What can we expect to see from George and Queen over the next year?
The main event for George and Queen this year is the release of our third album, 'Teenagers and Grownups'. We're releasing it in April, and after that Neil and I are heading off to Ghana for 4 months – and to tell the truth, I'm not sure what's happening after that.
What can we expect from the new album?
We have tried to break away from the generic pop-rock sound, whilst still remaining within the genre. Specifically, we tried to focus on writing interweaving guitar parts, instead of playing block chords. The guitar parts aren't 'riffs' as such, but melodies that grow and change.
This sort of had the effect of muddling up which key we were playing in - making it a bit more free sounding. Also, we added improvised sections into our music. This means that we left sections unwritten, and unrehearsed - so that whatever we came up with on the day would be fresh and new. We wanted to do this because when we play live we often improvise, and we always considered it part of the George and Queen sound, even though it wasn't represented in our recorded music. So we hope that our new album better represents our band. I think that this new album sounds very different from the our previous two, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. It still has good, catchy songs, but I think that they have a little bit more depth.
What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?
The advice I'd probably give is (a) hold off getting a “real job” for as long as possible (preferably never), because if you're working then you're probably tired and not as creative, (b) listen to as much music as you can, read as many books as you can, and learn as much as you can – because it'll all give you new ideas, and (c) if no one is willing to help you, then do it yourself. Don't wait for good luck, because barely anyone gets lucky.
Who are your favourite NZ musicians/bands, and why?
Personally, I really enjoyed listening to Split Enz (especially the songs by Tim Finn) and The Front Lawn as a child. It was the quirky-ness, and the interesting lyrics that attracted me. I like it when songs aren't so easy to get. You have to listen to them more than once to form an understanding on what the song is about. These days most of the NZ music I listen to is live – bands from Auckland, or improvised music (at Vitamin S).
How do you come up with your lyrics?
Neither Neil or I ever sit down to write lyrics like some musicians do.
The music always comes first, and we let the music inspire the lyrics.
For me, I will come up with the melody to the music first (Neil often focuses on the rhythm of the words first), and eventually after humming it to myself for a while, I'll find words that fit the hum. Like, a single sentence. And I'll think 'what does that mean?', and will build a story around the sentence. I find it fun, and very creative. I often surprise myself with what comes out. By the end, of course, I've twisted the words around and moulded them into something I'd be happy singing.
What is the best part of being a musician?
I think the two things I like best about being a musician are being part of the music community, and the feeling of being on stage, performing, and everything is going completely right. Of course, this feeling is kind of rare. Often things are going very wrong! But it's worth it, for the times when it goes right.
What is in your CD collection at home?
We actually don't own any CDs, except for two bluegrass CDs that I was given at the Old Time Country Club in Montreal in February. Neil and I recently sold nearly everything we owned – except for our musical instruments (I think we have 13 guitars...) and our books. But in our collection on our hard drive... a bit of everything!
What is your favourite place in NZ to be?
Auckland. Definitely Auckland. I love most parts of NZ, but the culture in Auckland is very comfortable to me. And there's nowhere else in NZ (that I know of) that has such cheap, good food.
What inspired you to start George and Queen?
It just seemed the natural thing to do. Neil and I moved to Auckland in 2004 with a bunch of songs we'd been playing with a band we had in Dunedin. We moved up with the naïve idea that if people have good songs, then surely someone would take notice of them. Since it didn't seem to work that way, we realised the only thing to do was to record our songs ourselves and put them out on our own album. So George and Queen began as a recording project, more than anything else. And when our first album 'City' came out, we needed a band to tour with. And so our band has grown. It's now a four piece, with Rich as our drummer, and Pandu as our bassist.
George and Queen are an indie-rock band from Auckland. They released their debut album 'City' in 2007 as a duo, but quickly grew to a four piece band. In 2008 they released ther second album 'The Wind is Up', featuring single 'Lemonade'. In April 2010 they will release their third album 'Teenagers and Grownups'. They release their albums on their own label Gone Quiet Records.