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Solid Gold Hell

Solid Gold Hell

Monday 9th September, 2013 10:14AM

Having reemerged in 2011 for a  Flying Nun 30th Anniversary show and again at the start of the year for another Flying Nun event, this Friday will see influential Auckland band Solid Gold Hell return to the stage for their first headline show in over a decade. 

With an impressive lineage, featuring members of SPUD and Jean-Paul Satre Experience (JPSE), the band came together in the early nineties and quickly gained a following for their formidable live show.  With an aggressive, sludgey industrial sound,  often compared to the Jesus Lizard, they released two albums via Flying Nun - Singin' Hot Murder (1994) and The Blood and The Pity (1996) - before dissolving in 1997. 

To celebrate the impending show, we asked guitarist/vocalist Matthew Heine to introduce us to a couple of his favourite tracks from the albums/live set. These can be streamed alongside his introductions below but first up,  a bit of background...

When and how did Solid Gold Hell come about? How did you all know each other?

Glen [Campbell]and myself were in a fairly notorious band called SPUD in the late 80's to about 92, after that band we were keen to keep inflicting ourselves on the world but with a slightly different sound and approach, Colleen [Brennan] was a friend anyway, and we knew Gary [Sullivan] as we had played with JPSE a bit and were into similar music.

Were there any bands/musicians that you were all into and that helped to inform what Solid Gold Hell came to be? 

Yes we have very varied musical interests, I guess some of the obvious ones would be Pere Ubu, Beefheart particularly the Trout Mask Replica stuff, Tom Waits, but also heavier stuff like Sabbath, Jesus Lizard, Birthday Party, some great world music, I'm also interested in quite a lot of the rhythms in some old swing jazz stuff, it's in the blood.

What was the music scene that you evolved out of like - where did you play live mostly and who are some of the bands you played with a bit? 

I can remember playing at places like the Gluepot, Powerstation, a place called Squid. Various places around NZ and Australia. I always felt we were kind of outside the scene in a way. We were great friends with the 3ds, we also played with quite a few overseas bands, stuff like Babes in Toyland, Shellac, the Surrealists.

You got overseas then, how was that? 

It was actually pretty hard to get out of NZ at that time, something I notice more bands are able to do these days. We did do a pretty good Australian tour, some cool gigs with Kim Salmon and the Surrealists, and Rowland S Howard. The band Glen and I were in before also did a really great Australian tour with SPUD, some fine gigs with bands like the charming Lubricated Goat, the Australian guttersnipe seemed to dig us for some reason....

Did you get much support from the press?

It was ok I guess, I did always feel we could have got more record company support, I guess they were more interested in the Pop/ Commercial side of the label at the time. Probably the press article I'm most proud of was a really great live review in Melody Maker to do with one of the Flying Nun anniversary’s.

When and how did the band come to an end originally?

I think we stopped in about 97, we didn't actually formally break up, it just ground to a halt for various reasons for a while. It was actually a bit hard being a live band for a while there... it was the era of glow sticks and average Dance parties.  Auckland can be very “trendy” so sometimes tends to only support one type of scene, it's better these days like that.

What do you all do these days?  Do you see much of each other in day to day life?

We keep in touch, we're all still friends, Gary is a great designer to do with computer animation and the like, Myself and Colleen are sound Engineers so I guess we tend to make a crust doing stuff that is at least creative in a way.

Had you played together much prior to that Flying Nun show in 2011?

No, not at all. We had about 3 practices and just went for it. This band is really at its best live, I sometimes think with what you can do with backing tracks etc the art of just a band bouncing completely off itself is getting a bit lost. I like to hope that is what we strive for.

How was that show for you  - both in preparation and the show itself?

Really great fun, I guess I find doing our stuff very therapeutic! Not sure if it's the same to watch. Ha! Great just to play very much for the fun of it.... no baggage.

You have a show this Friday, which is your second this year,  have you being playing together much in the interim? 

Not really, we tend to work in bursts as life allows these days, hopefully we will have a few new tunes finished plus some old ones we haven't played for a while. I'd love to play some gigs out of town, we are open to offers!

Any plans to record/release new material?

We have been coming up with some pretty good riffs and potential things lately, the other day I was trying to write the gloomiest riff of all time. Surely there's an audience for that! We can record pretty well at home, so yes we probably will work on some new recordings.

What other active music projects are you all involved in?

At the moment I'm pretty much keen on concentrating on Solid Gold Hell, I feel the most comfortable in the world playing with this particular group of individuals, it is a really natural fit.

Gary and I played with Jed Town of Fetus Productions for a while, that was great. I also had a band called Raygunn with Dave Mulcahy and Big Ross of the Birds Nest Roys, Gary”s done plenty of stuff with Shane Carter over the years. I also had a jamming/recording thing going with Dave Saunders of the 3d's for a while.

Solid Gold Hell Track by Track:

'Hot Murder' (opening track their debut album Swingin' Hot Murder released via Flying Nun in 1994): This one harks back to the Junk Jazz side of the band, tuning down lends an air of wonkiness. This track actually features a secret kazoo...

'Gloom Chaser' (track two from their second album The Blood and The Pity released in 1996 via Flying Nun): As an island nation it is important to remember our nautical history, if you manage to make out the lyrics on this one it becomes apparent that this is a voyage you would be best to avoid at all costs. One of my fave tracks to play, don't know why, just is...

'Heavenly Badness' (track three from The Blood and The Pity): If you took one of the tom tom beats off one of the old Exotica Burlesque records, sped it up and sent it South of the border, I reckon it would sound a bit like this. This is really quite hard to drum to, and I'm constantly amazed when we get to the end of it live....

'X Rated' (closing track of The Blood and The Pity): Sometimes you don't need to be fancy, this song is easy because 80% of it involves gaps between stabs of riffs, which is convenient for the Guitar and Bass player. Less so for the drummer. I think this song is based around three notes as opposed to our normal two. A constant source of disappointment to me is the fact that no music journalist has ever asked me what my favourite note is, are they really doing their job or not? It is F sharp because it sounds spooky, however in the interest of variety this song is mainly based around the note G sharp....


Catch Solid Gold Hold THIS Friday (13th Sept) at the Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland with support from equally impressive bands Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing and Las Tetas - see gig listing below for more details and grab tickets over here.


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