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Old Loaves

Old Loaves

Wednesday 12th October, 2011 9:02AM

Auckland by way of Wellington band Old Loaves are playing a couple of shows over the next couple of weekends. We caught up with front man and ex-Rifles member Benjamin Ward to talk about how the band started, what we can expect from the live show, and what they've got coming up down the track.

Tell me how Old Loaves started:

Old Loaves came about pretty much after Strangers finished. Kalem and I were always keen to do another band together, and Cam was keen to do something as well as Rifles. That started it off basically. We began practicing in my room in Wellington and wrote Bad Prawns in a few weeks. I had just finished up university and planned to move to Auckland, so we played one show, which was meant to be our first and last at my leaving party. Our friend Tim Shann came up to us after the show and said he'd record us for free that Sunday. That recording session turned out to be Bad Prawns. We recorded the whole thing live, even the vocals, over a couple of hours. Because there was no cost involved we released Bad Prawns for free, and people seemed to dig it. I guess after that we decided to keep Old Loaves going, even with me living in Auckland and the other guys in Wellington.

What was the initial inspiration for the sound you guys are creating?

I can say without a doubt that we were all influenced by Planes Mistaken for Stars' final album, Mercy. We actually covered 'Crooked Mile' at our first few shows. I always loved how that album sounded musically. It sits perfectly between being melodic and heavy. As well as Planes Mistaken for Stars, Cult of Luna is a big inspiration. Our sound is nothing like theirs, but their music plays a big part in our songwriting. To me it's a structural thing; at the point where we have written our basic parts for songs and begin structuring ideas, their music becomes quite influential.

In saying this, all three of us have quite varied musical taste. So I think a big part of our sound is created by that - each of our individual influences and the way in which they blend together.

How would you describe your sound now?

It's still the same, but the songs are getting a little more attention. We wrote Bad Prawns quite quickly and with me moving cities, it meant that those songs didn't get that much time to breathe. We still approach our music in the same way, but now we have a lot more time up our sleeves. Our new music is being developed between cities and over these long periods of time, and I think for that reason the new songs are sounding a little more complete. When approaching our song writing we focus a lot on space and how the songs build and progress, and I believe this is achieved through the amount of time between practices and working on our new material.

You've been in other musical projects before, how does Old Loaves differ from those?

A big part of the difference for me is our musicianship. We’ve got to a point where we have worked with each other for so long now that when we’re writing, it comes together so easily. It probably wouldn’t work otherwise. I mean we only practice together once or maybe twice a month. And again, the space between our practices is a defining factor of our sound, which none of our older bands really had. For me it seems we’re all really happy with everything we do in Old Loaves. There’s no drama and it’s so relaxed, which I think is an integral component to writing music.

Also, we get to play a style of music that we otherwise couldn’t have done in our previous bands. Old Loaves exists in this ground that pulls from everything we’ve ever done, whether it be Strangers, DIAL or Rifles, but with much more freedom to explore. We’re not rooted into genre in any way other than rock and that is such a blanket term that it can mean anything. I love that.

What have you guys been working on at the moment?

Our new album. We just booked in the first weekend of December to record it. We have been working on it all year. It's been a stretched out process, but has come together nicely. I’m really happy with how the songs have progressed over the year.

What can we expect from your live show?

We don’t really stop. I always like performances that blend the songs together so it’s a whole, combined entity, rather than just songs being played. This is what we aim to do with our live shows, only stopping when we have to, basically creating an atmosphere of sorts for those 40 minutes we play.

Tell me a little bit about the other bands you're playing with / why we should come on Saturday night?

I’m really looking forward to seeing Spook the Horses again. I love the style of music they play and really respect bands that pull it off like they do. It takes a lot of patience writing music like theirs because it’s so drawn out and concise.

I haven't seen Viking Weed, but have heard great things. Cam specifically requested that they play both shows. He describes them as this punk rock marriage between Karp and Harvey Milk.

I think people should come because for one, we don’t play up here too often and this is the first time Spook will be playing outside of Wellington and also our first time playing Hamilton. Secondly, it’s a diverse little line up of good bands, and I think we all compliment each other in a way. Basically, if you’re a little partial to the heavier side of good guitar rock, you’ll want to come to this show.

What are the future plans for Old Loaves?

Finish up the album and release it early next year. Then we’re going to tour. We’re already making plans to tour the South Island and Australia next year, and then hopefully the States. Also, we’re still waiting on the 7” vinyl release of Bad Prawns (which we’ve re-titled Bad Rides and added another track called ‘Hollow’) to come out. That’s being released through the new Wellington label, Negative Collective.

What international bands are you digging at the moment?

I know that we have all been listening to the new records by Boris, especially Attention Please. I personally have been listening to a lot of electronic music lately. This year I have had a slight obsession with the London electronic producer Burial. He has created this amazing sound that is like nothing else. Although mostly electronic, his albums have an acoustic quality to them, which is tough to do in that style. I think it comes down to his manipulation of the samples he uses. It seems he’ll take something dull and lifeless and turn it into a haunting masterpiece.

What local bands are you into?

Numbskull, definitely.

The last time I was blown away by a band was at The Body Lyre’s album release show. I hadn’t seen them for at least a year and I was really impressed. Everything about the new lineup seemed to fit perfectly. I also can never listen to Deer Park enough; they have a completely diverse and unique sound to anything I’ve ever heard and their live shows always impress me.

The state of the New Zealand music industry is:

I really don’t know. When I think of the New Zealand music industry I just see uninspiring groups that aren’t really very talented and are popular for the wrong reasons. There are so many good bands that slip through the cracks and never get acknowledged, so I’m hesitant about it all. It may be getting better though, because groups are now doing everything themselves, which could change the New Zealand music industry into something better, maybe.

- Courtney Sanders

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