foundrymagazine.co.nz FOUNDRY –
“The Difficult Second Issue” It’s one thing for a band to explode from nowhere with a classic debut album. Following it up is a far greater challenge. Colloquially referred to as ‘the difficult second album’, I am of course referencing popular music’s jinx of a sophomore release failing to live up to the standards of the first. The opportunity for a band to transcend and expand upon their original fan base - refining or re-defining their sound can just as easily see bands fall into the darkness of developmental confusion. High expectations and rushed songwriting rendering their previous efforts null and creating more than a few cautionary tales. The Stones Roses’ Second Coming anyone? Editor
Sam Valentine Sub-editor
Evelyn Blackwell Contributors
Gavin Bertram Logan Benjii Jackson Brendan McBryde Louis Smith Designer
Angus McBryde Web & Advertising
Within these pages, Gavin Bertram speaks to Beastwars – the band of the moment, about their deserved success and stunning debut album. A local metal classic, the eponymous Beastwars is filled with turmoil, low-tuned guitars and a lyrical palate of fury and fire. With their fusion of killer riffs, guttural roars and pounding half-time grooves thankfully no different in the live setting, the recent national tour gave me the wonderful opportunity to experience them live for the third time –and needless to say I was not left wanting.
Live Evil Gavin Bertram
Last Night I Dreamt a Movie Theme Logan
Capturing Zen With pressure and hype on a further effort sure to be immense, Beastwars will now face the difficult decision of replication or re-invention as they seek to follow their debut effort. A decision, I personally hope, they make correctly.
Tauranga Music Sux
Foundry apologises for missing a credit for the source photos used for Thundercub images
Also inside, Foundry spends two days with Christchurch’s T54 following their signing to the hallowed Flying Nun Records, Mono speak on the eve of their only New Zealand date, Benjii Jackson reveals his discovery of the Tauranga music scene and we introduce you all to idiosyncrasy that is Dunedin’s own Louis Smith with his column ‘Hating On’.
Benjii Jackson review.
in issue one. These were taken by Hannah Herchenbach. Want to contribute? email editor@ foundrymagazine.co.nz
Let’s hope Foundry Issue two, proves a Nevermind rather than a Use Your Illusion. You be the judge. Enjoy, Sam Valentine. Foundry Editor.
The Smashing Pumpkins Louis Smith FOUNDRY –
WELLINGTON’S Beastwars have blitzkrieged the local metal scene, transcending all expectations with one of the best albums in recent memory. Here we find a band in transition, tussling with those expectations, an average age of 37, and the forces of darkness and light that inhabits their music. by Gavin Bertram
“When you get in front of an audience you should always try and give ‘em something. You can’t go out and give ‘em nothing.” Miles Davis
“The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die.” - Aleister Crowley
THE forces of darkness are gathering amongst Dunedin’s crumbling architecture on this gloomy night. Howling gales invoke usually dormant forces, drawing them out of cracks in the Oamaru stone to fulfil their evil intent.
The vocalist says this phenomenon has him thinking there’s some indeterminate energy surrounding everyone; something that can’t necessarily be accessed at will. But during the last couple of years with his previous band in Auckland, The Larry Normans, he started to find spaces in the noise where he could connect to it.
And that’s just in the hive of middle age bars surrounding the Octagon. Meanwhile at the ReFuel venue at Otago University there’s a more spirited celebration in session - something that truly has those spectral forces coursing through it.
Beastwars is the latest in a string of acts Hyde has been a part of, starting in a teenage punk band in the Hutt Valley. During a lengthy stint in London during the early 1990s, he was part of Zen Grenade, who released a record and had a video on MTV. Both of these experiences have inevitably fed into the person Hyde is now, and the persona he inhabits with Beastwars. As an adolescent punk he was enthral to legendary Wellington hard edge band Flesh D-Vice, who he had the pleasure of supporting as a 16-year old. Flesh D-Vice vocalist, the late Gerald Dwyer, was also host of the punk and metal show on the student station Radio Active. Hyde lived too far up the Hutt to be able to tune in, but his mate in Eastbourne would tape the Thursday night show and these became an important conduit to what was happening in the wider world of music.
The only places we went to were the supermarket and bottle store, Heavy Wellington quartet Beastwars are performing what feels like some kind of last rites ceremony, a set utterly charged with both literal and metaphoric power. As guitarist Clayton Anderson, bassist James Woods, and drummer Nato Hickey lay down a bottom heavy sonic firestorm of mythic proportions, vocalist Matt Hyde plays the demented seer role. The bearded and tattooed front man, clad in a Wooden Shjips t-shirt, appears to be channelling something that reaches beyond the contrived idea of evil that permeates much heavy metal. An intense presence on stage, Hyde conjures images of an old time travelling preacher, imploring those in attendance to repent before the coming apocalypse. Perhaps it’s “the apocalypse in your ears”, as Beastwars have described themselves. HIS performance belies to some degree Hyde’s profession back home in Wellington as a chef. With an average age pushing 40, all four of Beastwars live relatively normal existences, and Hyde and Woods both have kids. Speaking a week or so after that Dunedin show, Hyde says what comes over him during live performances is something he’s still trying to come terms with. “I can’t explain it,” he ponders. “When it happens for me it’s kind of connecting to something so different it’s like absolute freedom. After the show I’m pretty down. It’s like I connected to something and then the connection shuts off and I’m left back in this world. It sounds pretty weird, but I can stay awake after a show all night, and if I do sleep it’s just nightmares.” FOUNDRY –
Along with the imports Dwyer played New Zealand acts like SPUD, Skeptics, and Sticky Filth that made an impact on Hyde. Later, he’d see Straitjacket Fits, JPS Experience and The Bats on the 1993 Noisyland tour. All these experiences have affected the music he now makes, the singer says.
and the Roslyn chemist because we all had colds and headaches and hangovers.
It was music’s redeeming qualities would be a lure back home after periods squatting and living in bleak surroundings in London.
“I was a bit burnt out,” Hyde reflects. “I ended up living in South London in a council estate. The things you do... the late nights for a long period of time looking out at a concrete wasteland. For some strange reason I thought I’d go back to New Zealand and start a band and go back to England. I don’t know why I thought that, but it didn’t happen.” Instead he washed up in Auckland and played first in Zulu, and then in the inauspiciously named but entirely unhinged rock’n’roll outfit The Larry Normans. While Hyde was clearly a compelling component of that band, he’s
taken it to a new dimension in Beastwars. He reflects that his vocal delivery and stage persona has simply grown over the years, and especially since joining Anderson, Hickey and Woods in Wellington.
“It just came through life,” he reflects on his personal development. “There’s dark and light in everything in life. I think I’ve been in bad places before in life, and surrounded by darkness in a way. I’ve come out of it again, and embraced music again, but I saw it all along the journey.” In terms of vocalists, it was the likes of Soundgarden’s impressive belter Chris Cornell, and Nick Cave’s malevolent croon that helped shape him. But add to that equation a raft of country and western songwriters, because of their delivery and storytelling techniques. Unlike a good number of those, Hyde’s less inclined to ingest too much to get him in the mood for performing these days though. Indeed, on Beastwar’s recent tour he claims to have been straight for some shows. FOUNDRY –
GUITARIST Clayton Anderson was a co-founder of the band, along with Hickey. The two got talking about music in a Wellington pub, bemoaning the barbecue reggae that was predominant in the city at the time, and finding common ground in a love of US stoner rock bands like Kyuss and Fu Manchu. Hickey had been a guitarist and bassist in previous bands, but was learning drums and wanted to serve that role in a new band. Anderson had played in high school metal covers bands in Blenheim, and the Fugazi and Sonic Youth influenced act Sister in Christchurch in the mid-1990s. But in Wellington, where he is a reporter for Campbell Live, Anderson’s music career was confined to jamming alone and with friends. “We decided that we’d start a band,” he remembers. “Sam Scott from Phoenix Foundation was there and said ‘you’re full of shit, it’s just drunk talk’. But no, we followed it through; I gave him a ring the next week. Before James there was another bass player called Warren and the three of us got together and started jamming. Warren shifted up to Auckland James came into the band.” Anderson says the band’s early jams were pretty loose affairs, but when Woods came aboard things immediately picked up. He credits FOUNDRY –
Woods with bringing a “lot of grunt and bottom end... he added the backbone to the band with that really heavy low chordal distorted sound that we’ve got.” Woods has worked as a live sound engineer since the early 1990s, when he lived in Dunedin and ran the Broken Ear studio with Dale Cotton. The bassist says that background informs what he now does in Beastwars. “I like distortion,” Woods states. “I don’t think of myself as a skilled musician. I would basically find a good groove and hold on to it, but I’d also use distortion to sustain, and I also love feeding back. It felt musically comfortable with Clayton, Nato and myself; right from the word go it was really cool and really fun. I allowed myself every so often to think ‘this feels different’.” It was during this period that Beastwars lumbering, heavy sound was formed. While there’s undeniably a metal heart to the music, there are other things at play. The resolute rhythm foundation is created by Hickey and Woods, although there’s a certain flux that lies outside metal’s common quest for rhythmic perfection. Anderson’s contribution on guitar can’t be understated either. While his riffs and monumental tone is key to Beastwars’ appeal, it’s the other weapons in his
arsenal that wreak the most havoc. There are devastating wah-wah interludes, raw sheets of harmonic noise, art punk flourishes, and nary a traditional solo in sight. Well, just the one, at the very end of the record’s final track, Empire. “I’m not a shredder or anything,” he considers. “I’m more of a rhythm guitarist, and I’ve always been into bands like Sonic Youth. When we’re jamming out songs I try and muck around with making dissonant sounds that hark back to what I like. Metal is often all about being perfect; as many down strokes as you can do, whazzing out lead solo stuff note-for-note perfect. That’s not really my cup of tea. I try and make it a bit dirtier.” With these formative elements in place, all that was missing was a vocalist with the presence to light the fuse. Enter Hyde. Having met Anderson through his girlfriend, the vocalist saw the embryonic trio performing and says he thought it was “very strange”. But soon enough they jamming and things developed quickly from there. Hyde claims he was still recovering from living in Auckland for 11 years, and the attendant hassles that suggests, and so was “a bit fuzzy” during these early rehearsals. It was just about fun and about falling in love with music again having become jaded with it. The middle musical ground the four have found has therefore been arrived at through an organic process rather than any preconception. “There are definitely guys in the band who come from the metal thing,” Hyde says. “But there are guys who like the looseness of the Birthday Party, and that punk rock ‘it doesn’t really matter just do it’
thing. I think that’s how we developed that tight loose thing. I think we’ve captured something from all four personalities and our histories. James is 42, and Nato is 32 so there’s a lot of distance in-between.” AFTER building an audience in Wellington over several years – predominantly at the Mighty Mighty venue – in 2010 Beastwars grew weary of being asked if they had a CD out. So they went one better and put out an astounding slab of vinyl (and of course the CD too). The eponymous debut was recorded in Dunedin rather than at home in Wellington. This came about because of Woods friendship with southern sound engineer Dale Cotton, who he’d run the Broken Ear studio with in Dunedin during the early 1990s. Cotton was looking to record a metal band, and Beastwars sound couldn’t have been more perfectly matched to the engineer’s dynamic approach to recording. The week the band spent recording in the hilltop suburb of Roslyn during Winter 2010 sounds like an intense time. “The only places we went to were the supermarket and bottle store,” Anderson relates. “And the Roslyn chemist because we all had colds and headaches and hangovers. It was a good way to do it. If we did it in Wellington, you could bugger off during the recording. In Dunedin we were all absorbed, we only had a week to do it. We weren’t doing anything else but recording.” Woods says Beastwars had a fairly strong vision of how they wanted the record to sound when they went to Dunedin. They’d toyed with the idea of recording live in a room, but when the possibility of recording with Cotton transpired it proved too much to resist.
Having previously worked with Cotton, Woods instinctively knew he was the man for the job, and serendipitously he had studio time free when the band was planning to record. “He’s not a metal producer, although he’s worked with heavy music,” Woods says. “I don’t think of us as a metal band though, I think of us as making these huge sludgy sounds that come just as much from psychedelic punk rock as any kind of metal influence. He’d work at creating space within that; he’s about details so he would find details in this kind of solid wall of sludge we were going to produce.” Anderson mentions the heavy winter atmosphere of Dunedin as another contributing factor to the foreboding mood of the record. The band is understandably proud of this first effort, which beautifully captures the intensity of their live show while elaborating on the sonic details. Beastwars are also happy with the fact the popularity of the record, which comes wrapped in Nick Keller’s award-nominated art. Between it and their outstanding live shows, they’ve grown an audience that extends beyond the metal realm. Hyde’s not too sure why that is, but believes it’s to do with the fact they look like normal people and attempt to be approachable. “We shop at Hallensteins or whatever,” he says. “We’ve all got jobs, we’ve all got families. The gig time is the fun time. It’s a two way thing: the crowd and band connect to create the whole environment. The band can’t do it on its own and the crowd can’t do it. But also I think we’ve toured and tried to talk to everyone we’ve met and be approachable. Because that’s who we are, we’re just normal people. I’ve loved seeing 50 year olds to 20 year olds at our gigs.” NOW Beastwars are contemplating a second album, the number one item on their collective list of aspirations. It may be some way off, but they’ve already written some of the material and started saving for the recording.
And the music’s changing, perhaps moving away from the crushing heaviness of their first record to something that’s even more embracing of the band member’s individual musical loves. “We want to make it sound different to the first,” Anderson states. “There’s still going to be elements of that metalness and grunginess to it. But we’re hoping it won’t be so much a wall of guitars, so in your face. James, Matt and myself have been listening to a lot of early Birthday Party stuff, and trying to have a bit more of that looser sounding, noisier stuff.” “To me it would just be a triumph,” Hyde says. “We’ve got the songs and an audience that is growing. To me, if we do make a second record I’d be totally happy. I think it’s better to make classic records or try your hardest at making a great record, because that’s what lasts. I suppose in the age of YouTube, concerts can be remembered but they never really capture what you were feeling at the show.” In Beastwars case that’s particularly true. While their first record captures the band’s power, it could never grasp whatever the mercurial essence is that Hyde appears to channel on stage. Although Woods wishes it didn’t have to such a dark experience for the singer, he says the feeling on stage is an amazing thing to experience. “I know that we feed him, and what’s happening to him,” he says. “It feels like he’s a lens and the three of us burn and he focuses that and channels it and it comes through him to the audience. It’s not normal. We definitely channel something that not every band has. People love us with a passion that’s amazing, and I’m starting to see it’s because of this fire, this energy that we create.” F *Beastwars is released on the band’s own Destroy Records label, through Universal.
DALE COTTON Dale Cotton met James Woods just before he was going to open the Broken Ear studio on Dunedin’s Carroll St in the early 1990s. “They didn’t have any equipment,” Cotton remembers. “I had some stuff, so I got involved in that. We had a four track reel-to-reel and then bought an eight-track, and bought Stephen Kilroy’s old TEAC desk, originally from Fish St. We were the worst recording studio in town. We pretty much managed to pay for running the studio because we were both working at the Empire as the in-house band techs.” From these humble beginnings Cotton has become one of New FOUNDRY –
Zealand’s most respected sound engineers, working with acts including Dimmer, HDU, The Subliminals, Bob Scott, and more recently Beastwars. He’s also increasingly in demand as a mastering engineer. “I’ve spent about seven years experimenting with mastering now and I decided to split my business into two,” he explains. “Audio Workshop is my recording and production business, and now there’s Dale Cotton Mastering. Because I feel there is a need for a dedicated mastering service in New Zealand. Nobody that says ‘I’m a mastering engineer and this is my business’. I stand behind it, I’m using my name.”
Last Night I Dreamt a Movie Theme Foundry Magazine spends two days with T54 following their Dunedin show and the announcement of their signing to Flying Nun Records. by Logan Jasper Bryant-Greene FOUNDRY –
Joe Sampson began the T54 two years ago, with Samuel Hood (Yulia) on bass and Matt Scobie on drums (The Undercurrents, Planet of the Tapes, Wet Wings, Black Market Art). References to The Gordons/ Bailter Space and HDU pop out of their debut EP Drone Attacks, which was released at the beginning of 2011 - the same week they played their first BDO opening slot. Coming into the end of the year they’ve finished a further 4 EPs. The scree of releases from this Christchurch 3-piece speaks of a band that is not precious or beholden to insecure fidgety song writing or performance. This opens things up, so links to these albums are down the bottom of this article. Open them up and listen while you read. According to Matt, the next album is penned and planned. Big expectations perhaps, but by signing to Flying Nun last week they’ve joined a bloodline beyond reproach of any other New Zealand label. One of the first points of discussion is their disbelief that they might play an opening slot for their new label-mates. I asked Matt about signing to Flying Nun. Matt replied, “Pretty good, yea. What angle do you wanna take? Like, we’re so cool we don’t need them? Or, ‘my whole life has been leading up to this?’ which is a bit more accurate because my dad used to play me those songs in the womb – and then when I heard Flying Nun I was like ‘fuck yea’, I love that TV show. Plus I studied Flying Nun in high school. So yea, I can kind of give up [drums] after this, and focus on my accounting career.”
4 EP release tour. A transfixed crowd of a hundred who were there to see the band vied for floor space over equal numbers who were there for the cheap beer. Confused by the band, the punters in the crowd paid for the cheap beer by tolerating the music, and the other hundred paid for the gig by putting up with the ambivalent drunks dressed in the fathers’ suits. The T54 razed the set to leave a squalid mess of soundwaves. Musical sections were perfectly distinct, while the bass pushed into the guitars and drove both down to the vibrating floor. Thundercub’s DJ Champion asked if Joe was playing with feedback, or playing with pedals. I listened and had no idea. It’s not often someone begins playing with both to make something sound unlike the other; it’s the type of guitar playing that demands reassurance from my ears that it is a guitar being played, because it sounds like a new instrument. Six minutes before the end of their set Matt counters the sonorous barrage by standing up and packing down his cymbals, snare and kick, and leaves the stage.
it’s the type of guitar playing that demands reassurance from my ears that it is a guitar being played, because it sounds like a new instrument. “
Two days later ‘Down in Splendour’ plays behind the bustle of the Addington Coffee Co-op in Christchurch. With the lack of a CBD, Christchurch has gone through something of a suburbanisation of everyday movement. This place, that would have been dead a year ago, is now so busy that I’m having a hard time tuning in as best I can with newfound liner-notes provided courtesy of Matt. He spent an hour talking about Andrew Brough and his story with Straightjacket Fits, and Bike, the band he made after, and how he now lives off three songs that get played on Home and Away. In the T54, Matt takes care of music trivia, and singer Joe compliments with Japanese import car facts. It’s an unexpected mix, but it works. I first met Joe while he was working as a valet at the Christchurch airport. I don’t think he liked that job as much as what he’s doing now, “it’s good, ya know? I can go over to my parents’ place for dinner again, and sit there because everything is ok.”
Earlier in the week the T54 were in Dunedin on the final date of their FOUNDRY –
The next day we drive to Christchurch, Joe starts to explain the songs. ‘Bang Time’ is about a guy that sent an SMS to a girl; ‘bang time?’ and interrupts himself to ask what we’re listening to now. It’s Are You Experienced? Joe hasn’t heard it before. This dampens my Hendrix observations; even though he is familiar with Axis: Bold as Love and we disagree over Mitch Mitchell being ‘too busy’ on the drums (I like it, Joe doesn’t) and that ‘She’s So Fine’ shouldn’t be on the album.
Once the music thing is exhausted Joe shifts back to a long chat about the history of late 80s Toyota Cressida, Grande Mark IIs, and early model Lexus cars (they’re very similar), along with the earliest Honda Jazz (it’s an Isuzu ‘Big Horn’ which is quite different to the newer Honda Jazz). “Remember how I used to have a fridge in the car?” Joe asks rhetorically as he starts fiddling with the radio and finds Concert FM, and states “it’s Chop-pin?” “I think it’s said “Show-parn,” says Sam. “Really? I thought it was Chop-pin, like Choppin’ Wood?” What should be the worst Dad joke is a genuine question. With that, it was time for the Q&A: Foundry: Why did you form the T54? Joe: Because life without a band is like life without “White Blood Cells”, it just doesn’t work mate. F: How did you all meet? J: Sam and I share the same enthusiasm for weekend browsing at
guitar and record shops and when we were very young we met through that, and we worked together later on. I can’t remember when and where I met Matt but it would’ve been mutual admiration for each other’s bands back in the mid 00s in the Christchurch all ages garage rock scene. Matt met Sam at our first band practice, I think. F: Who is your favourite guitarist, songwriter? J: Damn tough call bud, but my favourite guitar player is Neil Young I know that for certain. Closely followed by Steve Malkmus, Tom Verlaine, David Kilgour, Jack White, Billy Corgan, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Ronson, Peter Buck, Gary Burger, Keith Levene, Josh Homme, Tim Foljhan, Joey Santiago, Thurston Moore, Glenn Branca, Carlos Alomar and even Kurt. Songwriters similar to guitarists but would have to include Chan Marshall, David Bowie, Black Francis, Graeme Downes, Mike Mills, Yoni Wolf, the guys from Grizzly Bear, too many to list man. F: What are your current influences and who are you currently listening to? J: I can’t say man, don’t want to be seen name-dropping here…
Listen to: Delicious, Delicious, Delicious; This Year I’m Thinking About Voting For The Green Party; Last Night I Dreamt A Movie Theme, and; One Year of Noise LIVE! At El Santo! at t54t54.bandcamp.com
F: What did Dale Cotton bring to the recording process of Drone Attacks?J: Microphones, compression, EQ, reverb, crazy, fear, breakfast, reverb, sustainability, alcohol, disbelief, many great stories and quotes and reverb, and fear.F: How do you write songs? J: This is where the fun begins. It’s all depends on how high or low I value the song’s worth. I’ve had just truly crazy writing spurts in the past where I’ll get 20 complete songs in 3 or 4 months or like late last year I didn’t write for a long long time, almost 6 months. This year I’ve had the busiest creative burst of my life where I’ve written around 25-30 songs, which are fairly complete by T54’s standards. But I find myself losing track of them sometimes, thankfully we live in an age where something to record on is always at hand, even a $89 supermarket cell phone. I wish sometimes I was more prolific in actually releasing stuff because a lot of the songs go on the shelf never to be seen again. Which actually, is goddamn handy, cos at some point this insanity must stop. I never want to scrape out that barrel too hard though, and I never want to have to result to Bowie’s cut up method, which I think is responsible for the lyrics to ‘Moonage Daydream’. Lately I’ve had a tendency to spend too damn long on average songs dressing them up, which is something I shouldn’t be doing until I’m in my 40s. I’ve had tremendous struggles expressing my thoughts through music in the past but I’ve managed to figure a few things out along the way, but I hope people still cannot understand what I’m on about, which is really nothing. F: What’s been your favourite show? J: So many good ones, it’s too hard to say. I want to say Neil [Young] at BDO 09, but the sound truly was underwhelming. BDO always is, the Stooges sounded aight, but just aight. LCD Soundsystem sounded well sick, but it was under a big old tent. The White Stripes when I was 15 was magnificent, that one’s stayed with me the longest so far. [The] Pixies in ‘10 were splendid. I don’t know, too hard. Deerhoof in ‘10 was astound-
Purchase ‘Drone Attacks’ at goldsounds.co.nz/t54
See T54 perform as part of the
Flying Nun 30th birthday celebrations on: Nov 4 – Auckland, Kings Arms Nov 5 – Wellington, Garden Club
ing. East Brunswick All Girls Choir in ‘10 [and] heaps of local bands all the goddamn time, Transistors, Magic Eye, Rackets. Yeah, Rackets always kick ass, always. I saw Minisnap recently in Christchurch and that was truly sensational, I guess that would take the cake for recent ones.F: Where do you play in CHCH these days? J: Upstairs usually. Sam’s got this new kitten, loves the sound we make, even when we scratch away at our strings. The little thing’s ears must be well rounded by now, no highs left in them. I assume Sam’s parents like what we do….F: Flying Nun reckons you’ll have a new single out soon, when will we hear it? J: First I’ve heard about that… Any ideas? F: Who will record your next album? Where? How would you like to do it?J: There’s one thing that decides that, a truly sick drum sound. A drum sound people will literally champ at the bit over, fizz at the bung. I want people bending at their goddamn knees over our drum sound. It has to be THE drum sound that people want and just cannot get. “But how did they do that? My version of Adobe Audition doesn’t have that capability” “Dude he’s clearly used an Eventide harmonizer on that, like Low” “They must’ve got Albini, there’s no
way anyone else can get that sound bro, you know this” “That doesn’t sound like a big budget recording, but it doesn’t sound like a low budget recording either… What the?” and so on…. But seriously, the drums have to sound truly sick. The next one will have less guitars, less bass and less vocals. More room and more drums. F: Got any future plans yet? J: I want to see America. F: Favourite food? J: Either the triple rodeo stacker or the quad rodeo stacker. BK used to make a thing called a Blast Off back in 07’ and 08’, which was my main man, but they discontinued it when I came back from Melbourne. I literally lost my chips in the drive thru that day; luckily they were still making the BBQ Bacon Double Cheese Burger, also known lovingly as the No. 4. There’s a sushi place at Avonhead Mall who make rice balls, which are $4 and are the best rice balls you’ll have in Nor’west Christchurch. $4! F: Am I missing anything? Let me know. J: Just wanna say one more thing… This won’t last I assure you. F
Capturing Zen Foundry speaks with Mono on their tour to New Zealand
by Brendan McBryde
Described as ‘music for the gods,’ Mono is one of Japan’s biggest modern indie exports. In their now decade-spanning history, this instrumental rock four-piece from Tokyo has released five studio albums, completed multiple international tours and featured at festivals like SXSW and All Tomorrow’s Parties. Having recorded all of their albums in a live studio setup, Mono stresses the importance of delivering a cohesive and unforgettable live experience. But irrespective of the medium, Mono commands total attention as songs delicately swirl around robust motifs, steadily swell and blossom, and eventually lurch into full on shit-your-pants pandemonium. Mono is the soundtrack to the big-budget epic being played out inside your mind. While many rock legends will tell you that capturing real emotion in music is all about unearthing an idea in a single, haphazard moment of passion, Mono is a shining example of fervent music that is intricately crafted and polished to damn near
perfection without sounding at all convoluted. Lead guitarist and writer Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto really likens more to a composer than a typical rocker. In front of any audience he sits, head bowed,pouring his entire being into his instrument, untainted by ego. The following is our brief conversation with this humble virtuoso, prior to Mono’s Auckland show at the Kings Arms last Saturday, October 1st.
I have been considering how to combine the spiritual, layered elements of classical music with the loud, noisy strength of rock. Foundry Magazine: First off, how is the tour going so far? Taka Goto: Life is going well. After coming back from Europe we just finished writing all of the new songs and are practicing in the studio daily. It’s been a while since we toured to New Zealand so we’re very excited. FM: You last came to New Zealand in 2009, how would you describe your previous experience? TG: New Zealand audiences were very enthusiastic and welcoming to us. I still remember our very first visit. We hope to give our best during our next tour and meet all the people who have been so supportive over the years. FM: Obviously, New Zealand isn’t exactly a frequent tour stop for FOUNDRY –
many acts. Does your show here reflect a certain level of international notoriety? How would you describe the growth and success of Mono worldwide? TG: Being able to make music and tour internationally for a living was always just a small dream we had. We always took it one step at a time but never really knew what to expect from a long-term perspective. Yes, I am surprised and humbled everyday when I look around. FM: Did you have a vision for your musical output from the beginning? Has this changed at all? TG: We feel it has changed, but we also feel like we have not changed anything. Kind of like how time is flying by but also standing still. I have been considering how to combine the spiritual, layered elements of classical music with the loud, noisy strength of rock. Through ex-
perimenting and listening to Beethoven’s work, I’ve been learning about orchestration, dynamics, harmony. It’s been very helpful in creating the kind of sound we have imagined for a long time. FM: You’ve been working with Steve Albini for a significant amount of time, what impact does his involvement have on you music? TG: In realising the utmost quality of the recording sound. FM: You often discuss the intense and often specific emotions captured and channeled in your compositions. Does a vision of this emotion precede your writing? TG: Hymn to the Immortal Wind embodied everything we wanted to pursue emotionally and sonically up until that point. I’m sure also that our culture affects our music subconsciously and perhaps the emotion in our music has something definitely Japanese about it. FM: Has the recent Japanese Earthquake affected your band or your writing? TG: We are very grateful that none of us or our families were harmed. I think everyone in Japan was affected emotionally, just because you cannot escape something so devastating that happens near your home. But somehow we’ve all learned to continue our daily lives and hope that better days are ahead. FM: What inspired the escalating contribution of orchestration in
your music? Was it always your intent to utilise an orchestra? TG: Beethoven has been a significant influence on our songwriting process so that is where some of our classical sound stems from. I’ve always loved the silent spaces in a classical piece as it builds up and layers sounds upon sound. There is something powerful and emotional about classicism and I hope to learn more about it. We wanted to include an orchestra for Hymn to the Immortal Wind because this album embodies everything we’ve wanted to pursue emotionally and sonically for many years. The classical instrumentation connected well with the story and emotion that we were trying to translate. It just all kind of came together. The main preparation was teaching myself how to write the classical scores and recording with a larger number of people. But everyone was so professional and supportive that the process was a very happy experience. We were a little nervous but we knew it was healthy to take some risks. The songs were written so that they can be played by only two guitars, one bass, and drums. The orchestra show is just something we save for special occasions and are hoping to bring to most major cities. Although it’s amazing to work with a chamber orchestra, we are first and foremost a quartet and our live show is just as important to us as our orchestra shows. FM: Ten years is a long period of time to creatively work within a group. How has working together for the past ten years affected your friendships?
TG: After many years we’ve finally arrived at a place where we are conscious of our strengths and weaknesses as a band. This has helped us with developing our sound and working with one another like a family. We inherently know that we are reaching in the same direction, kind of like Zen. Each of our albums has been a stepping-stone and learning process. With that said, we now have a clearer vision of the emotion we want to convey. FM: Share with us some Japanese bands we should be listening to? TG: Our favorite bands from JP were mostly old metal bands like Loudness, Bow Wow, back from when we were students. I find myself listening to classical composers like Beethoven and Rachmaninov more than anything else. I haven’t had much time to explore upcoming bands so I keep gravitating to the same old classical composers. It seems to be what I like the most.
If you are unfamiliar with Mono and find yourself yearning to be captured by their full-on vertiginous sonic experience, the 2006 album You Are There should make an excellent starting point. This is an album in which one should be fully immersed, surrendered to
the rich emotion and powerful dynamics that will take you on a journey unmatched bymost anything else you could do with those sixty precious minutes. Hit the lights and enjoy the ride. F
Alicia Erceg | flickr.com/photos/aliciaerceg
Tauranga Music Sux There’s something fermenting in Tauranga...
by Benjii Jackson
No. It’s not their “boutique” vineyards or and wineries (thanks Wikipedia). It’s something far more exciting... that is, of course, if you’re not a wine connoisseur reading this. I received an email back in April this year – often I get emails from bands around the country asking me to listen to their works and perhaps even the chance to be signed to the label. This one though really struck me more than most however. It was from a character called “Scowling Wolf” from a band called Threat.Meet.Protocol. The character himself admitted it was a bad band name and it was riddled at times with self-deprecation. It was humorous though and I took a chance to ask for a demo of some of their recordings. Sure enough, not a week later, I received a package in my desolate, inner-city mailbox from Tauranga. Threat.Meet.Protocol has submitted a demo, stating that it was something merely done themselves and that they’ve not gone into a record studio for it. This was one of those true moments of demoing; rough, unpolished in it’s premise, stripped back yet delivered with earnest charm to an intrigued listener. Popping on their demo into my DVD player (because I only have a tinny Warehouse stereo, believe it or not), I was met with this incredible noise. Now most people may tout themselves as lo-fi. This was truly lo-fi. Nothing more than a microphone dangling in the middle of the room, Scowling Wolf tearing up his guitar in a loose, garage rock-esque way while the drums ringing out with each hard-thudding beat. What I had stumbled upon was something magical; a demo with heart over flashiFOUNDRY –
ness. That’s not a discredit to any other band who have submitted stuff – but the change in dynamic and audible noise was something that had me getting back to my computer and basically “kissing ass”, for lack of a better term. I implored them to keep me in the loop... … which then led to another package arriving in my letterbox not two weeks afterwards. From another Tauranga band. The fantastically titled Neo Yahtzee. Now this was a different occurrence however. This time it wasn’t merely another fantastic garage-rock style recorded demo from another outrageously raucous band. This time enclosed were two shoddily constructed ‘Zines and a note. “Not sure if Wolf has sent you this, but here’s some of the ‘Zines that he’s created.” Bearing the title Tauranga Music Sux with the filthiest, juvenile pen drawings for covers (one of which made entirely of penises, the other something taking a massive, curling dump on a venue), highlighted two things. 1) The two bands in Tauranga who have contacted me must be bored and pissed off how things are in their local scene. 2) Holy shit – I’ve stumbled across a music scene! In an industry where it feels like being first matters, well, my horn tooted. Toot toot. As shallow as it completely seems, yep – I felt like I was the first person in Auckland to unearth these two incredibly fun, raucous groups. Rather than bragging about it... well... af-
ter somewhat bragging about it (I’m only human after all), I shared these findings with a group of other musicians from both Auckland and Wellington. Set to the backdrop of Threat’s first demo then Neo Yahtzee’s demo, the other musicians read the most utterly vitriolic writings of someone who is just plain sick to death of his scene. It was almost like someone with a loaded machine gun mowing down entire “aesthetics” that other centres are known for. Auckland – full of posers. Wellington – full of “lefty, vegan” alternative outfits. Of all the places, Dunedin got off lightly (or to paraphrase “have some music achievements”), but the “rantings” pretty much solidified how mundane and bored these bands in Tauranga are. It almost felt like Aberdeen in the late eighties... the comparisons somewhat similar. Bored as fuck in an arsehole town and all there really is to do is play music to people who really don’t get the kind of stuff they are doing. Except maybe their little scene themselves. What really hammered home from the crudely cut out and stapled ‘Zine though was the outsider perception of the music scenes in these respective locations. Admittedly, amongst the very angry paragraphs (or sometimes lack of) were elements of truth which did indeed open a dialogue amongst the laughter with these other musicians. No matter how spiteful and aggressive the calls that were being made, no one really had much to argue about.
Is this really what the smaller areas of New Zealand think about our respective scenes? A scene is born, in many respects after that. I know a fair few people now in Auckland who are interested in what’s going on up there and as of writing, Threat.Meet.Protocol are about to make their Auckland debut. Three more of these ‘Zines, still as pissed off as ever, have made their way to my home and suddenly I find myself haphazardly championing these bands. Perhaps their honesty, perhaps again the shallow nature of feeling like I found them first; but for the main part, it’s honest music from honest people, from a location that you’d never expect, to start a new wave of music to reach out to the locations they themselves have ridiculed. But the stench of caustic angst... that fermentation... has captivated many of us. To them, “Tauranga Music Sux”. But for us, it’s just become a damn sight more exciting now. F
You can follow Tauranga Music Sux on Facebook – much like most things these days, at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tauranga-Music-Sux/168468279875141
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Badmotorfinger A&M, October 1991
by Gavin Bertram
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Mid to late 1991 wrought some astounding rock albums, and it equally produced some appalling records which predictably gained more immediate traction. August and September of 1991 – the year that punk broke, as Dave Markey’s great documentary designated it – visited upon us the lumbering rock behemoth of Metallica’s self-titled effort, and the twin assault on decency that was Guns N’Roses’ Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 opuses. While these would dominate the charts for months, they also thankfully signaled the end of such acts’ hold over the public’s conception of what rock could be. The landscape would be very different just a year later. Just a week after the dual Use Your Illusions arrived, a far more seismic proposition was released in the shape of Nirvana’s Nevermind. It unwittingly ushered in a new era, and the Pacific Northwest trio were heralded as a Sex Pistols for disenfranchised members of Generation X.
But October and November of 1991 brought further ammunition for the war being waged against Baby Boomer cultural hegemony. My Bloody Valentine’s miasmic wonder Loveless, still as impenetrable and beguiling 20 years later; Primal Scream’s ecstasy inflected fusion of dance and rock, Screamadelica; and released on the same day, 8 October, 1991, Soundgarden’s still resounding masterpiece Badmotorfinger. Like Nevermind, there was nothing to suggest this third album from the Seattle band would do anything particularly mind blowing. Soundgarden were just another band who had started out on an independent label (ex-Black Flag mastermind Greg Ginn’s hugely influential SST imprint), before being hoovered up by a major. It was a paradigm that had emerged in the wake of Husker Du’s 1985
signing to Warner Bros, and later Sonic Youth signing with Geffen. Major labels would offer contracts to ‘alternative’ rock acts on the ascent, benefit from their generally short burst of success, before the band would inevitably implode or be dropped. Soundgarden signed with A&M for 1989’s Louder Than Love, a fertile amalgam of heavy metal’s barely contained power and post-punk’s tireless quest for sonic salvation. “Testosterone is an important element in rock’n’roll,” Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil said in 1992. “But the other side of that is oestrogen, which is also important – it’s the dark element you see in Wire, Joy Division, the Velvet Underground, Syd Barrett. The stuff you listen to in your room watching the sun go down. I don’t mean complacent stoner music; I mean headphone music with an edge.” Louder Than Love met that description, but Badmotorfinger was a huge expansion on that record. For one, Soundgarden’s line-up had solidified into something more capable of articulating that fragile testosterone/oestrogen balance. Equally important was the rapid development of front man Chris Cornell’s song writing abilities. No doubt the largely positive reception to Louder Than Love swelled Cornell’s confidence, but the death of his friend Andrew Wood may have indirectly fed into his range increasing. After the Mother Love Bone singer’s heroin overdose in 1990, Cornell helmed the Temple of the Dog project, a one off tribute album of blues flecked rock. Demanding a more contemplative and soulful approach than anything Soundgarden had previously done, it no doubt impacted when he came to writing the next album.
sess something utterly singular, a vividness and intent that separates Soundgarden from the majority of their peers of the day. There were others making expansive and inventive rock music at the time, but few endeavoured to draw out the best from metal and post-punk’s (supposedly) opposed agendas. And yet, as music critic Simon Reynolds has noted, metal and postpunk do actually share certain deeply held convictions. “Metal, more than any other rock music, has this unbroken commitment to musical progression,” he said. “It’s similar to prog-rock values, and also similar to post-punk values. And then there’s the fact that it’s extreme and it has this totally un-ironic investment in expression, and it’s quite dark, a lot of the time it has this element of catharsis, of a bleak apocalyptic world. It’s totally congruent, in a weird way.”
Soundgarden and a select few like-minded acts had ushered in a new age of rock, where the guitar solo held little value
Which is not to say that Badmotorfinger is deficient in the bombastic rock stakes; from opener Rusty Cage onwards, there’s no riff shortage here.
But it’s tempered with an undercurrent not so obvious on Louder Than Love, or the earlier Ultramega OK. The arrangements are more considered, the lyrics far more crafted, and the delivery more convincing. Cornell has described solitary writing excursions for Badmotorfinger, where he found the isolation driving him to distraction for a week before the words began to flow. And the best tracks here certainly have the air of something fomented in that kind of vacuum. The likes of Searching With My Good Eye Closed, Room a Thousand Years Wide, Jesus Christ Pose, and Slaves and Bulldozers posFOUNDRY –
It was this rather strange liminal space that Soundgarden inhabited circa Badmotorfinger, an album that along with a small number of others subtly revolutionised perceptions of what heavy music could be in the early 1990s. With Cornell in top writing and singing form, Thayil’s always imaginative and colourful guitar playing, Ben Shepherd’s powerful punk inspired bass, and Matt Cameron’s fluent but titanium solid time keeping, this was a formidable unit. And noted US rock producer Terry Date, who’d worked on Louder Than Love, was again behind the desk. Date’s contribution to the sound of Stateside rock music through the 90s and beyond has been under sung. At the time of Badmotorfinger he’d made his name in the metal realm, with the likes of Overkill, Metal Church, Pantera, and Dark Angel. Later he’d work with Helmet, White Zombie, Deftones, and, er, Limp Bizkit.
On Soundgarden’s third full length, he captured the band in all their glory, harnessing both their rock brawn and their more art music inclinations. There was a whole new riff lexicon, largely thanks to Cornell and Thayil’s use of dropped tunings, in the D and super low B range. While a common perception of these tunings is that they aid nonskilled players because they enable single finger barre chords, they also offer sonic possibilities that the standard rock E tuning doesn’t. These detuned timbres, combined with the guitarist’s use of equipment outside the standard Gibson/Marshall pairing rendered a fresh tone palette. And outside of the regimen of the riff was philosophy graduate
Thayil’s anarchic insertion of noise into the spaces where the solo would dwell in more traditional rock. This was best illustrated on Slaves and Bulldozers, where the guitarist invoked abstract expressionist art. “I just slash at the guitar, letting my fingers fall and bending strings past the point where you think they’ll break,” he told Guitar Player. “Solos should be like paint. Slaves and Bulldozers is as close as I’ve gotten to Jackson Pollock.” Of course there were more conventional tracks on Badmotorfinger – the singles Rusty Cage and Outshined amongst them – but they were completely overshadowed by third single Jesus Christ Pose. The lyrical examination of religion’s currency as a tool for public figures is underpinned by Soundgarden’s greatest musical exposition, an intoxicating fusion of metal fury and excoriating guitar noise that remains thrilling. And Cornell’s always commanding vocal, spanning several octaves, is at its most compelling. And then there’s Badmotorfinger’s centrepiece, the epic one-two punch of Searching With My Good Eye and Room a Thousand Years Wide. Taking in Sabbath’s measured, doomy heft, Zeppelin’s wide-ranging mysticism, and the introspective twilight mood of
I quite like the Pumpkins, the bombastic, badass drumming and usually inspired layered guitar parts forge a formidable sonic assault that no nineties child could fail to groove along to, however... The abrasive, hair-whitening, flesh-peeling nasal screech of Billy Corgan is one of the most distinctive and instantaneously stomach-churning sounds in rock music. This piercing whine is even worse when dribbled over a soft and theoretically tender Pumpkins track than when it rasps with melodramatic perpetual teen-
those acts previously named by Thayil, this was contemporary rock taken into a different dimension. Cornell’s lyrics throughout the album are more visually rich and allegorical than virtually anyone in the heavy rock arena of the time. Musically, lyrically, philosophically, this was far removed from the stunted offerings delivered during the same period by Metallica and Guns N’Roses.
age fury on the more aggressive attempts. The things Corgan does to vowels should by rights be outlawed under the Geneva Convention, this is a man who couldn’t pronounce his way out of a paper bag and who wouldn’t try anyway.. No, he’d be too busy petulantly complaining that it wasn’t fair, and then dreaming up some fantasy female with a ridiculous space-fairytale name who would come to him and tell him that although it sucked that he was trapped in a paper bag he must nevertheless bear this challenge with fortitude in order to prove that he is indeed the noble and truly godlike being that he has always so obviously FOUNDRY –
Somewhat ironically, Soundgarden supported both acts on tour after Badmotorfinger was released – an experience that didn’t sit comfortably with the band. Or with the fans of Metallica and G N’R you’d imagine. Too bad. The dinosaurs’ star was on the wane, and Soundgarden and a select few like-minded acts had ushered in a new age of rock, where the guitar solo held little value. F
believed himself to be, or some similar selfobsessed moody bad poetry candyfloss drivel.. Because that’s what Smashing Pumpkins lyrics tend to be, either tedious hymns to the glory of Corgan’s inflated shiny-headed ego or sickly half-baked fantasy bullshit that wouldn’t be out of place on a chunderingly introverted teenager’s poetry blog alongside the obligatory posturing pictures of the pimply poet simpering in misjudged eyeliner. “I fear that I am ordinary, just like everyone” -yes Billy, in many ways that is exactly what you are. F
Published on Oct 8, 2011
Published on Oct 8, 2011
Within these pages, Gavin Bertram speaks to Beastwars – the band ofthe moment, about their deserved success and stunning debut album. A loca...