TRINITY ROOTS INTERVIEWED (2004): Songs for the heart and homeland

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TRINITY ROOTS INTERVIEWED (2004): Songs for the heart and homeland
Hailed as a gentle but potent love song to Aotearoa and its people, TrinityRoots' Home, Land and Sea is a celebration and call to unity which shines in contrast with most other offerings currently topping the album chart.

Guitarist Warren Maxwell, bassist Rio Hemopo and drummer Riki Gooch have built on their debut True to create a mystic soulful album in which the band continues to explore its fresh take on reggae and funk.
Maxwell says the album's warm, meditative sound took some people by surprise.

"It's so different from the live gigs which are our biggest musical selling point," he told NZPA recently.
"It's definitely not the oonst (eds: slang for energetic dance music) that I know a lot of people had been expecting."

He says the band decided early on not to try and reproduce in the studio the exhilarating magic created between performers and audience.

Instead, TrinityRoots recorded Home, Land and Sea with Black Seeds producer Lee Prebble at The Surgery, their studio situated in a Wellington building which has for a couple of decades housed rehearsal rooms and recording studios in the capital.

"There were a few ghosts we had to scare out of there," Maxwell laughs.

a3676276714_2Unlike the band's early recordings where the band took care to create an atmosphere to aid their performances, this time they relied more on their inner resources for inspiration.
"We have matured in the last couple of years and we had the internal energy to have a bit more fun and not get caught up in the seriousness of the thing."

With much modern music dominated by the computer, Maxwell says the band worked to keep Home, Land and Sea as organic as possible.
"There's a couple of things on the album that just about fall over backwards and we really wanted too keep those elements in there."

Maxwell believes listeners are coming back to relaxed imprecise human rhythms.
"Things come full circle. We've had the whole sort of dj produced genre... and maybe it's rekindled the novelty of live playing.
"We enjoy the whole live thing, the ability to move and make a few mistakes now and again and laugh about them rather than getting too bummed out about a flat note or something.
"We had a lot more fun in that context."

While Maxwell, Hemopo and Gooch are all accomplished musicians, the one of the album's strengths is its restrained playing, space and atmosphere.

In fact the album begins with a soundscape painted with guitar in the way other musicians might use synthesisers.

Maxwell says the "enveloping wall of sound" is intended to take the listener into a dreamscape.

"You can leave your work and all your problems at the front door, take your boots off and put it on and just escape with it."

But the simplicity of many of the album's tracks belies the work that went into them.

The songs were initially demoed weeks before the proper recordings allowing the trio to listen and come up with new ideas and arrangements before committing to final versions.

Nevertheless the group retained a less-is-more approach.

"The main thing was that you do the song justice and not clutter it up too much and still keep it relatively sincere."
"Whether that means if the lyrics were the most prominent thing, you couldn't overcrowd it with the music and vice versa. I don't like filling up songs with heaps of lyrics, you say your piece and then leave it at that.

But while the band's upcoming live shows will not be a reproduction of Land, Home and Sea, Maxwell says the audience can expect to be taken on a similar musical journey if they bring an open mind and decide to get on board.
Whatever the band conjures up on any given night, he promises an emotional ride.

"We have a genuine passion for what we do, we're all broke, but we just love it. We wake up every day thinking about new arrangements of songs or when can we rehearse, what's next.
"I would hope that our daily passion for what we're doing translates into a two-our show from start to finish."

Joining the band on the tour are vocalist Hollie Smith,who guested on Home, Land and Sea,and Dimmer guitarist Ned Ngatae.

Meanwhile, once the New Zealand tour is finished, TrinityRoots plan to spend a couple of weeks touring in Australia and from there a four-eek tour of Europe in November.

"There are so many homesick kiwis in London, there are tears of joy whenever anyone from home turns up and plays and they're there in masses."

The band's South Pacific soul also goes over well in Germany Maxwell says.

"They get it because it's roots music. Maybe they can't get the issues we're singing about, but they get the aroha, a lot of our songs are about the love of our country and the love of friends and family and that's universal."

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