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Sunday 2nd January, 2011 9:52AM

Hypercolour are a band who really think about what they do. Thatís what I discovered as a few emails were flicked between myself and James Donaldson, the bandís guitarist who discussed the history, context and philosophy of Hypercolourís music with some sharp insight. He (guitar, vocals), Julian Vares (drums) and Andrew Clarke (bass, vocals) are a Christchurch band - one of whom who have to compete to get noticed as easily as bands from Wellington and Auckland. Still, their music is showcased on Pressure To Be, an 18-and-under compilation released by Mammal Airlinesí James Stuteley as an opportunity to get their music heard in other parts of the country.

When did things start moving for Hypercolour?

I started this project when I was in another band, Rufffians. We were recording some demos sometime in early-2009 and I was waiting for Jordan to show up so I just demoed a riff that I had been jamming on for a while, and that eventually grew in to ĎThe Clock Wonít Find You Hereí. It was all improvised around this basic melody but itís essentially dictated the aesthetic of the band so far. Since then Iíve had around four different people join and leave, including James Gibb of These Dancing Wolves so itís cool to end up on the same compilation [Pressure To Be]. Iíve always liked the idea of super-processed drum sounds so we worked with a drum machine when playing live for a long time but since Julian has joined itís been much more free-form. And it helps that he acts as a sort of in-house producer too.

Where are things at for the band right now?

Weíre just finishing off our new single this month, and making a video to accompany it. Itís based on projections and weird manipulation of images so it should be pretty fun. After that I guess weíll just get back in to playing more shows and parties, helping other kids come out of the woodwork. Iíve been sporadic with the band over the past two years; letting it float for a little while to release something and play shows then bob back down in the water. Itíll be good to have some continuity with a full line up and a release that we can back too. Iíve always had an issue with continuity with the band. Thereís always been songs that take this singular, melancholic aspect of the sound and twisting it in to something that turns out alright but still doesnít eventuate in to something. Hence why I picked ĎCrawl Outí to go on Pressure To Be, itís still got menace and glumness yet with a sense of urgency that does eventuate in to something in the outro. Itís essentially a climax...

What other bands do you hang out with?

Iíve sort of done my time hanging around with older bands in Christchurch. It just ends up being based on elitism and this weird sense that you have to prescribe to a certain sound in order to become vaguely popular. Some of the older Ďsceneí members seem to have an aversion to excitement or fun. I started a label, City Kids Records, recently and we tend to deal with bands my age or younger, and itís frankly quite nice. Bands like Gigglepop and Villain are very unashamed about how they go about taking their music to the masses; thereís no excluding a particular group. Itís an open-ended invitation yíknow?

Any recommendations?

Like I said, Gigglepop. The guitarist Andrew has just joined us as a bass player which is nice. Heís very charismatic and theatrical playing live which is something thatís been missing from some of the people Iíve had in Hypercolour previously. Thereís Villain, who have this amazing juxtaposition of being really content and lovely and they come out with brilliant four-minute spurts of doom and gloom. In many ways Iím jealous of them because they execute the melancholic-yet-uplifting aesthetic so well. I play drums in another band called Sleeping With Students with my good friend Thom. Heís very confident in himself as a songwriter which I respect. Further down south in Timaru thereís Going Nowhere, which is Steven Marrís project. Similar to Villain in the sense that itís very ominous and still amazing. I signed a hip-hop group to the label the other week. Itís a bunch of white guys rapping, which is very cool in the way that theyíre totally unashamed about what they do. Sandfly Bay are brilliant too. They used to be a hoedown country good-timiní band but have come back recently sounding like a cross between everything good about mid-90ís rockíníroll: My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown, yíknow? Thereís more, thatís pretty much the iceberg tip.

Youíre featured on the ĎPressure To Beí under 18 compilation Ė is/was being under 18 a big part of your band identity? Or just a feature?

Iíve always been supportive of the music scene here, so when I was that age it seemed pretty important to be amongst it, even more so now that I can take a step back, look at it from a more mature (slightly) perspective. I guess in a way I am being slightly manipulative in the respect that kids take in so much music when theyíre in their teenage years and Iíd like to somehow have something that Iíve created from my heart and soul and it taken in by somebody who empathises and identifies with any emotion present. Iíd like to think thatís a beautiful thing, that you can change someone or make them feel something purely by doing what you love. Christ, this is getting pretty deep early on.

Aside from the music itself, what are you trying to achieve with being in a band? Does empowering the young with efforts like ĎPressure To Beí play a large role in what you do? Or is there another kind of message you try to communicate?

Itís strange to have an ulterior motive as a band. I mean, youíre in a band and you create music. That should be what you do, stick to what you know and do best. I think itís when you step out of that medium and take to the streets demanding something in particular, trying to gain support because you say youíre in a band....I guess it doesnít mean much. The band and the music just become a vehicle for your conviction as opposed to the other way around.

So is having a conscience about something, at least in some small part, the responsibility of a musician? Or do you consider it also acceptable to produce music purely for the love of it and nothing else?

Good question. I think there is a responsibility. If youíre not doing what youíre doing for the love of it then intentions can be misconstrued. Most music that I write is very, very introverted and Iíve never had any interest in addressing issues around society or politics and the like. But in that same respect, I address my own issues and hassles and place it in a medium that is designed to be enjoyed by a lot of people. Itís strange that Iíve adopted an attitude of ďlife goes onĒ etc and yet I spend time writing lyrics and music that take in hand any sort of issue or feeling that I have, practicing these songs and singing them at shows, recording them Ė whatever. The last thing that I would want to happen would be to have my words lose meaning within myself because I repeat them over and over so often.

Where does a band go when it doesnít align itself with a social purpose?

I guess then your music alone will have to be enough to go on. But if you look at all pop music today, itís based on purely on a really futile sense of escapism instead of addressing anything really important socially, or raise any problems politically. I mean, juxtapose Bob Dylan and his protest songs with something like Katy Perry and her whimsical-ness. She will go away within a few years, and yet Bob has been going strong for almost 50 years now. Same goes for a band like Radiohead. Thom Yorke addressed issues he had with modern life and how he fits in to it and so on, and ĎOK Computerí ended up being one of the most critically acclaimed album of the 90ís, which is phenomenal to think considering ĎLovelessí [by My Bloody Valentine] was released that decade too. Um, so yeah. If introversion and introspection are part of social purpose then without these, you lose a sense of timelessness.

These are all pretty intellectual questions Ė is that a thing youíre comfortable with, or would you rather focus on the simplicities of being an artist rather than weighing yourself down with social contemplation?

Absolutely, I love talking about these kinda things. I donít think you weigh yourself down, itís providing explanation for something that would otherwise be taken at face value, taking it that one step further so others can understand it better, identify with it in different ways. I mean, one of my favourite bands is The National. Michael Stipe from REM said of them that they could never be commercially successful because they engage with their audience on an emotional and deeply personal level. I think thatís pretty admirable whether the intention is there or not.

Also on that note Ė any pretentiousness where youíre from in the music circle?

Like I said before, thereís a particular group of people in Christchurch that have been here all their life, have no desire to get out, and are more than happy to keep repeating the same formula over again, yíknow, the exact same bands playing the exact same sets at the same two bars every weekend. It turns to a sense of over-advertisement or over-exposure. More often than not itís the same people who are in all the bands too. They seem unwilling to accept anything thatís foreign which frustrates me. It gets tiring when you show up to a gig and itís the same 20-30 people in the audience, not dancing and looking at everyone else as if expecting them to start doing something. And then itís the same 20-30 people who go to parties and do the same thing. Thereís very little appreciation. Especially when you look at bands as brilliant as The Transistors or OíLovely who work so hard and receive very little credit in Christchurch. I find it much more invigorating to go to an all-ages show and see kids go nuts to their friendís bands. Itís just such a contrast.

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