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Interview: David Kilgour Talks About 'Bobbie's A Girl'

Interview: David Kilgour Talks About 'Bobbie's A Girl'

Annabel Kean / Thursday 24th October, 2019 12:47PM

David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights are hitting the road this month and next for their first tour in four years, celebrating the release of their latest album Bobbie’s A Girl. Named after Kilgour's cat, the feline fronted LP has been well received, raking in rave reviews from both local and international music news sites, and already drawing in swathes of fans for their six-show album release tour. Bobbie’s A Girl takes The Heavy Eights down a new path, more instrumental and more subdued than past offerings, playing with piano loops and sparse acoustic guitar. The 2017 New Zealand Hall Of Fame inductee (for his pioneering work with The Clean) delved into the decisions around the new release on the phone with UTR assistant editor Annabel Kean, find the full conversation after tour details below…

David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights

Thursday 24th October - Sherwood, Queenstown
Friday 25th October - The Cook, Dunedin
Saturday 26th October - Blue Smoke, Christchurch
Thursday 31st October - San Fran, Wellington
Saturday 2nd November - Whammy Bar, Auckland
Sunday 3rd November - Whammy Bar, Auckland

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Annabel Kean: Is Bobbie around?

David Kilgour: Yeah she’s sleeping actually. She’s around.

What on earth did Bobbie do to deserve having a whole album named after her and be on the album cover?

Oh you know, she’s just a part of the family really, simple as that.

Just a really good cat?

Yeah. Simple as that really. Certainly was an original idea when I told people I was putting a cat on the cover.

It could have been divisive. You could have cut out your entire dog-loving audience.

We’ll do a dog next time.

Yourself and the Heavy Eights are spread across a few different cities, is that right?

That’s right. Well, Thomas [Bell] and I are down here but Tony [de Raad] the guitarist, he lives in America and Taane [Tokona] the drummer, he lives up North on the East Coast.

Quite a few bands do that do these days, live in different cities or countries and make music. Do you think it can be a beneficial thing in the end?

One thing is that it’s always been difficult to keep people in the same spot, especially if you’ve got a few people in the band, that’s always been kind of a problem. I guess because travel’s a lot easier and perhaps a bit cheaper than it was in the day, it makes it easier. But also modern telecommunications, cellphones and being able to trade files easily using computers and all that stuff, it’s changed everything really. Maybe that contributes to it, but there’s certainly more New Zealand musicians travelling the world and making music around the world than there ever was. It’s pretty cool.

I read your interview with Grant Smithies and you said you had a few extra, more upbeat poppy songs that you left off the final album. Are you in the habit of saving songs like that and releasing them down the track?

Not so much into releasing stuff that's, I dunno – when people put out out-takes albums, I don’t do anything like that much. There’s definitely some stuff we’ll go back and look at, there’s some really good backing tracks we never got vocals for, things like that but yeah – this time I’ll probably look at some of those things. It took four years to make it, so after four years things start to stack up, there’s a lot of material lying around. We just wanted to sustain the mood of the album, that was the first idea, and so we just picked the songs that sustained a certain mood. It’s a moody record, it’s kept at a certain sort of level.

You've experienced a couple of major losses in the last few years.

Yeah, my mother especially.

That’s huge. Do you think you would have made something as moody and dark anyway? Or is the album a direct result of that?

That’s hard to say really. The first session we had for it, all the stuff had a similar mood, and I just decided then if we could come up with more music like this I’m gonna grab it and we’ll work on it. That’s kind of how we worked, but it definitely affected it somehow. Absolutely. I was trying to express a certain mood you feel after you lose someone close. It’s an impossible thing to express. Definitely emotionally new territory for me, in a lot of ways it was mind blowing like "Wow, okay this is a new level of grief." Not so much feeling sorry for yourself, but just being knocked out by something you’ve never been hit by before. There’s a lot to think about. Most of it is instrumental anyway, so I’m just trying to get the mood across.

Was it cathartic?

Not really. No. I think maybe if we’d been doing crazy experimental guitar freak outs and stuff it may have been. In some way it was probably self medicating, trying to express some sort of relaxed vibe you know? I think we do all self medicate with music anyway, whether we make it or just listen to it, it’s medicine. 

There’s one song on the album that you didn’t write, 'Swan Loop'?

That’s right. Yes, a friend of mind who lives in Nashville and he’s in a band called Lambchop, Matt Swanson. He wrote that and that piano you hear there is actually a loop and we just overdubbed over the top of it. It’s kind of out of tune and out of time but we like it. It’s kind of film noir or something, it’s pretty messed up. It’s a wee bit different from the rest of the record, it’s got no relation to anything to do with the record really. I wouldn’t say the record’s about grief really, it’s more about a mood, and that one’s from the left wing really, thanks to Matt.

You say it was a “mood”, or a “moody album”. What do you mean, what’s the mood?

I don’t know. I’m not too sure what I mean by it. Maybe the more I explain it the less interesting it gets. I like a bit of mystery. Not too sure, I’ve never really put my finger on it. The whole album isn’t about grief anyway, it’s hard to say that an instrumental is about grief, it’s a mood more than that.

I heard you’re a bit of a surfer.

Yes, I like surfing. Been surfing since my late twenties.

Was the video for ‘Looks Like I’m Running Out’ your idea then?

Sort of the record company’s idea actually, I’ve always wanted to make a surfing video just for the hell of it really. Mac at Merge, he’s a bit of a part time surfer, he suggested it. And we did, we went and did it.

I really like it.

Yeah, nice low budget video. I have no respect for videos, I’ve never really liked them, but you know, they’re even more essential these days than ever. You need them, you really do.

Does that annoy you?

I think they’re a distraction from the music. But at the same time there are some videos I love, but generally speaking, I think it’s a distraction. I’d just rather have the music.

Fair enough. You can create your own images in your head while you listen to it.


Going back a bit here, but I recently listened to the album you did with Sam Hunt The 9th. How did that collaboration work?

I actually ran into him on a plane. I had met him before as a 10-year-old believe it or not, way way back, but of course he didn’t remember that. We got talking, I said "I quite often used to day dream about making a record with you Sam," some sort of record, going back to the early 90s actually. And he said "Okay well let’s do it". Three years later we did it, or whatever it was, three or four years later we got around to doing it. I made another album in the mean time, using his poems. It happened by accident really. It was fantastic fun. I think it’s got some of my best work on that record.

It’s gorgeous. It’s really fun to listen to as well.

Sam’s wonderful in most of it too, really on form.

We’ve been talking in the office quite a lot lately about this new type of music coming out of Dunedin, a sort of surfy sound, like Mild Orange and Soaked Oats. Have you heard of those bands?

I’ve heard of Mild Orange and yes I do know Soaked Oats. Funnily enough the drummer Connor is actually drumming for us, believe it or not, on this tour because our drummer Taane who’s drummed with me for like 30s years, can’t make it due to health reasons. So I do know those guys a wee bit, and I really like some of their music. Tom the bass player in the Heavy Eights, he’s recorded most of their music actually... There’s some cool stuff there, yeah people have been talking about Mild Orange as well, I haven’t heard them yet though.

It’s a specific sound, I don’t think anyone’s coined a genre for it yet. No one’s pigeon-holed it.

It’s nice to see. It just goes on, more good music coming out, it’s lovely. It must go on and there it is going on, it’s great.

How are you feeling about the tour? That’s starting pretty soon.

I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been rehearsing like mad, and I’ve been really enjoying it. First tour in about five years, it’s gonna be fun. We’re gonna drive everywhere too, I’m really looking forward to driving. I’m not much of a flyer, I really hate flying.

It’s great that you can take the time to drive everywhere.

Oh it’s lovely, it’s a great luxury.

'Bobbie's A Girl' is out now online and on vinyl via Merge Records.


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David Kilgour and The Heavy 8's
Thu 24th Oct
Sherwood, Queenstown
David Kilgour and The Heavy 8's
Fri 25th Oct
Dive, Dunedin
David Kilgour and The Heavy 8's
Sat 26th Oct
Cassels Blue Smoke, Christchurch
David Kilgour and The Heavy 8's
Thu 31st Oct
San Fran, Wellington
David Kilgour And The Heavy 8's
Sat 2nd Nov
Whammy Bar, Auckland
David Kilgour and The Heavy 8's
Sun 3rd Nov
Whammy Bar, Auckland