Author: Melanie Selby (photography by Matt Uwin)
Caught between flights, betchadupa are (from left) Liam Finn, Matt Eccles, Joe Bramely and Chris Garland.
The connection with Flying Nun that established the band when they were still at school, and produced an album, a couple of EPs (the self-titled debut in 2000 followed by the '3D EP' the next year), and a small string of radio hits, was severed in August 2003. Replacing the Nun was Aussie label Liberation Music, part of Michael Gudinski's Mushroom Group. Curiously enough it was Mushroom Records which embraced (some might say 'crushed') Flying Nun way back when.
Brent Eccles - father of betchadupa's highly regarded drummer Matt - is the New Zealand GM of the company, as well, of course, as being a leading local tour promoter and face of Frontier Touring Company (also Gudinski's) here. Handy!
For an act that seemed from the outset destined for instant global recognition, little real headway appears to have been made beyond Australasia, and any market gains have been hard won. However it seems the band are turning the right heads and while they have managed themselves in the past Dave Benge (Fur Patrol, Cassette), stepped into that role for this album.
"I guess he's our manager but he's just helping out for a while while we get our feet on the ground and maybe that'll turn into Australia/New Zealand management," says Liam Finn during a brief visit to Auckland.
They have also secured management in America (Spivak Sobol Entertainment who manage Queens of the Stone Age and A Perfect Circle), but Liam explains that this doesn't mean much until they actually have affairs in America and England to manage.
The difficult part of their own second album has been trying to find time to record it, in between the constant touring, label and lifestyle changes. It's no wonder Liam struggles while explaining just what they've been up to since the release of their first album 'The Alphabetchadupa' in May 2002.
"It's hard to remember really, the last five years have been such a blur, it all melts into one big tour," he says.
But betchadupa have always been made of strong stuff, and the hard work is something they came to accept while still in their mid teens and combining school work with a budding rock'n'roll career. While they've spent most of the year in Melbourne, it was only recently they decided to pack their bags and move there, figuring the cost of flying backwards and forward was a little excessive.
The four friends from Auckland; Liam Finn (guitar, vox), Matt Eccles (drums), Chris Garland (lead guitar) and Joe Bramley (bass), are sharing a flat. (Finn's girlfriend drew the short straw in that equation and lives there too.) They have been concentrating on mining the Australian market before they head further afield.
"Last year we did South by South West (in Texas) and some stuff in LA and New York and then went to London and it all went really well, but it just proved that you have to stay there. You can go there all you want just for a week and create some interest but if you're not there to back it up they forget about you. There are so many bands. So I guess what we're doing in Australia is what we'd like to do everywhere - just go there and stay there and concentrate on a territory," explains Liam.
It was the concentration on Australia that was the catalyst for betchadupa to change record labels, moving from Auckland-based Flying Nun to Sydney-based Liberation. While he says the band were fond of Flying Nun, and considered the label a great way to enter the scene in New Zealand, they found representation lacking further afield.
"Flying Nun doesn't really exist in Australia because (there) it's Festival Mushroom and either they knew what we were about and didn't really care as much as we did - the amount of effort we put into Australia and the amount of effort they put into our album is worlds apart.
"We spent so much of our own money to be able to tour there and got such great tour opportunities and offers and stuff like that - you have to do it, but there was no support from anyone really, including from radio," he says without rancour.
"I think Liberation came along at the right time and said the right things. They seemed to know what we were trying to do and the plan they had for what we're doing was a lot more realistic."