I N T E R V I E W
HUP caught up with Matt and Lisa of tremendous Oamaru-based indie noiseniks Cuticles ahead of their show at Tāmaki Makaurau's Wine Cellar, (with The Biscuits and Kraus), this coming Saturday, 17th July.
How did Cuticles come to be?
Myself and Austen were in a band called the Trendees which became inoperable for various reasons. We still had a hankering for playing music though. Previously I had played the odd song on guitar in Trendees but was mainly doing singing and lyrics. With no apparent band anymore I started playing more guitar and these rough songs kept tumbling out. We were friends with Lisa and I knew that she was a great guitarist and songwriter - she played a memorable set of original songs in my lounge once. She was in various Christchurch bands in the 80’s and 90’s including Nux Vomica, Portage, stints in Spacedust, a drummer in Snort and also played in Lo-Liners from 2003-2012.
Anyways when she agreed to have a go at making music with us we called ourselves ‘Foot Foot’ referencing that classic old Shaggs song. This version of the band played for a few practices and it felt good but it was pretty rough and wild we always felt on the verge of going off the rails. Austen suggested Tom on bass to try and hold it all together a bit more. It still feels like we might lurch off the rails at any moment teehee but I guess the bass player cemented the rhythm section for me and Lisa to get into the deep wonk within the songs. Around this point the name was changed to Cuticles for some reason and we started regular weekly practices out at Lisa’s place.
How does the songwriting process happen in Cuticles?
I have done almost all of the lyrics but Lisa can also write and will hopefully do more of this in the future. I bring in songs which are sometimes worked out beforehand and sometimes just one melodic line. I will normally have some lines tied to the song but I also have piles of other lyrics on random pages/ backs of envelopes ready to adapt to anything.
This is what happened for Steal My Statue when Lisa played her pretty composition on guitar and those words fell into place. I love language and making up songs. Lisa tends to have compositions sorted before she brings them to us also - some of the songs were a few years old I believe. But then a couple of the songs she plays main guitar on - Post Office and Farmer Jones- were just made up on the spot at practice as well. All the artwork/videos have been done by me just out of necessity and time allowances.
And the recording process – how has that happened to date?
We have been super lucky with recording our songs because Tom works at a recording studio called Sublime and we have been able to slip in between bookings for the professional bands for Tom to speed-record us on the fly.
Tell us about your releases so far.
At the moment we have released eight songs but have another album’s worth of unreleased material pretty much ready to go. We have five videos out there for our songs so far and there’s a 7” coming out soon on Spik and Span records which will have artwork by my daughter Ori. DIY is an ethos which I think we all like - trying to do everything ourselves seems best.
What's the music scene like down in Oamaru?
There isn’t one. The large majority of bands in Oamaru are covers bands. We do have Mads Harrop who is cool and has done well recently on student radio but despite having many great musicians not many other bands seem to want to play original music. We have got a venue there called Settler Theatre where we host bands coming through Oamaru and this is an attempt to create a DIY space where a scene could potentially occur.
At this point I posed a few optional light-hearted questions to the band, several of which were answered…
Who is the sportiest member of Cuticles?
Tom. He likes cycling.
Tell us about your best/worst gig experiences?
Matt - as young idiot man playing at being a destructive arsehole with first band Poison Arrow at Kings Arms.
Lisa – An infamous Nux Vomica / Axemen tour of the top of the South Island and we played to
six angry rednecks in Motueka who ran us off the stage when no one would or could oblige
with anything off Dark Side of the Moon.
If you could arrange a show anywhere in the world with any three bands, where is it, who is playing and what are we drinking?
Lisa - Raincoats / Can / Dead Moon – tequila.
Matt - I agree with Lisa but now I can add in three more teehee… Nina Simone / Bo Diddley / Swell Maps - herbal tea or beer probably.