HUP caught up with James Harding of Rangiora rock n' rollers Best Bets ahead of their show at Nivara Lounge this coming Friday, July 20th, with The Situations and Elephant Facelift. Read on to find out more about the band's history, the burgeoning Christchurch scene and James' love of The Situations!
HUP: How did the band get together, where are you based, and what is the music scene like there at the moment? I'm digging Wurld Series a lot, and of course there's Salad Boys and T54...and the always-popular-in-Hamilton, The Bats!
James: Olly and I were in a band called The Transistors for about fifteen years. Our bass player and best mate Colin decided to hang up his bass a couple of years back and it seemed like a good time to wrap things up. Ol and I wanted to keep writing songs together so we started Best Bets and drafted in my brother Luke on bass and our friend Matt on guitar. We started jamming in late 2016 and it felt good right away. We are based in Otautahi, Christchurch. Although we all came from Rangiora, in North Canterbury originally. I guess there's a scene in the loose sense of the word. Aside from the bands you mentioned there’s also Nervous Jerk, The Ruling Elite, The Fluffies, Contact Rock, Motte, Pavlov’s Puss, Cowboy Machine, The Teasers, Ben Woods Group and PGX, to name some more. Joe from Salad Boys and T54 is actually filling in on bass for us on this tour.
Are any of you involved with Melted Ice Cream at all? It seems like a really great and supportive label. Yeah well speaking of Joe, he’s actually the founder of MIC, but it’s now being run by our mate Brian Feary (who plays in Wurld Series and about a million other bands). It’s a fantastic label, the last Transistors release came out on MIC and we’re stoked to be releasing the Best Bets EP on cassette through the label too. It’s really sounding like a scene actually now that I think about it.
How do your songs come to be/who does what bits? Initially it was just me and Olly writing songs as a two-piece, that’s how three of the songs on the EP started out. As soon as we got Luke and Matt in the mix the songs became what you hear on the record. They added so many great ideas to the songs which really lifted them. Matt is an incredibly melodic player, those two are definitely the most musical in the band. Olly and write the basis of the lyrics, probably about 50/50 each.
You only released the Life Under The Big Top EP in February this year, but are there any more recording sessions in the pipeline? Yep, we’re just about to put out a new single online. It came out some recordings we did with Joe over the past couple of months. We’re in the very early stages of recording an album.
Any favourite songs to play live? We've been writing a lot of new songs and it’s always fun to try them out live. We’ve been doing a cover of a Flying Burrito Brothers song called Older Guys which is a gas. It’s kind of hard to pull it off and sometimes we don’t, so it’s a fun challenge.
Tell us about the show with The Situations, are you guys pals from way back?
We first met The Situations in January 2008 in a tiny spot in the Coromandel called Kuaotunu. We were both supporting a band called Pierced Arrows, which featured Fred and Toody Cole from Dead Moon (RIP Fred). There was a bit of sizing each other up at first but by the end of the night we were best mates. It’s been that way ever since. Countless tours and shows, they’re our brothers, some of the best people I know, and they’re legitimately my favourite band.
Have any of you had previous experiences of Hamilton music/shows/bands? Good or bad! Transistors played in Hamilton a few times, once really early on with The Mint Chicks at a place with a glass stage...I wanna say Yellow Submarine? We did a show there with Guitar Wolf at Static which was great, except that we broke the stage from jumping around too much. We also opened for a band called King Cannons at some massive sports bar. The less said about that one the better. Our mate John said it was “TEDIOUS”.
Haha! Ok we need some fun facts about the band...Who is the best cook in Best Bets? I actually don’t know who the best cook would be...I feel like it might be Matt, although I’ve never tried his cooking so I'm basing that more on the rest of the band's established mediocrity in the kitchen.
And the most sporty member? That would be Luke, but he’s overseas at the moment and his replacement Joe detests sports.
And who is the most likely to get arrested? Any of us could get arrested when The Situations are involved.
Catch Best Bets with The Situations and Elephant Facelift this coming Friday, July 20th at Nivara Lounge! HUP has a copy of The Situations ltd edition double A side 7" single 'Island Fever/You Are What You Are' to give away - to enter, just drop an email to us by 8pm Wednesday, at firstname.lastname@example.org, telling us about the best bet you ever made. It's a great record, have a listen here...