Graham Reid | | 4 min read
As we noted in our review of the Orangefarm debut album Inheritance, the band has been around Wellington for about 20 years with a revolving door of a small number of loyal members.
At the core however is singer, songwriter and guitarist Nigel Mitchell.
His songs are sharp, sometimes sentimental (but not soppy) and melodic.
We noted the influence of the Eighties indie rock out of Dunedin and Christchurch (where he was originally from). But rather than just sit in the space provided Mitchell and Orangefarm push towards the edges.
That debut – long overdue of course – is worth taking the time with.
And so we thought it useful to give Mitchell/Orangefarm another bite at Elsewhere and ask him a few questions.
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
When I was about 12 I was blown away by Bohemian Rhapsody. I annoyed all my friend on the bus to manual training by singing it at the top of my lungs .
Your first role models in music were . . .
So many, but I’ll try and list a few. I wanted to be Robbie Robertson when I was a kid after seeing The Last Waltz. Before that I loved Alice Cooper, but I wouldn’t say he was a role model. Lou Reed but I could never be that cool. Elvis Costello was an early song writing influence. XTC were also early role models, and not just for the Nigel song.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z, Beyonce or Solange?
Lennon as a songwriter. Jagger is cool too, but it’s only rock n roll.
Ramones seem more real to me than Nirvana.
I don’t really have a view about the others.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
If music could be my career I wouldn’t be a public servant now. Otherwise, I’d love to be a writer, but I don’t think I have the discipline.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
LA by the Fall.
Flower of Love: Big Thief. I play this to anyone who will listen. I think it’s glorious.
Go on then – one of ours: Conversation with My Grandmother.
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home...
Not memorabilia as such, but I love my 1991 Crowther Hot Cake pedal.
I also have a poster from a gig I did with my band, The Rue, opening for Hunters and Collectors at the University of Canterbury, circa 1985. We supported them just as they were changing from Tow Truck to Throw Your Arms Around Me. I’ve been meaning to get it framed but it’s pretty huge. Rob Mayes did the sound for us and cheekily asked if we could use their backline. We couldn’t.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Paul Trynka’s Iggy Pop biography: Open Up and Bleed.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be?
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Not sure I can stretch to 3, but one that comes to mind immediately is Being There, with Peter Sellers. I’m amazed so few people have heard of it. I love the gentle irony of it.
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include…).
The last vinyl I bought was My Friends by Mousey. Saw her recently. Great set and great show. I’ve also been listening to Sleaford Mods, just to see if I like them. I think I do. Force Ten from Navarone is great. I also love Dry Cleaning.
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 . .
Probably Presidential Golf Classic off our first EP. It seems to have aged quite well. Viv’s French horn solo is sublime and Peter’s bassline completes it. I wrote it when Bill Clinton was bombing Sudan to distract from the Lewinsky affair, but is seems to still make sense to people now. I do hate the idea that people might think it has anything to do with that other golf playing president though. I wouldn’t waste a song on him.
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
I once had an Elvis Costello poster I tore off a wall in CHCH when he was touring with T-Bone Burnett in the 80s. I wish I still had it.
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where and doing what?
In NZ with the things that give me greatest joy: family, friends and music.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
Well, apart from the fact that it is our only full album to-date, I think Rob Mayes’ production and the fact that we were able to collaborate with so many brilliant musicians makes it a pretty strong piece of work.
You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here. However with Failsafe Records' typical attention to detail and packaging, the CD edition comes in a double gatefold cover with a 12 page booklet of images and lyrics which you can order direct from Failsafe here