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Interview: Terrible Sons Autumn Tour of Aotearoa

Interview: Terrible Sons Autumn Tour of Aotearoa

Q&A by Samantha Cheong / C.C. / Friday 12th April, 2024 11:54AM

Embarking on an autumn tour of Aotearoa from tonight onwards, Samantha Cheong caught up with songwriters Matt and Lauren Barus aka Ōtautahi's Terrible Sons. Celebrating the one year anniversary of their latest album The Raft Is Not the Shore, the husband and wife folk duo will be supported this weekend in Queenstown / Tāhuna and Ōtepoti by Ryan Fisherman — who also produced their forthcoming single 'Thank You'. Don't miss them at the following dates and read Terrible Sons' reflections on their musical life together below...

Terrible Sons Are Folk Singers On Tour '24

Friday 12th April - Sherwood, Queenstown / Tāhuna with Ryan Fisherman
Saturday 13th April - Maggies, Dunedin / Ōtepoti with Ryan Fisherman
Friday 3rd May - St Peters, Whanganui
Saturday 4th May - Vogelmorn Upstairs, Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Sunday 19th May - The Piano, Christchurch / Ōtautahi

Tickets on sale via

What made you take notice of the Buddhist parable centred around “the idea to hold your beliefs lightly” — in which The Raft Is Not the Shore takes after?

I’m a fan of the writings of Thomas Merton, an author, poet and Trappist Monk who was a friend of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk called Thich Nhat Hanh.

We’d both been thinking about how society has become so entrenched in either its left or right politics and we weren’t comfortable with that conflicting way of seeing each other. I’d read that Merton was a friend of Hanh and it lead me to look into his writings and poetry and that parable stood out in terms of what it has to offer us today.

You’re often found musing away in picturesque locales, like this “Secret Bay” on Banks Peninsula where the soon to be released ‘Thank You’ video was filmed. Are there any particular landscapes that have influenced the introspection and ambience of your latest work?

We are very serious people. It’s probably because we’re awkward in front of the camera that we adopt a ‘musing’ pose. But you’re right, Banks Peninsula looms large in our music, Ōtautahi is more interesting to us because of its proximity to the valleys and harbours over the Port Hills. We spend as much time as we can in Diamond Harbour and Purau. It’s somewhere ‘slow’ and it’s also close but so far away which is part of the appeal.

How do you think the commitment and strengths of your marriage have informed the way you have created music together?

There’s a lot of listening going on. It’s a good metaphor I think, that closeness and blending is important to make our folk sound work, listening to where each other is going, vocally and instrumentally and constantly adjusting. We’ve had to work on it, both the relationship and the songwriting; initially we brought music to the table separately and the other person had to fit in. Now we’re holding the songs we’re developing more lightly, and seeing where we end up together. Lots of learning how to be softer in saying how about we go this way, it’s more gentle.

Have you thought about revisiting some of your rock roots from when you were both in The Dukes?

No... if anything we’re really interested in being stricter with what we could make together. Terrible Sons initially was very DIY and GarageBandy. I think we’re going that way. With Dukes we tried to make something that didn’t feel DIY, was fun and as brash as a group of people used to playing at the Dux De Lux could muster. Probably what we miss the most was playing regularly with a good group of friends, doing something nerve-racking together, getting a crowd to a part of the groove... that’s the good stuff.

How are your kids / terrible daughters going these days?

They’ve got signs on their doors that say ‘Don’t come in.’ That’s where we’re at now. Musically, they’re more interested in Remi Wolf and Waxahatchee than our music. Which I’m happy about, they’ve moved on from fart and poo songs.


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Terrible Sons Are Folk Singers , St Peter’s, Whanganui
Fri 3rd May 7:00pm
St Peter's, Whanganui
Terrible Sons Are Folk Singers
Sat 4th May 6:00pm
Vogelmorn Upstairs, Wellington