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Die! Die! Die!

Die! Die! Die!

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Friday 1st November, 2013 8:18AM

Prolific New Zealand punk trio Die! Die! Die! have just returned from a 65-date tour of Europe and Japan, during which time they also managed to record the vocals (in London) for their forthcoming fifth studio album, due out in early 2014. Just a casual three months, then. UnderTheRadar caught up with Andrew Wilson to discuss their aforementioned tour - and touring in general - and reflect on being a ten-year-old band.

Hey Andrew, what are you up to at the moment?

We got back from that humungous tour about a month ago, and we’ve been working on the final mixes for the new album. We did some recording in London with our mate Rory Atwell – we recorded all the vocals there. We're going to go to Tasmania to do the package mixes in early January now, after our New Year’s show.

How long has the forthcoming album been in the works?

Well it’s the first album with Michael Logie as our bass player. Some people thought Logie played on Harmony, our last album, but he didn’t haha - that was Lachlan (Anderson) and me. We only really started writing songs together about a year ago, because we were so busy with shows promoting Harmony, and Logie was so busy with other stuff too. We really knuckled down this year.

Was there anything you wanted to specifically wanted to achieve with this album?

Not really haha...I wanted to make sure that we could write good songs with Logie, really. It has turned out way better than I could ever have imagined.

How has Logie affected the dynamic of the band do you think?

Well, he’s a really amazing musician, you know. No disrespect to our other bass players, but Michael is quite a special musician and thinks about things quite differently. He’s also technically strong, which is something Michael and I have never encountered - it's interesting for us because we don’t come from musician backgrounds at all.

And he has obviously affected the sound?

Yeah, he’s just quite incredible. Don’t tell him I said that though haha...but I’ve become quite excited. When you get to the point of being in a band when you’re writing your fifth album, you have to get refreshed. I was getting pretty down on it all there for a while because Harmony was such a battle to release and stay positive about. We don’t play too many songs off of Harmony because it was such a difficult album to get together. It’s not that I dislike the album - because I had total creative control over it - but it’s nice to be in a band again where everyone is contributing, rather than just me.

The energy on the forthcoming album must be quite different to Harmony, right?

Definitely! Everyone’s trying completely different things. Also, we’ve played so many shows recently too. The last tour we did was 65 shows and before the end of 2012 we did 40 shows, so we’ve done a lot of touring this past year. There’s a lot of good vibes, man.

When you put an album together do you have a theme or concept in mind, or is it more organic than that?

It’s more organic than that, really. When it comes to writing the songs I’ve got more of a clear idea, but when it’s music we just get in there and use whatever comes to us really.

When you were writing the songs for the forthcoming album, what was going on?

It’s not quite finished yet, so I’m not sure if I want to talk about it. All will be revealed though haha.

You just returned from playing 65 shows in three months in Europe, which is pretty insane.

Yeah, it was basically the last tour promoting Harmony, in Europe – playing shows to people who have bought the record. It was really, really cool. We just knuckled down and did it, really. We were quite well-behaved this time and I think you need to be when you have so many shows. Because it’s been three and a half weeks since we’ve been back, it feels like a long time ago now - I’m so comfortable being home. We’re really lucky that we have a network over there, and we’ve got this great new booking agent over there, too. We’ve chopped and changed booking agents like we’ve chopped and changed record labels, but we've finally found a guy who works with us and gets the aesthetic, so that’s really cool, and the shows were all really great with the right kind of vibe.

Is there any place in Europe you particularly enjoy playing, or where the crowds are the best?

Yeah, France and Germany are both really great. We probably played too many shows in Germany on this last tour – we did 19 shows out of the 65 there – but France is easily where we get the most enthusiastic response. Everywhere is kind of amazing, really. We’ll go and play in Slovakia, and to get 80 people to turn up to a show in a weird town in Slovakia is pretty awesome. That’s kind of the vibe, you know. You can’t really compare it to New Zealand, but some of the places we were playing in were the equivalent of, you know, playing Timaru or something and to get 80 people is awesome. I guess there is a lot more of a punk network there maybe. There’s also the rail service over there so people would catch trains to multiple shows. We saw people who attended five or six shows on the tour. These guys in Belgium came to all of our Holland and Belgium shows, and we ended up becoming quite good friends with them. They even gave me a backpack because they knew that my bag was broken and I needed to get all my stuff back to New Zealand – that sort of stuff is really nice and really cool.

You guys play a lot more in Europe than in the States: is there a reason for that?

Yeah there is. We had a really good thing going in the States when we had a record label there, but we left our record label to sign to Flying Nun and then that whole Flying Nun thing fell apart, and it's been hard for us to get it back. The record label that we were with closed down which is a bit of a bummer. It’s kind of like a cart before the horse thing there really: because we don't have a record label we don't have a booking agent, and then we can’t get another label until we get a booking agent and vice versa. We still play shows in America – we went there in March. Hopefully with this new record we can start playing shows there again. I don’t really care - if it happens it happens, but if it doesn’t. It’s quite a hard place to tour as well. We’re lucky in Europe because my parents are Scottish so that’s one less Working Visa to worry about, and we’ve also got so many friends there, whereas in America a lot of our friends have moved on. So, we’ll see how it goes. It would be really cool to play there again but I can’t see myself touring for weeks on end and doing those massive drives. Another thing that is great about Europe is that we don’t need to hire a driver, but we couldn’t do that in America because the drives are massive. Financially, too, it’s quite hard to make it all work. In Europe it does work financially – boring! We do actually have some stuff coming up in the States so we’ll see. We did tour there a fuck-load when we started with Blood Brothers and it was crazy times.

Speaking of changing times, the last few years have been quite tumultuous for Die! Die! Die! yeah?

It hasn’t been too bad. We’ve had the same label in Europe for the last two albums and we’ve signed with this English label who are really great. It’s just in Australia and New Zealand that it has been a little bit difficult. We did our own record label for Harmony which was interesting – it was a lot more work than I could have imagined and Manu really helped out with that. It’s a bit of a weird situation and I’m not really too sure what I’m going to do with this new album, I’m just concentrating on finishing it first and then worrying about releasing it. It’s cool, I don’t have any bad feelings towards anybody, and we’re lucky that we can still operate, you know. So many times I’ve been told that we’re going to have to stop, and we haven’t.

You guys have been a band for a long time now-

-Yeah I know!-

It must be pretty crazy to reflect on ten years as Die! Die! Die!?

Yeah it’s been ten years since we played our first shows in Auckland, and I remember coming back and going “oh jesus, how long is this going to last?” If you had told me then that it was going to last for ten years I never would have believed you. We're lucky, and I feel especially lucky that we've been able to do it on our own terms, too.

Totally, and you’ve managed to keep up the rigorous touring routine the whole time, too. How is the work-life balance working out for you?

I've been really lucky that I have been able to juggle half living here, half living there. Maybe in ten years from now I’ll start reminiscing but I don’t really reminisce yet – I only reminisce over times when I’ve done really bad things to make sure I don’t repeat them. It’s getting easier with age – god I sound old, I’m not even 30 yet!

It’s getting easier with age? That’s not something you hear very often.

Personality-wise. Your personality changes as you get a bit older and you don’t decide to go on a three-day bender before you have to play 15 shows in a row, you know. Those things that happen when you're 22 don’t happen so much anymore. Also, me and Michael (Prain) are best friends and we've been through so much ever since we’ve known eachother. He’s had a lot of bad times and a lot of good times and I’ve had the same. It’s all about balance and we’re pretty lucky that we’ve got a pretty good friendship – I guess when Michael and I stop being friends is when Die! Die! Die! will stop happening, but I don’t think that will happen.

You’re playing a show tonight, are you looking forward to it?

Yeah, we're going to play new songs and we’ll play lots of old songs, too. I’m just really excited that there are so many good bands around at the moment, everywhere as well.

Yeah it seems like there is currently an explosion of bands across New Zealand at the moment.

Yeah it’s pretty crazy, and that's another thing. When we left Dunedin ten years ago or something there wasn’t anyone our age making much music and that’s why Auckland was so refreshing – you got to see the Mint Chicks and The Coolies playing, and that was awesome. Now there’s just so many great bands around, all over the country, and I just think it’s a great time for music. There’s also no egos right now. In the last decade there have been heaps of bands who have been like “oh yeah I’m going to go to Australia and get the record deal” and they turn into assholes. Everyone here seems to be really grounded and doing really awesome things. All of the bands who are playing on Friday are three of my favourite bands who are all making really awesome music, but there’s probably another 20 bands that I would happily play with. So yeah, it’s great – very positive times!