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Newsletter Issue #556: 06 Nov 2022

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 Some of the content will be outdated and some layout issues may be present in the translation from email to the web.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!

Thanks to Kev Rowland for writing this editorial:

So, we are coming to the end of another Covid year in Aotearoa, where loads of gigs were cancelled and postponed. There were months when gigs were not just thin on the ground, but simply non-existent. However, as I write this, I realise that the very last of my rearranged gigs is taking place in just a short while and is the one I have been most looking forward to since it was announced last year, namely Written By Wolves at The Tuning Fork in Auckland with a whole host of guests. I have seen WBW twice this year, everyone else on the list at least once (apart from Stacked) and others multiple times (step forward Shepherds Reign (pictured, photo credit Ginny C Photography) and Venom Dolls) and including my international acts I had attended more than 50 gigs this year by the end of October. Given that the most gigs I have ever previously attended was 32 (and that was last year) I find it amazing that I have gone past the half century with quite a few more already booked between now and Christmas, while I already have four booked for 2023.

One of the advantages/disadvantages of being so far away from other countries is that it can be difficult to get international acts here. This means that many Kiwis (including myself until a few years ago) don’t realise that there is far more going on than just some lucky local acts being picked at random to warm up a crowd before the main event. True, the first time I saw Villainy and Shihad was at Western Springs when they supported AC/DC, which was great, but I would have seen Shihad at the Powerstation last year if it hadn’t been thanks to Covid cancelling the gig, while I saw Villainy on Friday night at the same venue. International acts may still be coming here rarely (anyone else desperate to see Mayhem again in January?), but there is no excuse whatsoever for missing out on live music as the scene is vibrant and absolutely buzzing at present.

Apologies to all the other cities and towns where there are great venues (San Fran, Valhalla, Dark Room, 12 Bar, Nivara etc., stand up and take a bow), but for purposes of this piece I am going to concentrate on Auckland as that is where I have been working and writing. There is no excuse whatsoever for not for being in Auckland and not seeing bands multiple times a week if that is what you want to do, and while we all miss The King’s Arms (I saw Napalm Death there with Carcass as support, as well as local bands like The Rabble and Mice on Stilts (pictured (2016), photo credit Steve Bone), those were the days...), there are plenty of other places, so what are they like?

There is no doubt whatsoever that last year my home from home was Dead Witch, which is upstairs at Ding Dong Lounge in Wyndham Street. This is classified as Auckland’s rock dive and is often the place of the after party when a major gig has taken place, while they host gigs themselves multiple days a week, every week, with multiple bands. This is probably one of the best places for value for money as door prices are often stupidly cheap, and it is a great place to discover local bands. This is a rock venue, with a tendency towards metal at times, and a great DJ playing downstairs every night, and is probably the place where at any given moment you have a fairly high chance to bumping into a MNZ writer or photographer as a few are DJ’s while all of us do tend to hang out there when we can.

Somewhat strangely for me, I think I have been at Tuning Fork more times this year than Dead Witch, and they have had a whole host of amazing bands from the likes of dream pop French For Rabbits (pictured, photo credit Chris Zwaagdyk / ZED Pics) through to Ekko Park, The Jordan Luck Band, and go from folk through indie to all forms of rock. The clientele here tends to be rather more scrubbed up than DW, and average age is often older, and the sound is great with the venue being a good mid-sized one and a nice stage. The other venue I have rediscovered this year after a break is Galatos, and I had forgotten what a great place this is, seeing bands like Shepherds Reign, Antagonist A.D. and others. Nice stage, great standing area and there is even an upstairs (although that may not always be open) which has another bar!

While these three places advertise gigs in multiple places, what about others? If we are going to stick with smaller venues (so excluding both Spark Arena and Trusts) then K Road is the place to be. Starting at one end there is The Thirsty Dog which often has some great metal bands (although they do rock as well), then Anthology (nice big area) which covers rock, folk, indie and soul, and by the time you get to St Kevin's Arcade you have Whammy Bar, Whammy Backroom, Wine Cellar, Underground, but there is also Neck of the Woods, Raynham Park just further along, while there is also a Basement at Galatos! I am off to Zeal soon for the first time and have seen great bands at all these venues (apart from Underground, not been there yet), and this is just a subset of the venues around!

Live music is everywhere in Auckland, and there is no excuse whatsoever for not getting out there and getting involved. You may not have heard of any of the bands playing, but when they are only asking $10 of $15 for a multi band bill does it really matter? You are bound to come away with some new favourites and probably make new mates along the way. I can’t get enough of discovering what is out there, and if you see me at a gig come and say hello – I’ll be the old man making notes or typing furiously on a laptop, often in an MNZ t-shirt or singlet.

Next Friday I’ll be at Dead Witch for This Silent Divide (pictured, photo credit It's The Little Things / Amanda Hodge Photography), on the Saturday I’ll be at Tuning Fork for WBW, Ekko Park, Shepherds Reign, Coridian, Pull Down The Sun, Venom Dolls and Stacked while two days after that I am planning to attend A Tribute To The 'The Women's Orchestra Of Auschwitz' taking place at King’s School (who says I am not cultured?). Local bands need people to get out there, see them play, buy their merch, but most of all be vocal supporters to let them know you enjoy what they are doing and appreciate their art.

In the words of John Miles, “Music was my first love, And it will be my last, Music of the future, And music of the past, To live without my music, Would be impossible to do, In this world of troubles, My music pulls me through”. Get out there, and really live.

The Muzic.net.nz newsletter will cease to exist in its current form from 2023 onwards. Our last issue in this format will be going out on 4 December, 2022.

Next year we'll be presenting a brand new subscription-based newsletter to accompany our brand-new website. Watch this space, we hope to announce more details before the end of this year.

After 18 years of these newsletters, it truly will be the end of an era. We're looking forward to moving into the future, and bringing you a cleaner, more responsive website.

Interview with TeMatera Smith – AAA Records

Written by Kev Rowland.

I first became aware of TeMatera some years ago when Mice For Stilts were put forward for inclusion on ProgArchives and I was running one of the approval teams. We quickly became friends, and until I moved to South Island, I was often in Red Room Studios, and to this day still write press releases for his label. But for some reason, possibly because we are such good mates, I have never formally interviewed him, so the other night we finally got that sorted out, and there were very few questions as I just let the conversation flow.

How would you describe yourself?

I am passionate about music, It’s my life, as a musician and producer foremost, and that really led into everything else. I’m inspired to use my experience to help artists create the very best record we can make, sonically and musically: I get laser focussed on making the record the best it can possibly be. I am passionate about music and musicians realising their best potential. It has always been my driving force to push excellence as an artist, recording engineer and a producer. That combined with a sense of playfulness allowing us to engage with our artists audience in a fun way. It’s a roundabout way of saying I think of myself as someone who is very fun-loving, but also quality driven.

What came first, Red Room Studios or AAA?

Red Room. The Symphony of Screams (my old band) and Red Room came about at the same time because I went to an open home, to rent a house, and the guy who owned the house was Mike Coney, ‘Bones’, who became the drummer with TSOS. We became friends immediately and as soon as I rented the house, we agreed to form a band and build a studio. We both had a love of recording, he had a mobile recording set up, so we agreed to join forces and built our first studio under the house in Arkles Bay. We called it Red Room Studios as I’d picked up some coloured gel offcuts from the lighting dept. at Oceania where I worked and used them to wrap the fluorescent tubes in the studio, so it was completely red in there all the time. After a few years we moved the studio into Helensville as we had outgrown the basement, needing a dedicated commercial space. We were in Helensville for 10 years.

From there you have moved to Puhoi. How would you describe where you are now?

It is the old Beach Haven Methodist Chapel which was sold off and relocated here five years ago. We’re situated in the bush in an elevated position overlooking Waiwera, so it is a really beautiful and tranquil place. It was originally only going to be a temporary location for us, because there are some things which went against it such as it is a little bit of town, the control room is a little small. But, as we settled in, we just felt so much at home. The more music that was made there, and the more artists spent time there, the more people just loved being in that space and great music was just flowing out of it, and as Greg Havers said, it is probably the best sounding drum room in New Zealand. We fell in love basically, and it is just a great place to create. That vibe is really important in a studio, some studios are very formal and that’s ok, but our place is more like a residential studio where people can take the time and make the art and follow a journey.

How did the label start? Originally it was very low key, but you have had a lot of chart success this year.

The label started because of two reasons really. One, as a band, TSOS were dissatisfied with the experiences we were having with labels and management: we had a very bitter taste left in our mouths with some unscrupulous people and so were looking for an alternate approach. Added to that I had just produced an album with Te Aratoi called Ancient M?ori Music which had won the APRA Maioha Award in 2009 at a ceremony which was held in the Christchurch Town Hall. At the after show I was approached by Thomas Coffey who said he really wanted me to produce an album for him. Once the album was complete he was trying to find a label, and that planted a seed in me. The biggest obstacle to most musicians in getting an album out is production costs, and we owned a recording studio so I thought “let’s start a label, how hard can it be?”. Of course, that was a really naïve perspective.

After Thomas there was The Kaipara Jammers, which is a brilliant record and I think they had the potential to be a Six60, but they broke up just as their star was on the rise, which was really sad. Next then I think we did the first Tony Daunt record, Miss Peach and The Travellin' Bones, and then in quick succession of bands like Radio Glo and 71 Sunset. This created a huge amount of work not only to produce the music but also promote it, and I had to learn a lot on how the label side of the industry worked quickly, which was so foreign to me having come from the artist and production side. I went to the States and travelled down the West Coast, visiting every student radio station that I could, from Vancouver to California, including Hawaii, building personal relationships with them that to this day work well. I was so nervous as I knocked on those doors, but they all invited me in, and to my surprise they found me somewhat exotic. They were blown away that a label from New Zealand was visiting them. We built a cool network of people we still send music out to. Later down the line it ultimately led us to opening AAA America.

After a while and learning some tough and sometimes expensive lessons, I took stock of the people I wanted to work with as a producer and as a label. I started to recognise that my approach was unbalanced, and was actually harming me both financially and emotionally. When I am on a project, I invest all of myself into it, I cannot do half measures. If I am working with you, I am all in, my creativity, Imagination, experience and drive, so I am thinking about how to improve how the artist interfaces with their audience, their image, their videos, how they communicate with the world, their live performance, everything.

I realised I needed to make some changes and not just sign people because I think they are amazing, but spend more time with them to understand their personality types and whether they have got what it takes to be successful. Instead focus my (now our) talents on artists that demonstrate the required staying power, the tenacity, the pure desire, and grit of what it takes to become a successful artist, on top of having great writing ability and musicianship.

That decision was timely. I was commissioned to produce the sound design for the launch of a brand-new theme park in Orlando, called Volcano Bay for Universal Studios. That was a huge project which resulted in me travelling to different islands across the Pacific, recording First Nations people, and then producing the music for the show. Working with Rewi Spraggon, we brought these artists over to Orlando to perform at the launch which was to be televised live and was watched by at least 24 million people.

The key performer and star of the show was Maisey Rika, we re-arranged her song and recorded it with members of the NZSO. Part of Maisey’s brief was to perform corporate / media shows as part of Universals Park opening week. Troy Kingi (pictured below) travelled with her as her guitarist. At that time, he had made Guitar Party at Uncle's Bach, and he was also building his acting career, but he was unknown to me. I had met a guy who was in a huge amount of discomfort, but he was still performing. On the flight over to Orlando he had become deaf in one ear, which he still is to this day, and his equilibrium was thrown. We got on almost immediately and I realised this was someone I really liked. When he said he had another album he wanted to make, I told him I had a week’s gap in the studio schedule coming up, so come into Red Room and lets have some fun. There was no expectation of him signing to AAA Records, or anything else, it was just about wanting to make a record together. He came in, with Mara TK as producer and a bunch of simply incredible musicians.

It was special, magic was happening in the studio and there was a moment when I had the overwhelming sense that I needed to pay attention to everything which was going on. I needed to remember all of it in in as much detail as I could as this was one of those once in a lifetime moments you get where you are in the presence and resonance of something really magical. I remember thinking that this must have been what it was like for the Engineer/Producer when The Beatles, Hendrix or when Rage Against The Machine etc, were recording, making musical history with landmark records. Troy stood in the doorway to the control room listening to the playback. I pressed stop, turned to Troy and said, “I hope you like travel, this is going to be huge”. That album was Shake That Skinny Ass All The Way To Zygertron. 

Once the album was finished and Troy’s mind turned to next steps, he said “I think I’ll just do the AAA thing, is that alright?” and I said that was fine (very stoked) and that was about as formal as it got. At that time, he was touring with Love & Hope, (Mara TK and Mark Vanilau) and was only playing three songs from Zygertron in the set, I watch Troy at the Leigh Sawmill as the penny dropped … the audience were singing his words back to him, Grandma’s Rocket Poem was an anthem and they loved it. I said to him ‘Bro, put a band together, people want to hear your songs’, and that is when it really started to take off.

I’m inspired by the invisible connections of pure potentiality born from intention, thinking four or five steps ahead and the strategy, it comes naturally to me from a place of playfulness and gratitude.

For example, when we started the Red Room Radio Sessions shows, it was to provide a platform for musicians to have somewhere where they could come and play live, get a recording and interview they could use for their press kit, but it also a way of spreading the word about the studio, me as a producer, the label and building a musical Whanau / community. I believe we achieved all of that, and I would like to revisit making that show again one day. We shot a music TV show Piot called Live At Galatos with crowd funding, but at the time the television stations were only interested in popular music competitions. We felt strongly that they were missing the point as this was a Kiwi TFI Friday meets The Tube, Live With Jools Holland entertainment show. Hopefully, we can do it again in the future. It was fun and I believe there is a gap in the market, that this show would fill.

The first album on vinyl that we released was Mice On Stilts… they blew my mind. Working with them we managed to get them open for Yes, which was amazing, That’s how you and I met through that band, then you became part of the Whanau and helped us build connections internationally with your prog contacts. Some of those still support us to this very day.

As this is being recorded, I would like to talk about someone who was really special to the history of AAA, Lindsey Cottingham. Lindsey ran our label in the US and was one of the fiercest woman I think I have ever met. She was a solo mum in her 30’s, tenacious, she simply wouldn’t take no for an answer, she was fearless. I flew up to Arkansas to meet with her and found out she had this rare heart condition and could die at any moment which is why she was so bloody minded and just got on with life. She had already been opening doors for us in the US and so we agreed terms and launched AllGood Absolute Alternative America. On New Year’s Eve two years ago, I received the news from a mutual friend and artist that she died suddenly, leaving her four year old daughter behind. This was one of the toughest moments in the label’s story and I personally felt her loss deeply as she was an awesome human being who inspired and challenged me. It had been incredibly exciting as we worked together to develop the US for our artists, and new US signings. We miss her thinking of her often and send our Aroha to her Whanau.

I’d also like to acknowledge the input and development of the label by Markus and Lisa Couldrey, who worked tirelessly in the early years on the brand, music, album art and in fact every aspect of the early company. I met Markus through working with him on the sound design for a Game Loft Game called ‘Silent Ops’, It was a bit of a flop… but it sounds great.

What’s next for the label and the studio?

We are growing our roster in Wellington with new signings which I can’t discuss yet, but this will allow us to put on some very special shows in 2023, while continuing to grow up here in Auckland.  

Next year there’s gonna be some awesome music released including a new Outside In record (which we have already started recording) and we are already well under way for the next Troy Kingi record for 2023, with most of the music recorded. Troy, the band and I are heading up to Rancho de Luna in Joshua Tree in June to record the 2024 album, and album 10 we’ll record at Abbey Road. We have a French For Rabbits EP coming out in the New Year (around March we think), the new Albi & The Wolves album is going to blow people’s minds and is, I think, some of my finest work as a producer. Of course I feel that about every record I do but this one is really special; I can’t wait to share it with you. We have Adam Tobeck on drums, we’ve got electric guitar, we have horns sections, we have strings sections, keyboards. We are going to do shows with them with that expanded universe, and they are beautiful, beautiful, songs and it will be out mid-2023. I am also back in the studio in November with Lee Martin for a week recording, again with Adam Tobeck on drums, and this time with Hannah Elise on Bass, which I am looking forward to.

We’ve also got new Dilz material, an album from a new and exciting North Shore band called Bliss, We recently signed Stray Dogs who are away working hard and when they are ready, we’ll get their record out, I am also excited about Sheeps, a Wellington Prog band, and Speech Act Theory, an Auckland based Alternative / Trip Hop band that I really enjoy, plus albums and EP’s by our other new artists.

There’s also going to be a very special album from Delaney Davidson, stay posted for info on that I’m so excited about it. It’s going to be a full on year of great new music!

With the current team at AAA, Mel Jacka is my rock, particularly since I had my accident (TeMatera had a very serious motorbike crash last year). I’d like to say she is my personal assistant, but she would hate me calling her that! She is our Operations Manager and she’s the one that makes sure stuff gets done. Jamie Crerar is studio manager and Head of Creative. The latest Troy Kingi album cover is hand drawn by Jamie (which is just a glimpse into this guy’s pure talent) and it’s Troy’s favourite album cover to date. Jamie came over to NZ travelling and we persuaded him to stay, which is really very, very cool for us.

The three of us are the AAA team now. Our aim for AAA is still for it to grow as an internationally recognised and operating label that has the ability to assist and grow artists internationally. We want to be able to take our ethos of ‘Empowering Creativity’ to other territories around the world.

For many in the creative industries including myself a lot of passion was replaced with uncertainty during the Covid period, and in addition my accident didn’t help, but I’ve learned the importance (essential) of hope, and the power of focussed intention with playfulness.

Surrounded by an incredible team, inspired by wonderful artists, and sense of deep responsibility to represent them in the very best way we can, I’m looking forward to the coming year with renewed vigour.

AAA Records Website
Red Room Website
Te Matera Website

Delving into the depths of NZ heavier music, The Distorted Transmission series is hosted by Will Stairmand (Primacy, Remote). There's been a great range of interviews uploaded during September, check them out at the below links:



There's plenty more on the way - keep up to date with all things Distorted Transmission over on the Facebook Page here.

Muzic.net.nz's resident music connoisseur Roger Bowie recently caught up with Adam Hattaway and Elmore Jones from Adam Hattaway and the Haunters about their new album Bug Eyes. Watch Roger's interview with Adam and Elmore here.

Introducing Muzic.net.nz newest interview series, The AUX Return with Wellington's Nicholas E. Clark (Electric Tapestry). During October Nick interviewed incredible NZ acts Sea Mouse and Voodoo Bloo, watch them at the below links:



Episode #135 Dug Pinnick Returns

Dug Pinnick from US band King's X talks about the new Kings X album Three Sides of One, the producers who worked on Kings X's previous albums and his thoughts on the world and life. These guys created their own sound, paved their own road and influenced many artists including Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pantera and Dream Theater. King's X long awaited new album Three Sides of One has exceeded expectations, shot up the US charts and delighted fans all over the world.

Episode #136 Garageland

On November 4th we release a highly entertaining episode with Garageland’s Jeremy Eade. We talk about the Garageland’s rise in the 90's, the highs and lows of life in music and the bands current tour which celebrates 25 years since Last Exit to Garageland was released.


We're opening the podcast up to artists and inviting people to email us their music. We're looking for music that's a little more interesting and inspiring than the usual 1, 4, 5, 6 over a 'beat' deal. We know there are some innovative and creative artists out there who haven't found a way to get heard and we would love to hear from you and play selected songs on our show. Email us at [email protected]

Listen to our episodes on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Player.FM, TuneIn
and all other good podcast apps!





The following new artist pages were recently created on Muzic.net.nz:

Hannah Everingham The Seizure Police Volts Phoebe Vic
Teazse Tahini Bikini The Seaside Stranglers Lil Mac
Dead Empire LinXs Sounds Escape Matt Nanai
Scarlett Eden Jack Robertson Eve Kelly Erectile Dysfunctioners
Half Hexagon Pollyhill Te Kaahu Rita Mae
Ant Utama Nika Sam Peterson The Allophones
Capricore Jess Rhodes Pirapus Jaggers x Ska
Luke-W Marrow Neck laura. 0800 Belly Up
Deep Water Creek Whero Deadhouse Gates Goodnight My Darling
Sodalight Happy Two Burnt Out Graduate The Bobby Holidays


Check out all our latest reviews and interviews at the below links:



Have a look at our latest photo galleries at the below links:

Artist Galleries
Feature Galleries


View all our previous features here

Our final ever newsletter is going out on Sunday 4 December!

Interested in featuring your music in one of our newsletters? Contact us today!
You can choose the date which suits best.

We can also feature record labels, venues, music stores, music websites and
anything else that has something to do with NZ music.

Email Ben, our Newsletter Editor, for more info:
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View all our previous issues here


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The Muzic.net.nz newsletter will cease to exist in its current form from 2023 onwards. Our last issue in this format will be going out on 4 December, 2022.

Next year we'll be presenting a brand new subscription-based newsletter to accompany our brand-new website. Watch this space, we hope to announce more details before the end of this year.

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