Pointless events you should avoid

So, I got an email to say that I could go along to a music awards ceremony. Not the real music awards ceremony, just another one that happens to be on the same week. Weird huh? They're both televised, unlike the book awards, which are lucky to even get a brief mention on the news...

It was at the Stamford Plaza and to get inside you had to pass this line of hard bodied women in black Jack Daniels tops and ridiculously short skirts who were proffering bottles of premix at you. There weren't enough people arriving at first, so they went around with trays, trying to unload the stuff on anybody without a drink in their hands. I found the table in the corner where my "band" were sitting, already whining about this and that, in the way of indie musicians everywhere.

Some terrible solo artists played acoustic guitars and sang onstage in the lobby, including ex-Zed singer, Nathan King. But some targets are just too easy, so let's just leave it at that. The place fills up and the grand piano is slowly covered in empty bottles, while the two greasy haired photographers that I always see at these events move around trying to find people they recognise. I see Clarke Gayford and Hollie Smith getting close in the corner, though luckily Barnaby Weir isn't there to sing any songs about it. I told Jane Yee that Special Features is lame now that she isn't on it. Anybody tried to watch that recently? Painful...

Anyways, we don't bother going into the main room to lose our two categories. In fact, our only dedicated time in that room is spent trying to walk in front of the cameras while Autozamm are playing. Chelsea watches from one side and signals me and Vincent when there is a wide shot - but the editor is too quick! We can never walk quick enough in front of the stage to get onscreen. I'm practically running by the end, but soon enough I've lost interest.

Enough beer and b-grade celebrities for one night. My friend who I thought might actually win, was beaten by Johnny Love, whose video was made by Daniel Wrightson, who runs the channel (his parents own Sky TV in NZ) - surprise, surprise! I stumble out of the place, with a shoulder bag packed with a couple of cartons of the fried noodles they were giving away and a couple of Jack Daniels bottles that were in such demand once the free alcohol dried up. Maybe I'll go home and watch C4 ... I think the Daily Show is just about to start...

Where was I?

I'm afraid I have formed a fake band have been slumming it across the road at myspace. Come by and see me sometime if you're in the area:

News? Well I joined another band (the Cosbys), talked at the Writer's Festial in Wellington (where one of my friends won $65,000 for his writing, what a bastard) and in the meantime I wrote another book, as well as continuing to run Lil Chief Records (which is finally getting a bit of label awareness happening ... sounds like a good cause or advertising speak, doesn't?). Despite this sounding interesting, the actual events were kinda boring so I wasn't inspired to journal any of it.

Now, it's sunny so I am going to get the hell off this computer. I advise you to do similar
... bye!

Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns Tour ends in flames...

After completing a show at SXSW and 7 other shows of their 18 date tour, Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns' travels were brought to an abrupt end after their van's engine caught fire whilst they were on route to Seattle. All of the members of the band managed to escape from the burning vehicle without injury, yet all their personal belongings and instruments were destroyed by the fire which quickly engulfed their motor home. A photo of the burning vehicle can be seen at:
The five members of the band - Ryan McPhun, Amee Robinson, Mark Stebben, James Dansey (from the Sneaks), and Olivia Kember (TVNZ reporter) - were given somewhere to sleep for the night by one of the firemen who came to attend the blaze (who happened to be a New Zealander!).

Amee has remarked of the tragedy: "We all literally have nothing. I was wearing a skirt and a t-shirt, my roman sandles, and a scarf. My passport, wallet, sax, keys, cameras, film, clothes etc do not exist anymore. So we had to stop at wall mart to buy some clothes to keep warm. This has meant that our tour is pretty much over - very prematurely. We might be able to pull off some shows that were booked towards the end - depending on how the insurance stuff works out. A friend is on his way here now to pick us up (we were meant to meet him in Seattle tonight - where we were going to play a show). But he is coming here - it will be good to see him. I'm glad we are all alive and unharmed."

You can read more on the tragic events in the Tri-City Herald (Washington).

We are taking donations for the band through the Lil Chief website.

Meanwhile, the news from the Brunettes US is tour is somewhat better, with the band receiving a positive write-up of their show at the Subpop showcase in the New York Times. Their tour supporting Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is now underway.

Ruby Suns on TOTP

Hey thanks everyone that got back to me after my last post. I have managed to get a contact for Greer Twiss so that'll be my first attempt to follow your advice. Anyway, time to get on with the self-promotion...

That's right the Ruby Suns are selling out and going on Top of the Pops (don't know why I sound so scornful since I organised it). When I told Jonathan Brunette, he said "Oh, what position are you on the charts?" Haha, very funny!

So here's the deal...

Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns are going to be on Top of the Pops this week so those of you in Auckland are more than welcome to come along to the filming this Friday (today, Feb 10th). The studio is located in the basement of Sofrana House on the corner of Queen Street and Mayoral Drive, Auckland Central (behind the Queen's Head pub) and audience members should show up at 6pm sharp. Otherwise the show will be on Sat at 5pm if you wanna see the end result.

The Ruby Suns are also playing a number of fundraising gigs to raise money for their trip to the US so keep an eye out on the website for details. We're also doing a $5 per person charity house party after TOTP tonight which is at James Sneaks' house, so come if you know where that is or you can e-mail me for details if you know my e-mail address.

This heat, this heat...

They're letting off fireworks from the sky-tower again. I have no idea why. The other night, I heard the screaming in the sky and then they let off one last one that shook the house. I thought that the world was about to end - alien invasion, or those pesky communists after all - but I couldn't get the front door open to check (other people's houses are so confusing sometimes...)

Tonight the fireworks are fairly disappointing, though the spidery arms of clouds drifting off the tower does look eerie. Reminds me of the first, when I helped Gwaan Gal and her boyfriend let off the rest of their fireworks on a jetty in Matakana. She figured out that you could skim the roman candle sparks off the water. Then we tossed a whole flare in, and it glowed and pulsed in the water as it went down.

And the heat today. My god. At the summer series, I melted into a pool of beer by the time we had finished lugging all the gear off-stage. The ruby suns are popular enough now, so I can safely go back to the drab surrounds of my room and admire the peculiar yellow flower patterns backed by red on the wall-paper. No, get back to the book! But I was happy daydreaming...

Does anyone know any famous sculptors I can interview? How about Maori carvers? I much prefer to research to interviews and loved spending a day in the basement of the library creeping through the old books and magazines, stopping occasionally to read about JPSE and Stereobus, etc. Which reminds me...

I wrote something for Grant Smithies' book on under-rated NZ albums and now he wants me to list my top ten NZ albums to go with it ... doesn't he know that this will take much longer than whittling out 500 words for him? I actually think JPSE's "Size of Food" album would have to be on there. Formative stuff, don't you know? Elemental. Get My Point?

Leave off now brother, leave off. The heat is getting to your head...

Four days into the year and already so behind.

Ah yes, that's what happens when you drift around the South Island for a week and a half, drinking every day and then return to Auckland just in time for Xmas and another solid week of drinks. Well, I did have a good excuse - the head of subpop wanted me to come along and help drive the entire staff of the company from place to place. A free holiday and a great group of people to share it with. Though all the jokes after I informed them that we call a cooler, a "chilly bin." In fact that pretty much became my nickname for the trip. Other highlights: someone asking me what the chances of getting some cocaine in Christchurch were (I almost burst a gut laughing); seeing Mark Arm playing ukelele (new Mudhoney album this year, excited? I am); getting a box of subpop CDs, though I probably listened to Wolf Parade too much; met the guys from Flight of the Conchords and found that not only are they comic geniuses, but they're also quite nice guys (they may well be signing to a certain US indie label soon...)

Then suddenly, I woke up - it was two weeks later and I was in Matakana lazing on a beach. It was then that I remembered that I actually have a book to write over the next few months. All my relaxation immediately evaporated and I made the long journey back to the darkness of my room in Auckland and set the dictaphone to play-back, fingers already tapping away on the keyboard. Though I will be back out in public for this gig:

Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns
with Punches
King's Arms, Sat January 14th

Hmm, you say. Didn't you just play with Punches in December? Well, yes ... but they are a great band. Plus, when you leave it until December 31st before finding a support act for your gig two weeks later then you will find it a bit of a struggle since everybody is out of town (better odds when the band just has two members!). And we're playing the Summer Series as well. Okay, that's enough blah for now - my wrists have had enough typing for one day...

(no subject)

Oh livejournal, how I have neglected you! I never posted about the Reduction Agents show on Nov 17th when the band were sold wholesale priced beers at the bar and it all ended in tears, literally. Not the band you would normally expect to stage-dive onto their drumkit and generally throw equipment around as if they could afford it. James was so frustrated with how things had gone that he ended the show by kicking in the skin on the floor tom and tossing it over the heads of the audience. Ryan, who was the source of many of the problems, crawled off-stage and fell heavily on the concrete floor. The next day brought rising bruises, a headache, and a sober assessment of the hundreds of dollars of damage done to the drumkit.

Now James Milne is in Australia playing as Lawrence Arabia, supporting Okervill River so we had James Sneak on the drums when we played last night. James Duncan (Punches) helped with our sound - too many people called James! The show was so hot that we just had to give way to the sweat and jump around anyway.

Last Monday was the Random House Xmas party. I had big plans to scope out the guys who wrote "Plenty More Fish in the CBD." It's hard to even know where to start with that book, but it is for real, not just a joke. You wouldn't believe it. Have a look at Olivia's piece on it and see what I mean. Or look at their website"(!). As a fellow author with the same publisher, I think I'd best leave off making any comment...

Tze Ming also pointed out to me this blog about how to make a hip mix-tape.

Reduced by the agents, broken heartbreaking...

Not much time so I will hit this entry at speed and leave the clean-up until another day. Firstly, the worst album covers of all time, though I actually like the one by Komputer. Much worse is a coffee from McDonalds and I tried a number of different varieties at their headquarters in Freeman's Bay the other day - inside the offices, they have kitchen set-up just like in the "restaurants" themselves, complete with staff in the uniforms. Half-an-hour later I was left with a sour taste in my mouth and $40 of supermarket vouchers. Better than that was the gig with Ghostplane the weekend before last - I forgot to post about it, but Heather still came along so I guess it wasn't as much of an unknown quantity as I expected it to be. And tomorrow night (thurs, that is), the Reduction Agents are playing at the King's Arms. They are playing exceptionally well at the moment and you should go if you can. I'm not just saying that as their buddy, since I'm actually playing a gig on the same night at the Dog's Bollix so if I was being self-serving then I guess I'd convince you along to that, but I know when I'm beat. The Broken Heartbreakers are playing again on Dec 2nd at the Wine Cellar though, so keep that in mind if you can think that far in advance (not sure if I can in my current bewildered state). The Low Hum gig on Friday night at the KA (and Sat in Hamilton, Petra you should already know) should be interesting - I've never seen So So Modern before and have heard mixed things. The Ruby Suns are on the DVD so that video is proving to have a life of its own, despite its incredible cheapness.

And Sat in Auckland has Shaft, the Nudie Suits, and the Rainy Days - tu meke, what a line-up!

Oh yeah, and I reviewed the new edition of Stranded in Paradise for the Listener if you're interested. The launch was attended by an incredible mix of old rockers, greasy and thirsty for beer. Emma Paki, Chris Knox, Rick Bryant, and Hello Sailor all played. Me, Arabia, and Anns loaded up on drinks, but couldn't stick it out until the end. I wonder if they played "Blue Lady"? ... On second thoughts, who cares?

But ending on a sad note, one of the best US comedies is about to be axed. I just don't understand american's taste in television. Freaks and Geeks only survived 18 episodes, where is the sense in that? Thank god for friends with money to spend on DVDs (that's you, Lawrence and Chris).

Best thing on TV for ages...

Okay, let me start by insisting you watch this:


In other news, the Wellington show was great, though it probably sounded reasonably messy. I guess that's just how rollarcoasters sound when they have drunk too much and started aching to get off their rails. For example, when Ryan's guitar quit working, he dumped it and got up on the pallets that were piled by the edge of the stage so he could sing closer to the audience, but the whole lot collapsed under him, injuring NZ's best gig photographer, Blink, in the process. By the end, I was playing bass in the midst of the audience while Ryan went loose on the drums, when I'd finished jumping around and making noise, I didn't know what to do so I just collapsed onto the ground. I doubt it was our best show ever, but it was definitely the biggest spectacle we have made of ourselves. Chris from Goldenaxe was there and expressed surprise that we could go from being so insane to recovering for the hooks of the chorus, with all the associated backing vocals and horns, before descending into insanity again. Not sure if we will be keen for a repeat, but we were definitely happy afterward, especially since the turn-out was great (thanks Wellington). I think Bachelorette must've had something to do with the popularity of the gig, since people are slowly realising what a genius she is.

We also found time to go skate-boarding, saw some of King Kong at Weta Digital (thanks to our wonderful host), and had a Reduction Agents show on Saturday night as well. Now we're back in AK, getting things together for our show with Ghostplane on Nov 5th at Odeon. Not sure how we will approach that gig, but will probably try to rein things in at least slightly - here's hoping, since I am not keen to lose another fingernail...

Please, Wellington, please!

Which is to say: if you are in Wellington then please come to our gig at Happy this Friday. We're playing with the Chandeliers and Bachelorette so that's three great bands on one night (if I do say so myself) and the Reduction Agents play the same venue the following night. We are surprisingly friendly, come and say hello.

The South Island was great fun and the band seems to have got to the stage where we can jump around being maniacs and still play well, rather than having to choose one or the other (if any South Islanders gig patrons want to write comments to confirm or deny this then that would be great!). Dunedin was a little quiet - ARC not quite what it used to be, but still a good place to get food and hang out at a gig. We shot plenty more footage for a video (Harry has high-falluting ideas of making a tour diary, but I suspect that Hi-8 falls a little short of industry-standard.

Back in Christchurch, I also introduced to the joys of scrabble-with-dirty-words, in which extra points are only given for smutty words like "arsewink" ... I will leave the rest to your imaginations. Needless to say, our kind Christchurch host, Flip Grater (singer/vegetarian/rdu traffic something or other), was disturbed at some points, though by the end, she was giving as good as she got. I should also mention the Undercurrents, who were an awesome band to tour with. Who knew that there were so many nice musicians about? I guess that cliche of the arrogant rock star only comes into play once you meet bands that are actually commercially successful!