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Interview: Getting To Know Smokestank Girls

Interview: Getting To Know Smokestank Girls

Friday 14th July, 2017 3:30PM

Smokestank Girls first piqued our interest with The EP, their stellar recorded debut which married psych rock with old school country vibes. Seeing as it's been a long time between drinks and the duo are coming out of hibernation this weekend to play live at The Kings Arms, we thought it would be apt to catch up with guitarist/bassist/vocalist Dillon Feeney to shoot the breeze about the group's namesake, 60s psychedelia, Jesus and, of course, the imminent show...

UTR: So, a smokestack is a chimney on a locomotive, ship or factory. Does that mean a smokestank girl is a lady that hangs out by fire places?

DF: Haha, So yea that was the thinking behind it. We just wanted to do a quirky send up of the old 60’s bands that named themselves after old blues songs, i.e. The Rolling Stones or The Lovin’ Spoonful. Ours come from Smokestack Lightning. Then girls had a nice ring to it for the end.

Tell us a little about the band. Who are the members? Where do you draw inspiration from?

The members are me and Toby Arrow. Toby came in on drums and did some piano on The EP, then myself on the other instruments. Toby and I have very similar leanings in musical taste so we work together really well because of that. Both loving 60’s psych type music like The Kinks. Then all the things that influenced that era I guess; New Orleans jazz, blues, folk music like Bobby-D, Michael Hurley, Karen Dalton. Then a lot of English folk recently for me. The likes of Bert Jansch, Syd Barrett, Fairport Convention (including Sandy Dee’s solo stuff). But influences go all over the show. We’re essentially musical preservationists haha. Toby’s English and I think of New Zealand as having a very English sensibility so I find myself relating a lot more to English music over American a lot of the time. Just the imagery of the lyrics and all that.

Here at UTR, we first heard of you via a tip from Auckland group Charlie Freak. How do you know those cats?

Yea our mate Ethan Moore played bass in Charlie Freak so we met those guys through him. Our first show was at their EP release last year which was sweet. Leith from Charlie freak is actually kindly filling in on guitar for us on our next show this Saturday at Kings Arms! Yea they’re good dudes though.

Your debut ‘The EP’ was self-produced by yourselves and the Mercedes studio. What’s the buzz with that place?

Hah yea that was a bit misleading. We recorded it in my flat which was on top of a Mercedes mechanics shop. It had a big Mercedes sign on it so it seemed only fair to pay homage. Our friend Morgan Allen was a big help for that as well. Leant us a some nice mics and helped us out a tone with the technical aspects of recording.

You have a tune called ‘Places You’ll Find Jesus'. What’s your relationship like with the old Son of God? Do you identify with Christianity?

Ahhh not particularly, it’s an interesting topic though. When I would visit my grandparents place as a kid the whole house would be filled with crucifixes and biblical imagery. It always leaves an impression on you. Actually quite frightening as a kid. Anyway, the line was, ‘You’ll find him there you’ll find him anywhere. Upholstered to you’re families favorite chair.’ It seemed fitting to plug Jesus in there.

You’re a two piece in what seems to be a golden era of Auckland duos, with the likes of Blame Thrower, The Admiral, Diego Rice etc being active at present. Why do you think this configuration is so popular at present?

Yea true. I don’t think I can really speak for other bands, but for us it was more of a practical thing. It’s super hard to navigate four musicians. We’re a useless breed. I just had some songs I wanted to record and Toby’s a fine musician and a mate so he helped me out big time with the tracks. The energy of a good duo on stage can be staggering as well. We do play live as a four piece mostly cause that is kinda how the majority of the songs work best.

What’s next on the cards for Smokestank Girls?

Playing on Saturday for a Worn Out show! Hopefully a new full album in the next few months as well! It should have been finished ages ago but money and time is always a big hurdle. Maybe with a different band name. Something a bit more fitting with the next album. Maybe not though. Then some shows hopefully!

You can catch Smokestank Girls at Worn Out's MmmmMmmm show at The Kings Arms along with Hideous Sun Demon, The Beths, Earth Tongue, Miss June and many, many more. Score tickets HERE!

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