BY HAZEL REID

Following a high-energy opening slot at Panic! at the Disco at Spark Arena earlier in the week, we caught up with Openside at Armageddon Expo to chat about their special appearance plus their new music and comic book.

Openside’s lead singer Possum explains they decided to release their new music with three songs at a time because of the way people consume music. “We liked the idea of putting out a single and accompanying it with two tracks that we like to play, kind of like b-sides.”

Guitarist PJ mentioned that they didn’t want to “drop 20 singles at a time”, saying, “There is content for people who are just casual listeners with the singles and there’s also content for people who are the fans who want more and more music – we have so many songs so we want to put out more stuff.”

The band launched their own comic book with limited edition copies available at the Expo. Intrigued by musicians using this art form, I asked Possum to tell us about the process and creation of the book. “We were talking with our record label about our plans for the songs and we were proposing the idea of doing three songs and calling it an Episode, which then spiralled into how we could translate it into other art forms.”

Openside noted that there was ‘quite a cross-over with the types of fans’ that would come to one of their shows and also the fans who would attend Armageddon Expo. “We decided on a comic book, it’s just a snapshot of the world in which these songs exist, it’s setting the tone and the mood for the characters who are writing these songs.” Drummer George explained further, “the main reason of presenting it this way is creating a story for the band and a narrative for people to follow – creating a backstory.” We chatted about how “everyone can do a press shot” and instead, having something for the fans to invest into, where the different art form of turning the band’s story into chapters and a comic book came to life.

Signing books and merchandise for their fans. Photo by Shelley Te Haara.

As they were hot off the heels of the supporting slot for Panic! at the Disco’s electric show at Spark Arena earlier in the week, playing outside in the day time was a bit of a different gig! “It’s always weird playing day shows because you can see everybody’s face and you’re setting the mood in a different way,” Possum explained.

“Our show at the moment with what we do with the suits and the type of songs, it’s really just about having a good time and making people feel comfortable and feel like they can be themselves, it really felt like that today, and then we got to meet like a hundred fans at the comic book signing.”

You could really tell after seeing the first of their three Armageddon sets, that their fan-base is something special. “We got to meet them and talk to them and that’s a big part of what we care about in Openside, the community it creates and giving people a safe space to make friends, have fun and be themselves, and you can just tell that’s how they feel and that’s really awesome.” Bass player Harry added that the band was surprised when a fan asked them to draw on a piece of paper and she was going to get them tattooed!

I made a special note to ask about the bright suits they had on… because they looked epic. The guys mentioned they had been working with a stylist for a while (hey Sammy Salsa!), who has previously styled them for their music videos and in Zambesi for the New Zealand Music Awards. So when it came time for the Character Flaws video, he jumped on and worked with the video’s director Shae Sterling and the band “felt like the suits fit the tone” They were custom-made for them, so why not utilise them as cool performance outfits?!

Performing in the sun at Armageddon. Photo by Shelley Te Haara.

They’ve shared the stage with a lot of international acts over the years. Panic! at the Disco is up there for the band, but so is the first time they supported Twenty One Pilots at the Powerstation (when TOP was on their first run here!), PJ mentions that “it really opened things up for us”, with Possum adding that they made their first fans at that show and that the “Powerstation is such an amazing venue”.

Harry has been conquering something else while Openside have been performing up a storm, “I used to feel naked on stage, there’s like a final power hour I have before we go on stage and it’s not until it’s about ten minutes before and I feel like I’m about to pass out. I feel like I was better this week (at P!ATD) though.”

Reminiscing on that week, Possum tells me that the P!ATD show was “really special”. “We’re really starting to find ourselves – we have the suits, we have the songs, it’s much more solid than it has been before. I feel way more confident – it was way more stressful but now we know what we’re doing. It keeps getting better and easier and we’ve come a really long way.”

Openside has no plans yet to share when Chapter 2 will reach our music streaming, however they’re playing over the summer (at the likes of Rhythm and Vines) and then will be jumping back in the studio, working and collaborating on future music while planning the next music releases.

Openside’s new release Episode One: Character Flaws featuring the title single, plus new tunes Tuesday and Work Out is available now.

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