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Newsletter Issue #117: 24 Sep 2006

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The primary functions of music

I'm never sure if my current line of thinking is based on the observation of the world around me or of some completely interior process. At the moment I'd like to believe that it is a subtle blend; omens and signals disguised as epiphanies and conclusions. As far as this relates to music and life as a musician in New Zealand, my thoughts run something like this:

It would seem to me that the two primary functions of music are entertainment and communication. It follows then that at least two questions are raised: 1. for whose entertainment; and 2. communicating what information?

1. for whose entertainment?

When we classify all music made by Kiwi artists as "New Zealand music" we are answering the first question "for the entertainment of New Zealanders." This seems somewhat exclusive and in no way offers any clue as to what the music might be saying.

Bands like The Mint Chicks and Die! Die! Die! are surely communicating a different voice than others like Dimmer or Fat Freddy's Drop. Sure, they share an affinity to a country, but then so do Iron Maiden and Lily Allen.

Is there some underlying fear that our music isn't at an international level? That the public wouldn't be able to find a Bic Runga album under "R" in the Rock & Pop section? It surely can't be that all New Zealand music sounds the same? Or should be viewed the same? While it might be argued that the place of your domicile informs the way you view the world I think it would be wrong for the world to view you purely in respect of where you live.

2. communicating what information?

I'm feeling a shift here. Not so much in the manner of lyrical content but in the delivery of that content. The word "real" keeps popping up. What does it mean? I think it means different things at different times to different people. To me, at this present time, it means "honest".

Honesty is something that I want to hear more and more these days. It would seem to be the most conscientious manner of communication and the method by which you might best be believed. There is an endless stream of music that I don't believe in - fabricated soul-less radio focused noise that serves no other function than to advertise some manner of shallow tacky consumerism.

I think this is having another effect though: I can also see a rise in a younger audience searching out new music that they can believe in. "Real," "honest" music that strives to create some level of empathy and communion. This audience includes the kiwi writers and performers who populate and give voice to our cultural identity. It is an identity that I have always witnessed as one of beautiful integrity and optimism and one where we create our own meaning. I think it is inspiring.

We live in the world and the world is talking to each other, I think that music could once again be an arena in which that communication could take place. A lightning rod for cultural thought and feeling songs that mean something.

Thanks to Paul McLaney for this editorial.
If you would like to write an editorial for the newsletter, please drop us an email and we'll get it set up!

Paul McLaney

Thirteen schools by the age of 12, growing up in the shadows of North-East England’s sprawling petrochemical factories then transplanted worlds away to the idle wiles of Aotearoa’s northern reaches; music was the only constant in the life of Paul McLaney, singer, guitar-player. Yet his music has only furthered his travels, and his stylistic leanings have been anything but constant. From folky pop and thunderous rock’n’roll spanning the exploits of his band Gramsci to complete immersion in electronica of dance music collaborations and new excursion The Blush Response, McLaney’s life has been one of movement.

1) Who are your favourite NZ bands and artists?

I'm a big fan of Jakob - it takes a great deal of presence to create a mood as powerful and emotional as theirs. They are a constant inspiration actually. As a teenager I was a huge fan of Straitjacket Fits and that has bled into a healthy respect for the Dimmer recordings. I think Sam Scott and James Milne are 2 of the best writers around at the moment and Sean James Donnelly continues to make me want to write better songs.

2) What is your favourite NZ venue?

The Opera House in Wellington.

3) What is the best live gig you have ever been to?
One I wasn't expecting - Portishead live at the North Shore Events Centre. I had seen Radiohead the week before and expected great things from them. They were fantastic. I don't know what I thought Portishead would be like live but they were totally mindblowing.
4) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I've recently come to understand that acoustic music is where my primary passion resides; apart from my girlfriend that is... It's nice to experiment and involve yourself in music outside of your natural comfort zone - I know it's certainly stretched my abilities as a musician. But at some stage all of those excursions lead you home and you assimilate that knowledge and understanding into your own identity and that's the thing I'm striving for now. In 5 yeras time I'd like to be a little further down that track.

5) How do you keep in contact with your fans?
Gigs. I have always believed that the primary function of a musician is to play live, to help create that communion that music allows.

6) What rumour would you like to start about yourself?
That my real name is Gramsci and that I have a band called Paul McLaney.

7) What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?
There are plenty of awful jobs in the world without making music one. Music is as important to me as breathing and for that reason I try to give it all of the respect it deserves by staying true to myself. It's not a passport to anything other than itself, but it is an invitation to share.

For more info on Paul McLaney head on over to his muzic.net.nz and Myspace pages.


Aethea was formed in 2005 and play metal music at its finest.

1) Who are your favourite NZ bands and artists?

Sam: Odiusembowel, Backyard Burial, Gomorrah...
Jed: Slave Cadaver, El Schlong, Die! Die! Die!
Bloodshed from Napier.
Jared: Vatikan & Omen from Wanganui, Nort, Dead Stoned Babies, Damned Age who've just moved to the dark side (Auckland)... there's heaps of good bands if you look.
Jed: True Bliss before they sold out.
Quinn: Pretty much all the bands we've gigged with have been cool.

2) What is your favourite NZ venue?

Jared: Valve is pretty much the only place for underground metal in Wellington you can regularly get gigs at. Greg's really supportive of all bands that play there. Underground Arts is cool too and there's a few all ages places that are starting to have metal gigs.
Jed: All ages gigs always go off.

3) What is the best thing about being in Aethea?

Jed: Rockin' out and getting on the rips!
Quinn: The power and the passion!
Jared: The sega covers!
Sam: Walking through Marion Street to get to valve!
Jed: Mainly that we're not that serious and just have fun. That should be the main thing about being in a band.

4) What is the best live gig you have ever been to?

Sam: Opeth was pretty good, White Zombie put on a good show, and Primus.
Sam: Pantera.
Jared: Deep Purple 2004 in Auckland and 2006 in Wellington, Faith No More last time they came, Fu Manchu ruled too.
Quinn: Pungent Stench in 2002 at the old State of It in Napier. It's now the Rack & Ruin I think.

5) Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Jared: Probably still at valve!
Jed: Supporting bigger bands perhaps?
Quinn: Hopefully have recorded and released some good albums by then.

6) How do you keep in contact with your fans?

Quinn: They abuse us on internet forums or vice versa.
Jared: Through myspace we get a lot contact with fans, also just at gigs people will come up to us. We're not that unapproachable!
Sam: I stalk them in the night!

7) What rumour would you like to start about yourselves?

Sam: Jed farts all the time.
Quinn: We have a lame sense of humour.
Jed: We all don't play our own instruments.
Jared: Quinn is really the baby off the Hyundai Santa Fe ad on TV!
Sam: Quinn is pregnant!
Jed: All our conversations turn to shit!

8) What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?

Quinn: Stay in school!
Sam: Go hard.
Quinn: Sell drugs to supplement your income cos you're not gonna make any money!
Sam: Don't call the cops!
Jared: Depends whether you're wanting commercial success, if that's the case you're playing the wrong kind of music here!
Jed: Just do what you feel passionate about, you might not make much money but you'll keep your dignity.
Sam: ...or turn out like Jed!

For more information on Aethea check out their muzic.net.nz and myspace pages.


Blindspott released 'End The Silence' in May 2006. 'End The Silence' is an intensely heavy experience, both in terms of pure metal carnage, but also emotionally. Alexander’s lyrics reflect extremely personal themes, from the birth of his child Charlotte, to the wreckage of failed relationships. Overriding everything though is a relentlessly optimistic sentiment. Overcoming adversity, rising above the hardship to prevail.

Thanks to Marcus for answering these questions.

1) Who are your favourite NZ bands and artists?

Mine are Shapeshifter and The Have at the moment

2) What is your favourite NZ venue?

Esplanade in Christchurch is pretty mongrel, definitely a favourite

3) What is the best thing about being in Blindspott?

It's my dream job. Being a musician that is successful

4) What is the best live gig you have ever been to?

Summer Sonic in Tokyo just recently. Metallica headlined with a 20 year anniversary of Master of Puppets set. Brought back all the childhood memories.

5) Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Playing at the Ozfest mate!

6) How do you keep in contact with your fans?

As much as we can through our website and on myspace. We try our hardest to answer them all.

7) What rumour would you like to start about yourselves?

Shelton has a new boyfriend.

8) What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?

Do what ya love. Passion and drive will help you succeed. Always be honest with ya music and you'll be fine

For more information on Blindspott take a look at their muzic.net.nz and myspace pages.

What's New!

New Artists

The following new artists were added in the past fortnight:

Henry Thomson
For Obvious Reasons
Infinite Flying Kick
Blood Stain Blue
Paul McLaney

New Reviews

Check out the following reviews which were added to the site in the past fortnight:


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