I N T E R V I E W
Scott Kendall of The Naenae Express
By Ian Duggan
With The Naenae Express the headliners at the next HUP gig at Nivara Lounge on 27 May, we caught up with front-person Scott Kendall to talk about their wonderful EP, and a bit of cricket.
HUP: You released ‘The Naenae Express Extended Player’ at the end of last year, and it is a rather wonderful listen. For the readers who haven’t yet heard your music, how would you describe your sound?
Scott: ‘New Zealand Guitar Music’ is my go to description. Pop/rock drums and bass with lots of major 6ths in the crunchy guitars. A fair bit of effort [goes] into lyrics and singing in a New Zealand accent. On the record there is a lot of Jonathan Pearce’s EHX Polychorus and Tape Delay. Live we are using more fuzz pedals and country music.
HUP: Your band is named after Ewen Chatfield — a.k.a. The Naenae Express — the metronomic bowling partner of Richard Hadlee in the New Zealand cricket team from the mid-1970s to the end of the ‘80s. Firstly, you seem too young to remember Chatfield, and secondly, you aren’t from Wellington. How did you come to name yourself after the great man?
Scott: I first heard of Ewen Chatfield while reading one of Richard Hadlees’ autobiographies. Hadlees’ description of Chats’ bowling and general ‘run it straight’ attitude appealed to me. I have since read Chatfield’s book and watched as many videos as possible. He’s just a great guy and ‘The Naenae Express’ is a cool name! Also Robert [Bruce], our guitarist, is from Lower Hutt.
HUP: You all seem to wear a bit of sport-related clothing on stage. Outside of the cricket theme in the ‘Bleaching Sun’ video by The Phoenix Foundation — a band I feel you have similarities with sound-wise — good music and sport generally seem to be mutually exclusive in New Zealand. What is your thinking when it comes to presenting a sport-related image, and how a New Zealand underground-music crowd might react to it?
Scott: The Jerseys came from playing a residency at the Kings Arms Sports Bar with the great band Te Huhu. They called it the ‘RUNITSTR8 Residency’ and we played in front of games on the big screen. I think we kept wearing them mainly because playing music in shorts is great in the summertime. Before that we sometimes played in dressing gowns. It’s just nice to match sometimes.
HUP: There is at least one cricket lyric reference on the EP, but there also seems to be a bit of a biological theme, with songs called ‘Sea Anemone’ and ‘Save the Bees’. Was having two of the five songs on the EP focussing on the environmental sciences a conscious thing, or just a coincidence?
Scott: Probably both. It’s a coincidence because they were just the first songs I wrote for the band. It’s conscious because I was conscious when I wrote them. There’s a lot of things you can think about, and if you can think about something you can probably write a song about it. I think about the things I wrote the songs about?
HUP: What are your aspirations for The Naenae Express?
Scott: A really, really, really big tour of New Zealand. No less than 40 shows. I’ll play anywhere with power.
Check out The Naenae Express on Bandcamp: