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Interview: Guardian Singles - 'Feed Me To The Doves' Album Release Tour

Interview: Guardian Singles - 'Feed Me To The Doves' Album Release Tour

Interview by Samantha Cheong / Tuesday 4th July, 2023 10:11AM

Tāmaki Makaurau post-punks Guardian Singles drizzled some fizzing acid rain onto our hats recently, celebrating their latest album Feed Me To The Doves in-store at Flying Out and at The Wine Cellar with hip hop duo Bad Taste. Frontman Thom Burton (SoccerPractise, Wilberforces) chatted with Samantha Cheong ahead of the group’s official launch tour starting this Friday. Out now via US imprint Trouble In Mind, Burton unpacked the insanity that fuelled the second Guardian Singles album and his new solo project Crash Teslas (the next evolution of Moppy), while keeping an eye on his one year old son who was determined to climb the dining table throughout our conversation. Get the full scoop below and don't miss the all-star gang of Burton, Fiona Campbell (Vivian Girls, Chain and The Gang, Coolies), Durham Fenwick (Green Grove) and new recruit Brent Zmrhal (subbing in for Yolanda Fagan on bass) letting rip with special guests galore this winter…

Guardian Singles - Feed Me To The Doves Album Release Tour

Friday 7th July - Dive, Ōtepoti w/ HŌHĀ, The Allophones
Saturday 8th July - Darkroom, Ōtautahi w/ Moider Mother, Model Home
Thursday 13th July - Whammy Bar, Tāmaki Makaurau w/ The Sour, Dictaphone Blues
Friday 14th July - Last Place, Kirikiriroa w/ Halcyon Birds, Bitter Defeat
Friday 4th August - Moon, Te Whanganui-a-Tara w/ Goya, Bad Taste 

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Samantha Cheong: How’s fatherhood been treating you so far?

Thom Burton: He’s one and a half now. It’s pretty new to me. You’re just learning new things everyday and being surprised everyday. Having your brain rewired as well.

I heard your son Rakiura has visited our UTR office, perhaps he’ll get into music as well?

He’s been there twice now actually. He came up for Trash Recital (stay tuned for the full reveal — Ed.) and then another time just to hang out. He came and ate some stuff up off the floor.

Are there any political issues that are deeply personal to you, whether they made it onto the record or not?

I don’t think of them as political issues as such as my own interpretation of everything that is happening. There are clear lyrics on the album, which seem that they’re headed towards that or things are being referred to, but that’s never really been the intention of the band or my lyrics. It’s more about the common ground of mental health problems and the way that everyone seemed to be acting over the last few years in general. It’s more of an impression than a journalistic approach. People were imagining this sort of cosmic horror that they were a part of or that life had become.

How has the band changed recently, you’ve been joined by new member Brent Zmrhal?

Yes, Brent’s joined us on the tour for this at the moment. He’s played a couple shows with us and he’s awesome. Vicky’s been busy overseas with Na Noise. Brent’s a friend of ours and plays bass. Perfect, gets the vibe. It’s been fun practising with him and we’re looking forward to these shows. We played two with him—with Bad Taste from Wellington and did a Flying Out store show as well.

Everyone’s been loving Luke McPake’s incredible animation for your latest music video ‘Manic Attraction’. What was the process and concept here?

There’s this animator from Estonia called Priit Pärn. It was a style where we were trying to make something that was visually interesting and would stand out on its own aside from the song. That was the starting point and I’ve known Luke for ages since we were teenagers in Hamilton, and through our bands in our early 20s. We have similar appreciation for cinematic art stuff and music in general. There were many manic, caffeine-fuelled convos about different shit we wanted to try out. He’d actually done a couple of animated videos in the same style for the poet Hera Lindsay Bird. For a three minute punk song, it was quite an undertaking to do it all frame-by-frame. It took quite a few months of him doing it the hard way, without shortcuts.

There were some old animated films that we were inspired by, like Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. And also some of the Saul Bass 1960s frame-by-frame animation. We wanted it to be explosive-feeling visually and some of the band didn’t even see it till it was completed. It was kinda cool seeing their faces being like, “What the fuck? How did this actually get made?” Because Luke just did it for six hours a day for six months or something. We’re doing another video with him soon, working on the pre-production at the moment. I think it’s gonna look really cool. I really trust Luke’s vision and love his work.

Having spanned many great bands and worn other music hats, what is something you’ve learnt along the way that’s stuck with you today?

Oh man, so much. Whoever said they have no regrets is a psycho. I regret pretty much literally everything. I used to get way too drunk and high, like all the time and that’s fucking embarrasing. It probably ended bands because of it. I think people do whatever they do. I have trouble keeping that shit under control, so I have to be really disciplined about it. I really dwell on things that maybe 0.1% of people would care about creatively, like whether a lyric makes me sound pretentious or not. I don’t really care if I sound pretentious anymore, in fact sometimes I’m actually striving for that. I think I care less about how cool I am. When different stuff happens to you throughout your life, you realise just how lucky you are to be playing music and music doesn't actually owe you anything.

Yeah, you can’t fully separate your ego from anything that you do.

Rather than thinking that your music is a gift to people, there’s a covert narcissism that can creep in.

Is Guardian Singles going to tour the States now that you’re with US label Trouble In Mind?

Man, I’d love to! We’re looking at that for maybe 2024. I’d love to go to Chicago for so many reasons. So many bands I’ve loved throughout my life and labels come from there. There’s a lot of interesting rock music that’s come out of Chicago, as well as genre-bending stuff. Musically, it’s a fascinating city. What we’re immediately trying to look at is getting as far as Australia and getting back from the South Island in one piece. The States would make sense for us to go to. The label’s there and we’ve made a lot of new fans there.

As a guitarist myself, what gear do you use to achieve your harsher, snappy guitar tones?

Oh! Great question, cool. No one’s asked us any sort of music-sonic questions yet. So live, I’ve got a Mexican tele and they’re the best thing. They fuckin’ rule.

Me too! (I pull out my own tele from beside me) It’s a Nashville tele, it’s got a third pickup.

I’ve got a single coil Thinline. I’ve also got a Cole Clark tele copy, a Mascis Squier with Kinsman Fatmaster pickups, a Fender Hot Rod Deville amp, an Overdrive called the Fairfield Electronics Barbershop V2, and a Boss DD-5 delay. On the album I used a Defender. Steven Marr who produced the album got me working with some different gear that I’m not used to. I use different gear to sound more like me than my actual gear sounds like. It’s like in The Simpsons where they’re like, “Horses don’t look like horses on film so we paint them to look like zebras.” And he’s like, “So what do you do if you want a horse?” “Oh we just tape a bunch of cats together.”

How’s your Crash Teslas solo project?

It’s going alright, thanks for asking. I’m doing an album with Timon Martin. We’re old friends and he’s BENEE’s music director and works with Kimbra. It’s going fairly well, it’s very different from the last Moppy album I did which was more introspective I suppose. This one, I wanted to make something as catchy and sonically wild as possible. I can’t wait to realise that stuff. Once this Guardians tour is wrapped up, I’ll probably be planning to release it before the end of the year. I just need to get my shit together.

Have you since crashed a Tesla? How can we crash the Tesla syndicate?

I reckon just there’s a double meaning with Crash Teslas. Just aim for them. There’s a website dedicated to pictures of crashed teslas. I just liked the way it sounded and thought it was funny so I changed my name from Moppy to that. Maybe crash them as a brand and take down SpaceX.

Quick-fire round:

What band are you manically attracted to right now?

Amen Dunes.

The band recently played a live show at Flying Out store: If you had to, what LP would you have to place on top of your Feed Me To The Doves record?

Our first record! Talk about not being a fucking narcissist, eh? Or there’s a band called Belong from New Orleans.

What guitar pedal would you be and why?

I would be a chromatic tuner because I’m boring and reliable. And also really quiet between songs.

If the current political climate was a chord, what would it be?

It would be like D7 but played on a high E, that kind of opening chord for wacky jazzy shit. Or it’d be Dmajor7 because it might suit Mike Hosking’s vocal range.

'Feed Me To The Doves' is out now via Trouble in Mind — vinyl LP and compact disc orders available HERE.


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Guardian Singles - Feed Me To The Doves - Album Release Tour
Fri 7th Jul 8:00pm
Dive, Dunedin
Guardian Singles - Feed Me To The Doves - Album Release Tour
Sat 8th Jul 8:00pm
darkroom, Christchurch
Guardian Singles - Feed Me To The Doves - Album Release Tour
Thu 13th Jul 8:00pm
Whammy Bar, Auckland
Guardian Singles - Feed Me To The Doves - Album Release Tour
Fri 14th Jul 8:00pm
Last Place, Hamilton
Guardian Singles - Feed Me To The Doves - Album Release Tour
Fri 4th Aug 8:00pm
MOON, Wellington