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Monday 9th August, 2010 12:19PM

Interview with Shayne Carter about Dimmer, their new album and other interesting stuff.

Tell us a bit about your musical background - early influences and inspirations, past bands/projects, do you come from a musical family etc

Yes I come from a musical family tho never formally trained. I still don't know what Dm7 means but in some ways it's been an advantage cos I've always made up my own chords and thought I invented them ! Grew up in Brockville, Dunedin. Punk rock child. Dunedin sound teenager gradually blossoming into an appreciator of elements of most known forms of music involving humans. Music is too big to pick a handful of influences. Influences happen every day. Bands: Bored Games as a child; Doublehappys as a teenager; straitjacket fits in my 20's; Dimmer since then…

When did Dimmer come about?

Dimmer released their first single as far back as 1995 then released another flying nun single several months later. Then followed a lost weekend that actually lasted for six years. The first dimmer album "I Believe You Are A Star" was released in 2001. Perhaps shamed into productivity I've managed to stay reasonably prolific since then.

After being in a near-mainstream band with SJF, were there any intentions to treat Dimmer differently?

I don't know if I ever had any concept of deliberately avoiding or embracing the mainstream. I've just always tried to make music I can connect to. If other people can connect to it too then that's sweet with me.

What’s the current line-up?

The band that recorded the album was myself, James Duncan on guitar, Kelly Steven bass and Dino Karlis on drums. that's been the dimmer line up for the last 3 years. Dino went to live in Berlin tho' halfway through so Mikey from die! die! die! and Gary Sullivan - who's actually the original dimmer drummer and recently returned from Sydney - drummed on two songs each on the album. Gary has been playing with us live recently.

Tell us about your new album - when and where was it recorded and by whom? Who plays on the album?

We recorded it over the last year off and on ourselves with engineering help from Nick Roughan. We tracked the basic tracks live at the Lab Studios in Auckland and I did vocals and overdubbing stuff mostly at my house tho James took some tracks home and fiddled with them as well. Mostly tho we tried to keep overdubbing to a minimum because we were very keen to capture the live power of the band. I am a fan of more minimal production anyway. I prefer quintessential truths to over embroidery or unnecessary complication. It's good to get to the heart of matters.

We heard about your Gibson being stolen recently – did this hamper any aspects to the album?

No we had done most of the tracking when that happened. But it has regularly hampered my enjoyment of life as I've pondered ever since what a rare and beautiful guitar that was. 1966 left hand sgs with original p90 pickups do not grow on trees ! boo hoo.

Any leads? Have you given up hope of getting it back?

Without hope you don't have much!

Dimmer released its first 7” Crystalator through Subpop – is there any more plans to take on the USA through that label?

Not that I'm aware of.

What are your thoughts on downloading music and/or internet piracy in general?

I think it is an unstoppable wave that is completing reshaping the structure of the music industry as we know it.

You’ve played a lot of shows and done a lot of touring – what are some of your highlights?

Oh god! I can't remember Bored Games. I was a child. Doublehappys were a kick ass live band tho those gigs are mostly a blur as well. Straitjacket Fits had lots of great gigs all over the planet. One’s that instantly spring to mind are CBGB in New York at the new music seminar the first time we went overseas - Brockville, fresh off the boat, takes on Manhattan and Brockville wins !

Our last ever gig at the big day out in 1994 was epic too. We were sandwiched between Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden and we kicked both their asses. I was also proud of standing on stage.

In Sydney on the same BDO tour and going "every New Zealander's nightmare - 20,000 Australians..." it went down like a cup of cold sick but I retreated back across the Tasman mentally shaking my fist in triumph.

The Dimmer band has played some shit hot shows overseas over the past couple of years too with gigs in Sydney and Los Angeles in particular springing to mind. At those kinds of shows the Dimmer band has rocked just as hard as SjFits ever did…oh...the Straitjacket Fits reunion shows were a highlight too. Reunion shows by their very nature have the potential to be sad as, but none of them were - in fact they were the opposite - our final show in Dunedin in particular...

You recently toured NZ and USA with Brian Jones Town Massacre – how did that relationship come about?

They were fans of our music. We actually hooked up through myspace. Ricky their guitarist is a huge New Zealand music head- there's a lot of them over there! Anton always used to play Dimmer songs in his DJ sets too. we had a lot of fun touring with those guys.

What local or international groups do you like at the moment?

I’m always really really reluctant to pinpoint individual acts or groups. Music is too big. Suffice to say I’ve never been a big follower of trends - trends come and go - I’ve had a lot come and go around me! Conversely no matter how mediocre the current state of music appears to be there will Always be someone doing something that is inspiring or innovative or good. As I said music is Big, it goes a long way back, and it is everywhere around you . The hum of the refrigerator can be musical if you listen hard enough...

We can remember a while back you supported HDU at Herzog with a delay guitar loop set. Are there any plans to do any more solo sets like that?

Not really. I remember that gig. It sucked. I did have more successful ones with just me and my loop pedal but those gigs were hard work - it's a challenge making something so naked work but real satisfying when you pull it off. But I prefer playing with a band. I find it generally presents the bigger picture.

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

That my Epiphone guitar sure sounds shit compared to that beautiful Gibson I lost.

If you could say one thing to better or encourage NZ music it would be…?

Oh I don't know. I don't like this "ra ra ra kiwi music it's never been stronger" business. It’s kind of weak nationalism don't you think ? I encourage and fully endorse any decent music no matter where it comes from the same way I’m generally offended by any insipid music I happen upon along the way. We don't need to talk ourselves up New Zealand. Talking yourself up is usually symbolic of an inferiority complex anyway and we're way past that kiwi. Just get on with it I’d say !

The state of music in New Zealand is…?

I don't know. Ask John Key - he's an expert on those kinds of things ... he'll tell ya !

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