Wellington noise-punk outfit Hollywoodfun Downstairs have got their bases loaded as they embark on their third European tour in a year. In a move that is surely the work of some kind of logistical savante, the trio have lined up 45-odd shows through Europe and the UK over the next two months. And as if that isn't keeping them busy enough, the raucous three-piece have also just laid down their third album TETRIS, which is currently being mastered in El Paso and should be set for release next February. With all the goings-ons we thought it would be a great time to catch up, so Fluffy dropped bandmember Kurt Williams a line for a wee chin wag...
F: So, a quick refresher. Who’s in Hollywoodfun Downstairs, what kind of tunes do you make and what does said fun entail?
KW: HFD is Grant Gall on bass, Joe Wright on drums, and Kurt Williams on guitar/vox...this is the three-piece you saw in the garage the other month hahah...we are a noise/black/punk band - 'fun' well that's a mixture of things.
Your new album was recorded all analogue and is being mixed in El Paso, Texas from what I understand. Who are your co-conspirators here? Tell us about the process...
Yes, the album was recorded live over four days in Blue Studios here in Wellington with James Goldsmith, he knows us [as a band] very well - as well as personally - so it hit the spot, so to speak, for getting that big loud raw live sound. Chris Common in El Paso has a secret studio that he built with his mate - someone called Omar? There is no name for this studio - I've seen photos but they keep it discrete. The sound Chris is achieving really brings out the live aesthetics of HFD, which to us is number one of this record.
I saw shots of some drool-worthy gear while you were tracking the album. What delicious morsels did you have available at your amp and effect buffet? Who was your sonic chef?
Man, there was a stack of amps from Orange to Jansen to Fender to Ampeg - most amps belong to HFD. James had ideas for each track and we would flick from amp head to a number of quads all day until the sound was rad. Dialling in all sorts of mad pedal tones was my favourite - especially on a song called 'Shocking by the Glove', it's raw with this out of it chorus layered with a trippy delay. A Rickenbacker six-string through a Ampeg SVT cracks me up.
Tell us about the gigantic trek you have planned in Europe in the coming months. Where does this wanderlust come from?
Yea we leave on Saturday for around 45 shows this time, which us not as big as the last one. We just want to push it and make it worthwhile - not many New Zealand bands get to go to the places we have played. It's awesome when the promoter or people at the show say "I've never met or seen a New Zealand band before". The wunderlust is basically us trying to get some Kiwi punk out and about.
It must be hard being so far away from home for so long at a time.
Sometimes - but then another show happens so you focus on that. Every night we give it our all so there is not much space or time to reflect on home... But then again for myself Wifi is heaven (video calling my daughter and wife rocks) asking for Wifi in France is crack up "you mean WEEEFFFEEE".
How does one book such a pilgrimage from all the way in humble old New Zealand? You must have a lot of friends!
It basically started with Popkatari in Liege Belgium. They have a radio show and asked to come play a show and I had no idea what I was doing. So I just started doing some long hours researching promoters, bars, venues and collectives. It was really hard work as no one had even heard or gives two shits about a Kiwi punk band. You literally send 50 emails in one city get maybe five replies sending you in circles. But man, persistence is key.
You guys have played many a house show in your time. Will there be a fair share of that in the motherland?
In the UK it's going to be venues and a festival - but hopefully on the NZ tour next February we hope to hit a house party. We have some great friends Closet Disco Queen from Switzerland coming over to support us, they have played NZ before as the Ocean Collective (check their label Hummus Records some great stuff).
How do you think the DIY culture in New Zealand compares to places like Europe?
There is no match. Europe hands down is off the hook... I seen a small doco early this year about the UK DIY scene and I'm telling you it's just the same as Europe. Our experiences in the UK are dope - very very hospitable collectives there. NZ is great tho as it's just one big collective - all our cities are connected somehow.
Do you guys have any plans to have some Hollywood fun any time soon?
Yea man, USA is on the agenda for the TETRIS album release as well as Japan.
Enjoy some fan-shot footage of HFD tearing things up at Valhalla a few months ago and keep your eyes peeled for Tetris which is due to drop next Feb...
Photo by Stephan Vercaemer