By Wal Reid
Avalanche City's Dave Baxter is a one man band, the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter has just entered the interview room with cheeky salad in tow, instantly recognisable by his raging manscaped beard and trademark head-covering. The creator of that annoyingly catchy tune Love, Love, Love casually transplants himself down in his chair indicating the start of our interview.
The new album has been mixed by Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla. "Basically he left the band just before I got there" recounts Baxter. It's an exciting collaboration that sets Dave off with a gleam in his eye as he rolls them towards the ceiling, I nudge him to divulge more about the new Avalanche City album 'We Are For The Wild Places', which is set for release on Friday July 3rd.
"Ah yes, the new album's out July 3rd and um, it's my new album" he says laughing. "I've worked on it for a very long time and I hope you all really like it, that's all I can say about my new album".
In 2011 Avalanche City released his debut album Our New Life Above Ground, which contained the record breaking single Love, Love, Love, which debuted at #1 on the Official NZ Music Chart, and held presence in the chart for 19 straight weeks. In 2011, Dave Baxter was awarded the highly esteemed APRA Silver Scrolland nominated for three New Zealand Music Awards, including Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year. Quizzed whether or not the song has amassed him a large sum of money appearing on TV2 and on radio, he is reservedly coy.
"No I'm not a millionaire" he smiles. "But no that was great. That kind of stuff is a huge boast that's what basically got my career started. It was going ok on radio before that but not fantastic, then TV2 picked it up. There's something about having your song in everyone's home you know? Love, Love, Love was one of those rare songs that was really fast to write, I have a couple on the new album where they only took half an hour to write and Love, Love, Love was just that, and half an hour later it was done. I think I had a show that night and I played it that night".
When TV2 picked up the song Love, Love, Love for their station promos the song shot to number one on the New Zealand singles chart, making it the fastest selling debut #1 for a NZ artist in the digital era, stamping itself all over the nation's airwaves and swiftly surpassing platinum status. Dave even recalls a story where his mate in Greece was at a rave when a "Love, Love, Love the trance remix came on and he lost his mind and he texted me straight away". Baxter is amazed as he recounts the story. "The format of your song you never expect it to be played at a massive outdoor rave".
Subsequently released through more conventional channels, Our New Life Above The Ground debuted at #1 on the NZ iTunes Album Chart, reaching #4 on the National Album Chart and achieving gold status. With all this attention from the media it was inevitable friends and family picking up on the song, giving the hit tune gravitas as a serious hit single.
"Yeah, constantly getting texts from friends and stuff like that and its starting now with Inside Out [new single] - ‘oh, I've heard it on the radio' ‘I've heard it on here' it's really cool, it's nice to know that kind of stuff because I've talked to other artists about this and you don't actually hear your own song that much. I basically never heard Love, Love, Love on the TV or radio... I didn't listen to the radio or watch TV that much back then. Somehow the world shields you from it and you only know by your friends texting you and going ‘oh, I was at a café and your song was on' so it is nice getting those texts".
Taking his band name from the title of a song he'd co-written some years earlier, Baxter started off playing some solo acoustic shows, touring with Bradley Hathaway and The Paper Kites, before deciding to record his first album, you may be shocked to hear that he isn't a big fan of hearing himself or listening to his recordings.
"I am absolutely 100% one of those musicians who gets super awkward when my song gets played" he jokes. "I remember being at a restaurant once and going up to order food and the song came on and all of a sudden I felt so awkward. I was like ‘oh what if they know that this is my song playing and they're talking to me right now'. I felt super awkward and I don't think it's anything that leaves you it's always there".
The salad starts looking decidedly flat so I decide to wrap up the interview and go straight for the jugular. Talk about a new tour looms as Dave mentions some of the exciting plans ahead of the new album launch.
"We haven't organised a tour for the new album but there will be one. We're still planning how the release is rolled out in Australia as well so there'll be a tour hopefully not too far away, but we haven't started organising that yet. I feel I have my dream band. I really like the people I've got involved in my live show now, I feel if I have too many famous people I'd have to deal with too many egos" [laughter].