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Monday 9th August, 2010 2:04PM

Been around since?

As a Band: April 2008
As a Human: 1982

Current line up?

Yule - Guitar, Vocals
Jono – Drums
Rolly – Bass
Bjorm - Sampler, Sax, Backing Vocals

Where are you based?

Grey Lynn

Musical history?

I had a band in Dunedin called "Yule and The Thundercats" that did alright for a while. It was a pop rock band influenced by Queens of the Sone Age, Radiohead, and the Beatles. Then I moved on to my solo stuff which was basically experiments in song writing and sound recording.

Jono was the original drummer for "One Million Dollars" before moving to the UK and playing with a band called SchwaB. He's got like a funk, UK Punk and dirty blues background.

Rolly used to play in the Taliband from Dunedin. So he is well in to roots reggae etc.

Bjorn is my Brother. He plays whatever. This is his first band that isn't a school ensemble. He is the man.

I put the band together initially for the release of "Aaaarrrggh!!!" but also with a view to creating a stable ongoing collaborative project. I met Jono through an internet classified. Rolly actually replaced our original bassist Alex Urlich who plays in Batudcada Sound Machine. I had known Rolly for a few years both having spent a considerable amount of time in the Dunedin music scene. We had tried out playing with other guitarists and keyboard players but couldn't find a combo felt right in that role, plus we had arranged the songs to sound pretty good as a 3 piece. We still needed key electronic elements to feature so we bought an MPC1000 and made samples of the electronic parts that could be played live by Bjorn or sequenced. It was also fortunate that Bjorn can play saxophone as well. Since it is my first instrument I still write quite a bit for horns etc.

How would you describe your sound?

Still working on a decent answer to this question. We usually just opt for "pop, post-punk, electro" cos it gets you close enough. Although lately "Sonic Youth meets Michael Jackson" has been doing the rounds.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Lawrence Arabia has been on high rotate for a while. My 12 year old brother cranks "Apple Pie Bed" all the time so we've had to confiscate the CD to maintain an appreciation of it.

Also trying to wean myself off a 2 week solid Michael Jackson binge by listening to the Beatles, Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear.

Just downloaded the new Batrider album. It's very good. Kiwi as!

What were you listing to in High School?

I listened to heaps of Beck and Radiohead. Mutations is my absolute #1 sing-along album (sung along to it today actually). Also listened to the Roots, Bone Thugs, Wu-Tang, Blur, HDU, Reiziger, The Clash, NOFX, The Specials, Hepcat.

I was quite late in getting into Nirvana. Everyone was into them in the 90s and I wanted to like it for its merits so probably didn't start really listening to Nirvana until I was about 18 or 19. Don't know why I deprived myself for so long in hindsight.

What is your writing/recording process?

I write as I record in most cases. I use my computer as a scrapbook for ideas. I quickly whack down ideas for the whole band - start with a riff and add all the parts in one hit. My ideas come in one wave for the whole ensemble, so I write the bass and drum parts at the same time as the guitar or keys etc. Sometimes I'll bash out a whole song in one hit, or I'll take a one or two riff idea to the band and we'll jam with it to flesh it out.

Vocal melodies and lyrics come last. Usually the hardest part. I try to let the music give me ideas about what I want to sing about.

Often I will keep working with the original recording of the idea, over dubbing parts and polishing it until its finished. I am in the process of setting up my own studio so I'm sure it will change.

Your Dream Collaboration?

Maybe: Johhny Greenwood, Simone Pace, Paul Simonon, Sufjan Stevens and me. I think that would be interesting.

Tell us about Aaaarrrggh!!!?

Aaaarrrggh!!! is a compilation of ideas I spent about 4 years working on. Most of the songs started out as experiments in both songwriting and sound recording. Once the Thundercats broke up I had to think of ways to approximate the aural width of a band using electronic instruments. So I got into writing a lot of synth parts and counter melodies, as well as painstakingly making drum parts by cutting and pasting samples (I only learnt how to use a sampler towards the end of production).

I suppose my aim was to try writing songs in heaps of different styles so that at the end of it I'd have all these skills that I could use to create my own sound. Each song would be a different experiment. Once I'd finished one I'd say to myself "Right, now I've done a glitchy garage song, how do I write a post punk song."

I wrote, performed, recorded and mixed the whole CD on my own, viewing it all as an educational process. I just wanted to learn how to do every part of the process. I come from an extremely DIY background.

My friend Glen Murray did some additional recording in his basement where we overdubbed the live drum parts (he is a fiend on the drum-kit) as well as entirely recording Attack! ATTACK!!!.

Once it was finished I released it independently through my own label Scandal Street Records. We distributed it ourselves basically contacting every record store we could and sending it to them. I was also doing all the publicity work myself and trying to get the band off the ground at the same time. On top of that I had some family stuff I was going through. It was all very silly.

We had gone arse about face releasing a CD before anyone knew who we were so it took us some time to gather momentum for both the band and the CD. Thankfully this year has been going really well for us. CD sales have considerably picked up, we are now signed to Loop Records, had an amazing tour and have our own studio, so we're all pretty excited about where we're heading from here.

Anything new on the way?

I have been doing heaps of writing. We have put out a live demo and video of a song that we would like to be our next single "The Mountains Are Falling". We are currently finding it hard refraining from doing live shows to work on new material.

I think we'll try and get an EP out by the end of the year, as well as start work on a pop album. I have heaps of songs that I haven't recorded yet because they needed to be recorded in a certain way. I think we're ready to that now.

If you could have any original vinyl release in the world what would it be?

The Beatles - Revolver.

Of all the instruments you own, or have owned, what is your favourite?

I have a very deep love for my electric guitar. It is a 1960s Cobra tele Thinline copy. It was made in japan. There aren't many of them around. It's got this awesome balance of sexy curves and gritty dirty battle scars. Rusted old pick-ups... Mmmmm.

What do you enjoy most about music?

I suppose it's the range of emotions it can incite within a moment. It doesn't need such a long time to set up a scenario and require you to be able to relate to a situation before it can emotionally effect you, as in film. Its a language of its own, so you don't need to understand the lyrics to appreciate it. It doesn't need to bear relation to anything in the real world. It just makes you have feelings from a combination of sounds. I like that.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt musically in the last year?

Everything I've learnt has built on something else. Hard to pin point one thing. Learnt heaps though.

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

The Datsuns, Refuel Dunedin 2002. I went deaf for almost a week afterwards. It was hot, sweaty awesomeness.

Best or most memorable gig you have ever played?

Wunderbar, Lyttelton this year. The whole town were amazing and treated us so well. People we'd never met went above and beyond to make sure our show went off without a hitch. Plus Wunderbar itself is an experience.

If you could share the stage with anyone (band or person) who would it be?

Today I'll say Ray Davies and The Kinks.

Most overrated band at the moment?

I don't really bag stuff I don't like. It's a waste of energy. I can't even think of anything. Maybe music is really good right now.

Best band that nobodies ever heard of?

Blackbelles from Wellington. They don't play very often cos they're spread throughout the world. I played with them 2 years ago and they brought me to tears. They were that good.

The future holds…?

Good things I hope. I have a pessimistic view of humanity in general, but there's always hope.

The state of music in NZ is….

At least half of the music I buy is New Zealand music which I think is a testament to the quality of our produce, but I think that the state of the industry here is a bit sad. Musicians get a bit of a bum deal cos it costs so much to make music and get it out there and then when it does get out there people take great pleasure in criticizing it and tearing it to shreds. Even putting on a show is expensive. You're doing well, particularly in Auckland, if a show can cover its costs after having to hire a venue, sound guy and promotion. People don't seem to go out to watch live bands as much as they used to, so break-even is harder to achieve.

Funding is hard to get unless you've proven yourself a success without it, which can be impossible. It is extremely difficult to make a living out of being a musician without making some severe compromises which is why most musicians keep a day job. Then if you have a day job it's hard to find time to be creative and do music.

It is very difficult to gain recognition within New Zealand unless you've gained recognition offshore first. Going overseas is no walk in the park (so I've heard) and just getting off the Island is hard enough.

On top of all of this is the shrinking market for physical sales, and the fact it hasn't actually been replaced by paid downloads. This has completely changed the way the industry works with the end result it is extremely difficult to turn a profit for a musical release.

I think as a musician you need to recognize the problems with the industry and decide how deep you want to go. What is most important to you. Making a living out of music, or enjoying music as a creative process? In a lot of ways its just better to get together with your mates once a week make some mad tunes and every now and then go out and do a show. I don't know al the answers, but there is a lot of balancing involved when trying to carve yourself a place in a market when you have limited resources.

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