By Wal Reid
Push Push, a band that needs no introduction, are back on the comeback ‘trail’ so to speak. The iconic song Trippin’ is forever etched in Kiwi music fans minds, however after the nineties the band suddenly fell off the radar, begging the question: “Where are they now?”
Fans will be pleased to learn, the eponymous boy-band is set to light Kiwi hearts on fire again as they gear up to play a few select shows supporting UK rockers The Darkness this week.
“There’s no doubt New Zealand is my home,” tells guitarist Andy Kane. “But I did land at Bondi Beach which is full of frickin’ Kiwis anyway (laughter). Its kind of like a suburb of Auckland to a degree.
“In my heart, I’m still a Kiwi I’ve got a strong attachment to New Zealand that will never flicker out, besides it’s not that far away.”
Kane is surprisingly chatty as we touch on the sensitive (“time is a healer”) and the future of one this country’s biggest rock comebacks.
“If you had told me at any point of my time in my youth or early twenties that I was going to end up in Sydney, I would’ve told you, “You’re dreaming,”– but here I am. There’s a lot to offer here, we actually moved there as a band, believe it or not.
“We punished ourselves in New Zealand touring a lot, and we were going backwards & forwards to Australia to do tours, and we felt it was probably a smart move to stay here. Then we kind of imploded on arrival, which wasn’t pretty.”
Back to Roots
The band released their debut album A Trillion Shades of Happy in 1992. Their first single Trippin’ was recorded at Airforce Studios (Auckland), with the drum track done in one take. The song went to straight to number one in New Zealand, the hit also included the bonus track I Love My Leather Jacket originally by Kiwi legends The Chills.
“We’d been playing together Mike, Steve & I since we were fourteen,” says Kane. “There’s still a lot of love there. We went from playing some pretty good gigs in Auckland, to all of a sudden having a number one single, a gold album and being ‘darlings’ for a little while there. I think, as good as friends as we were, we probably needed to do some of that ‘growing up’ independently."
“Steve always said, “We didn’t go to university, we just went on the road.” I think its a nice way of putting it really. We were absorbing the world, learning our craft and seeing parts of New Zealand we hadn’t seen. All of that was amazing, but all the other stuff, that was complex. The male risk-taking-decision-making part of the brain, doesn’t really form until you’re twenty-three apparently, so there was a lot of ‘risk’ going on as you can imagine.”
The band focused their energies touring Australia and building on their fan base there. Little did they realise that the move would be the unraveling of the band; a premature end, to what seemed the dream gig.
“We kind of arrived here with good intention, but its fair to say Mike and I often banged heads,” recounts Kane. “At that point, it was very difficult for both of us to actually be in the same room together. It was not an uncommon thing - big personalities in the band, trying to make it all work, it just got too hard. It got too hard for Mike more than anyone, and he had to figure out a way to deal with that you know, so we did. I stayed here making music, and the rest is history."
“We were playing major TV Shows and playing with major acts and had good airplay on Triple J over here. We also had a pretty strong following actually, people found our Facebook page and going on about it, “Why the hell aren’t you playing in Australia?” It wasn’t as big as it was in NZ, I mean, we had a top twenty hit here, but yeah, but not as big.”
Trippin’ Out On You
Speaking of that ‘song’, Trippin’ as Kane retells the story behind the iconic tune, “We thought 'Song 27' had ‘more legs’ and that’s why Trippin’ came out first. The song was also recorded around the same time by Auckland punk stalwarts The Warners, while Kiwi electronic act Baitercell released a techno version featuring American-Australian performer Miz Ima Starr.
“It’s amazing how often songs that are after thoughts or ones that didn’t have a lot of time or effort spent on them, end up blowing up,” says Kane. “I think that’s because they’re easy to get, they’re easy to translate, they make sense straight away, not only to people who are writing it or recording it but to those who are hearing it. It triggers things, you get it straight away, and Trippin’ was like that for us."
“We went to see the Ramones two nights in a row at The Powerstation, and just loved it - it was nuts. It was right up our alley just sheer enjoyment and I think we wrote it on the back of that actually, we wrote it that weekend after seeing the gig – I don’t know if it’s a Ramone’s inspired song necessarily, but it being that quick ‘bash around the face’ the other stuff on the album we were writing took a longer time to develop as a song.”
Song 27 & The Remaster
“Oddly, we thought Song 27 had ‘more legs’ and that’s why Tripping came out first,” recalls Kane. “We always thought Song 27 was a big song it has a big statement to make. It ebbs and flows, has two major climaxes, some of the best guitaring we ever did, there was so much in it, surely this was going to go well. And it did, but we thought “You know what, before we do that, let’s put something out that shows the energy and the drive."
“I have had to listen to it again to remaster for iTunes,” he admits. “To be fair, I don’t know if it makes me feel anything except it’s part of my history. I prefer playing in that group situation where everyone’s got something to contribute. If I listen to it, I can hear the band, I can hear what Silver does, I can hear what Scott does, and I really like what they do."
“The whole is generally better than the sum of its parts”, we all bring something to it – Mike and I were talking about it the other day, both him and I in our respective careers, haven’t had to do that very often to make way for other people’s input, it’s nice to sit back and see what someone else offers to it, especially when you respect and like what they do.”
Beginning of the End
The band are looking forward to getting out to play in front of fans again, however it was almost sheer luck and a bit of working out of the schedules that the band is back together, as Kane says, “We’re very brotherly for better or worse, sometimes that’s great, sometimes it’s a pain in the arse.”, it’s a maxim the has helped the band stick together contributing to the success of the reunion.
“It was in part to do with geography,” admits Kane. “We actually all found we were all going to be in one place for the first time in twenty years. We took a baby step, we went to the Mexican Café and ate Salsa.
“Actually, a lot of the band was created at the Mexican Café, its where Scott and I decided he had a shot of being in the band, its where Silver and I figured out how we were going to work together in a band that had two guitars. There was a lot of love in the room when we walked in, and it was big smiles. It was good - sometimes you just need to grow up a bit I think.”
Last week Push Push released their four-track EP Talk2Me and a video for the title track.
"We can't wait to play in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch alongside The Darkness, and it just felt right to have a few new songs to add to our set," said frontman Mikey Havoc.
"We've gone all out and made a video too - and with the recording and rehearsing and filming over the past couple of months, it feels like the old magic is back."
The Darkness with special guests Push Push
Thursday 20th April: The Powerstation, Auckland - Tickets via Ticketmaster
Friday 21st April: Hunter Lounge, Victoria University, Wellington - Tickets via Ticketek & Justtheticketnz
Saturday 22nd April: The Foundry, Christchurch - Tickets via Ticketek