Arpie was fortunate enough to catch up with two of Aotearoa's finest underground bands - Swallow The Rat and Threat.Meet.Protocol - ahead of their show at Nivara Lounge this coming Friday, Sept 27th 2019. The key participants in what follows are...in the red corner, representing Taurangans T.M.P, none other than THE Austin Cunningham, and in the blue corner, all the way from Austin, TX via Auckland, is Brian Purington of Swallow The Rat. If you didn't read that in a wrestling announcer's voice, please re-read appropriately.
Just before we proceed, reader, I feel I should share with you that as I typed the above it occurred to me that someone in this godforsaken world of ours needs to pen a song entitled 'Two Taurangans don't make a right' pretty jolly quickly please and thank you. Enough mindless digression. On with the show...
Gidday fulluhs! You are hitting Hamilton this Friday as part of an interesting tour...tell us more about it…where/when/with whom?
AC: Oh it could barely be called a tour but think of it more as a family holiday for a few bands: Swallow the Rat/Threat.Meet.Protocol and Hemordroid who need to get away from our jobs/families/daily stresses and to play and hang out with our good friends at our favourite venues Nivara Lounge and the Vault in Auckand. With guest appearances from extended family members like the awesome Silver Surfer and Fritchley juniors The Pope.
What are your favourite things about each of the bands playing?
AC: With the exception of Brian who’s an outsider that we all secretly resent for taking gigs off hard-working New Zealand musicians [build a wall], these are bands whose members have been around in various guises for the last decade or more. In their current formations both Hemordroid and Swallow the Rat have finally found not only the success they all deserve but the musicians and friends to do it alongside they should have always had. It’s nice to see.
BP: I like that we all play loud Rock n roll musics.
Both your bands have had some fairly exciting overseas tours in the last year or so, STR to SXSW in the US, and T.M.P over in Japan. How was that as an experience?
AC: SXSW was great thanks! Oh wait….. Japan had long been an ambition of ours to tour so to finally do so was an achievement in itself. And to do so without entering financial ruin was an added bonus.
BP: SXSW was pretty decent thanks! We ended up playing 8 shows over 7 days and sharing the stage with some amazing bands. Also we met the label, (Shifting Sounds), that will be releasing our record, so I would count that as a win.
What was different about those shows compared to playing here in NZ? Would you recommend it to other bands?
AC: Every band should play Japan, such a different experience from the New Zealand one. Audiences are bizarrely respectful to the point that you aren’t sure if they even like you as they aren’t responsive like western crowds. Less drunken ‘whooing’, awful dancing and mass venue exodus come mid set so they can smoke/talk outside. A lot more respectful hand clapping though.
BP: Being in a band in NZ is a bit like Groundhog Day. You end up seeing the same bands in the same venues over and over again. It’s life affirming to go abroad and meet/play with other musicians/fans.
Would you go back? Or do you have plans to go further afield?
AC: We would love to but due to Evan's addiction to buying snare drums we will struggle to pay for the gas to Hamilton let alone Japan again. However we plan to send him to rehab for his dirty vice so if he comes out clean we will aim to head stateside next year for a run of shows.
BP: We will be doing some shows in The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave sometime next year. How we will pay for this remains to be seen. All four us could probably spare a kidney or lung. We just need to find some buyers.
Austin, you recently organised a(nother) ginormo Fest over in Tauranga…how did Loserpalooza go and did it achieve what you had hoped to? Would you do it again?
AC: - It did mate, we raised 4.5k for Lifeline and brought a lot of joy to attendees and participants. I will do Loserpalooza again for sure, annually even and hopefully for ever growing proceeds to Lifeline.
What does the rest of the year/2020 hold in store for your band?
AC: We are in the process of recording a 7” for release early next year and between you and I hopefully replacing our bass player as he is abysmal and kind of an asshole.
BP: hmmm, we will be supporting Gang of Four 12th November at the Tuning Fork and releasing our debut LP in early-ish 2020.
Shit that is pretty cool! Finally, encourage the good gig going public of Hamilton to get along to Friday’s gig in ten words or less…
Brian's gonna get out his weiner…. & expel sweet smelling spores
Heavens above! Will if that doesn't entice you out on Friday night, Hamilton, I don't know what will. In all seriousness these are two fantastic live bands, and the fact that they will be joined by two more bands in Hemordroid and Silver Surfer ought to be enough to convince any potential fence-sitters to get along to the show and cut loose. TTFN.