First half of 2015

Matt Hay & The Makers

2015 has seen the addition of another semi-regular venue to our roster.  So now, dear reader, along with regular posts on our Days Bay gigs, you shall also be regaled with stories from Wellington eatery, Thunderbird Cafe.

Thunderbird
The first gig of the year was on Thursday March 5th at Thunderbird Café on Featherston Street.  There is always a bit of trepidation playing at a new venue, but we needn’t have been concerned – it was a great success.  We started early (5:30) for the after-work crowd, and we had a good turn-out – pretty much a full house.  We played well, and it felt good.  A perfect venue for us.  It was the full 5-piece version of the band (Matt, Phil, George, Delia and me).  There were generous donations to the Koha tin, there was beer and a great meal (they specialise in that casual Tex-Mex sort of food that I love).  Spirits were high.

Matt Hay & The Makers, Thunderbird Cafe

We returned to Thunderbird on Friday April 24th.  A Friday!!  We haven’t done a Friday night gig ever, have we?  Not as a band, at least.  Matt and I use to do those little CQ gigs a few years ago – were they on Fridays?  We thought we might struggle to pull an audience due to it being a holiday weekend (ANZAC Day), but again it was packed and we played well.  We’re really starting to sound like a proper band.  There were a few random punters who came up and complemented us on the show – which is always really gratifying!  Nicci, Thunderbird-owner, was very happy with us and pulled out the diary to book us in for more dates later in the year.

Greytown w/ Darren Watson
On Saturday April 18, Matt and I headed over the hill to Greytown to support Darren Watson’s solo shows.  This was a lot of fun – as all the shows we have done with Darren have been.  In keeping with a growing trend to put gigs on in places other than pubs, tonight’s venue is the Greytown Little Theatre.  After some early drama dealing with a scaled-down PA (that had to be used after the door of Delia’s van was damaged during an attempted break-in), the theatre filled out nicely, and as always, everyone delivered come showtime.  As with these types of shows – where people have come with the specific purpose of listening to music – it was a very attentive and appreciative crowd.  Lots of nice things were said to us.  Darren does that thing that he does so well, and they love it.  I join him for “Here in my arms”.  It’s another musical moment that I will cherish.  All three of us play “Sweet Home Chicago” at the end of the night.  It is a jovial pack-down and load-out that follows.  The theatre’s “Wardrobe Mistress” provides tea and biscuits and some outrageous flirting.  These are the best of times.

Me at The Greytown Little Theatre

Days Bay Pavilion
Two gigs here so far this year.  I probably don’t need to go into too much detail here.  We’ve all been here before.  It was business as usual  – good fun, great view, nice people, sublime pizza, craft beer, etc.

The first show was a few days after that first Thunderbird gig – on March 8th.  We played well.  The crowd wasn’t as big as it could’ve been – we need to somehow work on our promo out here.

We were back again at the start of June.  George was holidaying in Greece at the time, so we did it without him.  Despite my best Ray Manzerek  impersonation, my left-hand parts were no replacement for George and his Double-bass.  George brings a real presence and grounding to the group – you sometimes don’t miss something until it’s gone.  After a shaky first set, we pulled out a great second-half and even did a two-song encore.  Good times!

Meech Brothers

Miraculously, I have another Meech Brothers track to share with you.  It’s an old song that we’d never really been happy with.  This time we have given it a restrained, sparse acoustic treatment and it’s much better for it (it use to be all drum machines and electric guitars).  It just goes to show that you shouldn’t be too hasty to throw out some ideas.  I like how it’s turned out, and I particularly like my vocal (and you don’t hear me say that very often!)

Other than that, we haven’t made much more progress on completing another collection of songs, although there is now a group of 5 or 6 songs that are gravitating together that either need finishing, polishing or re-recording bits of.  Will we finish it this year?  I hope so.  It will depend on whether we decide to do a proper CD release, or if we just do an online thing.  The CD format isn’t quite dead yet – but it’s not far off.  Sign-up to the newsletter here  if you want to keep posted on any future releases.

2014: Part deux

September

Paekakariki Community Hall, with Darren Watson!

Regular readers may recall that we’ve been here before (South for the Winter tour).
This time around Matt and I were supporting a Darren Watson solo show – so in a lot of ways it was a lot like the South for the Winter shows but with the one obvious absence of our dear music friend, Matt Langley. Aside from that we slotted into that same routine like it was yesterday. We are such a good compliment to Darren’s show, with Mr Hay’s fairly laid-back Americana folk not really venturing too far into Darren-territory, whilst also not being a million miles away from it either. Just across the border if you will. The benefit of all of this is that Darren fans tend to also like what we do, so collectively we can offer a bit of variety over the course of the evening without alienating anyone.

Backstage with Trucker Hat!

Like that last time, the show was well supported by the locals and a few people from out of town (thanks Claire!). And it was out of town for us too. Even though Paekakariki is not too far from Wellington, the hour or so long drive does make you feel like you could almost be on tour – you can taste the freedom and the excitement. It was a great night. I found a trucker hat backstage – this is now forms part of my new look. Matt and I played a solid set to a very nice, attentive crowd. Once again, I sat in on Darren’s “Here in my arms” and I remarkably nailed it – even keeping up with Darren’s ad-libs and unplanned story-telling digressions. Matt too of course played some harp on a couple of Darren’s songs. I also got to finally properly meet Darren’s girlfriend, Delia Shanly who these days has taken on management of Darren. She’s also a recovering drummer and percussionist and a really good sort and did a stellar job of running the door!

DW, Paekakariki Community Hall

November

Eastbourne Fair

Kicking-off a late-year trifecta of gigs was the Eastbourne Fair on November 23rd. This time it was just the trio line-up with Matt, Phil and myself. It was a cracking hot day and there were masses of people – with around 20,000 through over the course of the day. Of course it was just a small percentage who stayed to watch us on the outdoor stage. Still, we played really well and people seemed to enjoy our 45 minute set.

Matt Hay Trio, Eastbourne Fair

Bent Horseshoe Cafe

The next weekend we were on the road again with the Darren Watson solo show, for a gig at the Bent Horseshoe Cafe in Tokomaru. This cafe is pretty much slap-bang in the middle of nowhere. Tokomaru is a tiny village on a secondary highway between Shannon and Palmerston North. The cafe isn’t even on the main road. We took a turn off down a long country road and ended up at this converted school prefab classroom. This was the venue! Who comes to shows out here? The Bent Horseshoe, however has built up a reputation of good music and has many years behind it of hosting a variety of kiwi and international acts. At the time of writing, the cafe is up for sale, so who knows what the future holds for it.

Bent Horseshoe Cafe

By the time showtime rolled around, the room was packed. People had come from all over – the farm down the road, other towns in the area, and Darren’s mum had come from Foxton! Matt and I opened – as we do – and played really well. It was almost like playing in front of one of those intense folk club-type audiences, where everyone sat silently and really listened! Really friendly people, with many thanking us at the end of the show and asking us questions. It was really nice. I wish this was my job.
Darren played a great set and had them applauding for more at the end.
Before and after the show, there was some talk between the four of us about doing more shows in a similar format next year. Delia and Darren’s focus next year will be lots of little solo tours (Darren’s band isn’t always financially viable). Delia asked if we’d be interested in joining them for some of that. Hells yes! Of course we all know that these things don’t always come to fruition, but you never know, and we now have a pretty good track record of playing and touring with Darren. Fingers crossed.

Days Bay Pavilion

Somewhere between the Paekakariki show and November, Matt invited Delia to join the band. We had a couple of jams with her. She was keen, we were keen, and so we became a proper band. Not only was this great for our band, but this also marked Delia’s return to drumming after many years. She use to drum a lot – in more than one band – until RSI forced her to hang-up her sticks. Her first public performance with us was our last one of the year. She joined us for the second half of our show at The Pavilion in Days Bay, and once again it was great fun. Not only was the gig notable as the first outing of the 5-piece line-up, but will also be remembered for the first time that part of the audience formed a conga line and danced around the venue to the last song. Happy days, indeed.

First set @ Day’s Bay Pavilion, November 2014 (Photo: Delia Shanly)

Here’s a brief clip of the final few seconds of that last song of the evening (a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel”):

Meech Brothers

And still the Meech Brothers thing inches further along. Whilst the Matt Hay stuff fulfils my need (and it is a need) to play in a band and perform, I still also need to be able to create – and this project provides that. To the outside world, I guess nothing much seems to be happening – and I guess that is kinda true, but I for one am more inspired than I’ve been for awhile and we are getting better at making time for this. I have promised myself to release something in 2015. Even if it’s not a full EP or CD, we must put some songs out there in the world.

So, in the spirit of sending our work out into the world here is a new song:

Once upon a time I possibly wouldn’t put something out there that is possibly not the final version. However, I have made conscious decision to not spend so much time “perfecting” songs. Time to relax a bit and just get on with it.

2014: Part un

First gig of the year was a Matt Hay & the Makers show at Days Bay Pavilion at the end of January – and it was was one of the really good ones.  Great crowd, and we had a full dance floor by the end of the night – and you don’t hear me say that very often.

In February – fittingly on Valentines Day – our good friend Matt Langley was in town to play at a wedding, so of course we did a we did a little gig at Mojo Invincible as part of their regular acoustic night.  Langley headlined, and Matt Hay and I, as well as Tony Burt did sets beforehand.  I sat in on a few songs with Langley – Wilco’s “How to fight Loneliness”, Matt’s “Love and Money” and “Into the fire”.  It was really amazing how we clicked back into it.  Always a treat and a privilege to play with Mr Langley – may there many more such opportunities in the future.

with Matt Hay, Mojo, February 2014

with Matt Langley, Mojo, February 2014

Mojo photos courtesy of Gerard Hudson

Days Bay Pavilion, April 2014

In April, Matt Hay & The Makers were back at the Pavilion.  Whilst not reaching  the crowd-participation heights of the January gig it was still a great night.  I love these evenings out at Days Bay with these guys so much.

In June, Matt, Phil and myself played at a party to mark Matt’s departure from his work.  The venue was the very fun bar, Cuckoo in the Foxglove building on the waterfront.  It wasn’t looking good early on, when we plugged-in our gear somewhere we shouldn’t have and blew fuses and lights all over the show.  My keyboard also went down.  It was looking like this might become a duo gig.  I hit the bar.  When Phil arrived he had the cracking idea to wrap the keyboard’s fuse in tin foil – and it bloody worked!  We played a good set (mostly in the dark), with many of the guests joining in for a sing and a dance for the covers at the end of the set (you know, “The Weight”, “Wagon wheel”, those old chestnuts).  Then it was free beers and good chats for the rest of the night.  Good times!  How do I make this my job?

Matt Hay Soundcheck at Cuckoo before we blew all the fuses

Meanwhile, Gareth and I kept grafting away at the Meech Brothers Project.  Not a lot of progress was made at the Blue Room in the first quarter of the year.  Between scheduling difficulties and continuing technical problems at the studio we were really up against it.  When Justin told us he would essentially be moving out himself and leasing the remaining room to James Goldsmith, we decided it was time to let it go.  We could have stayed on, on our regular Tuesday night, but we feared there would be less flexibility and we could continue to burn more money without getting the most our of the place.  So it was with heavy hearts that we handed in our keys.  Whilst we may not have made much progress there in the last year, it was a great space to hang-out, to make music and it was right in the heart of the Cuba Quarter.  We got to meet some cool people and I definitely learnt a lot about recording.  Poco would not have been the record it was without it.  Thank you Justin!

What has surprised me the most about leaving the Blue Room and returning to recording at home, has been the increase in productivity, and the creative spur it has given us.  I started writing a lot more, and we have a handful of songs in progress.  The muse is back!  Of course, some things will be challenging – like recording anything really loud – but we can go back to the Blue Room on an ad hoc basis for stuff like that – so it’s win-win.

Meech Brothers “selfie” from the last night at the Blue Room

In July we were contacted by an old friend who works as a Creative Director at an Ad agency in Dublin.  He asked if he could use a track off poco for a TV and web commercial.  Um, yes, of course!  They settled on opening track, “Smaller than you think”.
Before you watch the ad, here’s some context: the ad is deliberately shot in an am-cam style – our song is just audible in the background, emanating from a transistor radio – so not sure we’ll see a huge increase in sales in Ireland!  Despite this, we were flattered.  We got some money for a song that I had thought had past it’s Best Before date.  And we did take it as a compliment – the Ad guys obviously thought that the song sounded like something that might be playing on a radio station – and it does, and that’s pretty cool.  Here it is:

Mostly, getting that ad-sync has inspired us.  May be we’re not too bad after all.

The year that was 2013

After the excitement of being in Matt Langley’s band from March to May (gory details here), the rest of 2013 was pretty quiet.

kelburn_poster_2013The next gig wouldn’t be until September. It was a Matt Hay & The Makers show at the Days Bay Pavilion, and it was a good one. We really do love playing out there. It’s such a good match of performer to audience. Pretty much every time that we play there we are well received and people genuinely dig it. We always leave with full bellies and joy in our hearts. It’s such a tremendous way to finish off a weekend.

The following month (October) The Makers played at the Kelburn Pub on a Sunday afternoon (we’re a Sunday kind of a band, it would seem). Keen readers will remember that we’ve played there before – as guests during one of Laura Collins’s regular Backporch sessions back in 2012. This time it was just us. It started off pretty slow – the cracking weather possibly keeping people away and outdoors – but by our second set things had picked up and we hit our stride. I was really happy with my playing at this one. Another lovely way to spend a Sunday – aided no doubt by their excellent beer selection.

I had hoped that by the time I wrote this Blog post, I would have been publishing a completed Meech Brothers song or two. However, 2013 has been a rather unproductive year for us. There are many reasons for this. Time has become an scarce commodity and aligning our free time has become increasingly difficult.

HLM’s original Korg MS-20

There have been technical challenges too. There were a few changes at the studio this past year. The good studio Mac (that we use for recording) got re-deployed to Park Road Post where Justin was working on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies for most of the year. So when Gareth and I actually managed to get into the studio at the same time, we would often spend a large part of each session battling with cables and computers, trying to get things to work. Justin also sub-leased the former recording room to local band, Heat Like Me. Not that this was a problem – sure, we lost a permanent drum setup space, but gained some cool neighbours in the form of Darren and Brenny and their wonderful array of analog synths.

But possibly the biggest problem for us this year has been inspiration. Early in the year I wrote a song called “Diving Bell” (which is one of the songs that we have tried to record/finish this year), but since then I have suffered from a definite case of writer’s block (even this blog post is two months late!). Now, I’d hardly call myself prolific, but in the past I have always managed to make time to finish songs. I don’t remember struggling too much with the songs that I wrote for poco (“Smaller than you think”, “Best way to be”, “Want you to know”). It never comes easy, but I was always motivated to work at it and find ways to finish songs. It’s easy to blame a lack of time, but the truth is, time has always been precious and in short-supply. I use to make time – sometimes writing lyrics in cafes at lunchtime, or shutting myself away in the study to come up with chord progressions. Time is there – you choose how you use it. I guess I just haven’t chosen to use it for songwriting enough. So, New Year’s resolution: find the muse again. There is a part of me that is desperate to make a really great record. I think it’s in us, and I don’t think we’ve quite captured our potential in previous work. It’s time to dig deep and make it happen. Wish us luck.

Virginia Avenue

The first half of 2013 has been full of surprises and delight!

You may recall that at the end of last year, it wasn’t really clear what 2013 would hold. There was uncertainty. There was a hint of fear.

I needn’t have been concerned.

Mr Hay goes electric

We kicked-off the music calendar on the first Sunday in February at the Days Bay Pavilion with Matt Hay and Phil. We were back before the end of March, and brought George along with us for that one. Both gigs were really good. Things are evolving here, which is great. Matt has picked-up a retro-styled Fender Excelsior amp and has started playing some good old fashioned Chicago-style harp through it. So yeah, some blues tunes are creeping into the set. They’re good fun, and the crowd digs them.

Meanwhile, Matt Langley (keep up here – the other Matt – the one that lives in Dunedin) was planning a show in Wellington – with a band – to get the promo ball rolling for his new album. He asked me if I’d like to be part of the band for this one, and of course I said yes. The band would consist of two of the core members from the album sessions – Tom Watson (HLAH, Cassette, Fly My Pretties) on guitar and Tom Callwood (Phoenix Foundation, Little Bushman) on bass, with Davey Geard guesting on Drums. I couldn’t turn this one down. What a great bunch of musicians. Would they work out that I was an imposter? That there must have been some sort of mistake in the recruitment process?

So yeah, by now (March), Langley had manufactured all of his CDs – although the official release of Virginia Avenue wouldn’t be until May. The album has turned out really well. It sounds tremendous thanks to Brett and Riki’s lush production. There’s even some great horn playing throughout courtesy of Adam Page and Alexis French. Matt has been brave here and hasn’t paid any attention to what others may think a Matt Langley record should sound like. It is a big proper album, that covers a lot of ground and styles and demands repeat listens. He should be very proud. I’m on there a little bit. Always nice to be involved. In fact, my good old casiotone is the very last sound you hear at the end of the album.

In good company: Viriginia Avenue credits

In good company: Viriginia Avenue album credits

This “preview” show took place at Puppies (the former Happy) on Tory Street. We played most of the songs on the album in track-list order, and topped it all off with a Faces cover. We played really well, but it was a disappointingly small crowd. Good times, though. At the end of the evening Langley asked me to join the band for the May album release tour!

Matt Langley Band V1.0 @ Puppies, March 2013

The May tour would cover Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland over an extended weekend, followed by Wellington the following Thursday. Due to commitments in my other life, I elected to participate in the North Island shows only. It was a tough call, but it was the right call.

The week before before the tour, we re-convened at the Car Club in Berhampore for rehearsals. With Davey out of the country and Tom Callwood away on tour in Europe with the Phoenix Foundation, it would be a new rhythm section for the tour with Riki back behind the kit and Andrew Bain completing the line-up on bass. Andrew is most famously known as the bass player for Fur Patrol, but less well known is that he played on two songs on a Blender (Gareth and mine’s old band) tape back in the mid-90s. It was good to see him again. He’s a good geezer. That can actually be said of the whole band. Aside from the joy of playing with such a great bunch of musicians, there is enormous fun to be had just hanging out with these guys. Hilarious, the lot of them.

Rehearsals at the Car Club. Matt Langley, Tom Watson, Riki Gooch, Andrew Bain (l-r)

I met up with the band on a fairly wet and dreary afternoon in Auckland at The Kings Arms. They were all fairly shattered after the first two shows and an early morning flight. The show at Chicks in Dunedin had apparently been a riotous success, but the turn-out in Lyttleton, at a new venue in an isolated area, had drawn less of a crowd. The Auckland show, in terms of attendance, would fall somewhere in-between I imagine. But, by golly, we played well. The conviction of Matt’s performance and the playing of this band, which has really found it’s stride was really something. It was nice for me to be able to play in front of some of my Auckland mates (including my uncle) which I haven’t really had the chance to do before.

The band reassembled the following Thursday at my favourite Wellington venue, Mighty Mighty. What a great night! Awesome crowd, and we played so very, very well. Even our cheesy David Letterman-band style interludes to punctuate Matt’s jokes, were tight.  This night will feature in my list of all-time great musical experiences. It’s right up there. It might even be at the top. The horn section from the album joined us for this one, and they were great. Amazing energy, and a packed dance floor by the end of the night. What a buzz. Thanks Matt.

Here’s a video from the gig:

Into The Fire from Petra Alsbach-Stevens on Vimeo.

And some stills:

Matt Langley Band V2.0, Mighty Mighty

Matt Langley Band V2.0, Mighty Mighty
w/ Adam Page and Alexis French

Adam, Alexis, Tom, Matt

Matt, Riki, Me

Mighty Mighty set list

More pics here

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POSTSCRIPT:  About a month after that Langley gig at Mighty Mighty, I bumped into Riki at Fidels café. He had a friend with him who had gone to the show. He told me that he really enjoyed it, and made particular reference to me and said that he liked my “Wilco-type” keyboard work, and that my playing reminded him of John Lennon. Whoa. Two massive ticks there. Riki also said that the Langley shows were his most enjoyable gigs in ages (and he does LOTS of gigs).

That was a big buzz. I don’t know how qualified Riki’s friend was to make those calls, but he obviously knew enough to understand where I was coming from. He knew enough to be able to identify two significant influences in my playing. He was no chump.

I felt great for the rest of the day. And there you have it. Bingo. This is one of the reasons I do this. In my regular day-job life, I’d never receive a compliment that would mean so much to me. I guess it proves to me that music does matter – more than I am even able to acknowledge most of the time.

Last bit of 2012

The twilight months of 2012 were fairly subdued – even by our standards

Winter

I played with Matt and Phil at the Days Bay Pavilion in August.  That was a nice intimate winter show, with an enthusiastic, and sometimes downright rowdy, crowd (a crowdy?) of locals.  Good times, indeed.

Press

NZ Musician magazine reviewed both the Matt Hay (August/September issue) and poco (October/November issue) EPs.    Matt’s one was particularly favourable, and I eventually came around to seeing that the Meech Brothers one was pretty good too.

poco review

Spring

Zoe Cook, Days Bay Pavilion, October 2012

We were all back at the Pavilion in October.  First-up was a Meech Brothers show on the first Sunday in October, at the slightly experimental and earlier time of 3pm.  Again Zoe Cook and her side-kick, Ollie, played before us.  I really enjoyed their set, but it was a weird gig.  It was a cracker of a day, which we thought would be a good thing, but unfortunately it encouraged our audience to sit outside of the cafe.  We pretty much played to an empty room.  We had people sitting on the verandah listening to us, and applauding, but there was this massive distance between us and them.  Very weird indeed.  G and I didn’t didn’t play as well as we can, which was a shame, as it was our last show of the year.  The punters, and Angus, said they enjoyed it, though – which is the main thing.

Meech Brothers, Days Bay Pavilion, October 2012

The following week, I returned to the Pavilion with Matt and Phil.  We played at 6pm, and it was much, much better.  We had a room full of people who stuck around, dined and listened.  We played really well.  It was one of the good ones.

I had always planned for October to be the last month of gigs for a little while.  It was time to take a break from music for a few months to recharge and re-focus.  However, like an ex-con trying to go straight in some sort of heist movie, I got lured back in for “one last job”.  At the end of November I did a dirty old Corporate Gig with the full Matt Hay & The Makers band (Matt, Phil George on double bass and me) at Matt’s work.  It was a nice way to end the music year.  We played really well, got paid well, the canapés were excellent and we were quietly ignored.  It was good fun.  George’s double bass adds soooo much to the sound, and I think he just lifts everybody’s game.  It’s like being in a band again!

Matt Hay & The Makers, November 2012

The year ahead

We don’t often have a grand plan in place for each year, but we usually have a bit of an idea of what we’d like to tick off in the medium term.  This year, things are vaguer than usual.  That could be because we’ve had a couple of productive years recently with a tour, and a couple of new EPs behind us.  What do we do next year?

Matt wants to make a video clip.  That’s a good idea.  I’ll keep him onto that.

Gareth and I will work-up more songs.  There will be another EP – but let’s be realistic – it won’t be released until 2014.  We’ve got one or two song ideas at the demo stage already.  I’d like our next EP (or whatever form it takes) to be a bit more musician-y, and left of centre.  If I have one criticism of poco, is that it’s a little clean and conventional.  Let’s mess with things a bit.  At this stage of the game we’re never going to played on mainstream radio or tv any way, so lets just have fun with it!

Merry Christmas People.

Be good to one another.

The middle bit of 2012

April

Gareth and I played at the Southern Cross’s “Kroon for your Kai” night on the 18th. This night is similar to the old Acoustic Lounge night, or as the promo says, “a showcase of up and coming artists and established musicians working on new material”. Not sure which category we fit in to.  Like Acoustic Lounge you can get an odd combination of acts, but the venue is much better suited, you get a free feed and a drink, and hostess, Mara Simpson, does a wonderful job of holding it all together and keeping the musicians in good spirits. G and I played well. Also, performing that night was Zoe Cook, who we thought was great – good songs, lovely voice. We thought we should do a gig with her sometime.

Meech Brothers, Southern Cross April 2012

The weekend before that gig at The Cross, Matt Hay and the Makers were the guest artist at Laura Collins’s regular Back Porch Sunday session at the Kelburn Pub. George Barris – who played bass on the recent Matt Hay recording sessions – is in Laura’s band so it was easy for him to sit in our wee set. It was a full-house and there was a really good vibe and we were well received. Why don’t we all go to the pub more often on a Sunday afternoon? It’s a very civilized thing to do.

Towards the end of the month, Gareth and I were interviewed on Tony Kemp’s Access Radio show. Tony is a very good drummer, and he use to be in our old band, Blender, and was the one who introduced us to Midge McCleary. These days, he works at the radio station and plays in stadium-rockers-to-be, Supermodel. You can hear the interview here:

May

No entry: the demolition crew moves in on the Mt Cook Production Village

Got the call-up to lay some keyboard parts on a couple of songs on the new Matt Langley album. Matt has been working on the album since around March. Since he returned to Dunedin, his producers Brett Stanton and Riki Gooch have been holed-up in the doomed Mt Cook Production Village. With the wrecker’s ball poised over their heads, Brett and Riki were working at a feverish, semi-crazed pace to complete the mixing by the end of the month. Between them, they had actually put a lot of keyboard parts down already. That left just two songs (“Never” and “Cemetary Stone”) for me. It was a very chilled-out session.

It was cool to work with Riki again – I had a few basic parts worked out going into the session and we expanded on those, with Riki often “conducting” me. I’ve come a long way. Once upon a time, such an experience would have terrified me, but now, it seemed completely natural. It helps that Riki is such a down-to-earth and humble guy.

I’d also never seen such a positive reaction when I casually mentioned that I had a casiotone in the car – it had to be brought in immediately!  They loved it and apparently made it into the final mix.  I can’t wait to hear the completed album.  What I heard that day was sounding really, really good.

June

After that Southern Cross gig in April we traded some e-mails with Zoe, and we agreed that we should try to do a gig sometime. The opportunity to do just that came about when we booked a gig out at the Day’s Bay Pavilion. It worked out really well. We kicked-off late on a Sunday afternoon, and it was a really pleasant gig. The sun sets early at this time of year, but we had good audience. Zoe had a good support crew and a few locals stayed to listen to the music, eat and enjoy the warmth of the fire. I was really happy with our Meech Brothers set. It really felt comfortable and good. The set was well balanced and really worked. Proprietor, Angus, was also pleased with how it all went. It would be good to do another one or two out there in Spring.

The view from Days Bay Pavilion, looking across Wellington Harbour

The Meech Brothers were invited back to play at Kroon at the Southern Cross, by new booker, Melody Thomas (Mara has moved to Berlin). So back we went, and played the last Wednesday of June. An even more eclectic night than last time, with music ranging from glitchy electronica instrumentals (Pea Stew) through ukuleles and everything inbetween. We were the “headliners” and we played a good solid set (although we probably needed a slower song or two in there).

July

While all of this was going on, Matt and Brett had been busy working on the new Matt Hay CD. Brett did all the mixing and then mastered the disc. Graphics Designer, Brian Lammas, who did the cover art for the Meech Brother’s “Lost at Sea” EP, was called in to work on the artwork for the EP that would be titled “Where do we go from here?”.

As we all know, once you’ve got product, the next step is to do a release gig. So we did. No prizes for guessing the venue. Yep, it was back to Meow.

George again sat-in on this one making us as close to a band as we get these days. Not a bad sized crowd for a Thursday night. I think we played well – it just didn’t feel that great. It might have been the on-stage sound. I don’t know. It sounded good out the front, apparently.

I can report, with absolute certainty though, that Matt’s EP is very good. A lot of work has gone into it, and you can really hear it. Take a listen:

Purchase here

Until next time,

Ciao!