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Interview: Terrible Sons' Lauren Barus Chats With Brooke Singer

Interview: Terrible Sons' Lauren Barus Chats With Brooke Singer

Annabel Kean / Interview by Brooke Singer / Wednesday 7th April, 2021 10:20AM

With Terrible Sons' tour on the horizon and French For Rabbits' Auckland Arts Festival and Cuba Dupa shows wrapped up, the dreamy Aotearoa pop-folk pairing cross paths this Thursday at Nelson's Fairfield House. Ōtautahi-based husband and wife duo Terrible Sons are Lauren and Matthew Barus, of bands including Fly My Pretties and The Dukes, and have seen their sparkling guitar songs spread far and wide from international streaming success. Earlier this year the Barus' released their EP Mass on Canadian label Nettwerk, and this April they're taking their sound down South Island paths and then all the way up to Tāmaki for a show with Rodney Fisher. Mutual fans, folk friends and vocalists Brooke Singer (driving force behind French For Rabbits) and Lauren Barus got to talking about stage fright, the countryside and more ahead of their joint shows. Tour details are all here, scroll down for the chats...

Terrible Sons
Saturday 17th April - Freida Margolis, Auckland w/ Rodney Fisher
Friday 23rd April - The Piano, Christchurch

Tickets available HERE via UTR

French For Rabbits + Terrible Sons
Thursday 8th April - Fairfield House, Nelson*
Friday 9th April - The Plant, Blenheim*
Saturday 10th April - Mussel Inn, Onekaka*
Sunday 18th April - Festival of Colour, Wanaka (FFR trio only / no Terrible Sons)

Tickets available HERE via UTR*

Brooke Singer (French For Rabbits): Hi Lauren, how’s your Easter weekend been?

Lauren Barus (Terrible Sons): Actually pretty amazing, we took our kids to Purau Bay and spent the afternoon basking in the glorious and unseasonal warmth by the sea. How was your Easter?

I don’t know if we had unseasonal warmth where I was. But I went for my first (ever!!) overnight tramp to stay in Herepai Hut in the Tararua Forest park.

Stop it! That sounds idyllic and super serene.

It was nice to stay in a quintessential DOC hut — there was a warm fire, but it was rather windy outside so we didn’t go all the way to the top.

New Zealand is amazing, isn’t it. Such lushness all around. It is something I love and feel privileged to see when you’re on the road touring, right? I feel like not many Kiwi’s get to see the nooks and crannies of the New Zealand country side quite like musicians.

Have you ever played at The Mussel Inn, where we play this weekend before? It’s got to be one of the best places to see music in New Zealand. Even travelling overseas, I haven’t come across a place that has the same sort of vibe.

In our previous band — from way back in the day, Dukes, they played Mussel Inn, so it’s well known to Matthew, but I wasn’t in the band then — so I’m a Mussel Inn Virgin — can we say that? This will be my first experience there.

I understand this will be your first official tour as Terrible Sons? Tell me about that, and your plans for taking these new songs from your new EP on the road?

Yes, we have been hermits for the longest time, I’ve still been popping around playing with Fly My Pretties at times, but Terrible Sons has been a garage project, released world wide and not too connected to the local scene. We feel like playing to a real audience is still part of the magic of music, it is still a very important element in why we pursue music. Naturally, we are excited to be connecting with people again. It is just us, Matt and I travelling with our kids and being the troubadour’s we remember before we became parents.

That’s exciting — I was glad these three dates worked out together, especially as Blenheim will be a hometown show for you! Do you get nervous performing in front of people you know? I always get nervous for the first couple of songs, and then I can generally get more zen with it all!

I’m concerned that I will not remember people’s faces or names, ha! That gulp moment when they already know who you are, because you’re on stage, but I’m behind the eight ball and my brain is scanning for days to put the two things together.

Totally! I am very forgetful for names and faces — so if I ever run into someone who reads this in the street — please forgive me in advance if I look blank!

Oh Ditto! Please, just introduce yourself again — save us the shame. You guys had a release in December 2020? Do you have more releases planned this year?

Yes! A song called ‘The Dark Arts’ - which is on our next record - out later this year, fingers crossed!

I love your voice in that single, the articulations are wonderful. That’s my singing-tutor vibe creeping in.

Oh thanks Lauren! I am supremely nervous to sing in front of you for three nights in a row — but I’m also looking forward to it as I’ve long admired your singing and knowledge around how to do it so well!

Ah! Thank you, the admiration is mutual, I love your production savvy, the work you did with Flip Grater’s Lullabies record. Maybe we could exchange some master class methods on singing and production.

Sounds like a dream — we can nerd out together on this tour.

Oh, yes please. Early this year you came and filmed a music video in our house - can you tell us about the single and when we can expect to see the video, I was impressed by your story board.

Oh yes — I was so thrilled that you allowed us to film in your house — it’s honestly my dream home. Filled with lots of thoughtful and lovely treasures, and it felt very full of love. The video is for a song called ‘The Outsider’ and we actually have another three videos in the works which we’ll be releasing in the lead-up to the record. This one was particularly fun though... you let us throw a small party in your living room... and there may or may not have been a few ghostly activities caught on camera. I’ll keep that under wraps for now though…

Love it! Do you enjoy the video making process?

I do! It feels like an extension of that creative song process in a way — I feel like the best videos come in the same way as the best songs. They kind of come together as a strong image in my mind in one go…

Yes, I identify with that strong visual feeling, we’ve made a few videos recently too, that came with that same feeling, one for ‘What A Friend’ I knew immediately the location and the scenery, the environment — some of that natural barrenness of New Zealand landscapes, it has a lushness and a harshness at the same time. But so connected to expanding the emotion within the music. It is such a powerful combination.

I love that video — and I think that song and video showcase the way in which our two bands connect. We have that same affinity for our isolated landscapes - and I think our music is on a similar wavelength too.

For sure, there is a lightness and a darkness to your music, some similar polarities, we wrestle with broken-ness and hope, and I like that the lyrics are both about the subtleties, the tenderness of ourselves and our relationships with others. You have a great scope of sonic fullness going on — you’re bringing your whole band with you — is this what people can expect to hear?

Yes — the full band is on this tour which is always exciting. It’s nice to be able to present the songs with that dynamism - those super intimate moments and then the big expansive ones too. I think between your beautiful and intimate set and our sometimes intimate and probably also a bit silly (sometimes the banter gets away on me) set it’ll be a great show…! Anyway... I suppose we should wrap up for brevity's sake!

And a good bit of banter is not to be snuffed at! Yes, let's leave it there, enjoy your Easter Monday. See you in a few days in Nelson. Thanks Brooke.

See you soon! And thanks so much for catching up.

Press release:

French for Rabbits & Terrible Sons

Wellington’s ethereal dream-pop gems French for Rabbits are pairing up with Terrible Sons for a weekend away in the South Island. They will present their dreamy, perfectly-paired music to lucky audiences in Nelson, Blenheim and Onekaka, before French for Rabbits head off to perform at Wanaka’s Festival of Colour.

French for Rabbits released a handful of singles in 2020 – including the soaring chamber pop of ‘The Dark Arts’ in December which is the first single from their forthcoming album (due out later in 2021). Always writing new material, there will likely be a new song or two, alongside favourites from their collection of previous releases.

Terrible Sons released their much anticipated EP ‘Mass’ in February. Having racked up over 18 million streams on previous singles, it may come as a surprise that the Nettwerk-signed duo from Christchurch have never toured. The duo consists of LA Mitchell (Fly my Pretties) and Matt Barus (The Dukes).

Don’t miss these two understated and arguably underrated bands on this brief South Island sojourn.


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Terrible Sons & Rodney Fisher
Sat 17th Apr 7:00pm
Freida Margolis, Auckland
Terrible Sons
Fri 23rd Apr 6:45pm
The Piano, Christchurch