Graham Reid | | 5 min read
New Zealand's Cut Off Your Hands crashed into the public consciousness with their debut album You and I in '08 after building a strong live following, then they did what so many Kiwi bands do. They moved to London. And unfortunately, as so many Kiwi bands discover, that is a bigger and tougher market with a natural scepticism about bands from the former colonies which aren't Australia or Jamaica.
There has been a long recording sabbatical but now they have returned with a new and rather different album Hollow, which sounds in part a response to the classic English pop and rock which they always liked. (Tour dates at the end.)
Frontman Nick Johnson joins the long list of those who have answered The Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire, and proves a fascinating character in his often detailed responses. And he has helpfully supplied You Tube links to the three songs he would love you to hear.
The first piece of music which really
affected you was . . .
One of my first vivid memories was that of my mother carrying me and singing Mary Wells’ My Guy to me. I must’ve been about three or four years old. Other than that, the first song I went crazy for was Black or White by Michael Jackson, I taped it off the radio every time it came on.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
My favorite group was Ace of Base up until Standard 3 when my best friend (who knew about “cool” music cos his Dad listened to Hauraki) told me it wasn’t cool at all to have Ace of Base as my favorites. So he sat me down and “introduced” me to guitar music. He told me I had to choose between Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Naturally I went with Nirvana, that was a turning point in my life. Ha!
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
Can I choose them all? Madonna over Gaga. Hard to pick any pop star over MJ, although I really do think Jay-Z is incredible.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
What a hard question to answer! Here are three that I feel are worthwhile.
There was a record that came out a few years ago which compiled two unreleased albums from 1985 by Arthur Russell titled Calling Out Of Context. Quite an atypical record for the avant-garde composer and cellist.
The sound is much more conventional and of its time than most of Russell’s records, and is this mid Eighties, left-field loopy house music. But what really effects me about it is the love in the words, just simple gestures such as touching the face of a lover, but it feels so sincere, so naïve but very palatable as well. Anyway, this one is one of my favorites from that record. I would be happy if they played this at my funeral.
That's Us/Wild Combination by Arthur Russell.
Anything from the Songs of Leonard Cohen (1966) the intimacy of Cohen’s vocal, he sounds like he's whispering these in your ear at times…”he was just some Joseph looking for a Manger”
The Stranger Song by Leonard Cohen
I love the Go-Betweens, perhaps if I had to pick a favorite band they’d be it. This track just sounds so unique. Obviously the chorus-laden guitars situate the song alongside its early Eighties peers, but the odd (5/6?) time in the verses and subtly angular guitars make it sound more like something from math era dischord post-punk from DC in the late Nineties/early 2000s, like Faraquet or something. It just seems so ahead of its time, but then so mellow, and I love the lyrics tying it to their provincial Queensland upbringing. I also just really love hearing NZ and Australian accents in tunes.
Cattle and Cane – the Go-Betweens
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
Unfortunately I don’t really own any music equipment, except for a four-track presently and just get by borrowing my friends gears. Actually, I've got an old kick drum that I found years ago in Glen Eden that has a skin that says “MIGRAINE” in vivid marker on the front. My granddad left me his old organ when he passed away, and my parents sold it while I was living overseas, I think they got $10 for it on trademe.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Rip it Up and Start Again – by Simon Reynolds about post-punk
I had been given this book, and had no idea about Orange Juice or Edwyn Collins when we started recording our EP at his studio in London in 2007. I was reading it in studio and got to the chapter all about Orange Juice etc. It was a bit embarrassing when I realized the book was named after his song. He liked to give me grief about pinching the guitar riff to that song for Still Fond.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
David Byrne, I’d just like to have a chat with him, he seems like a fascinating guy.
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Suicide, Suicide on vinyl.
And downloads; Arthur Russell - Love is Overtaking Me, Pure X - Pleasure
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 . . .
Africa by Toto
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
I used to have a big Bob Marley poster when I was in high school on wall, that'd be pretty sweet. I dunno, i'm not a big poster fan really.
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
Sailing around the Mediterranean with my partner, doing as we please..not working
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?
Well, I'm really not a fan of our first one, and since this is the only other, I guess by default its our best ever…
Friday 16 September; San Francisco Bath House, Wellington With Dictaphone Blues, The Eversons and special guests Street Chant
Friday 23 September The Venue, Christchurch with Bang Bang Eche and T54
Saturday 24 September, Sammy's Dunedin with The Verlaines and guests.
Saturday 1 October - Galatos, Auckland (All Ages show) With Tied on Teeth and special guests Street Chant – Starts 4pm
Saturday 1October - Galatos (R18 Show) With Tied On Teeth, Dictaphone Blues and special guests Street Chant – Starts 10pm.