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Artisan Guns: Swim

The Auckland four-piece Artisan Guns certainly distinguished themselves early: their first EP Bird and Bone in 2009 got some glowing notices and their single Autumn in 2010 was a finalist in the Apra Silver Scroll songwriting award.

Since then they have toured, written, knocked off university degrees, had side projects and now have delivered their long awaited debut album Coral which, as Elsewhere noted in this glowing review, really sets the bar high . . and at a different angle rom most debuts.

The songs are frequently soaked in a sense of nostalgia coupled to quietly addictive melodies, and so it was certainly time for the band's singer-songwriter Matthew Hope to answer the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire

The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .

I guess it wasn’t just a song, it was pretty much the whole Dangerous album by Michael Jackson. I do remember begging my Dad to play Black or White on repeat in the car, so maybe that was it. Either that or Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus. I think I was four or five when I first heard all that stuff. Will You Be There off Dangerous still makes me want to cry tears of sad joy, if that makes sense.

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

My favorite musician/entertainer when I was very young was Michael and he’s never really left the top spot. I've had a few bands/artists I got really (really) into, but I always return to MJ. When I was a kid I would chuck his stuff on and just dance around my room and tape everything MJ that came on tv. I regret so badly that I didn't go see him in 1996.

Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?

Lennon. He didn't get the chance to become kinda lame like Jagger did, which is sad, but it means I think he's cooler for not getting lame.

Nirvana for nostalgic reasons, plus I never listen to The Ramones anymore, I still listen to Nirvana.

Lady Gaga turned into a motorbike right? That's really crazy and next level. Madonna never did that so I vote Gaga.

Michael Jackson vs. Jay-Z isn't really fair for Hova. It should be like Nas vs. Jay-Z or like Kanye or something, ya know? 'Cause Michael wins every time.

If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

When I was younger I liked to think I would invest myself in skateboarding so I’d be Pro by now. I have no back up if music falls through. I think I'd just try doing something more visual. Reuben and I do all the artwork for Artisan Guns, so I'd just keep going with that. I think I would become incredibly depressed if I was denied music for even a week. Wouldn't everyone?

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .

Pharrell Williams – Frontin (feat. Jay-Z)

Michael Jackson - Baby Be Mine

The-Dream – Put It Down

This list changes quite often. I get really obsessive with music and listen to it over and over without ever getting tired of it. That includes new artists I get into, so then I think 'everyone must listen to this great thing' and it would hop onto the list. I'm listening to Baby Be Mine right now actually. On repeat.

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

I’m all out of memorabilia at the moment, unfortunately. My Mum owns a classical guitar that Bob Dylan's 1966 drummer Mickey Jones sold my Dad. Mickey Jones was on Home Improvement quite a few times, which is quite cool.

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

Book questions outside the realm of Goosebumps are hard for me to answer. I spend a lot of my time reading about musicians online, which is probably where the most information is (more pictures too). I read a thing about Rickenbacker recently which has convinced me that they’re probably the most important electric guitar makers in history. I prefer documentaries because I love TV.

beyonce4If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

Oh man, that’s hard. It would probably be Beyonce right now. Or maybe Kanye, so I can see if he gets nervous or freaks out (plus I really like Kanye). I’d like to play with The Bats, they’re the bomb. I’d play that song Then the Morning Comes by Smash Mouth. Not really. Maybe something by Jodeci.

The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

'Lethal Weapon' series

'A Goofy Movie'

or anything by John Hughes

That's technically way more than 3 but it's hard to narrow down.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

I’m not sure, I bought quite a few CD’s recently. Maybe it was that first K-Ci & JoJo album. I’m pretty sure we had that CD when I was a kid and I wanted another listen. The fire got reignited when Reuben and I were like 'remember All My Life?'. Baby times eleven haha.

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .

Summertime by The Sundays. That's not really my first choice. My first choice would be Jump by Kris Kross. It could be anything really, I wouldn't be embarrassed with anything I don't think. I'd be happy with My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. That song is actually really good if you're not worried about being uncool with your friends.

The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

Something from Reuben [Stephens, the band's bassist]. I have this massive fabric Elvis photo print from my Grandmother that I will keep forever.

You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

Yellow Triforce on the back of my hand. Or just something really tough looking.

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?

Disneyland riding all the rides, eating those nachos that are just that spicy cheese and corn chips, or at my parents holiday home making my own nachos. Writing and recording music and hanging out with my family.

2309511_20120717190044_466937140And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”

All the songs are honest stories from my younger years. Things that I've done and experienced.

And the music had time to grow and mature with us.

I really like these songs which is something I can't always say about my previous work.

Coral is our debut album.

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