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Roy Brown
Roy Brown, by Popstrangers


Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Thursday 21st February, 2013 11:00AM

Popstrangers release their debut full length album, Antipodes, on Friday (via New York label Carpark Records and Rhythmethod here) and are playing an album release show at Flagship Studios. UTR caught up with front man Joel Flyger to discuss making the album, what it's about and how everything with Popstrangers is finally coming together.

Hey Joel! How does it feel to have the album out finally?

Itís really good aye. I got a box of the records and I think that set it in that it was finally done. Until this morning when I went to Kiwi FM and they had a copy of the album I hadnít held a physical one. Todayís the day that it feels complete and finished and ready to release, and Iím really happy with the way it looks.

Yeah the artworkís awesome: where did it come from?

I went to Spain last year and Lili Sumner took a couple of photos, and I took the one of the swimming pool and she let me use the photos for the artwork, so itís just pictures that I took from overseas.

Itís kind of funny because I made the assumption that, because the album is called Antipodes, that those were summer snaps from New Zealand.

Yeah it is funny that. I guess itís a bit contradictory but the themes on the album are more about being in New Zealand than anywhere else.

Are they?

Yeah itís all about isolation and wanting to do something different. When we wrote these songs it was kind of a weird time: Iíd been doing the same thing for like five years and it was definitely pretty tough at the time.

Did you not know what the future would hold for the band?

Yeah it wasnít just the band, it was me as well. I didnít know what I wanted to do and I wasnít happy with what I was doing in everything: where I was living for example. I knew I wanted to do something but I didnít know what it was. I still kind of donít but I guess now Iím a bit more determined.

Yeah well youíve been more focussed with Popstrangers right, because the band seems like itís starting to go somewhere?

Yeah well at least I know whatís happening for at least the next three months, which is awesome.

So you were writing these songs about isolation: how did you go about getting those themes across sonically?

Yeah I guess I always usually come up with a guitar part before the lyrics and I guess itís more about finding a song to match the lyrics. And there are some songs on the album that are a bit more instrumental and the ideas come across in the music more directly. A song like ďHeavení has lots of lyrics but they definitely fit the music, too. We had more songs than those on the album. We cut it down to ten to get the best songs that fitted together.

This is your debut full length: was it quite daunting putting an album together? How did you go about it?

Well weíve changed our drummers before and that's always just screwed up the rhythm of the band and what we were doing, and weíve always had to start again every time. Then we got funding for a single and we recorded every weekend as much as we could and we managed to finish the final five songs for the album. It didnít feel like we were struggling to make an album: it more felt like we were recording all our songs and they just became an album.

I guess we didnít put much thought into the tracklisting on the album and when we went to release it Carpark asked us to move the songs around and re-look at how we had put the tracklisting together. We hadnít even thought about that before because we knew the songs so intimately: thatís the way weíd practised them, the way we recorded them, thatís the order theyíll be in. We changed it around over a weekend. We tossed around some ideas and we sent it back to Carpark and they were happy with it and now I can see it flows better. Also itís better in terms of having Side A and Side B.

Itís pretty awesome that you got signed to Carpark: how did all of that come about?

Basically Adam is the cued-up one on internet communication because he was working of all last year in a production suite so he was in an internet all day. He gave Carpark our album when things started getting a bit messy with Flying Nun and we didnít hear back, and then he decided to try one more time a couple months later. They liked ĎHeavení and a couple of the poppier songs and were keen to release it. We skyped Todd whoís the head of the record company and he sent over a contract and we signed it. Weíve done a big group Skype with all the people who work at Carpark and when we went to CMJ in October we got to meet them all and theyíre so good, like unbelievably good. From our past experiences to going to them theyíre like managers and everything else too. Having five people you can contact about everything is awesome.

It sounds like theyíve given you advice that has been beneficial for the actual output of Popstrangers too?

Yeah because you go from being in a band, playing shows to having a bit more drive. You make more effort and thereís more pressure and thatís good.

Tell us a little bit about that: you mentioned that when you were writing these songs you felt isolated and lost, and now the album is out and youíve been to CMJ: what are the future plans?

Well weíre doing the album release on Friday and then weíre going to the South Island and Wellington for some shows and then weíre doing a five or six date tour of Australia. Last year when I was wondering what to do I applied for a five year Visa to the UK and Adam and Dave can get the same Visa so when we get back from Australia theyíll be waiting for those to be processed. Fingers crossed those get approved and we can relocate to the UK in April.

Carpark suggested that to have any success you were going to have to be based in the Northern Hemisphere, yeah?

Yeah basically itís around a booking agent. We want to play shows and weíd been talking to a booking agent and he was keen to work with us but he just couldnít see how anyone could make any money from doing it from New Zealand. I guess it does make sense, we all want to do it now too. All three of us have never wanted to do the same thing before. Someoneís been keen to stay in NZ or someoneís keen to go to America or someone wants to travel but now we all want to do the same thing.

That must be nice because itís been a few years of unfortunate circumstnaces for you guys right?

Yeah and I think thatís part of the thing that Dave brings to the band. We actually feel like a band and it hasnít felt like that before. Itís always felt like weíve been working with session musicians and the guys are great but there wasnít that band feeling, and now it feels like it.

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related gigs
Fri 22nd Feb
Flagship Studio, Auckland
Tue 5th Mar
The Powerstation, Auckland

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