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Vietnam War

Vietnam War

Friday 1st July, 2011 11:45AM

Auckland country music stalwarts The Vietnam War are due to release their self-titled debut album on July 4th. UTR caught up with Lubin Raines to talk about the forthcoming release and being part of the tight-knit country community in Auckland.

You guys are about to release an album are you excited about it?

Yeah I’m really excited about it it’s been a long time waiting for the record to be done and to come out, so it’s going to be cool.

Tell me a little bit about it, about writing and recording it:

We recorded in our house with Karl (Steven) and then some other tracks in Karl’s bedroom so it’s homemade in that way. Karl’s so talented as a producer and with music.

When did you start writing the album?

We’ve been together for quite a few years playing shows so some of the songs are really old – about five years old - but we’ve developed all of them through playing them for all those years. Some we didn’t keep but some we’ve kept the whole way through and those one became our best songs.

Considering these tracks were written over so many years, how did you find consistency on the album?

There’s definitely some variation on the album. The last track on the record we’d only been playing for a few weeks, so that’s the king of period of time difference. But as an album they sit nicely largely due to production. Karl was quite conscious of making it work as an album in the old-fashioned sense of producing an album so it’s quite cohesive in that way, stylistically.

If you were to describe the overarching sound that you think you’ve achieved, how would you describe it?

That’s a tricky kind of thing because I don’t think genre is the best way to describe us, we’re not very dogmatic in that way. It’s guitar music primarily, they’ve all got an acoustic track and two electric parts – three of us all play guitar, so it’s guitar driven in that way. But also, it’s melodic and it comes from a folk tradition in the sense that there are sung songs and vocal melodies and stuff like that and that is the driving element of the band. So folk ad country was really the start but I don’t think it’s American or genre specific.

When you were putting the tracks together was there any overall idea that you were discussing as songwriters, or an emotive element that was across the album?

I think there is a mood over the record but it doesn’t come from a conscious decision to discuss particular things. There’s no message outside of our personal experiences but in that way we all have been friends a long time and lived similar lives so I suppose just by working with the things that are common to all of us in our lives it paints a picture of a place and time, and you probably can’t avoid that. It’s probably got a political element or a social commentary but it’s not a conscious one that we set out to do.

Going back, tell me about the crux of Vietnam War. How did you start and why?

Well, I suppose in the true beginning it was a band put together really to play a couple of shows and we didn’t have a solid line up or anything. There were country bands in Auckland and a friend of mine had this band called Sleepless Nights and we wanted to play this show and it started off as wanting to have a country band in the style of a lot of the seventies or sixties country artists – they were revolutionaries. So we chose the name at that time and maybe didn’t think it would last as long as it has, but we chose it as an indicator that we weren’t a reverent country band, that we were trying to fall more in line with this more protest element I guess. That country tradition – like Gram Parsons – who were revolutionaries.

You mentioned starting the band to play with another band. You’re part of a strong community of artists at the moment. Tell me a little bit about that.

Yeah it’s a really good time at the moment in Auckland. One interesting thing that happened in the old days is Lucy Stewart who plays for Drab Doo Riffs now and her sisters Roberta and Harriet and a bunch of other people would have these tribute shows called The Country Club. That grew into a big variety show and included everyone. Charlotte who plays drums with Evil Twins with Lucy - she sang songs at the first Vietnam War show when she was only 15 or something. The idea that there was an audience beyond us didn’t come into it – there were enough of us that there was a crowd to watch each band. This scene had its own legs and that was great.

It’s only gained in popularity since then. It must feel like a good time to release the album?

Yeah it’s a really good time and I think it’s going to be true of a lot of Auckland bands especially central Auckland bands, it’s really come a long way and it’s a really nice time to be involved in it all.

- Courtney Sanders


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