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Mean Girls

Mean Girls

Thursday 16th June, 2011 12:30PM

Despite their cheeky name Mean Girls are a well practiced two member team who have been playing gigs for the better part of 2011 and are currently working on channelling their gritty style into a debut album. UTR caught up with bassist Zac Arnold to find out what they've been up to.

What are you up to these days?

By day Martin is a sculptor and I co-host the 95bFM Breakfast Show.

How do you guys know each other?

Martin and I both played in bands when living in Napier and share mutual friends. When we moved to Auckland we caught up and decided to start a band. Easy.

What got the ball rolling for you two?

We had both been living in Auckland for a while and got a bit restless and wanted to start a band.

What were early practices like?

It started off with having so many effects pedals to find a bass sound that eventually got whittled down to a distortion pedal. Martin has always drummed like an animal and continues to do so.

Is it hard to find the space or time to practice?

If Black Flag practiced on Christmas then Mean Girls can make a practice once a week.

When faced with the task of describing your own music, what do you usually say?

It’s the sound of dentist drills, splitting wood, pulled fingernails and home invasion.

Are you happy with the two-member lineup? Do you ever find it limiting?

Yeah we are. Having a limit is the whole point. If you can’t do what you do with another person how can you do what you do with heaps of people?

Which of you two writes the music?

It’s a collaborative effort. I come up with the bass lines (as I play bass) and I come up with the words (as Martin does not sing). Martin comes up with the drums parts (as he drums) but if we hate what the other is doing we tell them.

How many influences do the two of you share?

Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan are pretty big influences on how we carry ourselves as a band. Musically we are into Tom Waits, The Birthday Party, Lightning Bolt and The Gordons.

Which of these do you try to keep close to the heart of your music? And which do you try to steer clear of?

Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan are just people doing what they want to do. It’s the same with musical influences too. Mean Girls we are just doing what we want to do on our terms regardless of the repercussions.

What’s your attitude to creativity? How do you find the process of maintaining originality in your process?

I know if Martin played in a covers band he would shoot himself, and in failing that he would get someone to do it for him. Creating blindly and not worrying too much is probably a big help. Who cares if you have two songs in the key of C#?

Is there a collective mindset of the band or is it more a case of just two individuals working together?

We have a similar way of thinking about the way we play our instruments and what feeling we want to bring while playing. It is easy to be a cohesive unit when there are only two of you.

With the band being relatively new, would you say many people in the music scene know you yet?


Has your position on bFM Breakfast helped in drawing attention to the band at all? Or your place on the Summer Series lineup?

This question seems like a bit of a dig, but my position at bFM is a double-edged sword. I can’t push my own barrow but at the same time half the band doesn’t have anything to do with the station.

So far, bFM has not helped in drawing attention to the band. We do have a song on playlist but it was requested by Bloody Sunday Drive host, Pennie Black. If bands want their song on bFM I would advise them to get into communication with the host of a show that plays music with a similar vibe to theirs.

With Summer Series, Mean Girls entered the Battle of the Bands competition that ran to find an opening band for the event. We were runners up, beaten by X-Ray Fiends. Summer Series was postponed due to torrential rain and bands schedules clashed with the new date. We were asked out of the blue, and from my knowledge put on second as we may have been a bit hard hitting to start the day off.

What kind of crowds are you used to playing to in Mean Girls? And how big are the audiences?

Mean Girls will play any show, anywhere; we have shared crowds with Die! Die! Die! (who were all about the party), we have shared stages with Ivy Lies and Avalanche City (who were hesitant with us) and we have played crazy house parties. We are just happy to perform to any crowd no matter how big or who it is. We are all about the party.

When will you come out with a debut release?

Soon. We are in the midst of re-recording but need to borrow a sweet bass stack for half a day to finish off. If anyone wants to lend us one we will love you forever.

And until then – where can listeners find online recordings?

Finally, what’s your opinion of the current music scene in New Zealand?

I think we are all living it up at the moment. I can go out at least 3 nights a week and be torn between 4 shows in one night. Plus there are more creative spaces opening up that really help (Tangleball, Audio Foundation, Alphabet City etc.) and there are heaps of amazing promoters putting on club nights with amazing line-ups. Might as well party as hard as you can.

Michael McClelland