Absolute Elsewhere

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JIMMY WEBB INTERVIEWED (2005). The songwriter's songwriter

13 Aug 2007  |  18 min read

When Jimmy Webb, one of the most sophisticated and successful songwriters of his generation, speaks of making music it is like eavesdropping on genius. And that is what he is considered to be by his peers and those who have followed his long career. Before he was 21 Webb had already written some of pop’s most enduring songs, including By The Time I Get To Phoenix (which Frank Sinatra... > Read more

ELVIS COSTELLO, THE EARLY CAREER CONSIDERED: Anger is an energy

10 Aug 2007  |  5 min read

Thirty years on from his spectacular debut '77 album My Aim is True, released at the height of the UK punk era -- Elvis Costello's most recent albums (four in fewer than three years) had been as follows: Il Sogno, a classical album with the London Symphony Orchestra written for a ballet; Piano Jazz with 89-year old jazz pianist Marian McPartland; My Flame Burns Blue, a live album of old hits... > Read more

PERE UBU'S DAVID THOMAS INTERVIEWED (1999). Fools rush out

7 Aug 2007  |  18 min read

The bare facts in any encyclopaedia of rock can't even approach what Pere Ubu out of Cleveland in the late 70s have been about. They once described themselves as the sound of things falling apart. That was close.To hear frontman David Thomas tell it however they are the mainstream and everyone else has deviated."Rock music from the 50s to the 70s was a straight line of growing complexity... > Read more

KEITH RICHARDS INTERVIEWED (2006): Stone Survivor

28 Jul 2007  |  18 min read

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, in a hotel in Tokyo, calls an hour after the appointed time but his manager has previously been full of apologies, and fielding three phone calls simultaneously. Richards is polite, friendly and his conversation is peppered with laughter which sounds like marbles rattling around in the bottom of a muddy barrel. 'Ello, 'ello, Graham Hi Keith, how are you... > Read more

STEVEN VAN ZANDT INTERVIEWED (2003): The punks and the godfather

19 Jul 2007  |  24 min read

Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano's loyal soldier and owner of the famous Bada Bing strip club, is in the lobby bar of a Sydney hotel and, as you might expect, a lot of people are looking at him. Menacing and permanently pouting, Silvio wears silk shirts, loud ties, great suits and gold chains. And that hat of motionless black hair which gives even the most ill-fitting wigs a good name. But on... > Read more

BOB DYLAN'S CAREER, AN OVERVIEW (2007): Yes, do look back

14 Jul 2007  |  8 min read

At 66, Bob Dylan has been through many musical changes in the course of his career, from fresh-faced young folkie to senior statesman of his generation. He's been folk, what we now call alt.folk, folk rock, psychedelic rock, rock’n’roll, country, alt.country, troubadour, country and western . . . And he made movies, changed hats and jackets as often as he changed his musical... > Read more

JIMI HENDRIX, AN ESSAY: In my Life

6 Jul 2007  |  16 min read  |  1

For a man who changed the landscape of rock -- and not so coincidentally my life -- his last resting place looks extremely modest. It is late 2002 and I am standing at a simple plaque in the grass with only a single glass of fading flowers on it. There are no visitors here other than me and my companion Tommy, a Norwegian music journalist from Los Angeles. A few minutes ago I walked into... > Read more

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Purple Haze

DALVANIUS PRIME REMEMBERED (2002): from little things, big things grow

1 Jul 2007  |  2 min read

It's a fair if not entirely original observation that the late Dalvanius Prime made an immediate impression. I'll never forget the day we shook hands in Patea. The big man was, typically, wearing his body-hugging pink tracksuit. Back at his modest, almost alarmingly small home he showed me his memorabilia and treasures, and was especially proud of the magnificent image of King Tut... > Read more

RONNIE SPECTOR INTERVIEWED: Time has come today (2006)

5 Jun 2007  |  4 min read

Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band said it best: " 'Everybody love Ronnie.' It's the first bylaw of rock'n'roll." Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the archetypal 60s girl-group the Ronettes, defined the exuberant spirit of pre-Beatles American rock'n'roll through the alchemy of a street-wise image adopted from Spanish girls in her New York neighbourhood, a sensual... > Read more

THE LATE, GREAT KEITH RICHARDS: an early obit

5 Apr 2007  |  2 min read

When Keith Richards fell out of that palm tree -- or fell off a stump as we later heard -- he was hospitalised in Auckland and underwent brain surgery. Given the seriousness of his condition and his age it was widely anticipated at the Herald that he might not survive, so in addition to having the "official" obituary ready to go I was asked to write something personal about the guy.... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: You Got the Silver (live, 2006)

MIRIAM CLANCY INTERVIEWED (2006): Career opportunities

30 Sep 2006  |  5 min read

“You know, I’d left school and had gone straight into playing in pubs,” laughs Auckland singer-songwriter Miriam Clancy. “I had no other training behind me. So it was either work in a cafĂ©, or go and live at mum’s.” Clancy laughs again as she remembers that difficult period a few years ago when she decided to stop knocking herself out after a decade of... > Read more

Miriam Clancy: And So It Begins

OVER THE RHINE INTERVIEWED (2006): Coming out quietly

5 Mar 2006  |  2 min read

Karin Berquist and Linford Detweiler get the treatment usually reserved for big stars. A year ago few people here were aware of Over the Rhine, the Cincinnati band formed around the song-writing core of Karin Berquist and Linford Detweiler, whose seductive blend of alt.country and American folk had quietly been captivating an American audience.  Yet here they are now, receiving... > Read more

Over the Rhine: Who Will Guard The Door (from Drunkard's Prayer)

MAX MERRITT INTERVIEWED (2005): The rock'n'roll originator

3 Aug 2005  |  5 min read

At some point in the mid 2000s, Christchurch-born rock'n'roll pioneer Max Merritt was receiving some award for his contribution to New Zealand (and Australian) music. There may also have been some kind of compilation coming out (I forget) so I interviewed him about those early days. I initially asked what it was like being a teenage rock'n'roll hero and how he got started. I... > Read more

BONES HILLMAN INTERVIEWED (2004): Talking the good Oil

10 Jul 2004  |  5 min read

Bones Hillman's CV wouldn't get him a nice job in a bank, but that was never the point. The bassist/singer born Warne Stevens started here in a punk outfit called the Masochists back in '77, then joined the seminal Suburban Reptiles. In the Reptiles he met former Split Enzman Phil Judd and Buster Stiggs and they split off to become the Swingers. Their hits One Good Reason and Counting... > Read more

RICK BRYANT INTERVIEWED (2003): Following his own stupid good advice

19 Jun 2004  |  6 min read

When Rick Bryant got his university results he knew he could get A Good Job, maybe in Treasury or Foreign Affairs. "But I never had any aspiration for that kind of appointment," he says, unleashing a lung-rattling laugh. It is a voice which matured in smoke-filled pubs and, despite pending legislation suggesting otherwise, sounds the better for it. Even before... > Read more

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

24 Jan 2004  |  4 min read

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... > Read more

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB INTERVIEWED (2003): All together now . . .

9 Oct 2003  |  4 min read

It's a week ago and you have to imagine the scene backstage in a room at Toronto's Guvernment Entertainment Complex. Peter Hayes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has just come off stage. It's 1am and he has run into some musician friends - but also has a phone interview to New Zealand scheduled. Now most people at this point - weary, slightly slurry of voice from whatever - might ignore... > Read more

SALMONELLA DUB INTERVIEWED (2003): This touring life

1 Oct 2003  |  7 min read

For two guys who have done 27 interviews back-to-back in Sydney, arrived in Auckland at midnight and got up early for a Mike Hosking interview on Breakfast, Tiki Taane and Andrew Penman are surprisingly chipper. Taane is playing a Tony Hawk skateboard game on a laptop, and Penman is looking through a scattering of CDs, vinyl and posters on the coffee table of this suite in the upmarket... > Read more

JACK WHITE INTERVIEWED (2003): The heat on the rising son

10 Sep 2003  |  6 min read

As a measure of how mighty or mundane Jack White's life has become, consider this: It made news in Hollywood gossip magazines that he had grown a moustache. Now for him, that's either great fame or a great pain. No two guesses needed about what he thinks. The man who is one half of the White Stripes with Meg White -- his sister or ex-wife, believe what you will -- and largely... > Read more

The Air Near My Fingers

COUNT DUBULAH INTERVIEWED (2003): Music from the Temple

26 May 2003  |  3 min read

Few bands were as exciting, but as irritating, for world music purists as London's Transglobal Underground, who emerged at the start of the Nineties with clubland hit Templehead. A meltdown of big-beat dancefloor, Indian instruments and rock guitars, funky bass and the voice of Egyptian singer Natacha Atlas, TGU had their roots in the tiny basement room of Nation Records in central... > Read more