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Newsletter Issue #531: 02 Aug 2020

Our newsletters are sent out once a fortnight and are displayed here for archival purposes only. Some of the content will be outdated and some layout issues may be present in the translation from email to the web. We recommend that you subscribe to our newsletter for the best results!

Finding the positive...

These last few months have been strange and difficult times for a lot of people; however, it has also been an opportunity for a lot of people to take a step back and realise what is most important.

For me it really confirmed how lucky I am to get to do music full time and man did I miss playing shows!

For my band Ekko Park, we were just weeks away from starting a 23 date tour around New Zealand with the Jordan Luck Band when the lockdown was put into place. Instead we had the biggest gap we have ever had between shows. In fact, for the four of us it was the longest time we had ever been without playing a show with any band.

Rather than dwelling too much on the things we couldn't do, we saw it as an opportunity to release our new music, so we put things in place to bring forward the release of our third album Horizon (out August 21st) which was originally planned to be released later this year. Now with a rescheduled tour starting September 4th, we will now be able to celebrate Horizon on the road!

It was inspiring to see so many kiwi musicians jumping at the opportunity to be creative and to find new ways to connect with their audience. For me personally I spent a lot of time playing music, it's rare that I have an opportunity to simply practice and work on new skills. Being a drum teacher, I set up a little home studio so I could teach online., which I have since kept as a permanent fixture in my home.

Post lockdown, It's been awesome to see the support the public has shown to kiwi bands. I have been to a number of shows since, all well attended and all with enthusiastic crowds. People are realising the importance of live music even more post lockdown, and how attending a live show is very good for the soul! Just ask the 6000 people who saw L.A.B at Spark Arena, simply amazing.

Right now is a unique period in time for musicians, with no international shows there is going to be a lot of focus on local shows and tours, so I fully encourage all musicians to get out and play live!

I can't wait to get back on the road, I'm counting down the days until September 4th at Smash Palace in Gisborne! What a way to get back into it and to begin the trek of celebrating our new album Horizon.

Horizon is out Friday August 21st
The first single All Eyes On Me (Featuring Grant Nicholas AKA Feeder) is out now.


Many thanks to Nick Douch from Ekko Park for writing this editorial.

Mungo from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Steve from Bulletbelt about their fourth album titled Warlords produced with live instruments and the help of James Goldsmith. As they pass 10 years in the making, Bulletbelt is feeling the creative gel with a couple new members and an attitude for high standards not going away anytime soon. Ambitious and moving in the same direction, Bulletbelt is willing to get the mahi done!

To someone who is new to Bulletbelt, introduce yourself.

I’m Steve the drummer and I guess I steer the ship. I’m a founding member of the band and I always aim to keep pushing Bulletbelt forward.

With Warlords being your 4th record/album, have you found the creative process changes? What is a key element that has remained consistent?

The key elements that have remained since day 1 of Bulletbelt are to keep doing what we feel is right for the band, blaze our own path and to think outside the box whether it is the music, the artwork or how we present ourselves. There are so many amazing things about metal, but having walls or parameters to have to stay within isn’t one of them.

As mentioned, this album is all live instruments. What difference has that made to the final product in comparison to the other 3 records?

This album is sizzling and bursting with energy. It ebbs and flows and takes the listener through many different emotions. It is real and human. It’s not played to a click track so it has a very realness to it. It’s us in the studio together, playing the songs hard and putting ourselves into the songs. Looking back on our 3 previous albums there are definitely parts of that which we have reached before but we’ve never quite managed to bring the magic that this album has. Working with James Goldsmith on Warlords is a big part of why it sounds so huge and epic. He got what we were aiming to achieve and helped to steer the way sonically to where we needed to be.

Your choice of cover art is incredible, explain how that came about?

We have worked with the artist Scarecrowoven (Dave Harrigan) before on our 2014 Rise of the Banshee album. He’s a New York artist who I stumbled upon in a feature in Thrasher magazine. He had designed some skateboard deck art. His stuff is so eye popping, full of amazing colours and surreal imagery. I was really keen to work with him again on Warlords as I knew he’d knock this idea out of the park! I love how the colours are so ‘non-metal’ yet it’s also got the same vibe as those classic 80’s metal covers. Like as a 12 year old I used to stare at Iron Maiden covers in wonder and get taken away to another world

What inspired the title Warlords?

It started with a very simple idea. I wanted a one word album name. Easy to remember, strong and keeping to the 80’s metal vibe. Kind of like the songs on Warlords. Trim the fat, be more direct and grab people by the throat.

Did the recent pandemic affect the process of this album, if so how did you overcome?

We had recorded the album in October 2019 so we were just really working on post production through this period. Mastering, getting the layout finished and all the icing on the cake stuff. But it did affect us being not able to practice for 2 months. We are a 2-3 time per week practice band so that was challenging. But it was probably nice for us to have a bit of time away from each other too which made us hungrier to get back into it!

What influenced the decision to have Punishment Of God as your focus try, and why?

It’s a very instant song. It’s catchy, hooky and has that big gang chorus. The album is only out one week so far but people seem to be digging that one. Wait until you see the video we have done for it. It’s pretty damn awesome!

Ten years is a decent amount of time building a brand, where do you see Bulletbelt going next?

Bigger shows, more touring, working hard to get the band to the next level. We have plans and a vision of where we want to be and it’s great to have a line-up of like-minded band members willing to do the Mahi to get there!

Read the full interview here

Bulletbelt is Paul Roberts, Steve Francis, Tim Mekalick and Josh O'Brien

Website Links

Muzic.net.nz Page
Facebook Page
Twitter Page
YouTube Page
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ReverbNation Page

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Album Review: Warlords

Paul McLaney is one of New Zealand's most prolific artists. As a case in point, last year he released a new The Impending Adorations album, a collaboration with Jakob guitarist Jeff Boyle and a single with his "live" band Her Own Medicine. He also composed music for dancer and choreographer Taane Mete’s Manawa, was the musical director for the World of Wearable Arts and finished putting Shakespeare’s soliloquies to music. Somewhere he also found the time and inspiration to record Inheritance, an album for these times, by another alias, Gramsci, who have been dormant since the release of Like Stray Voltage in 2005. Mike Alexander from Muzic.net.nz had the chance to catch up with Paul, here's what was said:

It's been a while since you last recorded a Gramsci album. Why now?

When I look back on it, Gramsci was always my Trojan Horse; even the name presents that idea. A vehicle to deliver wider ambitions into the heart of the town square. Since the last Gramsci album I’ve really gone off and more deeply investigated aspects of my musicality, be it acoustic music, electronica, classical, music for theatre etc.

This album feels like the end of my apprenticeship and my most complete musical statement. I feel like I’ve come full circle but have learned so much on the journey to return.

It's called Inheritance. Does that suggest an overall theme?

Definitely. I’m fascinated by the concepts of inheritance and legacy. There are aspects of our personalities, both strengths and weaknesses that we inherit. They can be genetic or they can be circumstantial, philosophic, societal and the earlier you become aware that those are major factors in your existence the sooner you can address them.

The basic premise of all the songs is the idea of personal mythologies. We grow up surrounded by them; the stories we pester our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents to tell us of our shared pasts, our family mythos. It’s through the telling and framing of those tales that we develop in accord our personal philosophies of life.

There's a certain point of evolution within your existence in which you realise you have enough history of your own to have created your own myths and legends. I’d say that the fundamental difference between myth and reality is generally the absence of truth.

We frame our stories to help us navigate the idea of ourselves and to model the avatar which we want to present to the world. I suppose all of that is the paint really and the canvas was my decision to stop drinking. The framework of inheritance, legacy and myth are a result of the self-examination that comes with a decision like that.

Was it completed before the lockdown?

Yes, all of the music, lyrics and recording was completed pre lockdown. The mixing started with Clint Murphy in the UK just as we went into lockdown so that was kind of cool to be holed up and receiving these mixes through that time sort of like early Christmas presents! And then the mastering with Ryan Smith. The AV content for the live show was pretty much developed through lockdown as well as the visual accompaniments for the ‘singles’.

Quite a few of the tracks take their titles from Greek mythology - Tantalus, Atlas, Achilles' Heel. Do you have a specific interest in the Greek epics?

Only in the sense that they are, for best part, the basic archetypes of mythos; each character representing certain human traits. They sort of become coat pegs for aspects of our humanity but not everything is really that black and white and having an easy metaphor sometimes provides an excuse for a harder realisation.

The cover artwork - an image of a painting by British artist Herbert James Draper called The Lament for Icarus - is very powerful. Did you have that in mind at the beginning of recording or did it come during or after?

Icarus is the centrepiece of the album for me. The guitar allows the facility to move into a pure realm of emotion beyond semantics. Throughout my entire recording career, I believe I have subconsciously and in many instances consciously censured myself from that form of non-verbal emotional expression. As my teen-age self-evolved so did my musical tastes.

Just like many guitar players of my generation I traded in my inherited love of Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Peter Green etc. for music more in line lyrically with my emotions: The Smiths, The Cure, The The et al. And while those bands have undoubtedly brilliant guitar players there is a real focus on arrangements and texture for the vocal rather than pure moments of expression via the instrument.

Obviously, that's a blanket statement that doesn't carve out things like From The Edge of the Deep Green Sea or The Kiss etc. but I think you get my point in regards their general disdain for the 'guitar solo'. Lyricists like Robert Smith and Morrissey were my introduction to poets like Shelley and Auden, much like Jimmy Page was my intro to Bert Jansch and all the great British finger style guitar players. That painting so perfectly encapsulates the sheer power of mythos.

You have never been one for trumpeting the work you do but, with Inheritance, it seems as if you are "going public" so to speak and doing a bit more promotion?

Music has always been a place of surrender and engagement for me and I have steered my life by it. This album is my artistic high water mark and the culmination of a life’s journey. It’s the album my youth demanded of my age. If ever there was a collection of my music I wanted to tell the world about, it’s this one.

Main Photo Credit: Amanda Billing

Read the full interview here

Gramsci is Paul McLaney (vocals, guitar, synths, programming), Jol Mulholland (guitar) and Greg Haver (drums)

Website Links

Muzic.net.nz Page 
Official Website
Facebook Page

YouTube Page

Instagram Page

Album Review: Inheritance

Ben Hazlewood is yet another Kiwi who counts Australia as his home. The Wellington-bred songwriter, a former winner of MTV’s The Freshman music video competition, has performed at New York and London Fashion weeks, has been nominated for an LGBTI Music Award in Australia and, despite the disruptions of Covid 19 still managed to recently release his debut album Bloodline. Mike Alexander spoke to him about his career.

You might now be considered "world famous in Papakowhai". Do you have a favourite memory of the place?

Ha ha, doubt it! I remember always wanting to leave and travel/explore the world. Now, looking back, I can see how lucky I was to grow up in such a loving and safe environment. I have so many great memories from the past but also now. My husband and I were married at my family home in Papakowhai so it will always have a special place in my heart.

What inspired you to become a musician? Did you have an epiphany of sorts?

I started writing music when I was 14, after the passing of my older brother. It was my only way of making sense of all that I was feeling. It has been my catharsis ever since.

What age were you when you headed to London and why was "London calling"?

I moved to London originally to be part of a boy band when I was 17. It was weird and fell apart pretty quickly.

The highlight of your three years in the British capital was?

Once I had formed my own band we worked extensively with Wayne Hector, who is an incredible songwriter, and I spent a day in the studio writing and producing a track with Steve Mac. Haven’t been able to get back into a room with those two since! Ha, ha

Why did you relocate to Australia and not just come back home?

After living in London, I felt like going home to Wellington wasn’t exciting enough, so I moved to Melbourne to see what I could get into here.

Has Australia been the land of opportunity for you and, if so, in what way?

There have been some fun times in Australia. But I think the most opportunity for me and my music to date has been in the US.

You are four EPs and now an album into your career. Does writing songs come naturally?

On good days - yes. On bad days - no. I think there are always moments that I have to grab hold of. Sometimes I can be on a roll for a month, then nothing for ages. It's all about timing and everything that’s happening in my world. There is no rhyme or reason to it.

Of all the songs on your debut album Bloodline, is there one in particular that holds more meaning for you than the others?

They are all special to me. but if I had to choose one, I would sayThe Way You Do because it reminds me of home and my family.

Is there a story behind the title of the album?

The concept for Bloodline was that this album is a reflection of everything I have been through to be where I am now. How every moment has added to or changed the direction of my life. This album, to me personally, is viewed as an “Arrival” of self.

I gather you are based in Melbourne. Did the Covid 19 lockdown in Victoria impact on the production and release of the album?

Yea, Miss Coronavirus definitely threw a spanner in the works, but thanks to my amazing team we have still been able to release as planned. I’m currently in Byron Bay, working away in a studio here. I'm very lucky to still be able to create at the moment. Without it I think I would go insane!

Given that touring is problematic at the moment, how much more difficult is it to get the word out about Bloodline?

It wasn’t the typical album release, but still we have been able to get it out there and I am so grateful for all my fans showing me love for this album through so many online platforms.

Read the full interview here

Website Links

Muzic.net.nz Page 
Official Website 
Facebook Page

Twitter Page

YouTube Page

Instagram Page

iTunes Page

Album Review: Bloodline

On Episode #97 we spoke to Dug Pinnick, bassist and vocalist for legendary US band Kings X. Kings X have been together for forty years and their fans include Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, The Police’s Andy Summers, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil and many more. We talk about a wide range of subjects including the complications with the bands performance in front of 300,000 people at Woodstock 94 and the state of the world!

On Episode #98 {Rikki Morris} dropped in for a chat. Rikki is a highly respected singer, songwriter, musician, producer & live sound engineer. Much of Rikki’s extensive career has already been covered, so we took a different approach and just had a conversation. It’s what we do best. Pull up a seat, order a Virgin Mary and get into it!  

On our latest episode, up and coming artist Hinerongonui Kingi discusses her multifaceted career as a writer, singer, dancer, journalist and even a body builder! Hinerongonui is both optimistic and pragmatic and this is a refreshing conversation.

Listen to our episodes on our website, iTunesStitcherSpotifyiHeart RadioPlayer.FMTuneIn and all other good podcast apps!



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