Popstrangers have had a pretty big couple of months. No sooner had they announced that they had signed to Flying Nun Records and that their forthcoming full length record would be released by the seminal label, than they were off to CMJ Music Marathon in New York to play a few shows, returning to New Zealand just in time take part in the Nunvember festivities. We caught up with bassist Adam Page to talk about the Big Apple, their new material, and how it feels to be a new part of Flying Nun's thirty year lineage.
Tell me a little bit about your experience at CMJ:
We went over about a week before CMJ and played a couple of gigs at this bar called Pianos on the Lower East Side. CMJ was awesome, we played three gigs; the New Zealand Music Showcase and a radio agency showcase who has been doing some stuff for us. We also got to play at the Bowery Ballroom with Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles and that was sold out so that was a awesome, a bit of a fluke to get that show but it was a nice way to top it off.
How was the crowd response, do you think people were digging what you were doing?
The NZ Music Showcase seemed to go down well, we got lots of positive feedback when we were talking to people. We read a couple of good reviews. Some of the shows you’d play to very few people and then some of them are quite big you know, you just have to do as much as you can because you have no idea what’s going to be good or not.
Was it a positive experience for the band, travelling to the States together?
It was definitely good as people. Dave our drummer has travelled more than Joel or I and Joel’s travelled as a kid, but this was probably our first big trip and it was good to do it as a band but moreover it was great to do it as people. Meet people and meet bands and get a feel for it I guess. It’s a big place and if you really want to have a go at doing anything in the US you have to keep going back and play as much as you can. You can play every night over there which makes a difference.
Did you go to any gigs yourselves that were awesome while you were there?
The first week we went to this thing called Club Weird. A friend that we met over there took us to it and some analog synth band played and it was a pretty crazy night; just so packed. It was interesting how this crazy music could be so popular. In terms of CMJ it was quite hard to get around lots because we were staying quite far out of Manhattan and we had all our equipment and stuff and it was quite hard to navigate around the city with a guitar and a case each. But we got to check out the bands we played with, it was cool to see Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles and we saw this awesome band called Royal Baths. I think they’re going to be quite big because they were getting quite a bit of attention. Apparently they’re coming to New Zealand next year too.
Were you playing stuff from the forthcoming album?
Yeah, the set that we’ve been playing lately has got one track of the first EP – ‘1000’. The only other old song is ‘Happy Accidents’ and the rest is all new stuff. We did do some radio stuff with the Happy Accidents EP over there so we almost should have been playing more stuff off that but because we changed drummers at the start of the year we have just moved forward with the new songs.
Briefly, tell me a little bit about writing and recording the new album.
We recorded a bunch of stuff in August – around six songs. We’re slowly chipping away at it, there’s still no vocals on them. We’re hopefully going to finish them off in December. We also recorded a couple of the tracks earlier on in the year so we’re not going in there and doing it all in one go; just when we’ve got the time and the money we’ve been recording when we can. Our friend Tom Healy’s been recording and he’s just a buddy of ours and he just is pretty cool to work with. It's been a chip away at it thing and spend more time on it than do it all in one go and put it out next week. It’s not like we’re trying to create an epic studio masterpiece by any means, it’s more about having the time at the moment. It’s meant to be out in March so as long as we get it done before then it’s all good.
How do you see it as different from the earlier two EPs?
We’re still recording the majority of it live – three of us in a room playing guitar, bass, drums all together – but we’re probably spending more time doing guitar overdubs and thinking more about tones and things. Before it was just straight rendition of what we did live. It’s still pretty much that but it’s a bit more defined I suppose.
And are you guys excited to be releasing the forthcoming album on Flying Nun?
Yeah it’s great. I guess just the fact that we can record this album and know that it’s going to come out is great. It sucks when you record something and don’t know how to put it out or get anyone to listen to it and it costs a fortune to press anything. I guess that’s one good thing and I think it’s going to be coming out through them in Australia – we’re going to have a single out over there this month some time.
How did the Flying Nun thing come about?
When we did the Happy Accidents EP we were doing a live-to-air last December at bFM on Charlotte’s show and they had been doing an interview before we were there, so we were setting up while they were finishing their interview and we just met them and said hello. They sent us an email and then we’ve sporadically kept in touch over the last year. When we had a couple of songs recorded we sent them to Roger and he was into them and it was basically from these two songs that it all happened. He has enough faith that the rest of the album will be up to scratch, they haven’t heard anything else. They’ve seen us play quite a few times since they’ve signed us so I hope they feel confident that we’re doing something right.
Are you looking forward to the Flying Nun stuff that happens in November?
Yeah it’s going to be awesome. We just found out last week that we’re going to the South Island on the 18th and 19th of November and playing with Shayne Carter and Ghost Club because I haven’t ever been to the South Island in my whole life and we haven’t played there as a band, and this is an awesome way to do it without having to lose money or to play to no-one. Hopefully there should be some people at the gigs because we’re playing with Shayne Carter and Ghost Club.