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Salad Boys

Salad Boys

Tuesday 2nd April, 2013 9:40AM

Salad Boys emerged late last year and quickly went about releasing a bunch of catchy tunes and lining up shows nationwide. Centred around the songwriting of Christchurch musician Joe Sampson, we caught up with him over email recently to find out more about the project along with his 'label' Melted Ice Cream, Christchurch music generally and where things are at with T54...

Hey Joe, how's it going?

Very well thanks, I'm well into a busy year of music and I couldn't be more chipper.

How did you first get into making music?

There were a couple of guitars and a keyboard around home and I loved the Blues Brothers movie and the Split Enz and Crowded House tapes and records that we had at home, so I started to learn to play guitar when I was 8. I started writing songs and formed my first band when I was 11 (with Neil Robinson from Mazes). We were a trio called Zinc and we loved Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins.

What music do you enjoy listening to at the moment?

Over the last year and a bit The Gun Club has been my favourite band. I've also been into Beach House, Captain Beefheart, Chris Knox, The Cramps, Devo, Howlin' Wolf, No Age, Sparklehorse, St. Vincent, Swell Maps, The Verlaines, Why?, Wire and the 13th Floor Elevators.

Salad Boys seems to be taking off, how did the project come about?

Thanks. I had a spare album's worth of songs that weren't getting used so I had to get them into a band situation. James (Sullivan), Ben (Odering) and I have a tendency to agree what's good and bad so I asked them both and they were keen. We had a couple of practices and got together a half dozen songs and the rest kept on coming.

Is there a story behind the name?

Fa Ci-La by The Feelies - check out the vocal line at 1:22.

Given you are all involved in other projects  - Bang Bang Eche, Dance Asthmatics, T54 etc - was there anything you were wanting to do differently with Salad Boys?

It's dangerous to think about things like that when making music and I try and avoid it. That's what I'm doing different now - trying not to think about everything so much. My song writing has evolved too.

You have a cassette tape album out - tell us about this...

Those recordings are rehearsal room demos that we've been putting up on our Bandcamp. We thought it'd be a nice idea to have them available physically for Camp a Low Hum but we didn't want to do a shitty old CD-r because you can't even give CD-rs away. Tapes are a real pain though, they're about as reliable as an emotionally unstable teenager and they're real time consuming to dub, but people really like them at the moment because they're zesty and retro.

How is your live show coming along...

We've got a chocka few months booked. We're doing our first national tour in late April and early May with X-Ray Charles from Christchurch. We're playing Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and maybe Oamaru and Hamilton. We're aiming to do another couple of national tours this year and then hopefully off to Australia for a wee tour over summer.

You're playing with David Kilgour in Wellington how did that come about?

We wanted to play a show in Wellington so we emailed Blink and he gave us the offer of a lifetime - to not only open for but play with David Kilgour! He must've known we were huge fans, not sure how though ;). We're quietly foaming at the mouth over the prospect.

Last year you formed a label - Melted Ice Cream - what inspired this and what are you hoping to achieve?

It's less of a label, more of a way to consolidate my favourite Christchurch music for easy accessibility to outsiders. I've always felt a bit left out of the NZ music buzz being from the South Island, many others feel the same. I'd like recognition that we have some sensational stuff down here that doesn't get the attention it deserves.

Tell us about the new compilation you've just released?

The comp is entitled Sickest Smashes from Arson City. There are 12 bands on the compilation. Most people involved feature more than once on the album - we've got a tightly wound community down here. It's not a popularity contest, they're all my favourite bands, and some of my music's on there too. Most of the songs were recorded in the last 12 months but there are some stretching back a few years. My inspiration for track sequencing came from the recent Flying Nun comp Time To Go - the one that Bruce Russell put together - he strayed away from the hits and chose the songs which fit the mood of the album best. I've tried to do the same sort of thing. Some of the songs choices aren't obvious or representative of their respective bands, but hopefully it will encourage listeners will seek out more from whatever bands they like most on the album.

Christchurch has a history of really great music - why do you think this is and what is your view on the current scene?

It's hard to answer that without sounding like a tugger. I believe the best NZ stuff has always come from the South Island, but I'm not really sure why, and I don't want to biff around any stuck up theories and piss people off. I'm not trying to be a tosser here either, but I don't really know what a music scene is. In my experience, it's nothing romantic and life saving like history and stories from abroad say. Maybe it's different in other parts of the world, I don't know. There are a lot of bands operating down here, many different genres and ages, I only know the ones my friends are in, and they're fucken great.

How have the quakes impacted your approach to and/or perspective on making music?

I feel like a DIY ethic has been enforced upon artists and musicians and anyone creative, it's nice. A lot of people I know have left Christchurch in the last few years, so it feels more dead to me, but it also feels like more of it belongs to me, a clean slate to build upon.

And finally - what is the latest with T54?

T54 have a music video coming out shortly, followed by the new album on Flying Nun (it's called In Brush Park), and we might be playing with Tenacious D in Christchurch. Aside from that it'll be a quiet year, we're all busy dudes.


See below for details of Salad Boys' upcoming show with David Kilgour and you can hear (and download) the Melted Ice Cream compilation Sickest Smashes from Arson City over here.