The Verlaines PhotoThe literate and dramatic New Zealand guitar-pop band The Verlaines formed in 1981; led by singer/guitarist Graeme Downes, the group's original roster also included guitarist Craig Easton, keyboardist Anita Pillai, bassist Philip Higham and drummer Greg Kerr. Both Easton and Pillai quickly exited, and The Verlaines remained a three-piece for the remainder of the decade; the early lineup remained in a constant state of flux, however, and of the original group only Downes and Kerr remained by the time of their debut on the 1982 Dunedin Double compilation EP, recorded with bassist Jane Dodd.

Drummer Alan Haig then replaced Kerr for the 1983 single "Death and the Maiden," for many fans the archetypal Verlaines song; the lineup finally cemented with the substitution of Haig for drummer Robbie Yeats, who first appeared on the 1984 EP 10 O'Clock in the Afternoon. The Verlaines' full-length debut, 1985's Hallelujah All the Way Home, was originally submitted as part of a composition project for Downes' honors-level music class; he received an "A" grade for the record, which bore the heavy influence of his classical background in its exacting compositions, as well as its orchestral and brass fluorishes.

After the 1986 "Doomsday" single, The Verlaines resurfaced a year later with the excellent Bird-Dog LP; a long layoff followed as Downes pursued his Ph.D, and the group - with new bassist Mike Stoodley - did not again appear until the 1990 album Some Disenchanted Evening. Yeats departed soon after, and was ultimately replaced by drummer Gregg Cairns. After recording 1991's Ready to Fly, The Verlaines swelled to a four-piece with the addition of second guitarist Paul Winders; after Cairns quit, new drummer Darren Stedman was enlisted in time for 1993's Way Out Where. Although Downes soon accepted a teaching position at the Auckland Institute of Technology, it was assumed that The Verlaines would continue with business as usual. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide