click here for more
Interview
The DHDFDs

The DHDFDs

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
date
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.

You’ve got a new album coming out, are you excited?

Yep we’re really excited.

Cool, let’s talk about it.

Scott Brown: It’s been a long time coming, a lot of these songs are really old to us – old to us more than anyone else.

Joel Beeby: I can remember hearing ‘Robots’ 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 didn’t know but it’s apparently taken us seven years to record and release our debut album.

James King: It’s been a while because we’ve had a few line-up changes in between. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again and it’s 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: I’m really happy with the quality of the recording. It’s 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: That’s why we prefer to record live rather than multi-track. There’s 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: It’s hard to judge; the songs are too old to judge. When you’ve played it so many times it’s hard to tell what you're getting from it.

S.B: I’d just say it’s good.

J.K: I think it’s got a particular flavour or something I guess, but I think that’s 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 that’s 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 we’d 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 drummer’s house and combined recording studio stuff – some gear that we had – 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 didn’t 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 you’re 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? I’m hungover…I 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 hadn’t done too much recording. We did one EP when we were 15 – James was probably 12 – and I recorded that on some program that I can’t remember –

J.K: Our mates computer with Window’s ’95 or something –

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 ‘you need someone to master it’ and I was like ‘what’s mastering?’ I’ve 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 we’re 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 couldn’t really tour it. That’s why it’s 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 there’s not that many people like that out there.

Tell us a little bit about these line-up changes because they’ve 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. It’s not me at all, it’s all James.

J.K: Yeah you’re 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 you’ve gotta keep them all happy. It’s really hard to do that, especially when you get into awkward situations and things. When you’re 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 don’t want to say that they don’t like the song. So you end up writing these half-assed songs and wasting your time learning these shit songs. Scott’s been the bass player at one point, we really have changed it a lot.

S.B: That was probably the worst thing ever. I wouldn’t even play, I’d just have a bass and play the wrong notes and then just start playing my own thing and throw it away and then there’d just be one guitar.

J.K: Line-up changes are good because you put more effort into the music. When there’s a line-up change you can either scrap the band completely or find new people and because you’re going to the effort of finding new people and trying to make it work. You’re more motivated because you’re 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 –

J.K: Every time we get a new line-up we get a bit better so you’ve got more invested in it so when you lose members that you've had so much invested in it’s hard to start again with people that you haven’t.

S.B: It’s got nothing to do with the fact that new members are better, it’s just when you get new people you get motivated to write new songs etc. This is the happiest I’ve been in the band –

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

S.B: We’re just going to rehearse as much as possible and try and get things rolling this year. We’re going to do another EP soon –

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

S.B: He’s going to do a 10 track, I’m 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 it’s just because me and Jimmy play a lot differently to Eric and Thom and the way they played. I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse. It just has a different feel and I think it’s a bit more straightforward. The recordings sound different to how we play them live and the new songs we’re writing with Jimmy and my input sound different to older DHDFDs songs.

S.B: Is it punk Joel? I’m 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, we’re going two places outside of Auckland and playing three Auckland shows. One of them wasn’t even part of the tour and now it is, we just merged it. Anyone want us to play any shows ever we’ll 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 we’d put the album out April 6th and then I just booked some shows and didn’t tell the guys. I think our drummer found out when it went up on UnderTheRadar.

J.K: That’s often the case, we don’t really communicate. We only don’t 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 wasn’t going to school I was going to music school doing audio engineering. So I just didn’t go and hung out with them the entire time they were here and I love those guys so much on a personal level – wait, did that sound really deep? Basically when we recorded Fromage they were like ‘do you want to come over to Japan’ and we thought that was intense. It wasn’t 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 it’s like but it’s actually mental.

What were the shows like?

S.B: I don’t know if you’ve 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 you’ll 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 wouldn’t 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 you’ll walk outside and there’ll be a few people hanging around and then at 6.30pm it’s packed.

J.K: We were quite young too so it’ll 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 wouldn’t shower and he would just wear these shorts that had blood on them.

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

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

J.K: We didn’t 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 you’re part of a music community now?

S.B: No.

J.K: I feel like we’ve been out of it too long now.

S.B: I don’t 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 don’t really fit in to too much. I guess I really like Rackets they’re like my favourite New Zealand band.

J.K: When you’re starting it’s like five or six bands will play each other all the time and that kind of carry on. We don’t have that now. We’re 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 – there were three or four awesome gigs every weekend. Maybe it’s cause I work now but I don’t 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 I’m a lunatic but I’m just chilling, getting stressed like everyone and when we play a gig it just comes out.

J.K: When we’re playing live we’re given half an hour to do what we want and now I guess it’s kind of expected of us to do something crazy. But it’s just lame watching a band who stand still and don’t do anything – 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 they’ren 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 we’re doing now but heaps more.