Q and A with TREPIDATIONS
Trepidations play at Nivara Lounge this Saturday, March 23rd, along with Bruises and Nagasaki Tan. HUP caught up with Will Saunders (guitar) to shoot the proverbial shit. Here are some Q's and As to those Qs...
Who are Trepidations and from where do you hail?
Heath on drums, Jared on bass and Will on guitar from Auckland where we all ended up one way or another
How long have you been together, and have you been in any bands previously?
About a year now and yep we've been and are in bands from Royal Falcon through to The Quick and the Dead, Bearhat and The Lowest Fidelity
You have a cool song out on Bandcamp, I Can't Go On - any more releases imminent?
ta very much! ...That's the first demo recording we did and we will have an album out later this year with any luck
How does the songwriting work in the band? And where does the inspiration come from?
Originally I wrote some tunes and asked Heath to play drums - then we cajoled Jared into whacking some bass on top - after rehearsing a few times we just started making more sounds and songs up as we went along.
Inspiration now feels a bit like we're swimming through a stream somewhere between Can't Buy Me Love, Helter Skelter and improvised sound - the water wings are slightly deflated, we only have one flipper between us but we're splashing away optimistically!
You're heading to Hamilton on Sat March 23rd - tell us about the show...
The fantastic bruises organised the gig so we are stoked to be able to join them - they have four twisted tunes out now on bandcamp so I'm looking forward to kicking out some jams with them and Nagasaki Tan. This will be Trepidations third show.
Have you played here before in any other bands, or do you know any bands here?
Hamilton is a first for me gig wise so hopefully it won't be the last... Royal Falcon must have swooped through at some stage!
Some less important information about the band...
Who is the most likely member of the band to get arrested? And what for?
We're all pretty straight arrows here at Trepidations - but I wear two pairs of glasses at once sometimes and you know how these things can go occasionally...
Who is the best cook in the band?
Heath - black beans maestro that he is
Which Trepidation is the sportiest, and what do they like playing/doing?
Jared probably. No idea which ones but he's definitely proven a good sport all round I'd say!
If you could plan a gig anywhere in the world with 3 bands dead or alive, where would it be, who is playing, and what are we drinking?
Pyramids, MC5, Dead Moon and Syd Floyd. Drinking in the wonder of it all...
A R T I C L E
‘A Little Trap I Made’: An Interview with Ben Woods
with Ian Duggan
‘Future City Festival’ is looming! And one of the acts that I am most looking forward to is Ben Woods, whose song ‘Lozenge’ is seriously good! An earworm that you aren’t unhappy to have there, no matter how many times it repeats through your mind. We caught up with Ben to discuss that song, his upcoming album, the Christchurch music scene that keeps on giving, and more!
HUP: Your debut solo song, ‘Lozenge’, was released last year on Melted Ice Cream’s fantastic 'Sickest Smashes from Arson City’ compilation. ‘Lozenge’ is also the title track to your upcoming album. When can we expect to see the rest of the album?
Ben: I was hoping to release it early this year, but booking this tour ended up being a lot more energy and time than I had anticipated, so it's been put on the shelf a little bit. As soon as the tour is over it's number one on my priority list. It's all finished; I just need to figure out who's going to put it out or whether I’ll put it out independently.
HUP: Is Lozenge indicative of the rest of the songs on the album?
Ben: Nope! That one's the lone charger for sure. A little trap I made to lure everyone in so they listen to my sad arse, draggy, downbeat songs. Really, there's a common thread in all of them, but LOZENGE is definitely the only one at that pace.
HUP: How has Christchurch come to have such a healthy scene currently? Or has the scene simply never waned there?
Ben: I don't know if it's any healthier than any other of the main centres around. There're people who put a lot of work into making stuff happen, especially Brian [Feary] who runs MIC. There's certainly a lot of different little pockets of people who will stick with whatever artists or bands they feel connected to. But, because of that it can sometimes feel like you're playing to the same room of people over and over, and it's often not a big room at all. I feel like the hope for a lot of people playing in somewhat alternative bands in Christchurch is that all the little indie sects will slip over into each other and combine to be something a bit more open and inclusive, and available. That's what I'd like at least, but don't know how it happens!
HUP: You are described as a multi-instrumentalist. What instruments do you play?
Ben: Nothing too wild. I'm getting worse and worse at guitar over time, despite it supposedly being my main instrument, but I kind of like it. I also try play a bit of bass, drums and piano. I'm really horrific on the cello, but have been trying to figure out how to work my flatmates one recently.
HUP: Are you playing Future City Festival solo, or with ‘Ben Woods Group’? What instruments are you bringing with you?
Ben: Playing with Symon Palmer, Ryan Chin, and IRD Rory Dalley. We've got drums, guitars, bass, synth; we've even got lap steel this time around!
HUP: You played guitar on the Wurld Series EP ‘Stately and Befrothed’, which, with its heavy Pavement overtones, was another favourite among us here at HUP and on the Hum 106.7fm. Did you have much of a hand in writing those songs? Who are your major influences?
Ben: Luke [Towart] wrote all those songs just on guitar, and then we'd workshop them as a band. I wrote all my guitar parts, but then sometimes someone would have something in mind they really wanted to hear and sing it. Then I'd work something out around that. I have a special place in my heart for Luke, Brian and Abi [Macilquham] who were the line-up for that EP.
I think in regards to that EP, the big influences might have been stuff like Guided by Voices, Alex G and Silver Jews. Though if you mean mine currently, I've been listening to lots of Chris Knox, that album Armchair Boogie by Michael Hurley, and also getting back into PJ Harvey. There's other ones that'll always be somewhere within me like Cat Power, Will Oldham's stuff, and Fugazi.
I N T E R V I E W
Back to the Big Bang: The Reformation of Sora Shima
With Ian Duggan
One of the most highly anticipated performances at Future City Festival 2019 is the reformation of Hamilton ‘sonic rock architects’ Sora Shima, playing their first gig in over five years! Likened to bands such as ‘Mogwai’, ‘Explosions in The Sky’ and ‘Sigur Ros’, Sora Shima will be performing with their original line-up, and playing only their early material. We spoke to Jae Lurman (guitars), Adam Fulton (guitars) and Rob Shirlow (bass) about why they stopped performing, how the reformation has come about, and why it has taken so long to get back together?
HUP: You are playing at Future City Festival with the original line-up, performing just the early songs. What has led to this reformation?
Adam: Rob asked nicely.
Jae: Full credit to Rob for sparking this off. I've been in hiding for years and I needed a catalyst. At first I thought we'd ease into it with some more relaxed, low-key support gigs. But hey, why not come back guns blazing.
Rob: We’d been toying with the idea for a while on-and-off, and I thought that making it a bit special - playing a festival, and just doing the early stuff - might give us the extra oomph we needed to get going. Everyone seemed keen and after a bit of texting back and forth we got together and it was pretty much exactly like it was in 2006! Shit jokes… lots of noise… mean songs!
HUP: Sora Shima, perhaps more than any other Hamilton band this millennium, gained critical approval outside of the city. It felt for a while like the band were on the verge of something. Why did Sora Shima stop performing?
Rob: It did, eh?! We got some decent press, and great support slots with the likes of Broken Social Scene, Mono, Jakob, Dimmer, and Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3. I left in 2010 due to a change in career. Becoming a teacher meant little free mind-space and no time to focus on the band. It knackered me out completely. So Sora Shima Mk III was formed and they carried on for some time, recording an album. Gav [McDermott, drums] eventually moved to Switzerland, so I guess that was a fairly big factor. Jae can probably answer that better!
Jae: Gav recorded all of his drum tracks for the album ('You Are Surrounded') before he left NZ, so fortunately we were able to get the album finished in his absence. But there was no release show, tour, or anything, so it was very bittersweet. At that point it was just myself left from the original line-up, and just after Gavin left I also lost my job and went through some heavy shit. So I descended into a pretty dark place, financially, emotionally and eventually creatively. Essentially the answer to the question is... I simply couldn't do Sora Shima without Gavin.
HUP: What are your best memories of the times the original band were together?
Jae: Yeah, probably the four of us making hellish noise in my spare bedroom in quiet Forest Lake. I remember we went to the neighbours to apologise for the noise pollution and they said they actually opened their windows to listen to us! That was great. I'm immensely proud of those early tracks, particularly Spinetingler, which was recorded all live and we didn't even care about mixing it. So I love the raw energy of it. Musically, I think the song Tornado vs Trailerpark is our crowning achievement; we've never quite captured lightning in a bottle again like that... yet! On the live side, being taken very generously under Jakob's wing early on was really amazing for us. We played some fantastic gigs, enjoyed it all, and it was always a laugh a minute.
Rob: Sora Shima was instrumental (no pun intended) in helping me settle in New Zealand. I joined via an online ad, just after moving here from Amsterdam. I made pals early in my new hometown through music, and that was really nice on a human level. We used to make a hell of a racket in Jae’s spare room. I don’t know how we didn’t get shut down. The camaraderie was ace; recording, making CDs, getting a decent reception, playing with some great bands. It was a lot of fun.
Adam: Driving long hours to play music to strangers, which is more enjoyable for the most part than it looks on paper. [continued below]
HUP: What have all the original members been doing since you all last played together?
Jae: I needed some kind of expressive outlet so I formed Gang Violins, which remains (very) active. I also did some solo/duo ambient and loop project stuff on the side under the name Palaces, which I've since shelved. We've all done and are doing other stuff.
Rob: It was probably 2008 when we last played together, I think. Adam left around then and Tu took over on guitar. Eleven years pretty much. I’ve played in Ancient Tapes, and now do Bitter Defeat too. Gav plays in Broadcast State, and Adam has done and still does loads of stuff; Hedge Fund Trader, amongst others. All fairly active musically.
Adam: Living outside of this country, playing in various heavy bands and recording various other heavy bands, driving long hours to play music to strangers.
HUP: In what ways did the band change after Adam Fulton and Rob Shirlow left?
Jae: I guess there was an element of "staying the course", forging on as best Gavin and I could - and it seemed to work for us as, for a while. The momentum kept building. Full credit to those who came after: Tuhua [Mutu; guitars], Nick [Johnston; keyboards] and Liam [Clancy; bass], for continuing that momentum, bringing new elements to the sound.
HUP: There have been hints dropped over the last few years that the band were emerging from the hiatus, but it’s never happened. What was behind the hints, and what prevented a reformation prior to this time?
Jae: Those were false starts, nothing more. A lot of wishful thinking, mostly on my part. Life just gets in the way. Gavin's been back for a while now, but it's taken this opportunity and Rob's positivity and persistence to really get me back into it. I'm moody. I can't just turn the switch back on... it needed to feel right. The original line-up playing the original tracks just felt perfectly right to me. We've stripped it right back to the big bang and maybe now we get to do it all over again, perhaps differently this time.
Rob: We’ve wanted to do it I think, but life and stuff made it hard; family, living on the other side of the world, etc. This time was a proper effort at committing though, and it’s worked so far. [continued below]
HUP: You have teased on Facebook that this could be start of something, depending on how things go?
Rob: Yeah who knows! I reckon we’ve got some decent new stuff in us, but there’s also the album that never got toured, so who knows. Not that Adam or I were involved with that, so I guess we’ll just see how things go. I’d be into making a new EP though for sure.
Jae: Nothing's planned as yet, but I think we're all secretly hoping for more. The planets have aligned again, so it'd make sense to seize the opp. Right now though, this gig is a one-off reunion. So if you want to see more, come and support it... please! I want to do more because I can't take any more bitter-sweetness! Gonna give this gig 100%. It's been said that on a good night it's like this band can open blackholes and that's my intention. I hope this isn't fleeting.
HUP: How have recent practices been feeling? Does it have the same sense of excitement as it did when the band were first together? No lingering tensions, I trust, if they ever existed in the first place?
Jae: The feeling is pretty comfy. I love these guys! Tensions that might have existed have completely evaporated to the point where I can't even remember what we squabbled about. In saying that though, a little tension generally does good for the music itself! I'm sure I owe a few apologies... Playing these songs again feels like "ahhh, so THIS is what was missing from my life". Guitar riffs I totally forgot have returned like magic. It's like the synapses reconnected - just surreal and awesome. Let's open a blackhole. Bring earplugs and an open mind.
Rob: Really good actually! A few bum notes here and there, and remembering the subtleties of the music, where you played certain things. It’s come back quickly though, and I can’t believe how good it sounds. We were really good, eh?! There’re no tensions at all – at least from my perspective. It’s getting together for a one-off and then see how we feel after that really.
Adam: The practices have been more efficient than I remember them being ten years ago. It would be a logistical miracle managing to continue with the original line-up, but with a band that has had 7 members and countless contributors, who knows...