Interview with Popstrangers – NZ @ CMJ

I interviewed all of the bands at the New Zealand showcase CMJ event last week. This is the third of seven, a talk with Popstrangers.

Avenue by popstrangers

TWD: Since it's the New Zealand showcase, I've been asking bands for recommendations of something I should do or see if I ever get to New Zealand that may not be in a tour book.

Adam [Bassist]: Everyone says the South Island. That is the beautiful part of New Zealand.

Joel [Lead Vocals / Guitarist]: But that's in the tour book. Go to Camp Aloha. It's a camping and music festival that they have once a year in the summer in like an abandoned school or army base or something. They got really great bands that play for three or four days. Everyone camps and it's BYO. It's a really unique festival with no commercial advertising or anything like that. The people I know that have come over from overseas and gone to that have been like "That's amazing!"

TWD: That sounds pretty rare to not have advertising.

Joel: Yeah, you would never find it advertised on a website or tour book or anything like that.

Adam: I think Caribou played it this year. They have lots of cool bands.

TWD: You are familiar with the film This Is Spinal Tap? And what about Almost Famous?

Band: Yeah.

TWD: So when I say can you give me a Stonehenge moment, you can tell me about something that went really bad, and if I say can you give me a golden god moment, something triumphant? Curious for a story about each in your life as a musician.

Adam: The golden god moment, we had a gig at this hall once and Joel climbed on top of a brick wall (starts laughing), jumped off it, done a combat roll onto the ground, and just sprinted off. And I always thought of that scene. He didn't say "I am a golden god!" but it was definitely like the scene. I would make some jokes to people that he did climb up and say "I'm a golden god!"

TWD: That's pretty close.

Joel: Yeah. And the worst one was possibly the sound check we just had. It was really hard to grasp what we were actually doing. But it'll be interesting. Makes for an interesting show.

TWD: You have two EPs and an album that's about to come out?

All: Yeah. Next spring, probably.

TWD: I was trying to listen to your music and get some questions inspired from that. The new track "What Else Could They Do?" there's that talk about carving something in the door. I was thinking, you know kids, when they're growing up, every year or few years you might take their height. What would be, if you were to go back in time, say like middle school, high school, and now, what would be a little phrase or something you might have carved? Let's say age 10?

Joel: Age 10. I used to really enjoy writing the NOFX symbol. I thought it was really cool at the time. Didn't really listen to much NOFX, but I used to scribble that everywhere.

Adam: There was also that star where you did the three lines underneath each other and connect them. That was fun. That's what you draw on your desk or something. We've got open up desks in New Zealand in primary school where you keep all your books and stuff. Everyone used to write on the insides of them. You'd have to sand them at the end of the year.

Joel: I got in trouble once for scribbling on an origami rabbit some naughty stuff. I got held back after school, had to get the parents in. My best mate told on me. Yeah, I used to scribble inappropriate things and caricatures (laughs).

Happy Accidents by popstrangers

TWD: Can you tell me about a happy accident in your lives? Something that just came out of the blue unexpectedly?

Joel: Yeah. There are lots. Dave's kind of a new addition to the band in the last year. That was, I'd say, a happy accident. We had intentions of finding a new drummer. We wanted the right one, but it was gonna be near impossible. Then it just kind of turned out that Dave had come back from overseas at the right time. We didn't even know him. I was sitting outside at a party, just talking, and realized who he was. Then like the next week we pretty much were a whole new band. So yeah, that was quite good.

TWD: That's cool. How about the situation of sudden realization that something isn't the way you thought it was? That was what I was taking away from the song, "Their, There."

Joel: To be honest, off the top of my head right now, it was coming here to New York. All of the little things that you don't think about in terms of how a mass amount of people live their lives and get by. Just going on the subway and stuff, it was amazing to me. Everyone's living their lives and going from A to B, but I've never thought about how that happens so much as such, you know? It's a realization that everyone's being herded around, just massive ranges of people, all kind of moving together. That was amazing to me. I was on the subway and I thought about everyone's shoes for some reason. How it's like "Where the fuck did all these shoes come from? But you know, everyone's got them. It's a whole bigger world and it's just amazing how it can function and function so well. Or appear to function well. It could be much worse I guess.

TWD: Sure. Is this your first time playing in the United States?

Joel: Yeah.

TWD: Oh wow. I've been doing this little chain thing where I ask the previous band to give me a question for the next band. Here's what I was given to you guys: What are you trying to say?

(Band laughs).

Joel: Was that from Street Chant?

TWD: It was.

Joel: That's one of their lyrics. Umm…We're trying to say we're here to play from New Zealand and people should listen 'cause we're going to give it our best shot while we're here.

TWD: OK. Can you give me another question? Keep the chain going.

Dave [Drummer]: If your band could be a canned food, what kind of food would it be?

TWD: Ok. If you could do a film score for a director, who would you be interested in working with?

Joel: I like Wes Anderson's music. Most of his films are quirky, and I like the stuff that's been done before for that so we can probably be part of that. That would be quite cool. And quite ambient stuff would be great to do.

Adam: I think I'd go for a silent film. The music would dictate everything. No dialogue, so it would be more of a centerpiece.

TWD: You're on Death Row, what would be your last meal?

Adam: I think I'd be too nervous to eat (laughs).

Joel: I've always thought about that because it's a question that's been asked to me quite a lot. In the end, I think it's going to be ice cream.

Adam: I'd go for seafood if I was hungry. I love seafood. Maybe some gurnard (others laugh). That's a fish from New Zealand. Put some prawns on there.

Dave: I'd probably just go for a steak.

TWD: How would you like that done?

Dave: Medium rare.

TWD: You have one dollar to play on the jukebox. What are some of your go to jukebox songs?

Dave: The Supremes.

Joel: What did we play the other night? The Doors. It was the best of what they had, really.

Dave: Johnny Cash is always good on the jukebox.

TWD: Ooh. I agree. My last thing is that I've been asking bands, to make a playlist, there's an alien spaceship, you don't know what it's intents are, but you have to give it a song or two that you would want to represent humanity. What would you want the aliens to hear? Anything. It can be personal or universal, it can be something you'd want preserved.

Joel: "Fly Me to the Moon." "Spic and Span" by The Gordons. That needs to be preserved. They're an old New Zealand band.


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