Bernie Griffen returns with new album & NZ tour

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'My Brain Exploded' is Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men’s first single release from Bernie’s third album, Doors Wide Open. It’s a self-portrait, he says: “I’ve given up the H, now just struggling with the ADD, it drives me crazy!"

'My Brain Exploded' is a jaunty exploration of scrambled thinking and relationship negotiation, set to a Latin rhythm. It’s a testament to both his own sense of imperfection and to his long-standing relationship with Kirsten Warner, emerging member of his band The Thin Men. “You’ve been asking questions of my behaviour, I feel like a body full of swollen glands. You laugh and cry and look at me/Love and doubt and fury in your eyes/Why can’t you be, a steady man/And all I can do is sigh."

Doors Wide Open may be overall light, brighter and less melancholic than his first two albums. But mortality is sometimes on Bernie Griffen’s mind. 'When I Die' is a love song honouring a lifetime with Kirsten Warner. The ‘sweet sorrow’ of the song is an enduring quality of both their voices and music. 

Dubbed Southern Gothic, Bernie Griffen mines a terrain of his own that could also be described as swamp folk or psychedelic country and shows his understanding and feel for his American and Kiwi music roots. It travels from the classic driving blues 'Truck Song' to the whimsical country swing of 'Wedding Waltz', the classic folk 'Emigrants Song' to the Latin-feel of Bernie’s ADHD exploration 'My Brain Exploded'. 

'Doors Wide Open', the title track, is another love song and a pop-ier offering full of Beatles harmonies and lyrics that describe his wandering, Sagittarian leanings. 

Griffen and Warner recorded the 10 songs during an emergency stopover in Australia when Bernie Griffen got sick en route to a European tour. The album’s big ballad 'I Fell Out of the Sky' draws on that life-and-death experience. In Melbourne they joined the Brunswick Old Time String Orchestra and a network of community musicians. They were lucky enough to be introduced to virtuoso mandolin player Luke Plumb from Celtic superband Shooglenifty.

Luke Plumb produced and played various strings on the album. It was recorded in a day and a half at Echidna Studio in the Yarra Valley with New Zealander Rob Mahoney (bass) klezmer specialist Judy Gunson (piano) and Ben McAtamney on drums, with vocals laid down in a day in Luke Plumb’s home studio in Footscray.

It’s the first time the couple have recorded an album together, although Kirsten Warner contributed backing vocals on Griffen’s previous albums Salvation (2014) and Everything so Far (2012) with Bernie Griffen and The Grifters.

NZ MUSIC MONTH TOUR DATES: 

Saturday May 12 - Waitakere Library, Auckland
Thursday May 17 - Point Chevalier Library, Auckland

DOORS WIDE OPEN TOUR DATES: 
Friday May 25 - The Refinery, Paeroa
Saturday May 26 - The Incubator, Tauranga
Friday June 1 - house concert, Hawkes Bay
Saturday June 2 - Acacia Bay Hall, Taupo
Sunday June 10 - The Rogue Stage, Rotorua
Friday June 15 -  Kumeu Live, Auckland
Sunday June 24 - Kauaeranga Hall, Thames
Friday June 29 - Meow Cafe, Wellington
Saturday June 30 - St Peter’s Hall, Paekakariki
Friday July 6  - Great Southern Tuning Fork, Auckland* 

Tickets on sale Monday 30th April
Tickets on sale from www.undertheradar.co.nz 
*The Great Southern Tuning Fork on sale from www.ticketmaster.co.nz

On the Doors Wide Open tour, Bernie is supported by rhythm section Kirsten Warner on rhythm guitar, drummer Chris Kemp (Kendall Elise band, Swampland) and bass player Gary Trotman (The Remarkables). 

DOORS WIDE OPEN TRACKLISTING

My Brain Exploded
Laura Jane
Emigrant Song
When I Die
I Fell Out Of The Sky
Maria
The Wedding Song
The Truck Song
Sweet Obesession
Doors Wide Open