01 Sep 2006 // An interview by johnsoncraigsbc
Who are your favourite musicians/bands?
Hanson. Ace of Bass. Ricky Martin.
What are your influences?
Anything that happens to any one of us on a daily basis could end up being an influence on one of our songs. A sound could be an idea for a sample; a song could give an idea for a structure. Pretty into movies and enjoy the sound effects used to build tension or enhance the anticipation. That type of stuff - sounds that people relate to certain emotions.
What inspires you the most when writing your lyrics?
An emotion might trigger an idea, a riff, a harmony…general disappointment in people’s lack of appreciation of life is a reoccurring theme, but we try and portray more hope, we want people to hear a lyric and act feel or think something. Anything. People are becoming so complacent, so bored, and so dull. We live in a very ‘interesting time’ where people are too often driven purely by the ‘need’ to follow what they feel society expects them to do. Governed by peer pressure and sociological pressures, people are too often selling themselves short and ending up living this cliché life that if they are really honest with themselves, they don’t want. That inspires me to push even harder to do something different that may not bring me a “successful life” (2.5 kids and a big fat mortgage), but hopefully the kind of happiness only found when one is spiritually aligned, following ones passion, being creatively for filled.
Who would you most like to support live?
Would love to support pretty much any like-minded people. Our style crosses a couple of genre boundaries so we can get away with playing with a variety of groups.
How would you describe your music?
As a band we have very little in common musical taste wise and that makes our sound hard to define. 'Alternative rock' while close, is a limiting term, and is not really representative due to the range of styles used within the genre (if you must).
We strive to maintain a consistent vibe that flows throughout all of our songs.
Our music is melodic, rich and laden with subtle sounds hoping to inspire feeling. We play some very ballad style songs, some folk influenced songs and use progressive rock elements like changing time signatures and drum and bass driven funky rhythms. Pycadelic grunge? Techno-rock? I dunno.
How do you believe your band fits into the NZ music 'scene'?
Hopefully not at all at this stage. I feel the popular NZ music scene is over-represented by mediocre, formulaic crap. I hope that what we are doing is listenable enough to be appreciated by “the masses” while still maintaining the ethics of a truly original band guided by the desire to make a difference. We hope to ‘break the mold’(again) and become popular without succumbing to pressure to write flavour of the month, immediately appealing songs, that are too easily sold to the masses and forgotten in the same instant. New Zealand is a small country and is as a result often overlooked musically on a global scale. This isn’t at all helped by the lack of different sounding popular groups. Too many popular New Zealand bands sound exactly like any average American crap that is being churned out - of course the artists aren’t having an impact in a global market. There are of course bands from NZ that are pushing further and managing to achieve success overseas by working hard on their original sound and not compromising their style - Salmonella Dubb and The Datsuns are a couple that spring to mind, those type of guys are the ones making our country proud by not modeling themselves on someone else but by putting themselves out there as they are.
How did you come up with the name of Crash Test for Favourite Things?
It was the name of an art exhibition at the Gus Fisher Gallery with the theme of art made by the process of destruction, or the destruction of art itself, like some sort of a final gesture of denial. The artists had taken items of their personal belongings like a camera or a radio to cut in half with skill saws or smash with a sledgehammer, the broken remains of these items became the ‘art’.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Either reasonably unhappy, still working 9 – 5, still dreaming about how if only I had put in more effort at the right times how I wouldn’t be doing this, getting jealous and over-critiquing of all the bands younger than me have ‘so much more opportunity and potential’ than I do now, OR writing, performing and recording music for a living. Hopefully option b please.
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
Have a hugely successful cd release party at the Kings Arms on the 14th of September, then follow it by gigging regularly and getting our cd into as many people’s hands as possible. Finishing the few loose pieces of music we have floating around and making them into songs. Planning a full studio album.
What advice would you like to give other budding musicians/bands?
Play within your ability. Nothing sounds worse than a band trying to play music that is outside of their current skill level. Connect with the people in your band. Understand each others ideas thoroughly. Make sure that all the people in your band are going in the same direction, musically and in life. If you aren’t all working toward a common goal it will take longer to reach any one member’s expectations.
What is the best part of playing in front of a live audience?
The reactions and the pressure. It’s rewarding to see an audience respond to a crescendo or appreciate a tricky piece of timing or smiling when you really nail a difficult vocal. Our live set is something we take a lot of pride in. We generally rehearse our show in its entirety not as individual songs. We want our live performance to be a journey that doesn’t give the audience too much time to analyze until afterwards.
What is the best thing about being in Crash Test for Favourite Things?
For me personally the best thing about being in Crash Test is being able to write music and lyrics that I feel passionate about and having two fantastic musicians to mould and shape the idea into something great. Being in a band where I am being challenged musically. Being in a band where everyone’s ideas are as important as others.
What inspired you to start a band?
Being strongly encouraged to play the piano at a young age got me interested in music (and put me off in some ways), and early on I realized the enjoyment of playing an instrument by myself. It wasn’t until around 13 or 14 years old when I started to feel that piano wasn’t really “cool” enough on its own. Taking up guitar and finding out that playing with other musicians was like the enjoyment of playing an instrument alone times 10.
What is your favourite NZ venue to play at?
We enjoy playing around a few venues but the best sound that we have achieved live has been at the Kings Arms. Being a three piece we each have to multi-task in order to fatten up our sound. Each band member singing, jono playing samples and me playing both guitar and keyboard helps but with a sound guy as good as Mark (K’s A’s), our sound is fattened up to the point of us sounding more like a 4 or 5 piece and is really the preverbal cherry on top.
What was the best event you performed at, and why?
Our cd release party at the kings arms on the 14th of September 2006. It hasn’t happened yet, but the amount of time and effort that has been put in over the last several months in preparation guarantee this to be our best gig ever. Also everyone who comes will get a free cd which is in the final production stages right now.
How was Crash Test for Favourite Things formed?
After getting brutally kicked out of my last band I was heavily on the rebound and looking for love in all the wrong places. Rather than putting up a tasteful ad in the local music store I decided to contact an old acquaintance and school ground hooligan – Jono. After having several jams and writing the first few Crash Test songs, we tried out two bass players I found on nzmuzic.com. After hearing several seconds of Tony’s playing we were sold. Little did we realize we would be stuck with him for the duration but you live and learn!
How do you feel now that your cd has been released?
Ask me again in a month’s time. We have poured everything we have into the cd in such a short amount of time, and thanks to dedication and some hard work from Clockwork Studio, the hard work has already paid off just from listening to what we’ve recorded.
What is your favourite track on the ep?
I’m partial to ever so slowly personally. Depends on my mood at the time.
How do you keep in contact with your fans?
We have a mailing list and soon a new website full of creative ideas and images – www.crashtestforfavouritethings.
To be on the mailing list simply email firstname.lastname@example.org ! (Insert shameless plug music here)
Who do you admire in NZ music at the moment?
People who are doing their own thing. People who are working towards a common goal, people who are pushing New Zealand music for what it is. People who help to create networks of good musicians and music resources favours for favours types…Clockwork studio, Hysteria…NZMUZIC.com…Kings Arms types…Don McGlashan etc…
What do you think NZ music needs?
Crash Test for Favourite Things. More music that isn’t modeled on American crap.
What rumour would you like to start about yourselves?
That we’re not actually people, but aliens who have come here to break NZ music onto the main stage of the global music scene.
Interview conducted by Craig Johnson