I N T E R V I E W
James Stuteley of Carb on Carb
by Ian Duggan
I once had a flatmate who was horrified at the thought of having pasta and potato in the same meal. Such things never bothered me, so I’m super-happy that Auckland two-piece ‘Carb on Carb’ have been added to the Future City Festival line-up as late replacements. I had a quick chat to drummer James Stuteley about international touring, their favourite carb on carb dish, and the obligatory question of who they are looking forward to at the festival; interestingly, and apparently unintentionally, the latter answer ended up being another carb-related band!
HUP: Your style evolved between 2012s ‘no body perfect’ and 2015s self-titled ‘Carb on Carb’ album. What should we expect from the 2017 version of Carb on Carb?
James: More emo, more hard out.
HUP: You quit your day jobs to become a globetrotting professional band, including tours of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and the USA. Do you still have that wanderlust as a band?
James: Absolutely, it's always been at the core of what we want from this band. It’s an incredible way to encounter the world and make friends. Got a bit more of that coming up this year.
HUP: What would you rate as success for Carb on Carb?
James: We already feel successful being able to tour and visit friends, and recoup costs, and play with our favourite bands. But I guess you're asking for an ideal which would probably be touring six months of the year and not needing a day job to live.
HUP: Do you have a favourite ‘Carb on Carb’ dish? Chip butties?
James: Our current favourite is spicy potato soft tacos.
HUP: Who else are looking forward to seeing at the Future City Festival?
James: Haven't seen [unintentional carb reference] Old Loaves in years. Should be a sick set.
I N T E R V I E W
Jamie Hannah of Spawts
by Ian Duggan
Former Christchurch, now Auckland-based band ‘Spawts’ are playing in the final Saturday night slot of the Future City Festival… meaning they are effectively headlining the festival! I caught up with Spawts drummer Jamie Hannah to talk about the band members sport and movie interests, their move north, and their rather interesting Youtube videos!
HUP: You state in your promotional material that you were forged by your “mutual love of late night movie watching and competitive ball related human interactions”. What are your favourite movies and sports?
Jamie: Edgar Wright films sit well with me, so you can imagine how fizzed I am for ‘Baby Driver’ this year, but if I had to pick one it would be ‘Scott Pilgrim’. It’s not uncommon for Kieran [Ormandy; guitar, vocals] to suggest watching ‘Dazed & Confused’; the car scenes keep it moving and the soundtrack makes it happen. Isaac [McFarlane; bass, vocals] likes them big and dumb. What’s the biggest and dumbest? ‘Independence Day’.
As far as sports go we are all caught up in the Blackcaps home summer this season. I must admit we haven’t had much of a chance to roll the arm over except for one innings at the bottom of St Kevins Arcade and some kitchen/hallway throw-downs. We are hoping to get a game going at the Nirvara Lounge car park before we play at Future City to get a look at some new talent for our New Zealand musicians North vs South cricket extravaganza, coming soon.
I am the only rugby fan in the band and must admit being a huge Crusaders fan entering Hamilton could trigger some sort of PTSD, taking me back to the Super Rugby semi-final of 2013.
HUP: For those that haven’t heard your music, how would you describe your sound?
Jamie: We are a guitar driven band, with sounds that range from garage and punk, to the more pop end of the spectrum at times. Bands like Cloud Nothings and Sonic Youth, as well as a lot of great Kiwi bands like Rackets, Popstrangers and Die!Die!Die! are some of our biggest influences. Playing live, we like to keep a lot of energy going.
HUP: You have some pretty interesting videos on Youtube, including one for your song ‘Big Fresh’ that features ex-Funny Business guy Ian Harcourt, and a Star Wars inspired promo video called ‘The Spawt’s Awakens’, which includes Jar Jar Binks being hit by a VW combi. Where does the inspiration come from for these videos?
Jamie: We have a lot of really talented friends, and love being able to incorporate them into what we are doing. Our film-maker friends, Julia Ludbrook and Jonathan Mines, offered to make a video for us. They came to us with the vision and made it happen, including bringing the epic Ian into the project. Who would say no to an offer to make a music video about a man’s relationship with his best friend, who is a cactus, and how he deals with the loss of this companion? (continued below)
The Spawts Awakens is a 30 second clip pushing iMovie to its limits. Its main theme is change and concludes with our friend Zach of Happy Monster fame (another video you can find on our Youtube) blowing up, signifying the end of the first EP and moving into the Big Fresh Era.
I’m a huge fan of the promo videos Tommy Ill put out before releasing ‘New Hat and a Haircut’, so I wanted to do something short and sharp. This promo started as a green screen test I did at my brother’s house in Timaru, using a laundry bag as the screen and the first thing I found on his shelf. As real as it looks, I had to resort to adding almost all the FX in post-production as opposed to practical stunts. There was one more promo I never put out showcasing some more of what iMovie has on offer. Maybe I could use it for the next release or something.
HUP: You formed in Christchurch, but moved to Auckland in April 2016. Why did you make the move, and has it been worth it?
Jamie: We actually made the decision to leave Christchurch before playing a show or putting anything out. An opportunity came up to play music with more of our friends up in Auckland and we jumped at the chance. Has it been worth it? Yes, 100%. More places to play, lovely people, great dumplings and no winter! I’ve discovered some of my favourite bands since moving here. Some of them might even be playing Future City the night before us? I do miss the ‘Darkroom’ though. What other venue in New Zealand lets you play cricket in the alley while people are still sitting outside drinking and even gets you lights from the stage so you can see better?
HUP: What are the bands you are looking forward to seeing during the festival?
Jamie: Wax Chattels! I can’t stress this enough, people should totally go out of their way to see their incredible set on Friday. I’m also looking forward to seeing what The Ham has on offer.
I N T E R V I E W
Justin Harris of Elider
by Ian Duggan
‘Elider’ is the solo project of Osaka based ex-Hamiltonian, ex-Spatula Death and ex-Inchworm guitarist, Justin Harris. Elider has just released its debut album, ‘Redbird’, and one of the songs has gone straight in at #5 on Wellington radio station Radioactive’s Top 11! Even better, Elider is playing at the Future City Festival next month! We talked to Justin from his base in Osaka about the new album, and what to expect from his Future City Festival appearance!
HUP: Ahead of your Future City Festival appearance, you have released your debut solo album ‘Redbird’. What can you tell us about the album? Should punters expect it to sound like an Inchworm album?
Justin: Well it’s taken quite a long time to make, so I hope that is reflected in the final product. Given that I was a third of Inchworm, perhaps it sounds about one-third similar? It does have the layered guitars, etc, and since I was working in a home studio this time, I had more time to add even more of them!
HUP: What can we expect from your performance at the Future City Festival? Are you playing solo, or with a band?
Justin: I’m playing with a band, which I’m both excited and nervous about. Excited because Scott Newth [Rumpus Room] and Ben Cole [The Joint Chiefs, The Datsuns] are such great musicians that I think they will add a lot of power to the songs. Nervous because we have never played together before. Ben drummed on most of the songs on the album, but after the rest of the music had already been recorded. And although I’ve known Scott for about 30 years, and worked with him before, we’ve never actually played in a band together before!
HUP: In an earlier interview with HUP, you stated one of your songs was actually an Inchworm song that was never recorded. Did that make the cut?
Justin: Yep. And it’s one of my favourites on the album actually. It’s called Lift, and Scott Brodie [Inchworm/Grok] plays bass on it, so that’s nice. He played on it without listening to an old live recording of it on purpose, so that he would give it a fresh bass line. And it’s very different than the original. I’ve added lots of hooky guitar lines in it too, so it’s quite a different song I think. When I included it on this album I didn't know at the time that Inchworm would ‘get back together’ as such [at their 2016 Hamilton reunion], otherwise I may have given it back to us!
HUP: Your song 'It's Times Like This' has just hit #5 on Wellington radio station Radioactive's Top 11. Are you going to add a date down there while you're in New Zealand?
Justin: Unfortunately not. It would be great to play other places, but it’s just not possible at the moment - old man responsibilities in the way! I’ll be recording with Scott Newth while I’m in Hamilton though, for the second album. The rhythm section for a whole full set of new songs is already recorded with Ben on drums and Scott Brodie on bass which are pretty rocking…hopefully we can get most of the vocals for those songs done, so I can then take them back to Japan and add guitars, etc.
HUP: You have lived in exile in Osaka and Kyoto since the breakup of Inchworm. Are you planning on playing gigs in Japan to support the album?
Justin: A good question, but I don’t know. Perhaps.
HUP: Are there any bands you are looking forward to seeing at the Future City Festival?
Justin: I’m looking forward to seeing Ben’s band [The Joint Chiefs], and Ancient Tapes. And Rumpus Room - they sounded absolutely fantastic when I saw them last March. Their two guitarists sound like four! I haven’t seen the Hollow Grinders for 20 years or so, so I’d like to see how they’ve grown into their suits.
I N T E R V I E W
The Joint Chiefs
by Ian Duggan
Photos by Ngamihi Pawa
The Joint Chiefs will be playing at the upcoming Future City Festival. I had a brief chat with members Heidi and Ben about their catchy track ‘Run Down’, their past, future and their involvement in the festival.
HUP: In my opinion, your track ‘Run Down’ was one of the highlights of the Hamilton Underground Press compilation ‘Life Beneath a Gravel Streak’. It’s one of those ear-worms that just stays in your head for hours, in a good way! For those who haven’t yet explored the rest of your work, what should people expect to hear from you at the Future City Festival?
Heidi: Thank you! Expect more of the same - a singalongable racket.
HUP: ‘Run Down’ also appears on your EP ‘...In Session’, along with songs titled ‘Zomboids’ and ‘Karate Kid Pose’. What is the inspiration for your songs?
Ben: Things that tickle us just right. Sometimes you have an idea and it turns out to be a good idea for a song so we make it into one.
Heidi: Run Down was a true story ‘til someone we know got run over by someone we don't know, and Karate Kid Pose started as a really convoluted in-joke.
HUP: What are your aspirations for The Joint Chiefs?
Ben: My highest aspiration would be getting to do this all the time.
Heidi: And to be a part of something like the Festival Express - a tour by train of the country with a bunch of other bands.
HUP: You changed your name from The Joint Chiefs to ‘Damn & Blast’ in July 2015, and then back to The Joint Chiefs in March 2016. What was the story behind that?
Heidi: Apparently we were really hard to find on Facebook as The Joint Chiefs, so we changed our name. Then we realised we didn't actually care about Facebook so we changed it back.
Ben: Our name just suits us so well and Facebook should never be the basis for any decision making. People kept asking which one of us was ‘Damn’ and which was ‘Blast’ too. Neither of us was either.
HUP: Ben, you are now Wellington based. In the mid-1990s, however, you were in Hamilton band ‘Pugnaut’, which included Kane Davey of the former Hamilton, and now also-Wellington-based band ‘Disjecta Membra’. Do you keep in touch with Kane, or what Disjecta Membra are doing?
Ben: I've still got some Pugnaut cassettes ($19.95 send stamped s.a.e). Me and Kane have known each other for decades and we still catch up. He's an excellent chap.
HUP: Ben, I understand you are also drumming for Elider at the festival? How did that come about?
Ben: Scott Newth was doing the recording and he asked me to play on it. So I came up and we spent a weekend recording drums. It was heaps of fun and turned out really good. Hope I remember how they all go....
HUP: Are there any other bands you are looking forward to seeing at the festival?
Ben: Rumpus Room!
Heidi: And Two Cartoons.