Einsturzende Neubauten, Throbbing Gristle, Fad Gadget, Cabaret Voltaire, Z'ev, Kraftwerk, The Residents, Laurie Anderson and all those that dared to break down the musical barriers. He Began experimenting with sound and electronic noise and created sculpted aural collages of sound recordings. Overdubbed, looped, edited and manipulated projects under the project names Voxtrot and previously, Unit. As he was too young at this stage to perform or organise events in drinking establishments, he started out playing in local halls and at school (to the sheer horror of the school music teacher who thought he was somewhat disturbed). A collector of junk he soon filled his room with a mess of old radios,speakers, metal pipes, car parts, wires, steel drums, old TV sets and run down keyboards and amps. His first vocal experiments were made with a cheap microphone, a tape deck and joined toilet rolls, for vocal effect. At around age 14-15 he held school lunchtime sound peformances, created and produced puppet shows for the local primary school kids and made his own 8mm short film about the problems encountered by a claymation alien that crash lands on Earth.
Mark peformed his first pub gig, under the name Voxtrot, at age 16, at the now defunct City Hotel. The trip had begun and from there on Mark began creating the gigs and performances he had been wanting to create. Utilising halls, art galleries, Churches and warehouses around Central Auckland to hold Goth/Industrial gigs, an outdoor Dark arts festival, fetish parties and performance and art/poetry evenings, as well as a Goth music/poetry fanzine called 'Nocturne' in 1985 and a couple of dark art/poetry zines called 'Written in Blood'.
From about 1988 to about 1994 he started going under the banner Maximum Ego Productions, organising many large and small scale gigs and events, publishing two successful alternative music magazines, Visual Uproar and Intravene, releasing many cassette recordings and compilations and running a small scale nationwide mailorder service for underground NZ bands.
In the mid 90's Mark and fellow Cyber fanatic Mike Rea bashed their heads together and created Bizarre Beats, New Zealand's first and only Dark music specialist store in Auckland's Karangahape Rd, which lasted about 6 years, until closing down under the pressure of the internet age, like so many other retailers had done before them and have done since.
In 1994 he organised a Cyber/Fetish Industrial night called Club Bizarre and the name stuck.
Mark has spent most of his life utilising his skills in recording, performing, producing, working in various areas of audio/video multi media, organising events, Vjing (Video Djing), print management, stage management, backline event supervision, major & small event lighting technician work, film soundtracks, writing and art creation.
Club Bizarre was recognised as one of the leading forces behind NZ's Dark-end (Mark is the originator of this now quite commonly used term) / Experimental music scene, distributing music, publishing NZ's only Gothic genre specific magazine, Deadlines, recording and producing, releasing, promoting NZ dark-end artists and creating large scale all-age events, gigs, underground Fetish parties and performance nights as well as assisting other promoters and audio/visual artists with their releases, exhibitions and other various artistic endeavours.
The support, promotion, and distribution of NZ music was the number one priority for Club Bizarre. Artists, bands and musicians who felt their craft would fit comfortably within the walls of Club Bizarre were welcomed and encouraged to make contact. Club Bizarre, through the years, built up close-knit networking relationships with many labels all over the globe and worked closely with overseas event/touring promoters.
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