Jean-Paul Sartre Experience

aka JPS Experience

Perhaps the definitive band of Flying Nun Records' second wave, the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience – or as they were later, more manageably called, the JPS Experience or just JPSE – not only left a memorable, and surprisingly diverse catalogue, but went on as individuals to play their part in several other classic acts.

The core of the band, David Yetton and Dave Mulcahy, first played together in school groups, and then in what was described in an early Rip It Up interview as "a seven-piece band that played free-form rock" in the Christchurch suburb of Woolston. In 1985 they met Invercargill native Gary Sullivan through a mutual friend who was experimenting with magic mushrooms, reading Sartre and suffering a consequent existential crisis. Thus inspired, the three dubbed themselves the Jean Paul Sartre Experience.

JPS Experience, Martin Phillipps (misspelled) with visuals by Projector Mix at Auckland's The Gluepot, June 1991. This was the first time the name Projector was used by the soon to be called Projector Mix.
JPS Experience at Christchurch's Subway club
Photo credit: Courtesy The Nostalgia Black Hole
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, November 1989
Gary Sullivan at the Gladstone, Christchurch, 1986
Photo credit: Photo by Ross McAllister
I Like Rain
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience at Chippendale House, Dunedin, March 1986
Photo credit: Photo by Ross McAllister
JPS Experience in 1992 as a five piece with Russell Baillie at right-rear
A poster for 1989's The Size of Food album
Automatic (live at the Flying Nun 10th Anniversary, Powerstation, Auckland, NZ, 10 September 1991) Bob Sutton collection
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience at the Gladstone, Christchurch, 1986. The decorations were cut up milk bottle tops
Photo credit: Photo by Ross McAllister
The US cover Jean-Paul Sartre Experience's 1986 album, Love Songs. The album was released on the small Communion label in the United States.
Crap Rap
Slip (live at the Gluepot, Auckland, 24 August 1990) Bob Sutton collection
Inside And Out
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience at Chippendale House, Dunedin, August 1987
Bleeding Star, the final album produced by Mark Tierney, released in 1993
Elemental (live at the Gluepot, Auckland, NZL, 24 August 1990) Bob Sutton collection
Ray Of Shine
JPS Experience (clockwise from top left) - Gary Sullivan, Jim Laing, David Yetton, David Mulcahy
Photo credit: Photo by Darryl Ward
JPS Experience at The Subway, Christchurch, year unknown
Photo credit: Courtesy of The Nostalgia Black Hole
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience at Chippendale House, Dunedin, March 1986
Photo credit: Photo by Ross McAllister
Into You
Flex - 2017 reunion gig at Hollywood cinema, Avondale, Auckland - with guests Matthew Heine and Buzz Moller
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience - Jim Laing, Gary Sullivan, David Mulcahy, David Yetton
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience at the Gladstone, 1986
Photo credit: Photo by Ross McAllister

Flying Nun




David Yetton - bass, vocals

Gary Sullivan - drums

David Mulcahy - guitar, vocals

Jim Laing - guitar, vocals

Russell Baillie - keyboards

Matthew Heine - guitar


The band's name came from a friend who was, according to Mulcahy, "going through a really bad time, getting really depressed and reading Jean-Paul Sartre. He used to say he was having these amazing experiences with with Jean-Paul Sartre."

Russell Baillie is now the entertainment editor at the NZ Listener

Crush won the 1993 NZ film award for best film score (shared with now acclaimed Aussie movie composer Antony Partos) and featured Greg Johnson on trumpet

A widely-believed rumour held that the band amended their name under legal threat from the estate of Jean-Paul Sartre itself. It wasn't true, but it was a good story.

Funded by

Partners with