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Hollywoodfun Downstairs

Hollywoodfun Downstairs

Interviewed by
Ricardo Kerr
Wednesday 21st December, 2011 3:28PM

Wellington (by way of Hamilton) three piece Hollywoodfun Downstairs have ended the year on a high. Formed in London by two ex-pat kiwis in 2008 as an escape from an endless cycle of go-nowhere bands and dead-end jobs, they’ve gone from an uncertain future and having no vocalist at the beginning of the year to touring the country as a tight three-piece band that flat together at the end. Singer / guitarist Truk Oilywater, drummer Mike, and bass player Grant opened up about touring, evolving musically, and plans for 2012 with Ricardo Kerr before their show in Hamilton recently.

Where did the name “Hollywoodfun Downstairs” come from?

Truk: My mum used to put The Doors on when I was a little boy about four or five and there a song called ‘LA Woman’. I always thought it said “the Hollywood fun below”, but it wasn’t, it was “the Hollywood bungalow”. We kind of amalgamated all those words and thought yip we are below Hollywood and we’re downstairs in New Zealand and we have a lot of fun.

Between you guys you’ve been based between a lot of different cities over the years. How are you finding Wellington?

Truk: Windy
Grant: Primo
Mike: Yeah, its good man, the scene down there is very cultured, hospitable, and very accepting.

Does that make some of your crazy ideas that you’re throwing out on the stage just that little bit easier to swallow?

Truk: Yip, it certainly does, it makes it a bit easier. They say that the art and the culture of New Zealand is in Wellington because of the political and the artistic values, but yeah, it is easy being in Wellington. There’s not so much status anxiety going on like Auckland. I shouldn’t really say Auckland but you know …
Grant: … elsewhere.

Musically, what inspires you?

Truk: The Aztec Indy man for me.
Mike: Basically just getting up there and going hard is what I’ve always wanted to do. Just get on the stage and play those drums.
Grant: The love of music inspires me yeah.
Truk: I love music, I live and breathe it, I listen to it, I research it, I love to get in there.

Since coming together as a band your music has changed significantly over the years. How did you start out and how does that compare with how you are today with the band?

Mike: Basically how did we start out, Truk? We met, he said “you’re a drummer”, and he said he was a guitarist and showed me his old band. Basically we picked up my bongo drum, he had an acoustic guitar, we jammed it out in his room in London and then it just kind of went from there.
Truk: I said to Mike I know a primo bass player. He won’t really be used to what we want to get up to but he will adjust because he knows his rhythms and his way around the bass. A good move for us was to get out of the rat race and go to New Zealand which is more home and get in touch with all our mates.

Adding in some of these new elements like the bass and especially adding in the vocals had to change the way you’re approaching your music...

Mike: Big time. We had been practicing for a year together as a three-piece without any vocals and we didn’t know how they were going to come into it. We did trial out a few vocalists and it just wasn’t working.
Grant: It wasn’t us, man. We didn’t want to be a cliché.
Truk: We wanted to be as our name says “Hollywoodfun Downstairs”.

You guys have been out on the road a little bit lately in the last month or two. How is it treating you out and about the country?

Grant: (Laughs) it’s awesome, definitely good fun. Lots of driving you know, but its worth it man.
Truk: It’s fun, I like seeing new people out at gigs.
Mike: It’s definitely about getting yourself out and about in New Zealand.

Another good part about getting to tour the country, playing in different cities is that you get to see some good kiwi bands. Who have you had the chance to see and play with that you have really liked?

Grant: God Bow To Math. They were awesome; they have got something good going on. Mike: The other one for me was definitely Force Fields. I feel they’ve got a unique sound, they are four really good dudes, really down to earth.
Truk: Rackets were good man. At our debut show at San Francisco Bathhouse Rackets came down from Auckland. Just dirty rock n roll with a good attitude.

Speaking of that first show, you made quite an impression at San Francisco Bathhouse. What was it like playing at such an esteemed venue right from the get go?

Mike: Nerves bro. I haven’t had anxiety like that in a long time.
Grant: There were some nerves but it was primo and we’re looking forward to getting back there.
Truk: Ian Jorgensen was there. Blink is his nickname. He’s behind A LOW HUM and he’s been to every gig since then.
Grant: He’s definitely the man in the know.

Coming to the end of 2011, you guys have made a hell of a splash so far in the short time you have been out there as a public entity. Barring the potential that the apocalypse will happen, what does next year hold?

Truk: We are the apocalypse (laughs).

I had a feeling about you guys …

Grant: Next year we are going to be on the road largely I think, hopefully going to be doing a bit more gigging and building up our fan base. We need to get people to watch us, enjoy it and hopefully jump on the band wagon.
Truk: I’d like to plug the guys from Muzai Records who have very kindly shown some interest in us and have given us the goal of getting an EP ready and to tour that up and down New Zealand in July and August.

Finish this sentence, the state of NZ music in 2011 is...

Truk: All over the show
Grant: Interesting
Mike: All over the show, definitely.

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