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Interview
Idiot Prayer

Idiot Prayer

date
Monday 6th September, 2010 3:35PM

Hailing from the primordial soup that is Dunedin, Idiot Prayer are a band that aren’t afraid of making a racket. From playing amongst quiet browsers at a book sale to sharing bills with the likes of the Chills and Mountaineater, the recent Muzai signees have made a sizeable dent in a small amount of time. With an EP release scheduled for early 2011, these noise-worshippers are gonna be busy.

Been around since?

Tim: The start of the year

David: Formed in December 2009, wrote some songs here and there, then our first gig was at the end of March 2010. Had a few more since then, did some recordings with Rob Falconer (Operation Rolling Thunder) and pretty stoked to be signed with MUZAI of late.

Where are you based?

Tim: Green Island, Dunedin.

David: Dunedin, home of insularity. Green Island is where we practise.

Current line-up?

Tim: Tiddy, Dave and Sam. gat/vox, bass and drums respectively.

David: I’m gonna go with the ‘masked’ answer, as follows. Tim Smith: Yelps, thin strings Sam Brookland: Thuds David Ager: Thick strings

What got you into music?

Tim: Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense.

David: My friends in high school playing me some Pixies, Wonder Stuff and 3Ds. Pretty much the template for all my future musical likes. Except not so much with the Wonder Stuff.

How did you get together?

Tim: Karen Mclean, the bass player from Onanon, set us all up on a three-way blind date that ended in an orgy of noise.

David: It is kinda weird how easily that happened, it was I guess the three of us coincidentally at a loose end musical-wise, but perhaps unaware of each other. And like Tim says, Karen was the glue, the link, the impetus that breached the male standoff-ishness, if you like.

What other bands/projects have you been involved in?

Tim: Carriage H, Chihuahua

David: Monkey Knife Fight, Dragonfly. Both relatively short lived bands that never once played a gig outside of Dunedin. And still haven’t managed that with Idiot Prayer, we totally had a Lyttleton gig lined up that God decided to ruin with such a downpour that State Highway One was closed. Also: there is no god.

How would you describe your sound?

David: Shellac stabbing High Dependency Unit on their joint New Zealand tour in 2000. Pretty sure it’d be that way around too, as those HDU boys are all so unassuming in person. And Shellac are from Chicago, the home of some sort of crime, I assume.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Tim: Belle and Sebastian

Sam: PiL, Mars Volta, Cat Venom, Onanon, Skeptics

David: Kerretta, - Vilayer, Operation Rolling Thunder- III, Wilco- (The Album), Tono and the Finance Company- Fragile Thing, Anika Moa- Love in Motion, Mr Biscuits- Dance Like a Whale, The Bradley Initiative- Tantrum, Superturtle- About the Sun, Mazzy Star- So Tonight That I Might See, SHoNKY HoNKY- Back From the Dead in Your Face, Thundercub- Crackers, Onanon- Unreleased EP, The Transistors- Short Wave, Humphreys and Keen- The Overflow

What is your writing/recording process?

Tim: Find cool riff. Everyone join cool riff. Demolish cool riff. Lyrics come after.

David: It is kinda weird how we practise as an instrumental band, usually Sam & I don’t know whether a song has lyrics until we play it at a gig for the first time, and Tim steps up to the microphone to sing. Cool though.

Your Dream Collaboration?

Tim: Todd Trainer (Shellac) on drums, me on bass, Thurston Moore on Guitar, Lee Hazlewood on vocals

Sam: Tim Smith and Dave Ager, with Rob Falconer.

David: Awwww, that’s exactly what we did, Sam!

Do you have any releases out or on the way? Tell us more….

David: Goddamned we’ve been really lucky, Rob Falconer mixed our first live show, and then has recorded us in two separate sessions at the University of Otago’s Albany Street Studios. Sam struck some sort of deal with the devil to get us in there, or is doing a course at University. Either way, I hadn’t set foot in that place before our recording sessions there, and it is such a beautiful, music-dedicated haunt. Of course, you’re not actually allowed in there if you’re not a student, and

when the security people dropped by we were able to bluff our way into staying. Apparently both Christchurch and Invercargill have studios just the same, old Radio New Zealand studios built in the sixties. Wellington decided to destroy theirs in favour of…sculptures?

The second recording session mainly took place on the night of the ‘last test’ at Carisbrook, and getting to the studio meant threading your way through groups of munters, lent some form of immunity from the laws of the land by their sheer numbers. Anyway, Rob set us all up, took care of the sound and it was a relatively quick process to record the tracks, the guts of which was recorded live in a brash sounding room. Our reference was either Shellac’s Terraform or 1000 Hurtz. Which I think comes through.

But I digress, from the fifteen or so songs recorded, we want to piece together some sort of shit kicking EP. Hope to have that out on MUZAI early 2011. In the meantime, there’s downloading of various things (such as on this very site?), including, before too long, a ‘single’ release with MUZAI, good bastards that they are.

What do you enjoy most about music?

Tim: Goosebumps

David: There’s a connection.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt musically in the last year?

Tim: Lyrics are better if they're a bit dodgy.

David: Bass feedback to end a song. Can’t overdo it, of course, but that doesn’t ever stop you from overdoing it.

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

Tim: 3D's at Sammies (2010).

David: Just one? Nah, shitloads of great ones. I didn’t really rate the 3Ds at Sammy’s this year, but then I saw them a few times the first time around. So, a list: Pavement at Sammy’s in 1994 (my first gig!); Shellac in Frankton, Dunedin and Port Chalmers in 2000; Fugazi in Dunedin in 1997, supported by High Dependency Unit, who were un-fucking-believeable, just before Higher came out and really on form; High Dependency Unit at ARC in 2001, on the Fire Works release tour and so huge; and probably the most memorable of recent years was Mountaineater at Chicks Hotel in October 2008, their first gig. Holy fuck, it was like being reborn, just a real reminder of what music can be, so gut grabbing, visceral and, at the same time, atmospheric.

Best or most memorable gig you have played?

Tim: Idiot Prayer and Mountaineater at the Provincial Tavern

David: Yeah, that was a cool gig. Noise control turned up near the end of Mountaineater’s set. I’m going to go with our set at the Regent 24 Hour Book Sale, we played on the stage amongst tables of books and quiet book sifters. We planned to do three songs over our hour long set, just stretching them out. We started with Sausage Spectrum, and got a very agitated staff member come up to us during the end telling us we were way too loud. Who couldn’t have seen that coming? We did conjure up a cool new quiet version of another song. The day was saved.

If you could share the stage with anyone (band or person) who would it be?

Tim: The Breeders

Sam: Paul Rudd or Tristan Dingemans.

David: We’ve been really lucky in being able to play with some of our favorite bands like Operation Rolling Thunder, The Chills and Mountaineater already, so I’m gonna have to go with Sora Shima. Oh, and Shellac. And then maybe Brian Wilson’s corpse.

Most underrated band at the moment?

David: How to Kill, cool instrumental rock band from Lyttleton. Suitably laid back, then effusive rock band. I love how they have an extra member feeding sounds through the PA between songs, and they are part of the continuation of post-High Dependency Unit experimental guitar bands, along with Sora Shima, Looma, Jakob, Operation Rolling Thunder…

Also: Squirm. Back playing shows, as a two piece. Cool.

The future holds…?

Tim: Tours, better songs and more expensive equipment.

David: And hopefully a pretty sweet EP release on MUZAI. With the possibility of a vinyl version split with Monkey Killer Records. We’ve gotta play outside of Dunedin, at least once.

The state of music in NZ is….

Tim: Pret-ty, Pret-ty, Pret-ty good.. Especially in Dunedin

David: Agreed. Dunedin is very cyclical, though, and we seem to be on the ascendency of a new cycle at the moment. More bands need to take the initiative of someone like Brains, though, and not settle for just playing in Dunedin to a relatively cosy audience. To be honest, I think most bands in Dunedin have little or no idea (or drive, for that matter) about New Zealand’s music ‘industry’, which is as much of a blessing as it is a curse. The ones that do though, and have the guts to get out there, like the Julian Temple Band, Left or Right, Tono, Soulseller and Knives at Noon, tend to do well.

The mainstream is the mainstream, and who gives a shit what state that is in? Meanwhile, the small labels like Proxy Music, A Low Hum, Arch Hill, whoever Bob Frisbee is working with, Failsafe etc are continuing to at least give interesting music the opportunity to be exposed. And let’s hope that Flying Nun is able to rebuild its reputation.The popularity of Thought Creature gives a pretty good indication of the state on New Zealand music, I think.


Matt Williamson

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