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.