By Poppy Tohill
Win a double pass to Fur Patrol and Swervedriver this weekend! Click HERE to enter!
From tin-foiling the entire bar of Wellington venue Bodega in the late nineties, to their on-going pre-show tequila shot ritual, New Zealand’s very own nineties icons, Fur Patrol are climbing out of hibernation to hit the road with English shoegaze innovators Swervedriver, this week, in celebration of their own twentieth anniversary.
Gearing up to chat to lead vocalist and front woman, Julia Deans, I was lucky enough to score three for the price of one as Melbourne-based drummer, Simon Braxton, and Wellington native, Andrew Bain joined in on the conversation, making for a great banter-fueled interview that stirred up a wonderful pot of memories.
Whilst twenty years is an impressive feat for any band, Julia was quick to admit that she never thought Fur Patrol would still be performing together this far down the line. “When you’re 20 you never think you’re going to be 40. But I’ll tell you, being 40 feels just like being 20 except you don’t drink as much and you go to bed earlier,” she smirked, followed by a wicked chuckle.
“We never actually really went, oh well it has been 20 years since our first gig so we should do something, it kind of just happened to co-inside and then the promoter put it on the poster in really big letters,” Julia revealed, before Andrew added, “Then we started freaking out and thought, shit, we’re really going to have to remember how all these songs go.”
“It was almost a year ago when the Wellington based promoter mentioned to me that he was talking to Swervedriver about coming to New Zealand for a show,” Andrew began explaining when asked how the upcoming tour with the English group managed to come about. “After I mentioned I was a huge fan of theirs he asked me if I’d be interested in getting the band [Fur Patrol] back together to play with them and of course I immediately said yes, later having to actually get in touch with everyone and ask them if it was okay,” he snickered.
“And we realised that if we said no, Andrew’s bottom lip would hit the floor and we’d feel really stink,” Julia piped up, with a laugh. “We are all big fans of Swervedriver however,” Simon chimed in as he added, “While it’s really exciting to be asked to support them, it’s also super exciting for the three of us to be in a room playing these songs that we love, so there’s certainly a lot of excitement going on.”
Taking a break from rehearsals to do the interview, I questioned how they’d been going so far and if their memories were in-fact favouring or failing them when it came to remembering Fur Patrol’s repertoire.
“We remembered some of the parts, and some, of some of the parts, and some of the bits, of some of the parts, and then others just came out like muscle memory,” Julia gleefully acknowledged.
“It’s kind of surprising how much is still there and comes out,” Simon responded. “We think, god how is this going to go, but as soon as we start playing it at all starts to make sense, then we keep stopping to tell each other funny little stories as the songs trigger these memories,” he added.
Reminiscing crazy tales from their past, I decided to test their knowledge and see if any of them could remember Fur Patrol’s first ever live show and they did. Just as if it was yesterday. “Yep!” Julia excitedly announced. “It was at the old Bodega in Wellington, before the motorway went right through,” as Andrew agreed, confirming, “It was awesome as we were actually opening for mine and Steve’s other band.”
Known for their incredible energy when it comes to live performances, Julia went on to tell us about what he can except from this upcoming run of shows, whilst Andrew reminisced about his glorious crowd-surfing days. “There will definitely be lots of energy,” Julia confirmed enthusiastically and although he later states there is likely to be more dancing than crowd surfing at these shows, Andrew proudly pointed out he has stage-dived once before, although not at a Fur Patrol gig. “Some guy next to me was pointing at my feet and I thought he was telling me my shoelaces were undone, so I crouched down and suddenly this huge dude just picked me up and threw me on top of the crowd. Then when I eventually ended up back on stage, the security kicked me out,” he concluded, as bursts of laughter erupted from us all.
Beyond Fur Patrol, Julia and I went on to talk about the vast number of other musical projects she has been involved in over the years, from solo releases to recording and touring with Jon Toogood of Shihad in their side group, The Adults and acting in musical theatre shows such as Brel and Jesus Christ Superstar, to name a few.
“I definitely do sleep, far too much, in-fact,” Julia responded, jokingly, when asked how she manages to balance all of these diverse enterprises with sleep. “I just really enjoy trying lots of new things, because being busy is good and well, the devil makes work for idle hands!” she chuckles.
Never initially intending to ever become involved in musical theatre, or even theatre in general, Julia revealed, “I did Jesus Christ Superstar because it’s about the only musical where I enjoy all of the music. I saw it when I was about 18 years old and Margret Urlich was playing Mary Magdalene - She’s such a beautiful performer and those songs are just so incredible!”
“The biggest difference, especially between performing in Fur Patrol and being involved in musical theatre is that the audience for theatre is all seated and very, very quiet,” Julia went on to explain, as we discussed the main differences between these two forms of art. “I actually really enjoyed having a director and somebody there guiding me too as it remarkably takes a lot of pressure off you. Weirdly enough in that situation I like people telling me what to do, which doesn’t work anywhere else!”
So as for Fur Patrol’s members once the upcoming tour is over - It’s back to Melbourne for Andrew. Back to normality for Simon and back into the studio for Julia, promising us her next solo record before the end of the year is out. But as for Fur Patrol - Never say never, as to if they will reform again, but don’t sleep on purchasing tickets to catch them in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland at the end of this week because, well, you never know…
Fur Patrol and Swervedriver
Friday 17th June: Churchills, Christchurch
Saturday 18th June: Bodega, Wellington
Sunday 19th June: Kings Arms, Auckland
Tickets via Under The Radar