ROSS MULLINS PROFILED, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2018): The poet of the suburbs

 |   |  1 min read

ROSS MULLINS PROFILED, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2018): The poet of the suburbs

When pianist-singer Ross Mullins released his seventh album The Poet and the Fisherman in 2016 it was certainly long overdue but perhaps not long-awaited.

It had been 17 years since his previous album and for all of his long career which dates back to his debut in 1985, Mullins has been below most listeners’ radar.

In part that’s because his first three albums came under the band name Last Man Down but also because he performed so infrequently, aside from a regular gig in a Chinese restaurant in central Auckland. Mullins had work commitments as a teacher (he is officially Dr Ross and his degree is in French literature) and a young family.

More than that however is that he has always been very hard to pigeonhole: his critically acclaimed and literate songs rarely approached “rock” and he often used jazz musicians but his albums weren’t in that genre either.

However Mullins’s body of original work is worth close attention because he has always done something which most other songwriters just flirt with: he writes very specifically about New Zealand culture, people and places.

On the Last Man Down debut album State House Kid (1985) he adapted James K Baxter’s ‘The Bay’ (a decade and a half before the Baxter project album helmed by Charlotte Yates) and sang about the massacre of Japanese prisoners of war at Featherston, beneficiaries, those heading off to Australia, dealers and other specifically New Zealand references.

The cover image shows him leaning against a lamppost with the poster from DD Smash's notorious Thank God It's Over concert; behind him is a burnt-out state house ... 

To read the full article about Ross Mullins/Last Man Down go here at www.audioculture.co.nz

Audioculture is the self-described Noisy Library of New Zealand Music and is an ever-expanding archive of stories, scenes, artists, clips and music. Elsewhere is proud to have some small association with it. Check it out here.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Absolute articles index

ANTON NEWCOMBE INTERVIEWED (2015): Communication breakdown.

ANTON NEWCOMBE INTERVIEWED (2015): Communication breakdown.

Okay, the heading there is utterly misleading because, only briefly, was Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre interviewed. Some things are just not meant to be. The first call... > Read more

GOLDFRAPP CONSIDERED (2017): It used to go like that, now it goes like this . . . and this'n'that

GOLDFRAPP CONSIDERED (2017): It used to go like that, now it goes like this . . . and this'n'that

Let's give British singer Alison Goldfrapp and synth/composer Will Gregory – who perform as Goldfrapp – their due. If nothing else, they always made their career an interesting... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Far North Queensland, Australia: The Jump Up . . . and down

Far North Queensland, Australia: The Jump Up . . . and down

We are about 20 miles south of coastal Cooktown in the far north of Australia when we pull off the main highway onto a side road. I glance at my map and notice a place name further down this... > Read more

ELSEWHERE WORLD SERVICE: A quick overview of recent world music releases

ELSEWHERE WORLD SERVICE: A quick overview of recent world music releases

Here's a frequent flyer/transit lounge/vicarious listening music column for those at home who want to get their musical passport stamped. Elsewhere has so many CDs and downloads commanding and... > Read more