BY LAURA SOMERSET
Back in high school, I used to stand at the back of our rundown auditorium on Friday nights and watch the school band, Bakers Eddy, perform to a mosh pit of Year Nines. A few years later, with their days of school performances long behind them, I’m talking to the band again. They’re living in Melbourne under the mentorship of Shihad drummer Tom Larkin, preparing for an upcoming tour around Europe, and have just released their newest EP, I’m Not Making Good Decisions.
How did growing up in New Zealand, and in Wellington, influence your musical sensibilities? I’ve heard some artists say that it’s difficult to break into the industry because we’re so isolated, but it also seems like New Zealand produces artists with a really distinctive and popular sound.
Ciarann: I think you’re right about New Zealand having its own sound – it’s a little bit quirky, a little bit weird. The Mint Chicks are a good example, and that kind of sound was a big influence for us at the start. When we were younger we were in a programme called The School of Rock, and back then that was the way to meet people in music at a really young age, and to form bands, and to play gigs. There were plenty of opportunities to meet people and do shows, especially in Wellington.
Jamie: I think growing up in New Zealand has given us the ability to write one hell of a dub and roots song.
Ciarann: Yeah, man! You kind of have to be into reggae and dub if you’re from New Zealand. Even though you can’t really hear it in our music, it’s definitely influenced us as musicians.
How does the Melbourne music scene compare to Wellington’s, then?
Ciarann: The scene over here is very different, especially the punk rock genre. There are actually people that are doing it over here, whereas in New Zealand it was hard to find our place. That’s not to say that the music scene in Wellington is bad – it’s so broad, and so colourful. Rock music isn’t black and white in Wellington.
Did that give you a bit of an identity crisis? Did you find that you had a point of difference in Wellington, and that you’re now trying to negotiate what that point of difference is in Melbourne?
Ciarann: [laughs] Everyone is way cooler than us in Melbourne. We have to look cool now! People have really good hair over here.
How does the tone of this new EP fit in with the rest of the music that you’ve released?
Ian: It’s totally new- everything is brand new. It’s not as compressed, it’s not as tight. It’s just like “crank the fuzz up and go.”
Ciarann: Yeah, when we were in the studio, the guys producing the tracks just handed us these fuzz pedals and were like, “we’re gonna turn the sound into something grunty, something raw and disgusting.”
Ian: When we played live previously, Tom saw us at a showcase in Auckland and was like “they sound so different to the recorded stuff. The recorded stuff is really polished, but when they play live it’s the opposite.” So they wanted to bridge the gap in the recording.
You guys are still working hospitality jobs to pay the bills, right? Tell me what it’s like to play a packed-out gig during the evenings, and then to show up to your day job the next morning.
Ciarann: A skinny flat white please, honey! After a show I don’t even make it to work, even when I’m rostered on. But you gotta do what you gotta do. It makes for a funny story: “What did you do last night?” “Played music in front of 150 people.”
You’ve been in this band since you were teenagers in high school, hanging out at the skate bowl every day. As you’ve grown as musicians, do you ever find yourselves drifting in different musical directions? How has being together during the most formative part of your youth influenced the people you’ve become?
Ian: We started the band in the same musical direction but after 9 years, and after growing up and confronting music, we’ve all gone a bit loopy in what we listen to. Everyone’s different. We’ve all got our own styles.
Ciarann: We’ve put quite a few people through quite a bit of s**t, and that’s not easy. It wasn’t always like this, where we focus on the band as the main goal. After high school we gave it a year and not much happened, but then we did Battle of the Bands and we ended up winning. That was 2015. When we started to take it more seriously we had some people who were really supportive of that, like our partners, but it’s not easy on them. For them, we’re always putting this first. It’s a big project, and it’s nice to have support from the people that we love.
Anything else to add?
Ciarann: We’re going on tour! We’ve got Sydney and the Gold Coast, and then we fly to Dusseldorf in Germany, and we’ve got a bunch of shows there. Then we’re going to Brighton to play Great Escape Festival. We’re doing a week-long writing session while we’re in Germany, which is gonna be sick. We have a week off, so we’ve booked a dingy little house in the middle of nowhere and we’re gonna plug in and make some noise, write a banging album. Then we come back and we’re coming to New Zealand in June!
Bakers Eddy are bringing their tour to Wellington on June 16th at Caroline, and hit Auckland on June 22nd at Ding Dong. You can grab tickets at justtheticketnz.com
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LAURA SOMERSET is an accidental environmentalist who’s always doing too many things at once. She’s into lush bass lines, gelato-toned turtleneck sweaters, and consistently missing every deadline.FOLLOW US...
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