Pouffe Gig Review
G I G R E V I E W
POUFFE, FILE FOLDER, CELEBRITY DEATH HOAX
Nivara Lounge 14-1-2017
By Gee Ttohcs
I guess evaluating this gig led me to ask more questions than I answer, which I ultimately take to be a good thing as the evening got me thinking. First thing I typically do when writing a review, (like my 2 or 3 attempts at reviewing for HUP constitutes any sort of experience), is to comment on how people “came out”, “made their way”, sometimes even “battled the elements”, as if it is necessary to point out that live music in Hamilton a) gets an audience and b) to acknowledge the vast amount of energy and effort exerted by those who attend to get there. So, initially my opening line of this review was also going to be: “A good crowd attended … blah, blah, blah.” (with more accurate details than blah, blah, blah). However, you can see that I went something different as an opener. Alerted to my own laziness, it did lead me to think: “What is a good crowd?” Is it number of people (what is a good number), their behavior, or whether they seemed pleased with what bands had to offer?
As you might already have guessed, the Pouffe gig was not sold out, but it never was going to be. It is January in Hamilton (people abandon their houses to go and pitch up some material next to the very people they are trying to escape from), the bands on the line up too, “ain’t born typical.” What we are talking about here I guess is an ‘underground’ gig. What the fuck does that mean? Another question. Well Nivara is literally located underground and this is Hamilton Underground Press, but I guess I am referring to a set of bands that do things a bit differently, don’t necessarily have wide appeal or seek it. Whether the bands in question hate the term ‘underground’ or not, doesn’t really matter, it serves to take me back to the question of what is a ‘good’ crowd. In this case people attended (it may have been a relatively event free journey, maybe they were even carried to the car, who knows?). Indeed there was a good enough number of people for the bands to feel relieved that they weren’t just going to be playing to each other. When things kicked off at 10pm, rather than the printed schedule there was an audience that were very much into what the bands had to offer. There was interaction, dancing, nodding, smiling, whooping and cheering. It was an intimate gig, people there ‘got it’ (apart from the typical randoms who roll in off the street, drunk hoping for an Aerosmith covers band). The reason why the audience appears to hold relevance is that both Pouffe and File Folder travelled from Auckland for this gig, and I for one, don’t like bands to leave our fair city thinking we prefer what is going on down the road (typically covers bands). We loved you Pouffe and File Folder, you were loud, interesting, had great sounds, humor, made us dance, made us laugh … come back, come back again … please?
Locals Celebrity Death Hoax opened the night. This bill was a good fit for one of Hamilton’s newest bands. In this gig, they appeared more relaxed - songs got longer intros, and generally got more time to breathe. They simply looked and felt more at home on the same stage they’ve played on numerous occasions already. They delivered the same set as the HUP/HUM Xmas gig, but never the same, as singer Pip Six improvised lyrics and where they are sung in the song guarantees it will vary each time. The electronic side of Celebrity Death Hoax was taken further by second band, the two-piece File Folder. Beth Ducklingmonster and Robert Pickle abandoned the stage and set up their gadgetry amongst the audience. With heavily manipulated vocals, the two vocalists pounded the audience with their words, ideas, utterances, howls. Forceful declarations sat on top of intense, infectious beats and synth lines. I know so many people that would have absolutely loved their sound. Bad luck, those us who were there loved it, and enjoyed that we got to hear it and maybe that others missed out – we got in on the secret. However, if you want to catch up, head to their bandcamp page. It won’t be the same, but it’s as close as you’ll get until you catch them live.
Finally, the Megazone tour arrived in Hamilton and Pat Kraus and Matt Plunkett aka Pouffe (I prefer to pronounce their name as Pouf-fey like buffet, but I am sure that is wrong) took up their position on the elevated drum riser - After all they were the headliners, so it felt apt. Guitar nerds would have had a field day figuring out the make of Pat’s guitar and working out how he achieves his tone. I just asked him outright, but I am not sharing the response here. Sounds reminiscent of the rawer side of guitar music came out of it and limited number of effects. The guitar lines were charming and enthralling. The lyrical content of the songs possessed a Moldy Peaches-esq humor and were delivered in a style evocative of the early UK punk-scene. Personal favorite of the evening was the song ‘Blu Tack’. Celebrity Death Hoax’s keyboard player and John Cooper Clarke lookalike’s least favorite song was the one about haircuts. It got emotional for him. So all in all, I guess Pouffe lived up to the description they give of their sound as comparable to a “cow making hip-hop but real catchy and emotional.” However, you’ll have to catch them live to see how a cow plays the keyboard. It is worth the entry fee alone.
Interview with Pouffe
I N T E R V I E W
Pat Kraus & Matt Plunkett of POUFFE
By Pip Six
POUFFE play Nivara Lounge this coming Saturday (Jan 14th) with support from FILE FOLDER and CELEBRTY DEATH HOAX. Pip Six caught up with the free pop electro - noiseniks ahead of the show.
How did you get together?
Pat: We met in Auckland about ten years ago and then Matt moved to Waiuku and started sending me phone recordings of himself singing about his life. I added some music and we had enough for an album called "Free Pop" but decided it was very strange and it's still mostly unreleased.
Matt: We met up a couple of years later for another go in a small sunroom to make the MALLL album. Knowing we needed to upscale next time we moved into the lounge for We Live In The Mind. This is my favourite album. In terms of promotion we really did almost nothing and we never really considered this as a live project. Our latest release was our first South Island recording and this time we had the use of a whole house. From here it seems like we should maybe go into a large shed or small auditorium.
What is your sound? Or is that weird to ask? Forget that last part, what is your sound?
Pat: The sound is like the sound of a cow making hip-hop but real catchy and emotional. Also I want to make a tasty buffet of musical treats for Matt's voice to chomp on, and to find some way of expressing through pure sound what it's like as a disabled queer working-class weirdo being alive in the world. The genre is Free Pop.
Matt: The sound of two adult humans.
You’ve been on tour! You are on tour! Best story so far? Will also accept worst moment so far but you guys don’t need to talk about that if you don’t want to…
Matt: No bean pies anywhere. What is happening. Six blocks of walking in Taupo. Dannevirke had big yellow plates. There was a gargantuan ship in Napier which made shopping difficult. Inevitably a bad choice was made at a petrol station.
Pat: I have been having amazing dreams like My Little Pony unicorns blazing across a glitter-filled sky, and detailed dreams about eye makeup. Weirdest moment reading that most whales have syphilis. An old man stared at me in Carterton.
And Hamilton - have you played here before? I don’t think you have but maybe in a different band? Were we nice?
Pat: Yeah real nice! Pouffe hasn't played in Hamilton but I have done a couple of solo shows: one at Ramp and one at Pilot. Both of those nights were real cute with small, shy but engaged audiences. I mean the number of people was small. The people themselves were normal size. Maltese Falcons played at Biddy's a couple of years ago. The staff at Biddy's don't seem to like music, musicians or indeed being alive, and they charge like $11 for soft-drinks but the crowd was lovely.
Matt: I played my first gig ever at Waikato University a long time ago. I was very excited and a man told me off for smashing a microphone into some cymbals. When I apologised for this he told me off again for my apology because it was not the correct way to behave as a true punk rocker. I learnt a lot that day.
Know any of our local bands here, or not so much?
Pat: I saw Blue Cross a few months ago supporting Hex, and I thought they were cool and also impossibly cute. I have an old tape of that band Dean which is real greasy and sick.
Lastly how do I say your name properly and what is the deal with that name?
Pat: It rhymes with "roof". It's French. It means those round padded footstool things. Matt thinks of it as "POOFFF!", like a powdery explosion. I thought of the name. I originally wanted to call it "Pink Powder Pouffe". It's a reaction against all those band names that are like "Stab Murder Death Skull". I guess that is fine for metal bands, because then it's camp, but otherwise it's just a bit...safe? One of the best bandnames ever is The Homosexuals. That's a real tough name!
B O O K R E V I E W S
Summer Reads: ‘Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys’ by Lol Tolhurst, and ‘In Love with these Times: My Life with Flying Nun Records’ by Roger Shepherd
2016 was an excellent year for music books. Among these, memoirs were released by founding The Cure member Lol Tolhurst and Flying Nun record label founder Roger Shepherd. Ultimately, the experiences of both with their respective music projects have striking similarities, and both are great reads.
Overall ‘Cured’, written by Lol Tolhurst, the founding drummer, and then keyboardist for The Cure, is an excellent read. If you have been a long-term fan of The Cure, and have read 1988s ‘The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years’ - the year prior to Lol leaving The Cure - you will have heard many of the stories in the first half of this book before. That isn’t to say there isn’t some new information here though, particularly about Tolhurst’s early home life. One of the most interesting recurring characters in the first half of Cured was Chris Parry, the former drummer for Wellington band The Fourmyula (of the song ‘Nature’ fame) in the late ‘60s to early-‘70s; a nice New Zealand connection. When The Fourmyula visited the UK, and subsequently left, Parry remained and worked for Polydor Records before forming his own independent label, ‘Fiction’; one of his first signings was The Cure, and the strong influence he had on the band over a number of years becomes evident throughout the book. I regarded the first half of the book as enjoyable rather than fascinating, and by that point I thought it would end as a good read but ultimately a forgettable one. Perseverance pays off, however. The slow build really acts to provide a hard hitting end. The reader comes to the realisation that the first half is setting the scene, following the development of not just his involvement in The Cure but also of Lol’s problems with alcoholism. As hinted by the title, ‘Cured’, there is a happy ending to the book, but it is well worth reading for the journey, where he experiences the lowest of lows brought about by his own personal self-destruction, until he is finally able to stop blaming others and take ownership of his illness.
The second book, ‘In Love with the Times: My life with Flying Nun Records’ by Roger Shepherd, has a number of connections with Tolhurst’s, with its foci on illness, substance abuse and an independent record label. Unlike the former book, I found this one fascinating from start to finish, being difficult to put down at any stage. Similar to the Fiction label, a key band was important in the development of the Flying Nun label; in this case The Clean. They, along with The Bats and The Chills, get a good amount of content dedicated to them. Primarily, however, the book covers Shepherd’s life, with a focus on the ups-and-downs of the label and its key people (e.g., Chris Knox), from the labels essentially volunteer beginnings to Shepherd’s departure and recent re-involvement. As with Tolhurst’s book, it is extremely frank with respect to his personal issues through the time of his involvement, although instead of being a destructive force Shepherd finds on reflection his illness was a positive influence on the label. Nevertheless, for a Hamiltonian Shepherd’s book irks for his lack of respect for the city. No Hamilton bands were ever signed to the label, though many believe Watershed were more than worthy. His South Island bias comes through strongly when he refers to Dunedin as one of the country’s four major centres, which may have been true at the time the label was at its peak, but it certainly isn’t the case now. Finally, his only real mention of the city is to denigrate it by associating it with boy racers. Of local interest, however, there is also some discussion about now Hamilton-based Matthew Bannister, formerly of early Flying Nun band Sneaky Feelings; these sections are largely conciliatory, referring to criticisms made by Bannister in his own book, ‘Positively George Street’.
Despite some personal qualms in the latter book, on the whole I greatly enjoyed both books, and I highly recommend both to those interested in The Cure or Flying Nun. - Ian Duggan