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George and Queen

George and Queen

Monday 9th August, 2010 12:33PM

Auckland-based indie-folk foursome George and Queen are on the cusp of releasing their third album, Teenagers and Grownups, and to mark the event we flicked a few questions to guitarist Neil Newton.

Congratulations for on the new album, what was your inspiration for titling the release Teenagers and Grownups?

Well, we recorded the album in two bursts, roughly half of the songs each time. Our producer, Dave Holmes, mentioned that each session had contrasting songs to the other, that they were like 'teenagers and grownups'. And this struck us as a good name for the album. I'd like to think that the songs sound energetic and raw (from playing them live in the studio with few overdubs), yet that our sound, as a band, has matured.

How do you think the album differs from your previous releases, City and The Wind is Up? Was it a natural progression for George and Queen?

The album has some quite significant differences to both previous albums. It is a lot more angular and we have really concentrated on using dissonance within pop music and seeing what we could do with interweaving guitars, as opposed to playing block chords. A lot of the songs are punchy and upbeat – more so than our last two albums – and we improvised a lot in the studio. I think it fits our natural progression as a band. Our first two albums were different from each other, and I imagine that every album we do will be different to the ones that precede. Maybe they are each like individual meditations on a certain musical aspect.

What did you wish to achieve with this release? What was your motivation?

Well, the motivation was quite simple: we had an albums worth of material that we liked, and we received funding from Creative NZ to record them. We have always self funded our music, and we couldn't afford to do it again, so it was a relief to have Creative NZ step in and pay for it. As far as what we want to achieve, well that is simple. I think we have already achieved it. It is an album we are proud of. I just hope other people like it as much as we do.

Was Teenagers and Grownups a collaborative project for all four members of George and Queen? What was your song-writing process? Did it run smoothly?

It is collaborative to a certain extent. Each member writes their own parts. We always work that way, and it can take some time before we're all happy with a song. But the songs in general are always written by either Immi or myself, and in this album we share the songwriting evenly. And yes, fortunately, it did run pretty smoothly.

Your album release party is at the Whammy Bar on April 17th, what can we expect from George and Queen’s live show?

Well, hopefully you can expect a good show. We've put a lot into it. We also like to improvise. For me, personally, improvisation is the height of musical expression. The likelihood of something pre-written being able to express what you feel at a particular instant is extremely unlikely, whereas improvisation offers you that freedom. And, because we improvise a lot, you never quite know what to expect.

Do you have a national tour lined-up to promote the album? What do you enjoy most about hitting the road? Any particular venue/town you fancy above the rest?

Actually, there is no tour for this album – at least, not immediately. It's one of those unfortunate things – where things came up which can't be avoided. But I sure hope we can tour again soon. Previously, though, the thing I've liked most about touring is meeting other musicians around the country and hearing other bands that I usually wouldn't get a chance to meet or hear. There are some good bands out there that are only known in their particular cities and there isn't much in the way of support to help them get known elsewhere. There are lots of cool places around the country – I have fond memories of the Harbour View Hotel in Raglan, for instance. But my favourite venue to play at is the Whammy Bar. We like the staff and the people that go, and the energy that can be found there... so even though we can't tour at least we aren't missing out on that.

What is next for George and Queen?

To be honest, I don't know. Something will happen. You can be sure of that.

Karyn Cushen

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