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Mammal Airlines

Mammal Airlines

Thursday 9th December, 2010 11:32AM

James Stuteley plays guitar for Mammal Airlines when he’s not tending to his studies in Wellington, Body 125 or helping with online record label, Papaiti Records. Currently his attentions are focused on the release of  ‘Pressure To Be’, a 14-track compilation of bands in New Zealand who are or were recently under the age of 18 which was released yesterday (Wednesday 8th Dec). UnderTheRadar had a talk with Stuteley about his band, his label and the role he helps to play in empowering young bands.

What’s new?

Worn out, I'm at Nicole's house - extended family South African Christmas dinner... Loud.

Who’s that?

The drummer in Mammal and also currently my "boo".

And who's that third member?

Giles Clement Thompson, 19/M/Wellington.

So when did you all get together in the band scheme of things?

Full band = I guess at [Campus A Low Hum 2010], when Nicole told me Mammal were on her "good" iTunes playlist and claimed she could play drums. First practice in March, it was hilarious, we didn't have a kick pedal or a snare stand.

What's ahead for the band?

Shows in AKL/WLG/CHCH in Feb/March/April. Then the materialisation of an album. Then play some shows in Australia in the middle of next year.

Any idea who'll release the album?

It'll be free on Papaiti again + a super short run of vinyl/acetate.

What's Papaiti done in the past?

Put up music that Giles and I enjoy and believe in, to download for free.

What inspired you to get started on the 18 and under compilation? Is that another part of the Papaiti philosophy?

It's partially an archiving thing. I want this music to have a tangible incarnation, showing the inter-connectedness of the artists involved so it doesn't just sit forgotten in old folders and servers.

Is that what distinguishes 'younger' music from older music?

How do you mean?

Why did you pick this particular group of musicians over any others? What's so special about the theme of underage musicians?

One reason is that I feel that musicians under 18 or still at high school can be definitively underestimated. At my high school, any music not jazz or classical was focused around Rockquest, and expectations seem to be fulfilled by merely playing at the heats. Though I value Rockquest highly, these kids are capable of far more, of making music and performing it to a much higher standard than the majority of artists older than them. This is what’s special to me – underestimation – about the theme of ‘underage’ (a term I don't like) musicians. Though it could be that these low expectations result in more interesting music because of a lack of self-expectation, in which case my thoughts sound foolish.

Nicole’s reasons for working on the compilation are more that this is what 'the NZ music scene' is to her and these are some of her favourite artists, regardless of their age. Older musicians generally have more money to promote themselves and more opportunities to play shows (in bars), therefore giving them an advantage in exposure.

So do you think the 'underage' factor, as annoying a word as it is, is more a matter of signposting a point in someone's life where music can be just as (if not more) valid as later on? Or would you say it has to do with not being able to get into bars, legal entitlement and alcohol consumption?

It’s not really a question of validity. The music is not more or less important/valid/valuable before or after an age barrier, but rather is affected by a special and interesting set of constraining circumstances. Alcohol obviously plays a big role in changing these circumstances, which I won't go into here.

Because it's already obvious, you mean?


And finally, where does the 'Pressure To Be' name come from? What does it imply and why'd you choose it?

'Pressure to be' is a lyric from ‘Grade F Meat’ by Nevernudes. Everyone feels pressure to be something. It fit. We called it 'Why Now?' for a while but that sounded a bit cynical.


Keep watching in the near future for more interviews with some of the bands featured on Stuteley’s compilation album.

Michael McClelland


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