Cairo Knife Fight - Recession Rock -
Anyone who has caught the dynamic live act of duo Nick Gaffaney (drums/vocals/bass keys) and guitarist Aaron Tokona, will almost inevitably have come away impressed – if not by their mesmerising, sprawling and passionate music, then certainly by the incredible work-rate of these two inspiring musicians. As Cairo Knife Fight they create a sound much bigger than any duo has a right to – and do so all on the fly, live without a safety net. Mark Bell spoke to Gaffaney about their just-released EP, ‘Cairo Knife Fight II’.
Cut Off Your Hands - Rather Be Down Than Out -
Cut Off Your Hands have travelled a long way in just a few years, only to find themselves back pretty much where they started – as Shaky Hands. Attending SXSW for the first time in 2007, the energetic foursome soon got to tour with Foals, befriending them and other like-minded UK indie rock bands. With a debut album pending and global Warner release via an ‘independent’ subsidiary label beckoning, they moved to London, where they got to do all the things an upwardly mobile young rock act might reasonably dream of doing. But they didn’t have a radio hit and their UK label gave up. Cut Off Your Hands moved on to the States, where they played endless gigs to a growing fan base until the enforced hamburger diet, loss of two original members and overwhelming weight of crushed expectations drove them home in 2009. Richard Thorne talked with vocalist/songwriter Nick Johnston about their home recorded sophomore album, ‘Hollow’, and where it may lead them from here.
Head Like A Hole - The Three Things That Count -
Head Like A Hole were not the only wild and wasted, hard livin’ bad ass rock’n’rollers on the local scene in the 1990s, but they were head and datehole wilder, more influential, more undressed and longer-lived than others. Habits have a habit of getting in the way of both consistency and longevity, yet Head Like A Hole somehow maintained. It was a tragedy of inevitable proportions when they called it quits as a band in 2000, a full decade after having first introduced themselves with the four-song cassette ‘Shitnoise’, then 1993’s ‘13’ album, with tracks like Life’s A Joke, Fish Across Face and the explicitly self-descriptive, if unintelligible, Narcotics, Noise and Nakedness. On the eve of release of their outstanding comeback album ‘Blood Will Out’, Richard Thorne talked to front man Nigel ‘Booga’ Beazley and newcomer guitarist Andrew Ashton.
Hollie Smith/Mara TK - The Soul of the Brand -
Despite having endured some of the darker challenges that the music industry can throw up, Hollie Smith has become one of our most prolific songwriters of the past five years, now releasing her third album since 2007. Having gained much attention for her powerfully emotive vocal talents on the Don McGlashan-composed Bathe In The River in 2006, it was not all plain sailing after she released her award-winning debut ‘Long Player’ in 2007.
The promise of international stardom following a high profile signing with US jazz label Blue Note came to nought, indeed that deal went so sour that the album remained unreleased offshore and she was left in a position where (contractually or creatively) she couldn’t write anything new. Hollie emerged from that low with the triumphant release of ‘Humour And The Misfortune Of Others’ in February last year, a soulful, funky album which let the listener right in to her emotional space, and won her considerable critical respect. 18 months on, she’s begun, releasing ‘Band Of Brothers: Volume 1’, the first in a planned series of albums, this one in collaboration with renowned Wellington producer, vocalist (and member of Electric Wire Hustle), Mara TK. Karl Puschmann talked with Hollie Smith.
In Dread Response - Burning With The Spirit -
The underground metal scene in NZ is a network of players familiar with each other. Musicians who share visions and passions and have plenty of energy – commonly in more than one band, playing different hues of metal (within the myriad of genres), sharing their knowledge and ideas. Bands such as Cold By Winter and 8 Foot Sativa helped lay the groundwork for overseas exposure of NZ metal, while more locally, Tainted, Mark of Man and Every Man For Himself have set the bar high with their technical proficiency and passionate performances. Describing the scene as “…definitely incestuous”, Ross McDougall of Auckland five-piece In Dread Response, says it is “…because we want to work with musicians of the same calibre”. He talked with Ania Glowacz.
Punches - Return & Departure -
Five years on from their well-acclaimed self-titled EP release, indie duo Punches – James Duncan and Kelly Sherrod – have overcome the issue of living on separate continents to complete their debut album ‘Etheria’. Lydia Jenkin spoke to James Duncan about their long meandering seepage of creativity.
She's So Rad - Compulsive Radical -
Jeremy Toy says he just has to make music. He is compelled to do it, day and night, in a variety of genres, whichever way inspiration takes him. From a strong jazz background he has lent a hand (guitar or bass) to a variety of acclaimed bands and albums, including Sommerset, Hollie Smith, Opensouls, Anika Moa, more recently Liam Finn and The Sami Sisters – and now released a debut solo album of his own – ‘In Circles’. Despite adopting the musical persona She’s So Rad, his evident musicality and a self-professed tendency to be a little obsessive, Toy remains surprisingly shy and humble, as Lydia Jenkin discovered.
Supermodel - New Zealand's Next... -
Wellington five-piece Supermodel actually have nothing to do with the fashion industry, but they do present a pretty ‘super model’ of a pop rock band. Having grown out of a covers band, they have morphed into a tight, energetic, dedicated group – a group who have just released their debut album ‘To The Mountains’ which they recorded in the UK with the increasingly renowned team of Greg Haver and Clint Murphy. Lead singer and guitarist Mark Hanify talked to Martyn Pepperell.
The Nudge - A Slice of Blues-Rock-Voodoo Pie -
Textured like whisky, or a craft beer perhaps, Wellington trio The Nudge have, since their inception early last year, been doing an un-coded blues, rock, soul hybrid voodoo on audiences around the country. Producing their own debut album, they’ve taken the wildcat live energy they’re known for and condensed it into the 10 rough and ready recordings for the engagingly diverse and gritty ‘Big Nudge Pie’. Ryan Prebble, James Coyle and Iraia Whakamoe talked with Martyn Pepperell.
Tourettes - Fire in the Tiger's Belly -
It would be easy to fill an article with the surprising facts about Tourettes (real name Dominic Hoey), but we’re here to talk about his new album, ‘Tiger’s Belly’, so let’s get some of them out of the way first. Tourettes started his career playing drums in various hardcore bands and tattoos still cover his chest, reach down each arm and over his knuckles. He went on to play drums for alt country band, Vietnam War, though he left before their latest album. His own live shows often include multiple spoken word pieces and his poetry has been published in New Zealand’s longest running literary journal, Landfall.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Origin Unknown Future Unpredictable -
When Kiwi alt-pop heroes The Mint Chicks prematurely ended their final show with a chaotic bust up on stage, no one knew what lay ahead for Ruban and Kody Nielson, the brothers from Orewa who were the band’s nucleus. Despite winning multiple Tui awards, their relationship as fellow artists and band mates had always been fraught, and Ruban had decided in early 2010, after a particularly hazardous 30th birthday where he ended up having drug induced hospital visit, that it was time to stop playing music, move back to Portland (where The Mint Chicks had based themselves in 2008), and concentrate on being a family with his wife Jenny and two young children. Kody moved on to producing an album and forming a duo with Bic Runga, bassist Michael Logie started solo project F In Math and Paul Roper continued drumming with various musicians. But Ruban decided to pursue his illustrating talents and found an intetrn role at a film company. However it wasn’t long before he was writing and recording again, albeit alone in his basement, with no rules, no band mates, and no real intention of releasing it. What happened next is likely to become part of NZ music lore. Ex-pat Kiwi and now Portland resident Xan Hamilton kindly agreed to be NZM’s foreign correspondent, and tell the story of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.