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Matthew Crawley

Matthew Crawley

Monday 9th August, 2010 1:00PM

We catch up with Matthew Crawley aka promoter Strange News about his musical past, current excursions and how he got into putting on shows.

Where are you based?

In a little one bedroomery in Grey Lynn. It is a mess, I'm sorry.

What got you into music?  Do you have a musical family?

My dad plays saxomophone and piano and guitar and my littlest sister is famouser than me for musics. Our middle sister has a beauty-fill singing voice also and plays flute and stuffs. My mum is shy sort of, when it comes to that kind of thing. She says things like, "Oh gosh, I can't do that". I bet she can.

Tell us about your first band?

PLUGHOLE! I'll lend you the tape. My Christian grunge/funk/punk/metal/nursery rhyme band. We played our first show under the name "Large Pork'n'Veg" at an Easter camp, and our last gig at some bar on Queen Street called... what was it called? Down the bottom, upstairs in an arcade, in 1997. We had two songs on bFM. One called "Bananas in Pyjamas" and one called "Jack and Da Beanstalk", which was a rap I wrote when I was 13. I can still remember the words, which is quite amazing.

What other bands/collaborations, if any, have you been part of?

At high school I had lots of bands with all the same members. Mostly Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins cover bands with me singing the Pumpkins songs and my friend Brent singing the Nirvana ones. The bands were called Fairy, Swoop Pinky, Space Cicada, Moncow, and A Thousand Dreams To Free My Conscience Before Dying (not an emocore band, this was 1997). Moncow was the most succesful - we won the talent quest. By default, actually. The band who really won had a member from Kelston Boys in their band and therefore were disqualified. Suckers. I had already dropped out of 6th form by then, and was doing my duty working at Georgie Pie in the Finance Plaza. Don't please now tell me how much you miss that grubby hellhole. Those bands were the last bands I played in for ten years, because I'd heard that my bestie had told everyone he hated my singing voice and that I couldn't sing and so I believed him. Ten years later I joined this soul band called the Cosbys, and that was the most fun I've ever had making music. Then the Brunettes borrowed all our band members and our drummer moved to Wellington to predict the weather, so I started this shitty punky soul band called the Conjurors with other people who had been kicked out of bands. We are also a band of frontmen from other bands. So we are showoffs.

What is your writing/recording process?

I come home late, and stay up until 3am and then decide to try and record a cover of someone else's song in a "mellow" style. I look up the chords on the internet, do one take with my little pink guitar, and then add cheap reverb. The gear I use is: my laptop, a pair of terrible headphones that cost $20 and have a little microphone attached.

Your Dream Collaboration?

I had a dream last night that I toured Nick Cave and he asked me to find someone who could pee in his mouth while he peed in theirs. Is that what you mean? For the record it never eventuated and I didn't find him anyone to pee on.

Any plans to release anything officially?

Apart from my Plughole tape? Yes. I'm hard out looking for labels right now. Apart from the fact the major labels of NZ are ineffectual and  a dead concept, I'm still going to try.

What do you enjoy most about music?

I went to see Leonard Cohen at the start of this year, and it was a revelation. To see the man skipping on and off stage, accepting roses with grace and a smile, and beaming from ear to ear... I realised that's what the version of success I'd like to aim for is. Not playing Vector Arena, but the joy of a lived life and some written words that mean something to someone. I remembered that music is important.

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

That I can do it and that some people will like it.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Right at this moment it's the Zombies.

Some people may know you better as promoter Strange News – how did you get into putting on gigs?

When I moved back to New Zealand from London in 2002, I was terrified that there would be nothing to do - so I joined forces with another girl called Jo Galvin who'd just come back to town and we started a clubnight called Kiss & Makeup Club at Paradise Bar and it went from there.

As for international gigs, I was tour managing the Brunettes around Australia in 2004 and got in touch with the guy who runs Spunk Records about him coming to the show. He never did come along, but later he emailed me asking if I'd be keen to tour some smaller international acts in NZ, and I was.

What was the first show you put on?

Probably the first show for another band that I put on was the Checks at Paradise Bar. I saw them play at the bFM breakfast bus and wanted to put on a show so I did.

The first international act was a guy called Hayden from Canada. I was a fan as a teenager and while it was a sketchy tour I think it was pretty good. Apart from in Christchurch.

What has been your worst experience as a promoter?

Sleeping through my alarm and causing David Pajo to miss his flight to Australia. Never again. I'll never relax and sleep well again when there's an act in town.

What has been your best?

The National. This was a joint effort between Jim Rush (Galeburg) and my company Strange News. We hung out with them for an extra day beforehand at Bethells Beach and then the show the following night was just magical. In saying that, I've been really proud of a lot of shows I've brought to Auckland: Gossip, Broken Social Scene, Band of Horses (again with Galesburg)... I've toured about 60 of my favourite bands now - it's insane.

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

It's a toss up between:

Radiohead's Oxford Homecoming in 2001. Support acts included Beck, Sigur Ros and Supergrass. Three encores, and then it rained.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - any of their shows. Big Day Out 96 is what started my passion for their music, but it's hard to say which of the several shows of his was best.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London. What a revelation!

... ah... so hard to say. Again, I've been lucky with what I've seen. Beck with the Flaming Lips as his backing band?

Best or most memorable gig you have played?

I love playing in the Cosbys. We're back again, I think. Just played Halloween at Mighty Mighty in Wellington - and it doesn't get much more fun than that. Our "Last Show Ever" at the Schooner felt pretty special though. I love that the sum of our parts makes something that gets people smiling and dancing and singing along - even if the lyrics are nonsensical and heavily pun-based!

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

I really do think the Cosbys are my dream act. Otherwise, I want to work on this collaboration with Lubin (Vietnam War) and his sister Caiomhe (the Drab Doo-Riffs). We're forming a trio called "Together at Last". Watch this space.

Most overrated band at the moment?


Most underrated band at the moment?

The Gladeyes. Watch this space - history will put them on the map! Their new record is stunning.

The future holds…?

Gosh I don't know. I'd like to think that I could focus more on my own music and disappear a little bit. But that's the fantasy of a guy approaching thirty I guess.

The state of music in NZ is...

... pretty good. The audiences are fickle as to when they'll love or hate a venue/band/whatever. But in general it's the best it's ever been.


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