Graham Reid | | 4 min read
Jono Aidney who performs as Quail State has been through illness and itinerancy, but now back in his hometown of Auckland he has posted his debut album, Volcano Hazards of Auckland, at bandcamp (here) and launches it this Friday, see poster below.
Aidney is an articulate guy and that comes through in his focused, gritty and pretty terrific dark take on power pop. And also in what he has to say about the background to the album.
"Back when I was sicker, I could have sworn the volcanoes weren't out to get me. Just some old monuments to the days when the ground underneath us was still molten and shaky.
"But they have us surrounded. We think we run this town but we don't. They do. They decide which way the streets go, where the schools go, the strip clubs. We don't even try to avoid them. Hell, we'd live on them if we could afford to.
"When I was finally well enough to leave town, I noticed a change in their behaviour. I tried to document the change in a few ways: drawing them, telling stories about them and writing them songs. I started writing Volcanic Hazards in 2011, when I first escaped to the Pacific Northwest. Recorded it back home in 2012, while waking up from a horrific operation. I tinkered with it for the longest time. Carried it with me from Auckland, to Portland, to Melbourne.
"Quail State began as a bedroom recording project. A fast and simple way to release all the songs that weren't right for my last band, Hold Dear. It's still a bedroom recording project, it's just that I've lost track of the specific number of bedrooms to which it belongs."
Volcano States of Auckland isn't going to be released as a CD or on vinyl, but at the release show he’ll be selling limited-edition art prints by four emerging Auckland artists, inspired by the album and the content of the album - and all of which will be accompanied by a download of the album.
Time for him to answer our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire.
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
Van Morrison – Moondance. I remember my father listening to it when I was very young and to me Van seemed untouchable. On a whole other plateau of cool.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Brian Molko (Placebo). The only embarrassing thing is that I still love all of those bands to bits.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
At risk of starting a riot, the only artist on this list I still listen to is MJ. But I am full of extremely unpopular opinions, such as: Jakob Dylan is the more talented Dylan.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
I would be just as happy making anything at all. I was never good at doing only one thing.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
Yo La Tengo – More Stars Than There Are In Heaven (the world’s greatest love song)
The Hold Steady – You Can Make Him Like You (the world’s greatest lyrics)
Alex G – Hollow (the greatest new thing I’ve heard in a while)
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
Until just recently (when I lost it in a bedroom-dropping incident) I felt quite superstitious about only ever performing with the pick I caught at an And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead show. Epic show. Epic band name.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Legs McNeil - Please Kill Me, which left me totally nostalgic for a punk scene I wasn’t even nearly a part of.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
Since we can only assume Billy will kick all the Smashing Pumpkins out of the band again this year, I’ve already prepared ‘Today’ as my audition song.
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Toy Love (Harry Sinclair speaks to me)
Top Gun (for the volleyball scene alone)
Her (a rare balance of style and substance)
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Goblin Mold – Do You Like Me (a sensational young band from Baltimore)
Keaton Henson – Birthdays (the saddest record ever made by humans)
Garageland – Come Back Special (seriously deserving of a revisit)
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 . . .
Obviously Pavement – Summer Babe. Forever and always.
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
Probably the cover of Built To Spill’s 1997 album Perfect From Now On. There’s the obvious irony in the imperfections, but mostly I just think Built To Spill did a fantastic job of translating their sound into an image.
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
I mostly just have tattoos of dinosaurs. If I was to keep one, it’d be the triceratops on my arm so I can still make my tricep-atops joke. If I had to pick a new tattoo, it’d be of the Burnside Bridge in Portland, Oregon, which holds a special place in my heart. ‘Bridge Song’ off my new album is about that bridge.
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
In bed, under the blankets, listening to Mineral albums up loud and feeling sorry for myself about the impending doomsday scenario.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
It’s the only one that has more than five songs on it, so that’s a good start. This album took a lot of very difficult breakups. I really put my heart on the line for this one. It also captures a time when I was very unwell physically – in hospital a lot. A lot of the sounds that sound like they’re about breakups are actually about involuntarily cutting ties with the outside world.