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Monday 9th August, 2010 3:52PM

According to Joe from T54, his band is kinda alright. We're used to self-deprecation from New Zealand bands though, because who likes people that shout about how brilliant they are anyway? Thankfully, you won't find any of that in our interview, in which Joe discusses Billy Corgan, surrounding yourself with nice people and reinventing the wheel.

First of all, introduce yourselves & your bandmates.

We'll brush over this one lightly. I'm Joe and there's also Sam and Matt.

Tell us the epic tale of your creation...

Well you're going to get pretty let down, sadly there is no epic tale at all, just me spending a stupid amount of money in another city in a stupidly little amount of time and then running out and having to fly back far too soon. I got some pretty cool stuff though, heapsa cds, they're incredibly cheap over there, you can buy triple packs at JB for like 12 bucks and then sell them here for 10 bucks each, insane. So after that saga I decided to start this band with Sam and Matt because I knew that Matt was an alright drummer and that Sam was an alright guitarist so he'd make an alright bassist and that I was an alright guitarist and passable singer with plenty of compression and reverb and that I had some okay songs recorded on my laptop that could be turned into something passable and by chance our friends think we're alright, I think. Either that or it's a big joke that I have fallen victim to.

Do you think Christchurch has been a stimulating place to make music?

It doesn't make much difference. I could be anywhere really. It could be the Arctic or Jupiter. In my mind inspiration comes from somewhere that's not geographically obtainable. But surrounding yourself with nice people certainly makes a difference. Fortunately in Christchurch there are quite a few genuine people who enjoy music for the sound of it.

Describe the defining moments that made you want to make music.

Nirvana at 10. Hooooly shit, I'll never ever get that much excitement from one song again in my life. Then the White Stripes at 15 made me realise that you don't need 56 guitar tracks in one song Billy Corgan. Then PiL made me realise you don't even have to be playing in the same key as the rest of the band.

Apart from music, what else do you guys get up to?

Well Matt's a full time Judo instructor, I work in the locomotive restoration business and Sam owns a little shop where he sells little things that he's glued rocks and shells to. There isn't much money in it though but he's always got pockets full of sand to bring to band practice for the beachy vibes.

What aisle would you slot into at your local record store?

We're an insanely original band, we've essentially reinvented the wheel that turns faster and uses less resources, so I guess we'd have our own section.

What artists have really got you excited lately?

I've not really been listening to many newish bands lately outside of New Zealand I'm a bit ashamed to admit but I'd say Jay Reatard was the one I was most excited about following, but very sadly he's not making music anymore. There are a heap of good garage surf bands coming outta the states right now, the whole Art Fag scene, Best Coast, she's incredible. I've been listening to a lot of older stuff mostly. Swell Maps are untouchable, their albums are so relentlessly abrasive and so inconceivably beautiful at the same time. The Clean, wow they're great, really great, indescribably great, still can't get over it. Neu! and Can for similar more narcotic reasons. Public Image because Jah Wobble rattles the windows in a way I never ever thought possible, those basslines, they're ah pretty delightful basslines. Chan Marshall, because her music made me a lot better when things were looking pretty bleak. Her first four albums yield endless amounts of inspiration on so many levels, mostly in the simplicity, which is what I like in a big way. As always we have a lot of good indie bands. Magic Eye, Transistors, Nevernudes, Catholic Guilt, Sandfly Bay, Onanon... too many to list.

Describe the collaboration/writing process.

It changes depending on the song. I don't really have a set formula or anything. I've got a couple of loose methods. Sometimes I like to start with a bassline then build on that, I've done a few like that, it's pretty fun. Sometimes I'll come up with a song in 15mins and it'll never change. Most of the time the songs I take to band practice end up sounding pretty different to how I started them, which I'm fond of. Each one of us in the band is an equal contribution to how we sound. If one of us weren't there it would sound noticeably different. Well to me anyway haha.

Dream collaboration?

Jah Wobble (bass), Tom Verlaine (guitar), Hamish Kilgour (drums), Stephen Malkmus (lyrics and vocals). Dry as.

What's the best thing about making music?

The energy.

What gets you down about being in the music industry?

I wouldn't really know. I guess i'd be grateful if I did.

Craziest on-stage antics experienced thus far?

Queenstown, December 2009, ask James Harding, don't ask Matt.

Best concert you've ever been to?

I tend to forget most of the bands I've seen but the one that stands out the most was Deerhoof earlier this year. That was certainly something spectacular going on right there, I'd never even heard them before, nor have I since. I saw the White Stripes in 2003, that was pretty revealing. The Veils in 2007 was pretty good at Al's bar. Nevernudes at the Wunderbar early this year, that was a spectacle. Actually I've decided I'm going with East Brunswick All Girls Choir at the Dux this year. Now that was just mindblowing in so many ways I can't begin to describe...

Who would you be willing to commit a serious offence for a chance to see live?

Alive: David Bowie. Dead: Nirvana or Jay Reatard. Alive but in the past: Smashing Pumpkins or REM.

Name someone who's really overrated in music.

I don't rightly want to say cos' I know I'll get stick for it. So I'll play it safe and say Bob Dylan.

And someone who's criminally underrated?

Graeme Downes.

The state of NZ music is:

From my understanding it's the same as it's always been. Heaps and heaps of insanely brilliant and original bands not getting a fair slice. Not to say there haven't been decent band's doing well in the past but things could certainly be infinitely better. It comes down to money though as we all know.

If I wasn't doing this, I'd be:

In bed right now, it's 3am.

What's next for T54?

T54 are recording next month with Dale Cotton in Dunedin to release an EP on a new label that's starting up in Christchurch. I don't know the exact details but it'll be released sometime around September or October followed by a nationwide tour. We're doing a tour of Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin in August as well which we're much looking forward to. I'd quite like to go up and play in Wanganui sometime, I've heard they've got a cool scene going on up there I'd like to get amongst. There was also talk of a split 7 sometime, but there's always talk of a split 7.

By Hayley Koorts