I N T E R V I E W
By Ian Duggan
With members back in Hamilton from the UK and Japan for a limited time, there has been a lot of excitement about the impending performance of Inchworm, over 15 years since they last played together. Between 1993 and 1999 'Inchworm' released two albums and an EP, produced five music videos — all of which received TV airplay — played numerous well-attended Hamilton gigs, toured NZ several times, and played at the Big Day Out festival. A month out from the gig Hamilton Underground Press talks to all three members, Scott Brodie (bass), Justin Harris (guitar) and Rob Talsma (drums), about their excitement at being together again, their potential playlist for the night, and their enduring popularity.
HUP: Inchworm haven’t played together for over 15 years. While Scott and Rob continued to play together after they moved to the UK, in Girlinky and Grok, have all three of you even been in the same room as each other since this time?
Rob: I have not seen Justin since Scott and I left New Zealand in 2000. Oddly (and cooly) [UK Grok and Girlinky member] Chris Ayles and his partner met Justin in Japan and, apparently, had a fine old time. I thought that had a nice joining-the-dots aspect to it.
Justin: Yep, I haven't seen Rob since he and Scott left in February 2000, although I've seen Scott a few times. He came to Japan for a brief visit and I've seen him when back in Hamilton over the last couple of years. I played with Scott on an as yet unreleased set of Grok songs and then we played together again when he played bass on some of my [solo project] Elider songs last year. I figure that with the somewhat ‘string-like’ way that we've played together — Scott and Rob in the UK, and Scott and I in NZ — that it might not be a complete mess when we first practice before the gig!
HUP: And how excited are you all feeling about the gig?
Rob: I'm excited about the gig! And I think I'm getting more excited about it too. I find I'm humming (and tap-drumming) Inchworm songs in anticipation. And to check I still know them. It should be a fun night. I'm really looking forward to playing with Rumpus Room again too! Those are some damn fun people. I'm not sure Hide and Tallow was born when we were playing, but they look interesting as well.
Justin: I am very excited about the gig, and more than that, hanging out with Scott and Rob rehearsing. Although due to schedule differences, we only have four possible days to practice before the gig!
Scott: I'm looking forward to it. The gig is a plus but I'm maybe more excited about the days of rehearsals beforehand when we can kick back, have a laugh and make some noise.
HUP: A month out from the gig, have you thought yet about what songs you might play on the night?
Rob: We've been chatting on and off for the last little while and I think we had a provisional set list in there somewhere. We may have to alternate louder ones with slightly quieter ones as I'd prefer not to die on the night.
HUP: With Justin in Japan, Rob in the UK and only Scott based in Hamilton, you are all converging here for only a brief period of time. Do you think you will need much practise prior to the gig, or do you still remember the songs pretty well?
Rob: I think I have the easiest job as the drummer. So long as I play in time, I don't think people will notice. It's hard to say if the songs will just pop right back or if they'll take some work. I don't think it should be too hard though. How's that for non-committal?
Justin: As for remembering songs, some of them, especially the more acoustic ones, I've played from time to time, so I remember them. Others I have no idea! We have a list of songs that we might do, but it will be dependent on how they turn out in the practice. I think we're also keen to try a new one or three. We've all been writing new songs prior to meeting up with the idea that we might record them on day four of practicing.
Scott: I don't remember them very well which should make it more fun because we will discover the songs again rather than playing them rote. ‘It Means a Lot to Me’ could indeed become a jazz-funk extravaganza, while ‘Come Out Come Out’ becomes the gay-pride party song it always wanted to be.
HUP: So you guys are bringing some new songs with you? Are each of you trying to write them with an 'Inchworm frame of mind', or might we expect them to have some influence from your more recent projects, such as Grok and Girlinky (Rob and Scott), 5 Second Burn (Rob) and Elider (Justin)?
Justin: I've been writing songs with Inchworm in mind, but they really are very similar to any song I would write for anyone I guess.
Scott: For me there are just some lyrical and musical ideas, not perfectly formed. Then, everyone will change them. I believe what comes out of the collective can be something surprising and you could never have predicted. I look forward to seeing where they end up. It's just a ‘song frame of mind’.
Rob: I haven't written that many songs, ever, but I feel like you bring a core idea and you see where it goes with the band. Like Scott said, the other people will think of things you never would, so the song ends up developing in unexpected and interesting ways. That's the idea, anyway.
HUP: To avoid disappointment on the night, Hamilton Underground Press has had to start pre-selling tickets for your gig because of high demand. Have you been surprised by the level of interest in Inchworm so long after your last gig?
Rob: I don't think we had a dedicated 'following' at the time, so it's surprising and kind of funny that there's interest at all. It will be fun though and, if people are excited, that will make a novel change.
Justin: I think we were very lucky when we played in the ‘90s to have some people who came along and supported us, and while we never achieved a level of success that enabled us to not lose money, we were able to play to audiences in most places we played; Nelson was a sad exception. That some people remember us and might come and see us play in March is flattering and gratitude to those people!
Scott: I think many will see it as a chance to catch up with people they haven't seen since back in the day. That's partly how I'm viewing it. With the added incentive of a nostalgic Inchworm soundtrack — something which can't be revisited by a TV programme or sporting highlight show using the songs in the background as we never hit those dizzying heights of success.
I N T E R V I E W
Ted Danson With Wolves
By Arpie Shirehorse
This Saturday sees Sydney's Ted Danson With Wolves hit Nivara Lounge for a show with locals The Goth and The Pixie and The Recently Deceived. HUP caught up with Bassist Dean Crovve ahead of the Australian Emo Punk's first NZ shows.
TDWW is quite the moniker! I have to ask how it came to be…. Haha well actually it started as a throwaway Facebook status. We used to be called Crouching 80s Hidden Acronym (don’t ask) and when we inevitably got sick of that name we started making fun of it with a string of joke ‘Changing our name to..’ statuses. TDWW got a good reaction and we thought it was at the very least a great improvement.
You’ve just released a new EP entitled Don't Tell Me What's Wrong With You, Because I Will Find Out And Tell You. It Will Make Sense To You And Work. It is brilliant! How do the songs come to exist? It feels like there’s an organic-jam type thing going on while at the same time it’s startlingly tight. Thank you! We’re very proud of it! I guess that’s a fair assessment - Josh will come to practice with whole song structures written on guitar, then basically we loop section after section, each writing our parts, saying what we like and dislike about what everyone’s doing and eventually (hopefully) we wind up with the best song we can!
The Sax in your sound helps to make TDWW fairly unique. How did that come about as being a part of what you do? Well sax is Nick’s first instrument but he was playing bass in the early days, I remember they asked me to join because they were covering Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ (RIP) and wanted Nick to do a sax solo - unfortunately he couldn’t do both so here I am! It’s pretty much been all sax all the time since then.
Tell us a bit about the Sydney scene. Is it healthy in terms of quantity of good bands and people attending shows? Sydney rules hard. It seems to cop some flak but only from people you never see at shows. I really think some of the most interesting and exciting new music happening in the whole world is going on in Sydney at the moment. It might be lacking a bit in the way of ‘legit’ bar venues but the DIY/Warehouse scene is really strong and well attended.
What has been the highlight of being TDWW thus far? The last tour was pretty incredible, we got to go to Adelaide and Western Australia, I’d never been to either before so it was very exciting to see those new places and faces. We’re very excited for New Zealand for the same reason!
Will these be the first TDWW shows in New Zealand? What are you looking forward to most about playing here? Yep, first time! It looks like such a beautiful place! Hopefully we’ll get to see some sights as well as hear some new music. Having checked out some of the bands we’re playing with it seems like we’ll be upstaged most nights. We also get to play with our friends Carb On Carb and Mr Sterile Assembly a couple times so that’s super exciting.
Some quick fire questions… Most rock n roll TDWW moment to date…. Haha there’s not very many to be honest! One that comes to mind is the first time we ever got paid for a show. It was $100. We decided to treat ourselves and get some Indian food for dinner. Chicken tikka masala, balti tiger prawn, vegetable korma. Thought we'd really push the boat out. There was a naan and a half each! At the end of the night we got the bill and were shocked to find we had ordered $130 worth of food. No, really, that’s actually my answer.
Who is the sportiest TDWW member and what are they into?! That would have to be Tom, our drummer. He’s a star forward for the mighty Winston Hills Bears soccer team. He’s such a bear.
Who else should we be listening to from Sydney/NSW? Canine might be objectively the best band - they make thrashy and catchy powerviolence, Tom also plays in Burlap who are putting out their debut LP ‘Burnout King’ later this year and their almighty riffs will crush you. You should definitely also catch our good friends H A N N A H B A N D who are doing their own NZ tour just after us, they are noisy and catchy and fun.
If you were organising a show and could have any three bands play, who would it be and where? Thin Lizzy playing three sets at my house.
The best thing Steve Albini has ever done is…? Pretty much everything about Shellac.
Finally! Can we expect Merch at the show in Hamilton? Yes! We’re crunching the numbers and looking at how much the airline will let us bring. We’ll have shirts and copies of our new EP and also our 2014 LP ‘WWTDWWD?’.
- Ted Danson With Wolves, The Recently Deceived, The Goth and The Pixie @ Nivara Lounge, Sat Feb 20 9pm, $10 on the door!
Interview with Mermaidens
I N T E R V I E W
By Arpie Shirehorse
Wellington’s MERMAIDENS are a band very much on the up. January saw them open for Canada’s MAC DEMARCO in their hometown, before they headed north to play Nivara Lounge on January 29th and then on to Auckland for three more shows. There’s also a new album about to drop. Arpie Shirehorse caught up with Gussie Larkin (pictured right, guitar/vocals) before their blistering Hamilton show.
HUP: What can you tell us about the LP and when can we expect to buy it?
I can tell you that I’m bloody excited about it and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I don’t want to say too much, but the first single from the album “Seed” is a pretty good preview of what’s to come. Plenty of jangly tones, witchy chanting and washed out vocals. James Goldsmith recorded it and he was so sweet to work with. The coffee was flowing. It’s going to be released mid-March and you’ll be able to buy it online from Bandcamp. We’ll also have some limited addition cassette tapes available.
HUP: How did you guys meet and how long after that was Mermaidens a thing?
Lily and I went to high school together but only started sharing our music in 7th form. I’ve known Abe since I was around 15 – we used to go on missions to the dump shop and find cool shit. Mermaidens was born around 2.5 years ago in a mildew palace.
HUP: What is your songwriting process, does one person write lyrics and chords and the rest of you hone it in practice or is it more organic than that?
It’s a combination of the two really. I’m always writing riffs, melodies and lyrics in my own time and I know Lily does too. Usually our jams start from a guitar or vocal line or even a weird sound we’re digging…the process is forever changing, but we always finish writing songs together.
HUP: We’ve heard about of the Eyegum Music Collective - what is the Wellington scene like at the moment?
I’ve been away for six months but Wellington is a pretty small place so I’m assuming it hasn’t changed drastically! The house party scene is sick, I can’t actually remember the last time I saw a band perform in a venue. And I do think that’s a bit of a shame as it means we might lose even more of our live music venues. That aside, there are always new bands coming out in Wellington who really surprise me. You can’t really put a label on the Wellington “sound” – except maybe the BBQ reggae bands haha.
HUP: Any favourite bands we should check out?
Groeni, Womb, Kobra Club, Red Sky Blues.
HUP: Have you ever played (or even been to!) Hamilton before?
This will be our first Hamilton show, although we’ve stopped off there a million times for pies. Abe’s Grandparents live there so hopefully they’ll be in the crowd getting silly.
HUP: Mermaidens most rock n’roll moment to date is?
Abe once skulled 2 litres of water on stage.
HUP: Best show you’ve seen in NZ?
HUP: If you were organising a show and could have any NZ bands play – which three would it be and where?
Bic Runga, Beastwars, Human Instinct. Party on the beach in Princess Bay.
HUP: Kim Deal or Kim Gordon?
Tough one but Kim Gordon.
HUP: Courtney Love or Courtney Barnett?
Courtney Love. Rock n’roll queen even if she is absolute trash.
HUP: Auckland or Wellington?
This interview was originally published in Issue #1 of the HUPZINE. Photo of Gussie Larkin by the brilliant Ngamihi Pawa (@ngamihi).