30 Sep 2022

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Hobnail - Hobnail Newsletter Interview

02 Aug 2017 // An interview by Shade

After 23 years together on a long and winding road which has seen them play venues around the world and throughout New Zealand, Blue Sky Songs – Hobnail’s 7th album - is a fine distillation of life’s lessons, well learned. Like a well-aged cognac, Blue Sky Songs is mature, complex, occasionally fiery, but with great depth and power. Rob answered the following questions for muzic.net.nz:

How did you become involved in music?

I started playing guitar when I was 16, started writing songs not long after and joined my first band not long after that. I came from a background where being a full time musician wasn't really a career option, so it wasn't until I'd reluctantly worn a suit and tie for a decade before I had the courage to leave the security of a full time job and become a career musician. It's not the easiest life, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Which one of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

Maria's Last Words from the Hobnail album On With The Show. We were playing a lot of bars at that stage, and the song sounds like a drinking anthem, but it actually turns it around to be about the damaging effects of alcohol on relationships. I've had quite a few guys come up after a gig a ruefully tell me "that song is my life, man."

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it before?

Folk/ Rock with Country and Celtic influences. 

What can we expect to see from you in the next year?

We'll be making our way slowly but surely around the country touring our new album. We have a single and video just out for Every Single Day, and plan to release a second single early next year.

What NZ musicians or bands would you like to see more of, and why?

Given our musical style you would never guess it, but we are huge Shihad fans. I haven't seen them play for a few years so would love to see them again. The last time was a warm up show they did at tiny venue in Wellington with about 200 extremely happy fans. Awesome, every time. 

What is your favourite NZ venue, and why?

The Mussel Inn. Andrew and Jane are excellent hosts, the audience is always great, the accommodation is amazing and all set in a beautiful corner of the world. Oh, and great beer. Special mention to Nelson Boathouse, and I will always remember the Harbourlight at Lyttelton fondly.

Have you got any tips for dealing with nerves before a gig?

Well, a little alcohol has always worked for me. I stress "a little".

How do you balance your music with other obligations; family, job etc?

That's the hardest part of the whole thing. It's why our tours tend to be spread over months rather than weeks. We typically play a 3-4 day stretch once a month, maybe longer in school holidays (we are all either music itinerants or full time teachers). We've been doing this for 23 years now, so you have to make it sustainable, which means making it fun. Dragging yourself around the country making no money and missing home is a great way to bring on a career change and kill your band.


Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Practice lots, don't try to be anyone but yourself.


About Hobnail

From humble beginnings in Wellington bars Hobnail have gone on to release 7 albums, and tour extensively playing clubs, venues and festivals throughout New Zealand.

Their album Fortune Horses was a finalist for Best Folk Album at the New Zealand Music Awards. Songs Dead in the Water and Baggage were both nominated for Best Country Song, while their 2015 album String Things was generally regarded as the best of their career. They have just released their 7th Album Blue Sky Songs.

Festival favourites with a loyal following, their live performance has been described as “spellbinding”, “captivating”, “incendiary”, “rousing” and “highly spirited and entertaining”.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Hobnail


Boots And All
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Blue Sky Songs
Year: 2017
Type: Album
String Things
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Year: 2012
Type: Album

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