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Seven Quick Questions... Skycraper Stan

Seven Quick Questions... Skycraper Stan

Interviewed by
Tuesday 7th April, 2015 2:09PM

Ex-pat musician Skyscraper Stan is heading back across the ditch this week to play three shows around the upper North Island alongside country cohorts Tami Neilson and Will Wood. From his current home of Melbourne, Stan has just released a debut album with his band The Commission Flats, titled Last Year's Tune. The crowd-funded album encompasses the outfits' energetic brand of troubadour rock 'n' roll, which Stan will be rolling out solo this weekend. UnderTheRadar caught up with the lanky musician for Seven Quick Questions to find out a little bit more...

1. Hi Stan, first off can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the music you make?

I’m yet another bloody Kiwi singer-songwriter living in Melbourne. I call the music I make “Troubadour Rock ’n’ Roll” mainly because I like the word “troubadour” and I enjoy rock ’n’ roll. I think it fits my sound though, the songs are wordy, often telling a story in the troubadour tradition and my guitar tends to settle into a solid swing or back beat much of the time (hence the rock ’n’ roll). I’m coming to New Zealand with my cousin Oskar on lead guitar, but usually in Melbourne I play with a six-piece band called the Commission Flats. We’re in the throws of releasing our debut album now.

2. Where did the name Skyscraper Stan come from?

There’s some debate over the origins of my name. Ultimately it came out of the Wine Cellar in Auckland. I was working as a porter having just turned 18 that year. Tom Rodwell was playing a summer long residency under his stage name Storehouse and one night I got pissed and picked up his guitar during a lock-in. At that time I was listening to a lot of pre-war blues guys and writing really basic tunes, but Tom liked it and I started playing in-between his sets while I was working. I asked to be billed as Stan Woodhouse but got landed with the name Skyscraper Stan (I’m tall and thin y’see). Tom says he coined the name, so does Rohan, the proprietor of the Wine Cellar. It could have been anyone, either way it stuck.

3. You travelled through American and landed in New Orleans a few years ago, what impact did the trip have on you and your music?

According to my friends in Melbourne it changed me a lot. I believe them. I was exposed to so much music I had never experienced before that it was bound to have a profound impact. I was forced to confront my less-than-adequate level of musicianship, particularly in New Orleans. In a city like that when someone says they play the fiddle, they can really play the fiddle. Not just butcher their way through 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'. One of the bands to blow my mind was Lil Band O’ Gold. I met them in Lafayette, Louisiana and Dicky Landry their sax player said to me: “If you grow up in New Orleans and don’t know how to tap dance, get a new job”. I think I know what he meant. I also think it wasn’t a cigarette he was smoking.

4. Recently you released you debut album ‘Last Year’s Tune’ along with your band The Commission Flats. How did that come together?

We were trying to figure out what to do; make an EP, make an album, go out touring. I was sitting on a pile of songs that I thought might be good enough to make up a full-length record and the band (in my opinion) was sounding shit hot. It was our manager who made it possible for us to record the album. He put us together with producer Paul Ruske and engineer Richard Stoltz at Woodstock studios in Balaclava, both wonderful, talented dudes. They not only captured our live sound but allowed us to improve upon it. Even after hearing the album again and again in the mixing room I’m proud of it, which is an incredible feeling.

5. How has your sound evolved since the release of your 2013 EP Tall Stories?

Almost all of Tall Stories was written while I was travelling around North America. When I returned and reassembled the band I was still down with the New Orleans horn fever so all I wanted was a big band. We layered trumpet and sax and trombone on that thing like ointment on a coldsore. Not to say the songs were terrible. I still like the EP and we still play the songs from time-to-time, but we’ve certainly matured.

6. We heard you were in Indonesia filming a video… can you provide a little insight into what will be coming out?

The title-track of the album 'Last Years Tune' is a five-and-a-half-minute slow jam with a screaming crescendo. Something radio wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. So when we were offered an opportunity to make a video for it in Bali we jumped at the chance. I would like to explain more but the experience was so frantic and intense (and I only returned the other day, I’m writing this while on tour) that I have no idea what happened. I know the outcome will be good though.

7. You are originally from New Zealand but what took you to Melbourne, and what brings you back to play with Tami and Will?

I went to Melbourne under the guise of finishing a science degree. It took a while to get my hooks into the music scene but eventually I started playing and now I love the place. Dave Kahn is what brings us to New Zealand. He came over to Melbourne playing mandolin for Will, who’s an old friend of mine. Both Oskar and I were massively impressed by the man and more than chuffed when he asked us to join this bill. I’ve been a fan of Tami’s for sometime and have never had the chance to meet her. Cheers Dave!

Skyscraper Stan
is playing three New Zealand shows this week alongside Tami Neilson and Will Wood, see below for more information


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