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Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Monday 2nd April, 2012 8:54AM

Seven years in and The DHDFDs are just about to release their debut full length album, French Fries. UTR caught up with the Auckland punk band to talk about writing and recording the album, line-up changes and what they're going to do next.

Youíve got a new album coming out, are you excited?

Yep weíre really excited.

Cool, letís talk about it.

Scott Brown: Itís been a long time coming, a lot of these songs are really old to us Ė old to us more than anyone else.

Joel Beeby: I can remember hearing ĎRobotsí ages and ages ago.

S.B: We more just wanted to get all of these old songs recorded and get it out so we could concentrate on more stuff.

So were all the songs written randomly over a long period of time?

S.B: Yep pretty much. I didnít know but itís apparently taken us seven years to record and release our debut album.

James King: Itís been a while because weíve had a few line-up changes in between. Hopefully that doesnít happen again and itís not another seven years before we get another album out.

Tell us a little bit about the album. Now that it's a finished product, what are your thoughts?

S.B: Iím really happy with the quality of the recording. Itís done all live pretty much. We only did a couple of overdubs of one or two guitar tracks so it sounds pretty much what we would kind of sound like live.

J.K: We always record live because multi-track is shit.

S.B: Our band is too frantic to listen to a metronome.

Do you guys struggle to get your live energy onto record? Is that the biggest challenge?

S.B: I guess when we record we just treat it like a gig.

J.K: Thatís why we prefer to record live rather than multi-track. Thereís something about the particular music we play together that it needs to be this way.

Is there any obvious direction that you can see the record has taken?

J.K: Itís hard to judge; the songs are too old to judge. When youíve played it so many times itís hard to tell what you're getting from it.

S.B: Iíd just say itís good.

J.K: I think itís got a particular flavour or something I guess, but I think thatís more about how the musicians work together than how the songs sound individually.

J.B: How it was recorded too. The songs all sound the same and thatís probably the most similar thing.

You guys recorded with Kody Nielson and got Nick Roughan to master it, right? Tell us a little bit about working with those two.

S.B: I was friends with Kody and we were hanging out and weíd always talk about how he wanted to record us. It took a while, you know, seven years, but we would basically just hang out and talk about the processes we would do. We recorded it in one day. We set up in a lounge at our old drummerís house and combined recording studio stuff Ė some gear that we had Ė and all the gear Kody had. We actually only really had a computer. Kody brought over a bunch of stuff and we mic-ed up this lounge and recorded it.

J.K: We didnít play the songs more than three times each.

S.B: Yeah, we would just record each song three times and then choose the best take. Recording with Kody was pretty sweet, it was really laid back and chilled.

J.K: That was the good thing - being able to record with someone that youíre comfortable with means that particular suggestions can get aired. We were really comfortable with him so when new ideas came up and things it was totally cool to mention them.

S.B: What was I going to say? Iím hungoverÖI was thinking about something and it was good!

And then you guys got Nick Roughan to master it?

S.B: With getting Nick Roughan to master it basically we hadnít done too much recording. We did one EP when we were 15 Ė James was probably 12 Ė and I recorded that on some program that I canít remember Ė

J.K: Our mates computer with Windowís í95 or something Ė

S.B: And then we recorded with Nick Cunningham for our Fromage EP. When we finished the whole recording thing with Kody he was like Ďyou need someone to master ití and I was like Ďwhatís mastering?í Iíve met Nick Roughan a few times and Kody suggested we emailed Nick. So I got in contact with him and now I guess I vaguely know what mastering is.

How did it change the sound?

J.K: It just cleaned it up.

Is the album a good representation of you guys now or is it more of a back catalogue release?

S.B: Some points of it are.

J.K: The recent songs are more indicative of where weíre going.

J.B: The band sounds completely different now.

S.B: We recorded it with the old line-up and they left a couple of weeks afterward. That was pretty shit because we couldnít really tour it. Thatís why itís been so long to come out since we recorded it because we had to find new members and we went through a couple of drummers. We got Joel straight away but we need to have the right people and thereís not that many people like that out there.

Tell us a little bit about these line-up changes because theyíve been pretty intense over the last year or so right. What else has been going down?

S.B: James has got a really annoying personality and so they just leave. Itís not me at all, itís all James.

J.K: Yeah youíre such a pleasant person to be in a band with.

S.B: I guess things happen. Being in a band is like having three girlfriends you know and youíve gotta keep them all happy. Itís really hard to do that, especially when you get into awkward situations and things. When youíre writing songs and things and half the band likes something and half the band likes something else and you just sit there and look at each other awkwardly.

J.K: People donít want to say that they donít like the song. So you end up writing these half-assed songs and wasting your time learning these shit songs. Scottís been the bass player at one point, we really have changed it a lot.

S.B: That was probably the worst thing ever. I wouldnít even play, Iíd just have a bass and play the wrong notes and then just start playing my own thing and throw it away and then thereíd just be one guitar.

J.K: Line-up changes are good because you put more effort into the music. When thereís a line-up change you can either scrap the band completely or find new people and because youíre going to the effort of finding new people and trying to make it work. Youíre more motivated because youíre putting in the effort. In saying that you can only take so many knocks.

Have you found it hard to keep going?

S.B: After this last line-up blunder that was probably the worst time Ė

J.K: Every time we get a new line-up we get a bit better so youíve got more invested in it so when you lose members that you've had so much invested in itís hard to start again with people that you havenít.

S.B: Itís got nothing to do with the fact that new members are better, itís just when you get new people you get motivated to write new songs etc. This is the happiest Iíve been in the band Ė

J.K: Yeah weíve got eight songs on the album that are ready to go.

S.B: Weíre just going to rehearse as much as possible and try and get things rolling this year. Weíre going to do another EP soon Ė

J.K: A 10 track, a 10 track -

S.B: Heís going to do a 10 track, Iím going to do an EP -

J.K: solo album, solo album.

And you mentioned that the new songs sound completely different. Tell us how the new line-up has changed the sound.

J.K: I think itís just because me and Jimmy play a lot differently to Eric and Thom and the way they played. I wouldnít say itís better or worse. It just has a different feel and I think itís a bit more straightforward. The recordings sound different to how we play them live and the new songs weíre writing with Jimmy and my input sound different to older DHDFDs songs.

S.B: Is it punk Joel? Iím going to ask you a question OK, what do you think of the new songs?

J.B: I think the new songs are good.

S.B: Thank you. Now back to the interview.

What are your future plans?

S.B: Tour this album. Well we call it a tour, weíre going two places outside of Auckland and playing three Auckland shows. One of them wasnít even part of the tour and now it is, we just merged it. Anyone want us to play any shows ever weíll just merge them into this tour.

J.K: We could be touring this for years!

S.B: I want to go down to the South Island. A couple of months ago I decided weíd put the album out April 6th and then I just booked some shows and didnít tell the guys. I think our drummer found out when it went up on UnderTheRadar.

J.K: Thatís often the case, we donít really communicate. We only donít communicate about important things like when we have gigs coming up.

Two years ago you went to Japan. Are there any goals to go back there? Tell us about that experience?

S.B: It came together because when the King Brothers came to New Zealand the second time they stayed at my house and I guess I was about 16. They stayed at my family house and I just got to know them really well. I wasnít going to school I was going to music school doing audio engineering. So I just didnít go and hung out with them the entire time they were here and I love those guys so much on a personal level Ė wait, did that sound really deep? Basically when we recorded Fromage they were like Ďdo you want to come over to Japaní and we thought that was intense. It wasnít because we were good it was because we knew them and we knew what kind of name they had over there. We went over there not knowing what to expect in the way of the country and culture. You have a small idea of what itís like but itís actually mental.

What were the shows like?

S.B: I donít know if youíve seen the King Brothers but when they perform they put the drum kit in the crowd and they all play in the crowd for half their set but every ban din Japan does that. So youíll go to a gig and the opening band will do it and the second band will do it and then the third and the fourth and then the fifth band, maybe it was us, we wouldnít do it, and then the King Brothers would do it. I really want to go back there; the people are so into the music and stuff. The shows over there start at 6.30pm and at 6.30pm youíll walk outside and thereíll be a few people hanging around and then at 6.30pm itís packed.

J.K: We were quite young too so itíll be nice to go back and do things a bit differently.

S.B: I remember being pissed off at James for the whole tour because he wouldnít shower and he would just wear these shorts that had blood on them.

J.K: I had blood on my shorts and itís really hard to get blood out of shorts.

S.B: I remember just being really annoyed with him Ė

J.K: We didnít speak the whole tour.

S.B: We will be going back at some point this year.

You've been a band kicking around Auckland for ages now. Do you feel like youíre part of a music community now?

S.B: No.

J.K: I feel like weíve been out of it too long now.

S.B: I donít know if this sounds rude but I feel like we are just lone soldiers. We just do our own thing; do our own gig etc. We donít really fit in to too much. I guess I really like Rackets theyíre like my favourite New Zealand band.

J.K: When youíre starting itís like five or six bands will play each other all the time and that kind of carry on. We donít have that now. Weíre mates with Rackets and have played with them a couple times.

J.B: I think the scene has changed a lot as well.

J.K: I remember when I was 16 and there were awesome gigs all the time Ė there were three or four awesome gigs every weekend. Maybe itís cause I work now but I donít see many gigs I get excited about and think I want to go see that.

S.B: I think Auckland bands just need to start playing all the time again. What is it about the live thing that you get off on?

S.B: It's stress release. I think everyone thinks Iím a lunatic but Iím just chilling, getting stressed like everyone and when we play a gig it just comes out.

J.K: When weíre playing live weíre given half an hour to do what we want and now I guess itís kind of expected of us to do something crazy. But itís just lame watching a band who stand still and donít do anything Ė looking down and not moving.

S.B: We like to provide more of a performance. Why would you go to a gig and watch a band when you could just listen to the record at home if theyíren ot doing anything else.

J.K: We try and make it sound good live too.

What are your future plans or goals?

S.B: I want to release as much stuff as possible.

J.K: Yeah do everything weíre doing now but heaps more.

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