10|01|08   The Next Four Months

“The truth of the matter is that my current life-style is unsustainable. It’s unhealthy, full of distractions, and unwholesome. My flat has been a shambles for almost a year now. It is cluttered. It is dark. It is cold. It is damp. And I literally feel like I have been slowly wasting away in it. I need to get out of there. Fast.”

As many of you already know, I am moving back to the States in January. The main reason for that being that I miss the mid-west, I miss my friends, I miss being around my mother, and I’m really excited to tour The Enright House throughout the US and, later in the year, Europe, as well.

Going back oversees after living in New Zealand for almost five years will be good for my soul, I think. As much as I love certain aspects of New Zealand, I love the wider world even more, and to have spent a good half of my twenties in a small and remote country, too far away from my friends and family, has been a significant contributor to my ongoing struggles with depression.

Not everything about my time here, however, has been bad…

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09|28|08   Solo Electronic Tour: Day 11 – Auckland (Wine Cellar)

After rolling into Auckland both Thomas and I decided that we had already lost so much money that, hell, we might as well splurge on a Backpackers for the last night. I remember having liked the backpackers on Queen Street, where the band and I stayed last year during the A Low Hum tour with craftwerk, and so Thomas and I booked two beds there in a dormitory room for $20 NZD each. That particular backpackers also had the advantage of having secure parking (not an insignificant bonus given Auckland’s notoriety for petty crime), as well as being right around the corner from where we were playing.

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09|25|08   Solo Electronic Tour: Day 10 – Hamilton (La Commune)

[photo by Petra Jane]

After playing Happy we crashed at Thomas’s place again, but because we had a long drive to Hamilton ahead of us, neither of us got a decent night’s sleep. Truth be told, I was bloody exhausted and still a tad down about the previous night’s show.

Anyhow, nothing cures a bit of sadness during a tour like a long drive. Although driving is exhausting, monotonous, and expensive, it is also, I think, the essence of excitement. Traveling, after all, is the heart and soul of adventure. New possibilities flare up, changing landscapes tickle the imagination, and, most importantly, one has time to reflect and rebuild healthy levels of anticipation.

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09|25|08   Solo Electronic Tour: Day 9 – Wellington (Happy)

I think both Thomas and I had high expectations for this show. When we started out on our tour, we were constantly joking about how the turn-outs for the first three dates weren’t of dramatic importance, as the “big” shows (this and the Auckland show) were yet to come. Even if no one showed up for that first weekend, we told ourselves, that, too, would be OK, as we could just treat those dates as a kind of wider dress rehearsal.

Much to our delight, it never came to that. The cosmos spared us the experience of playing to empty rooms, and, contrary to all my cynical expectations, the first two shows probably turned out to be two of the most memorable shows I’ve ever played.

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09|22|08   Solo Electronic Set live-to-air on Radio New Zealand National!

Yay! I’m so thrilled that my National Radio recording session is now online! If you missed out on my recent Solo Electronic Tour, this session will give you a pretty fair idea of the kind of material I was playing.

I’m not really satisfied with how I ended up playing Darkwave = MC Squared, but it’s not a total write-off either.

Track-order is:

[01] Riding On A Bull Through A Marsh Filled With Tears
[02] A Heart Made Of Cotton
[03] Darkwave = MC Squared
[04] Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Thanks to Kirsten and Matt for doing the interview with me and recording the session – it was a blast! :)

Stream the entire session (43′50″) here.

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09|22|08   Series Two Records release 5-CD compilation with a song of mine on it!

I’m quite stoked and honored to be featured on the new Series Two Records compilation!

The 5-CD set features 118 artists and over 390 minutes of indie music. Participating on this compilation are artists from all over the world, including bands from North America, Sweden, United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Norway, Peru, Argentina, Spain, Costa Rica, Australia, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, Serbia, China, Canada, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and the Philippines.

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09|16|08   Lovecraft

7.30 in the morning. Ouch. I was feeling a bit light-headed and my tummy’s growling sounds gave me this distinct feeling that it would rather not yet be put in an upright position. Still, today was the day of my first solo show in my de facto hometown of Christchurch, and I had to start setting up around 10 am in order to kick off my set early in the afternoon.

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09|15|08   Solo Electronic Tour: Day 5-8 – Palmerston North (Thomas’ home)

The first four days of being on the road were now behind me, and I was grateful. Grateful to be able to relax for the week at a beautiful home, but also grateful that the first set of shows had gone so well. My personal stakes in the outcome of this little adventure, after all, were quite significant…

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09|10|08   Solo Electronic Tour: Day 4 – Palmerston North (Central Library)

I went to bed straight after the show the night before, but given we had to be in Palmerston North by around noon-time the next day, neither Thomas nor I got much sleep. In fact, Thomas got virtually none at all, as he and his flat mate went out on another poster run to advertise our Happy show. Thomas didn’t actually go to bed until 4AM. We needed to get up around 8AM. Ouch!

The two of us were like zombies when we woke up, blankly staring at all the tangled cables and gear, dreading having to carry it down, drive for a few hours, set it all up again, play a show, and then, take it all down again. (Read the rest of this story…)

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09|10|08   Some might like to be perverted in that way

“Art cannot be this idealistic fluffy dreamworld where we all bask in passive entertainment. (…) Something has to be difficult. (…) Something has to be wrong. Even within the context of beauty there has to be something you can hate, something you can reject, something you can say “no” to.”

A forum comment regarding my recent Auckland show:

“His solo thing is rad. (…) A lot of his songs are really raw and honest, some too much for my liking, well one song in particular, its like you’ve overheard a private argument a couple is having, just awkward and you’d rather not listen. But some might like to be perverted in that way. But generally I really like his solo stuff. Intense and melodramatic, just the way I like it!”

Haha. I actually feel kinda conflicted about having posted the above comment, as I’m simply lifting the quote right out of a forum discussion without the user’s knowledge or consent. In many ways I feel like forums are just totally off limits for lifting quotes etc., because a forum is like a gathering place for a group of people, and reading other people’s comments about your band definitely has something vaguely voyeuristic about it. It’s almost like I am eavesdropping on someone’s private conversation that was never intended for my ears.

However, in this case I just had to make an exception, because the guy just perfectly describes the kind of show I’m going for. I totally adore the fact that he was uncomfortable with certain aspects of the show, yet still enjoyed it.

Many people on this tour came up to me after the shows to comment on the use of certain field recordings. Some were transported back into their own memories and felt almost ecstatic about the field-recordings, others felt clearly alienated by them.

But therein precisely lay the point of using them! I wanted people to feel strongly about something. I wanted them to absorb the intense emotions of experiencing beauty and at the same time feeling terribly uncomfortable – that, after all, is the way life is! Art cannot be this idealistic fluffy dreamworld where we all bask in passive entertainment.

Something has to happen to you. Something true, that derives its energy from life itself. It cannot all be easy. Something has to be difficult. Something has to be shit. Something has to be wrong. Even within the context of beauty there has to be something you can hate, something you can reject, something you can say “no” to.

The beautiful without the ugly is but kitsch.

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09|10|08   (Cont)temporary discussion of A Maze and Amazement and post-rock

Lawson Fletcher writes:

“I think much of post-rock nowadays has shed the initial ambition and weight of the world of the earlier stuff, like it had to tear everything apart and rise only from a broken rubble, and has concentrated on using the same musical elements to make just shamelessly emotive and pretty music. (…) It’s like post-rock that has shed its ambition to thunderously document the apocalypse and turn inward once again, to explore emotional soundscapes. Still uses textured guitar, beaten, stalling drum-work, stretched out compositions, soft-textural vocals, spectral guitar timbres, etc. but it is to what these stylistic features are put in service of that is distinct, here.”

“Along these lines, A Maze and Amazement takes the atmospheric lessons learned and reverses the equation – the long tails and heady elements no longer thunderous signals of the social crumbling, but crimson internalisations of the personal, of thought and heart.”

Read Lawson’s full discussion on his (con)temporary blog

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09|10|08   Solo Electronic Tour: Day 3 – Wellington (Brownnote)

One of the real perks of this tour/holiday was that Thomas and I frequently got to crash at Thomas’s family home in Palmerston North. We had virtually no money to spend, as we knew we were going to loose hundreds of dollars on this tour – a prediction which turned out to be spot on, unfortunately. So, after the Wanganui show, we packed up and decided to drive down to Palmy to spend the night and, given that it was closer to Wellington, sleep in a little longer the next day.

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