Singing New Zealand caretaker releases album
Jim Palmer’s ‘This Kronik Life’ took seven years to complete, with rehearsals at night and ‘serious work’ happening on weekends
By Mikaela Collins
By day Jim Palmer would take care of the grounds at a rural school in the New Zealand city of Whangarei.
By night he’d spend hours putting together an album.
That was the Matarau School caretaker/musician’s life for the past seven years while he put together a collection of songs based on his 20-plus years in the music industry and turned it into an album called This Kronic Life.
“We did a lot of rehearsals during the week at nighttime, then in the weekends we’d come in and do the serious work because we’d have more time. We’d spend hours into the night on Saturdays and Sundays really tracking the stuff we needed.”
Palmer, known as Yimmy — friends starting calling him that after watching The Whole Nine Yards — has been immersed in music his whole life. His father played harmonica and accordion and Palmer played ukulele and guitar growing up.
But he didn’t realise he could sing until he was 19. He met a bunch of Kiwis in Sydney and they started a band. They needed a vocalist and so Palmer gave it ago.
“It sort of went from there. I learned my trade over there and then what I learned over there I put forward here in Whangarei when I came back in 1995.”
Since then the 51-year-old has been in several bands including Shylock and covers band Something Stupid which changed its name to Gridlock after the group started playing original songs.
Palmer, a father of seven and a granddad of 15, has also been working as a caretaker for 18 years. He started in 2000 at Purua School, the school his children went to, because they needed a parent to be the bus driver and caretaker.
In 2005 he moved to Matarau School as the caretaker, the school his grandchildren attend.
“I love it. When I was a kid I used to look up to the caretaker. I used to hang out with the caretaker at primary school and burn all the rubbish with him. I thought ‘I really like this job, I wish I could do it’ and now I am.”
The album has 21 Northlanders on it and was recorded and mastered in Whangarei. It is for sale at Music Mayhem or yimmy.bandcamp.com.