I N T E R V I E W
GG van Newtown of HEX
By Arpie Shirehorse
Wellington pagan folk-metallers HEX hit Hamilton this coming Saturday, October 22nd, playing at Biddy Mulligan's, with Auckland's BOZO and Hamilton's own Blue Cross. HUP caught up with guitarist/vocalist GG van Newtown (and in places bandmates Kiki and Liz), to find out about how HEX came to be, an upcoming album, the band's future plans, and some pretty spectacular hypothetical dream gig lineups!
You’re coming to Hamilton! Have you played here before at all, in any other bands? I have played in Hamilton before, a couple of times about 10 years ago in the 5 piece punk woman band ‘Poodles’. The shows were both at all ages venues (awesome!) and crammed full of all aged people and I remember quite a few dogs. The community around it was beautiful and punk as fuck!
What was the catalyst for starting HEX? Our lovely friend Liz moved to Wellington and we wanted to start a project band with her, meanwhile Kiki and I had been writing new and very different material to our previous offerings in Newtown, so we started again as HEX with a couple of songs already written and many more flew out of us as soon as we all started playing together.
There’s something of a dark spirituality to your music which is quite beautiful – is that a result of wanting to sound like something specific, or have you found it quite a natural thing that happens when the three of you get together and create? In HEX, I aspire to sound like a baby born from 5 mothers: Black Sabbath, the Cure, Joy Division, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Sonic Youth. This is all such beautiful rock music and there is so much more that inspires me that I haven’t mentioned, and luckily somehow it all flows out of my guitar.
What is your writing process typically? Is there one main songwriter or do you jam ideas and see what sticks, or something else? I write lots of riffs, sometimes whole songs and sometimes the band works together to make a song, stitching up my riffs adding Kiki’s riffs. I hold onto riffs for years waiting for the right song to slot them into or the moment where a riff suddenly develops into more. Kiki writes riffs and whole songs too but is more likely to have a song idea and by night time it’s been worked on like a frenzied genius and a complete song is born. We do shape new songs together as HEX and sometimes I or Kiki bring an entire new and finished song to the table and we just learn it with minimal changes.
New single ‘The Moon’ is just astonishing! I enjoyed Witches of the Hex, but ‘The Moon’ feels like it should be huge. Was there a different approach this time? In terms of writing/recording etc. The EP was recorded on a 4 track one afternoon at the Nautilus in Owhiro Bay, and we did vocal overdubs at home. We recorded The Moon with Jason Erskine from Barong Mixing. He came to our house and spent a day placing mics around our gear, padding the walls, and he even brought new guitar strings for us! Then we spent the next day recording half the album including The Moon. Jason and Kiki mixed the track, and Jason mastered it. He also played tambourine on this song and laboured many, many hours to get it sounding as epic as it is!
When and where can we buy it!? This will be available to buy when our album comes out. In the interim you can listen to it on our Soundcloud.
What does 2017 hold in store for HEX? Our debut ALBUM! For a label to release our Album on vinyl! An Australian tour in April! And we are plotting a wee northern hemisphere tour during our winter...
What’s your favourite song to play live?
Liz: Page of Pentacles
Current favourite NZ bands?
GG: Civil Union
Liz: Earth Tongue
Kiki: Unsanitary Napkin
Which member of HEX is…
- the sportiest?! Kiki
- the best cook?! Liz
- most likely to get arrested?! (and what for?) GG for public nudity and for defecating on public property
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?!
GG: Nirvana/Big Black/Joy Division in Seattle quaffing whiskey. Yikes!
Liz: X-Ray Spex/The Ikettes/The Cramps in Barcelona quaffing tequila and soda.
Kiki: The Breeders/Chelsea Wolfe/The Slits in San Francisco quaffing sherry.
I N T E R V I E W
Liz Stokes of The Beths
By Arpie Shirehorse
The Beths play Hamilton for the first time this weekend, along with Paul Cathro and Hamilton's own (and quite brilliant) Celebrity Death Hoax. HUP caught up with singer and main songwriter Liz Stokes ahead of the show at Nivara Lounge this coming Friday October 21st.
You’re coming to Hamilton! Have you played here before at all, in any of your other bands? Not with The Beths! I came to a gig at Nivara Lounge last year to watch my friend Chelsea Jade and Boycrush. I drank Waikato Draft and tried to get into the spirit.
What was the catalyst for starting The Beths? I play music semi-professionally, the trumpet, so I was playing a lot of music in different styles. But I turned 23 and realised I really wanted to play in a guitar band, playing the kind of music I listened to when I was a kid. We all already played together in Ivan (our drummer, AKA Sal Valentine)'s band. I managed to get everyone on board with a demo recording of Whatever.
We hear there’s an album in the making? What can you tell us about that – where are you recording/with who/when will it be out etc. There is! It is still very early stages. Jonathan Pearce (our guitarist) recorded the EP and he is doing the album too. He has a little studio on K road. Hopefully next year we will have it out.
What is your writing process typically? Is there one main songwriter or do you jam ideas and see what sticks, or something else? Usually I will bring in a demo of a song, very rough. Then as a group we will arrange the parts. The exceptions are the songs that Ivan has written, but the process there is the same.
What does 2017 hold in store for The Beths? Hopefully an album and a trip overseas. We are keen to get over to Australia and the USA, but flights for four don’t come cheap. We are saving up though.
What’s your favourite song to play live? 'Whatever'. All our friends know the words now, which make me grin like an idiot.
Current favourite NZ bands? I actually shouldn’t answer this, there isn't enough space. Kip McGrath, Ha the Unclear, Rackets, Sea Views, Wax Chattels, Street Chant, The Naenae Express, Hans Pucket, Maple Syrup, I could go on forever.
Which member of The Beths is…
- the sportiest?! Jonathan loves Cricket, does that count? (It counts double! - Ed)
- the best cook?! Ben (bassist) for sure. All he talks about is seasoning pans.
- most likely to get arrested? (and what for?) Probably Ivan and me, but I cant say why.
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?! I guess it's Rilo Kiley, Pinegrove and…mid 2000s Fall Out Boy. We are on the roof of my apartment building, drinking Bloody Marys and complaining about the fact there is no elevator.