I N T E R V I E W
Looking For Alaska
By Arpie Shirehorse
Hamilton based pop-folk duo Looking For Alaska's debut LP reached number 12 in the NZ charts this week, possibly the highest charting debut LP by a band from this city. The band is currently in the middle of an extensive North Island tour to support the release, and will play this coming Thursday Nov 10th at Nivara Lounge. HUP caught up with the band to discuss their plans for the future, and lay down an Absinthe challenge. Remember, drink responsibly kids!
How long has LFA been a thing? Since 2013 as a duo (according to our Facebook page), we first met Stephen Daniell (our Bass extraordinaire from Dinsdale) the same year but didn't start playing with him until early 2015, and we only found Jeremy Hantler (the happiest drummer/bird caller) and Regan McKinnon (our guitarist-producing-mixing-mastermind) this year.
Any major influences, either musically or spiritually? The Decemberists, Civil Wars, The Staves and Sufjan Stevens (musically) and mostly influenced by relationships (the good and the ugly) and the mundane workings of everyday life.
What is your writing process typically? Because LFA started out as a duo, all of the songs were pre-written before the rest of the band came into play, but even then only a couple of tracks from the album were actually written cohesively. More often than not, we will come up with the initial idea for a song separately before playing it to the others and tweaking it together from there, or one of us will play through a set of chords and the other will write out some lyrics. Most of our songs tend to flow easily and write themselves in the process.
Congrats on the album! What’s the general feeling in camp…relief/exhaustion/joy/something else!? It's both a huge relief to have it all finally finished and out in the world, but at the same time it is also incredibly daunting to have released anything into the ether for the very first time. The whole recording/mixing/mastering process happened in such a blur that we haven't really had a second to really celebrate the amount of work that went into it all. It's been going pretty well though - made it to number 12 in the NZ album charts this week!
You’re off on a fairly huge tour…is it a full band thing? Any plans to go to the South Island? Its the first time for us setting out on our own tour so we had no idea how it would be received in other cities, but the response we have had so far has been incredible! The majority of the dates are with the full band so it has been an exciting new challenge for us experimenting with new arrangements and learning about each other as the tour progresses, and yes, we are definitely hoping to find some south island venues to play next year (fingers crossed).
What does 2017 hold in store for LFA? We are looking at doing an Australian Tour next year hopefully with a bunch of awesome Aussie musos we have met in Hamilton on their own tours and we have been lucky enough to open for them. We also think it would be the absolute coolest thing to do a small tour through the US with the final gig ending in Alaska!
How do you find being based in Hamilton helps or hinders LFA? Hamilton is such a central city in the North Island that it actually makes it incredibly easy to tour from, and it's the birthplace of our beloved Nivara Lounge which is home to the coolest, friendliest and some of the most talented bunch of musical weirdos that you'll ever meet this side of the Waikato river.
What’s your favourite song to play live? You only see me when you're sleeping
The best show you’ve ever played is…? Our first stop of the tour in Rotorua with the Rogue Stage (It was only our second gig together as a band and it was magical)
Current favourite NZ bands? Marlon Williams (his album has been on repeat since buying it) and Brendon Thomas and The Vibes (because not only are they amazing live, but they're some of the most genuine dudes you'll ever meet).
Which member of LFA is…
- the sportiest?! Definitely Stephen (as in he actually watches sports, the rest of us arent bothered haha)
- the best cook?! Also Stephen (he makes the best takeaway curry or store bought cheesecake ever!)
- most likely to get arrested (what for?)?! Regan McKinnon without a doubt (for being drunk and disorderly or for indecent exposure)
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?! Well, The Doors (because, Jim Morrison...), Paramore (because Hayley Williams is a tiny pocket rocket), and Sufjan Stevens (so we can pick his lyrical brain), this could literally take place in an elevator and it would still feel like cloud 9, and absinthe so we can all trip balls. Lets make it happen.
Stream Looking For Alaska's debut album HERE!