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Attic Sky's

Attic Sky's

Interviewed by
Michael McClelland
Friday 14th September, 2012 9:39AM

Straight out of high school, Attic Sky’s (apostrophe intentional) come from the same camp as Ngatea’s Tied on Teeth. The promising youngsters have just released their first EP, This is Home, and Michael McClelland caught up with one third Miles Sutton over email to discuss the EP, growing up in a small town and their TTO mantra…

So you all started this around when you were sixteen years old – how are things different now?

When we first started writing songs, it was the first band any of us had played in. I was always thinking that maybe it would just fall apart. We’ve seen so many friends’ bands break up. But somehow we still care about the music. I think, though we’ve no real right to say so, we feel a little older now.

Are you enjoying the freedom of not being in high school anymore?

Yeah. High school could be really cool but it’s definitely time to try and figure things out.

Where did you pick up the phrase ‘TTO’ that you keep saying on the EP? What’s it all about?

(T)aitamariki (T)u (O)ra roughly translates to ‘young people steadfast on their feet’. We use it as a blanket, Attic Sky’s is a band, TTO gives room to something kinda bigger. It’s something that we hold pretty dear. It’s also in music though, like Tied On Teeth, they were definitely TTO.

It’s great to hear some really personal lyrics – is that important to you?

Definitely. Me & Riley generally write the lyrics, and I know it’s something we’ve always cared a lot about. Because it’s catharsis. I had this english teacher who told me once that if your writing is about catharsis then you should keep it in a diary. Which is rubbish, true catharsis is 50 kids yelling TTO with you at a show. Also if we spend a weekend driving to Auckland for a show to make no money and sleep on our friend Emma’s floor, there must be something we have to say.

What are these songs about?

Growing up in a small town.

‘This Is Home’ is about leaving the town and what that means for the people you’ve been living with forever. There are people you wish you’d leave behind (‘It’s like yr kinda ruining Wellington for me’) and people you wish wouldn’t stay behind (‘live with me, we’ll go to better shows’).

‘Wolfpack’ is about your friends in the town. Having their backs through breakups and darkcuts. The line ‘this town is chalked in our colours’ is a reference to us chalking show advertisements on walls because we couldn’t afford to print posters haha.

‘F.T.P.’ is pretty blunt. I’m sure there are nice police officers, but it’s more about the friends in the town looking out for each other in a town where young people have to look out for each other.

‘A Word For Missing Something Before It Is Gone’ is maybe a little retrospective. We love the Eastern Bay, it was just time for things to change. My verse in this is the most difficult thing I do in an Attic set, I think we pushed honesty to its length here…

That line – ‘This is home / But there are better places to go’ – would resonate strongly with a lot of New Zealanders. What do you think about the bigger world, both as a New Zealander and as someone from Whakatane?

Ollie actually wrote that line. As someone that grew up in Whakatane, the wider world seems like a vague idea. It’s something you think a lot about but don’t really understand. Maybe that’s why a lot of us grow up with this strong desire to travel.

Does Wellington hold up to your expectations now that you’ve moved there?

Ollie is still at home this year making cash money. Riley says it’s lived up to his expectations and more though. I’m enjoying myself too mostly.

Have you ever thought about living overseas?

The true plan is to have TTO households in every nation state. This is in no way a joke.

What keeps you in NZ?

None of us have European passports? Not much under this government? The people of course, for sure.

There’s so much passion and conviction going into your music – you can just hear it in the way the vocals are screeched out alone. What’s your inspiration?

Watching Andrew run into the crowd in the first 30 seconds of a Die! Die! Die! Show? Riley says he finds it far more interesting to listen to people mean every word of what they say instead of trying to cover it in metaphors. Ollie has always had a lot of integrity and for me it’s probably Kanye: ‘I’m just saying how I feel man’.

It’s interesting to hear this from a band so young, when far more established bands in NZ are hesitant to reveal the emotion that goes into writing the songs. Would you agree?

I would agree in that sometimes in New Zealand you are encouraged to shy away from showing emotion. I think this can sometimes be a proper problem where we’re from. So yeah, maybe some bands achieve longevity here by buying into that?

Why do so many vocalists, NZ and otherwise, feel the need to adopt a faux-American accent in songs? Is it unconscious? And is it even a bad thing?

If you want your songs to be sincere, they should be sung in your own voice right? If it’s unconscious then that’s even sadder. I don’t know why this happens in New Zealand. I remember people thinking Elemeno P were strange cos they sang in NZ accents, which is messed up right? Elemeno P are the mean though, they played Whakatane once. NZ needs a new Elemeno P album haha.

Did you ever have the same habit at any point?

The first song we wrote was a reggae song because we’re from Whakatane so we sang that in Jamaican accents. But other than that though, no, it’s always been a rule. We just don’t get why you would.

You’ll probably feel this one more than a lot of people, since high school is still fresh in your minds – do you ever get scared when you put yourself out there that someone is going to cut you down?

We are a punk band that grew up playing reggae festivals in the Eastern Bay. We once opened for J Williams. I know that fear well but maybe we’re not that sort of band? We care about the opinions of people the songs matter to. But beyond that it’s like, this happened to us, this is how we feel about it, make of it what you will. There’ll always be haters that’s the way it is.

Does it take a lot of practice to nail that ping-pong vocal style? It sounds tricky to pull off!

We tend to practice in long car rides. A capella jams.

Would you say your particular scene is in a good place right now?

Which scene? Whakatane is looking better as a scene at the moment. There is this real dope band called Earth Won who have just started. You should check out their recordings.

What could be better about music in NZ?

“I don’t know whether it was the shit music or shit drugs but the kids who used to go to shows now go to clubs” haha. There is a lot of good music in NZ, it’s just that the bad stuff gets played a lot. But NZ is also really exciting for new music! Have you heard of Banglade$h? Lawrence Goodwin? No Aloha? NZ music keeps us enthused. Shout out to Eddie Johnston, shout out to ZU, shout out to kids who go to shows and turn their Dad’s radio off when it’s announced that The Feelers got funding again.


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