I N T E R V I E W
Michael Keane of So Laid Back Country China
By Arpie Shirehorse
Wellington’s So Laid Back Country China is a band with a sound that is as unique as its name. Their brand of atmospheric stoner/country rock has been creating waves on the underground scene for a few years now, and last year’s debut LP ‘With Knees of Honey in Goodbye Canyon’ was a stunning piece of work. HUP talked to Michael Keane ahead of the release of the second LP ‘Sin Cristales’ and a tour of the country which includes a show this coming Saturday with Jakob at Nivara Lounge on August 6th.
How long has So Laid Back Country China existed for? I have been writing material for So Laid Back Country China since 2011, in response to a sound and song style that existed in my head. Harriet Ferry (keys, vocals) joined me in bringing the first songs to life in 2012; she pushed the boundaries even further. Kane Tippler (drum kit) and James Bennett (bass guitar) joined later that year, and we began the slow journey to our first collection of songs, WINTER, that was recorded in 2013 and released in 2014.
What was the catalyst for starting the band/how did you all get together? Harriet and myself have a history in the live country music scene in New Zealand, and I feel the band started in response to a frustration at a lack of imagination and growth in that style of music. We wanted to tear song structures apart and create a huge live sound, as well as writing music that was reflective and truthful to our day to day lives. Kane and James, while coming from different back grounds of progressive rock and self-portraits respectively, helped to expand the sound and break old patterns.
Your second album ‘Sin Cristales’ is about to drop – how excited are you for that? Has it been a long time in the making? Where did you record it/with whom? Our second album is an exciting collection for us - we have developed on both the sound and song style established on With Knees of Honey in Goodbye Canyon (2015). We learnt a tonne from Knees about our voice as a group and about myself as songwriter, and as a result we have approached this album in a more ambitious way by expanding instrumentation, demoing and reworking at the birth of songs and feeling confident to make songs dramatically dynamic. The songs were recorded October/November of 2015 at the Blue Barn in Wellington by James Goldsmith who also mixed the album.
What is your favourite song to play live? Ballad of Calm Arms (unreleased) has been an exciting addition to our live show - watch out for G'n'R-esque guitar solos and seductive microphone stand movements.
Is Britain doomed following the Brexit vote?
It's a thing, I'm Scottish born so let's get out.
Who is the sportiest member of the band?
Kane Tippler supports local and international sports teams.
Which other NZ bands should we be listening to? Spook the Horses are about to drop an album that is going to break hearts and please ears. Yukon Era are getting better and somehow younger by the day. Bespin are killing it live and working on a new record.
You can curate a show anywhere in the world with any three bands, dead or alive, and there’s only one thing to drink…who/where/what are we quaffing?! Randy Travis, Waylon Jennings and Kirin J. Callinan drinking peppermint tea and performing the songs of Lee Brice at Dakota Bar, Wellington.
* Jakob, So Laid Back Country China, Desbot - Saturday August 6th at Nivara Lounge. Tickets available at Under The Radar.