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Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men Share Album 'Doors Wide Open' + Interview

Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men Share Album 'Doors Wide Open' + Interview

Friday 25th May, 2018 1:20PM

Auckland songwriting icon Bernie Griffen has unveiled Doors Wide Open, his first studio album in four years, ahead of an extensive nationwide tour kicking off this week. Recorded with partners in crime The Thin Men at Melbourne's Echidna Studio, the collection is a collaboration with Griffen's partner Kirsten Warner, who sings and plays guitar on the album, and found its initial footing after the artist suffered from a near death experience while travelling with Warner to Europe. A lynchpin of Auckland's music community, Griffen is well known as helmsman of long-running radio show Border Radio on 95bFM and as organiser for the annual Gunslingers Ball. Dive in to Doors Wide Open and read our conversation with the artist (conducted via email) below...

You worked with your partner Kirsten Warner on the record, and 'When I Die' is a love song about your relationship. What was it like working together so closely on the album?

It was extraordinary , the experience of working with a talented person like Kirsten. We argued, made up, laughed and struggled to communicate. Worked things out so they suited us both. Loved the city of Melbourne for its creativity and open-mindedness. Laughed and cried.

It's been four years since your previous collection, how did Doors Wide Open come together? I heard the album was inspired by a near death experience?

Well to some extent. The album was in the imagining stages and it happened I got ill on the way to Europe. It seemed like a good way to use our time in Australia. So when we got our ducks in a row in Melbourne we went into the studio with Luke Plumb and the musicians we had been playing with and got the rhythm tracks done and Bob's your uncle.

With 'My Brain Exploded' you said “I’ve given up the H, now just struggling with the ADD, it drives me crazy!" Is it still a struggle to maintain a productive musical lifestyle against life's ongoing distractions?

Of course. But I don't care. I am a songwriter and singer, at the evening of his life. I will keep going til the end. Finally it's what I do and who I am.

How did New Zealand Arts Laureate Michael Parmenter come to be involved with your latest video?

When I asked Diana Bain to pick a tango partner for the video, she, in her joy at being able to spend a whole day dancing, asked Michael. He is such a great dancer and he and Diana were just amazing in the video. It really had nothing to do with me. They were both so beautiful and generous. I am truly grateful.

Is there a theme you're exploring throughout Doors Wide Open? Are all the songs autobiographical?

Never thought about it really. Most of the songwriting I do is biographical. That is what I have to work with. My life and experiences. My loves and disappointments. Humour and sadness.

What can audiences expect from your upcoming live shows? Who's in The Thin Men?

The Thin Men are Chris Kemp on drums. He has formerly played with Labretta Suede and the Hotel 6, Tony Daunt and the Dauntless, he is Kendal Elise's drummer. Man on many faces. Bass is Garry Trotman. An experienced bluegrass and folk player on double bass, currently in The Remarkables and various other projects. Lucky to have him. Guitar and vocals Kirsten Warner, siren singer, poet, novellist and guitar player. Also a great organiser. Songs and guitar: Bernie Griffen.

You're well known as the host of bFM's Border Radio show and for organising the annual Gunslinger's Ball - is there any fresh talent that's inspiring you at the moment?

Emily Fairlight is an up and comer as is Kendal Elise. I love Ebony Lamb's latest record. Marlon Williams is impressive as is Delaney Davidson. Tami Neilson is always on point. As soon as I send this off I'll think of others.

Hope y'all enjoy the new work. Come out and see us play. I don't do much, I try hard to engage with the audience and send them away feeling inspired. Bless.


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Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Doors Wide Open Tour
Mon 4th Jun 4:00pm
Acacia Bay Community Hall, Taupo
Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Doors Wide Open Tour
Sun 10th Jun 5:00pm
Prince's Gate Hotel, Rotorua
Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Doors Wide Open Tour
Fri 15th Jun 7:30pm
Kumeu Arts Centre, Kumeu
Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Doors Wide Open Tour
Sun 24th Jun 2:30pm
Kauaeranga Hall, Thames
Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Doors Wide Open Tour
Fri 29th Jun 9:00pm
Meow, Wellington
Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Doors Wide Open Tour
Sat 30th Jun 7:30pm
St Peter's Hall, Paekakariki