3 Jun 2020
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Rebel Peasant

Bio

With his little fire-brand torch, Rebel Peasant lights up The Walls of the Well - the first solo album by Phoenix Foundation drummer Richie Singleton.

Available in-store and online 10th of August, 2009, The Walls of the Well is Singleton’s first album under the Rebel Peasant moniker, taking listeners on a journey into ‘experimental other dub’ as he flexes his musical and production skills.

The 11 instrumental tracks on The Walls of the Well feature a plethora of instruments & musicians hailing from The Phoenix Foundation (the band with whom he has played with since like forever) Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Black Seeds, Little Bushman, Cassette and Hikoikoi. Trumpets blend with Rhodes and piano whilst melodica, accordion and guitar are given a work out over double bass, percussion and drums.

Singleton describes his musical style as ‘a hearty yearning, like a rousing whiskey by the fire’ - the richly layered moods shifting from dark to uplifting, held together by evocative, filmic overtones which transport the listener into the realm of the Rebel Peasant. ‘He’s a well meaning chap who has always relied on the land to provide both his basic sustenance and the means to create an income,’ says Singleton. ‘His comrades went a little overboard whilst decking out the village and now they face a time of scarcity together - looking into the well, they see mostly wall.’

The album was recorded between Singleton’s home studio and the Wellington Car Club with some tracking taking place at the Surgery with Dr Lee Prebble. Songs were finished over the last twelve months with mixing duties spread between Dr Lee and NZ audio champion Brett Stanton.

Originally from Rotorua, Singleton moved south to attend the Nelson School of Music and whilst living in the Tasman Bay area he recorded albums with The New Druids Society Quartet, Feordorsidenec and Mystery. Playing as a guest percussionist with Bunyip during numerous summer tours he developed a passion for roots music and his influences diversified. ‘It was an exciting time discovering groups like the Congos and the Abysinnians. I realise now that the reggae bands I came to love were from the same era as many of my other key inspirations like Black Sabbath, Bowie and the Beatles.’

After a decent spell in the top of the south Singleton loaded up the Holden and moved to Wellington in 2001 at which time he joined the Phoenix Foundation and after recording the single The Drinker went on to create 3 critically acclaimed albums with the band. The Rebel Peasant project was recorded between finishing Happy Ending and starting work on the latest Phoenix Foundation album which has the working title ‘Richie Singleton is our drummer.’

For opening track, ‘Ushbhackt’ he says the concept is that the piece occurs as a single breath, depicting a soldier who finally, after months of training, of travelling and of waiting, finds himself in the midst of a battle. For him there is an unexpected emotion. He realises that he has never actually killed anyone, and that when he does - that aspect of his innocence will be lost forever. In this moment, with a battle raging all around him he questions the society which encouraged him to serve. He grapples for a definition of honour.

‘Affair at Fabyan’ takes place in a small town close to the site of the Bretton Woods conference in 1944. One of the chaps at the conference has found himself a lover in the next town and ducks out for extra shenanigans. As he runs towards the home of his lover he is buoyed up by the beauty of his surroundings, the passion he is experiencing, and the visionary nature of the conference. He is high on hope. He is not worried that he is missing the most important negotiations of the conference. He is sure that everything will work out just fine.

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  • Wellington


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