I N T E R V I E W
Indira Neville of The Biscuits
By Terianne Grady
Auckland‘s The Biscuits are bringing their unique array of noise to Hamilton! The trio take a new spin on the traditional blend of pop and rock, adding an extra thick layer of obnoxious punky racket with heavy lashings of attitude and energy. They will be joining Ancient Tapes, Skux, and Polyester on stage at Nivara Lounge tonight. Terianne caught up with Guitarist Indira Neville to find out what The Biscuits are up to, and what we can expect from them in the near future.
When did you guys start making music together? The Biscuits formed a really long time ago in 2004. Our first show was that same year at my birthday party (it was a great party - bands, sunshine, bathtub full of ice, cheap beer, and some late night jumping out of windows). In 2006 I went off to live on Great Barrier Island, so we pretty much stopped existing until 2012, which is when I moved back to Auckland. We have been together consistently as a band for these past five years. Brent and Brenda did come over to Great Barrier once and we played at the Tryphena Sports Club. On the part of the lovely locals there was some screwing up of faces, and a few polite inquiries as to whether our gear was working properly. It was fun to tell them that we sounded the way we did on purpose.
What was the inspiration for creating the band? I think it’s fair to say the Biscuits started as kind of a good-friends-community-service-type project. Brent and Brenda were experienced musicians, and had separately been in heaps of great bands like Fake Purr (Brenda) and the Ho’Dogs (Brent). I was a beginner guitarist desperate to get better, and thought playing regularly with my talented pals might do the trick. Luckily for me Brent and Brenda were into it!
What is your favourite Biscuits song? The Biscuits pretty much write songs in the following configurations - me alone, Brenda alone, me and Brent together, all three of us together. My favourite written-alone song is ‘Jumping’ from the early Biscuits period, a song we don’t currently play. I wanted to try and make a song like one off that Wire album ‘Pink Flag’ but girlier. So sweeter and prettier than the Wire tunes, but similarly small, catchy and repetitive, containing as little as possible, but still feeling complete. And I feel like I achieved this. I also like ‘Jumping’ because it is joyful, completely angst-free. One song that the three of us wrote together pretty recently that we all like is ‘Trick’. It has a nice small twangy guitar bit, and then a big growly guitar bit, and some slightly sad speculative love-story lyrics. Also Brenda and I sing it together, and even do harmonies - which is really nice. Brenda is usually legitimately busy concentrating on raising hell with her guitar, so whenever she feels like she can sing I am happy.
Are you guys looking forward to the gig you’re playing at Nivara Lounge? And have you ever played with any of the bands on the bill before? We are very much looking forward to playing at Nivara Lounge (thanks so much for asking) and hearing the other bands, none of whom we know. Also I always love visiting Hamilton. I spent significant parts of my life there and had many important and formative experiences. Hamilton permanently has a little piece of my heart.
What’s with the biscuits thing? Where did it originate from? I can’t remember much, except that we thought it was cute and hilarious when we came up with it as a name. Also I did and do like band names that begin with ‘the’ - so that was probably a factor. The name has kind of warped the reality of the world around it though, making biscuits strangely significant to the band members. About seven years ago I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, so I stay away from all conventional gluten-filled biscuits - because they make me sick. However, Brenda and Brent (especially) are hard core biscuit, cake, and dessert connoisseurs, both making and consuming numerous quantities of baked goods. Between us we represent some extreme biscuit-related attitudes and experiences. This preoccupation is I guess reflected in some of our band stuff.
What are the key elements that define The Biscuits sound? I think both Brent and Brenda’s playing is important and magnificent. Brent is a completely reliable thug drummer. He makes a heavy, perfectly timed beat that holds everything together and has just enough fancy fills. Brenda is the most powerful, unexpected, beautiful, ugly, big, interesting guitarist. She can make the most incredible sounds, and never ever plays a song the same way twice. I feel very lucky to be in a band with them. Otherwise there is a catchy noisy duality that is important. We want to make good, toe-tappy pop music with a layer of obnoxious racket.
Under what circumstances / conditions do you find you are most creative? We muck around and play with sounds and tunes - many of our collective songs emerge from this approach. We also really like each other, enjoy spending time together, and have heaps of fun being the Biscuits. This seems to make for a generally creative and productive time. I also individually like regular band practice times and deadlines. I am much happier and more creative when I have routines, boundaries, and defined periods in which to achieve stuff. In a complete freedom situation, I really crap out.
If you could listen to only 3 artists for the rest of your life - who would they be? As a band, and after much tortured backwards-and-forwards discussion we have decided that at this EXACT MOMENT IN TIME we choose:
- Glamours: for their intricate and pretty pop songs, their humbleness, and because we like bands where the drummer sings.
- The Doll: for her relentless domestic noise, because she is so unique and entertaining, and because somehow she is simultaneously both cheeky and ART.
- Dean: for their rich Casio tone guitar infinity, extensive back catalogue, and because with instrumental music you can make up your own stories.
What’s on the horizon for The Biscuits? In the next few months we are playing a bunch of choice gigs including Hamilton (yay), our very first in Dunedin, and Tauranga Music Sux’s Woodcock festival in February. Heavy Space Records are also releasing a Biscuits 7” some time pretty soon. All exciting!