"Level with me." Howling Bells vocalist Juanita Stein doesn't say it but you can hear it in her voice, "this usually only goes one way." Again, she doesn't actually say it but it's there. Brimming at the top of her intonation. Surprisingly seriously. Oddly serious. Actually, a little bit ridiculous.
What she does say: "If you ask guys it's always flying and for women it's always invisible. I don't know why but it always is."
The superpower question.
Always a fun one to go back to and somewhat interesting in that everyone says the same thing. But not Juanita, because there are rules! There is etiquette. There is a proper way to answer this question. Yes, by God I'm getting fascistic (at least a little) about it. Yes, dear reader, this is the grand sum of my life. Here I sit. Dictating rules to a famous person.
"So [because it] can't be flying or invisibility," she says with a level of mock seriousness that's dominated the last couple of minutes, "I would have to say the power to rectify, given the current political climate, it would be to bring world peace." A pause. "That has to be a superpower, surely."
She's not a political songwriter, not by a long shot (and by her own admission) but does it ever get her fired up. So naturally, there was a fair amount of long sticked poking and prodding.
"I have this great sense of frustration and the older I get the more important [politics] gets. We're in the middle of a fucking hurricane and it would be prominent [in her songwriting] but I tend to stray away from it. If you're a political songwriter then you need to know an awful lot and have to know what you're talking about."
Juanita has one of those lovely English accents. It's not the Queen's English but neither is it that muddy, sludge of an accent you find on that stellar new programme Sex Clinic.
"Nothing frustrates me more than misinformed or uninformed songwriters. Just because you're in that position doesn't mean you get to have free reign and say what you want. You have to be careful."
She cares, Juanita does, passionately. And while she keeps it in check (in her songwriting) being apolitical isn't a permanent fixture.
"My problem is that I feel moved and frustrated by so many issues. I'm internally ravaged; I'm disgusted by animal cruelty and the way women are treated in some countries and I don't know what to place emphasis on. But when the right thing comes up, I'll support it publicly."
Discussing politics and superpowers is a long way from Juanita's more, um, well, humble beginnings.
"When I was eighteen," this story begins with a touch of innocence and a giggle, "I had a job delivering food to this diner, cafe, type place. I would deliver chocolate and strawberry sundaes, only later to find out that I was delivering them to brothels! I didn't realise until the sixth or so visit and they all had a penchant for strawberry sundaes!"
But now, years away from strawberry sundae loving hookers, and four albums into a career with Howling Bells, the band are having to make a different set of considerations and walk the clichè fine line.
"Four records in you want to think about selling records. You want something that's going to keep you going, keep you out there and trying and,literally, so you can afford to keep doing it. When you're young and you sign to a record label you want to do well and you want to succeed. That's the normal evolution for every artist, to want to succeed."
They're not a platinum selling band but they know the formula and it's not something that exactly interests them.
"When you look at a platinum selling band, you can see what they're doing. They're considering lyric phrases, will this make my fans happy or will it make them sad? They always want to make them happy so they're considering the melodic changes."
The price of all of this happiness is death. Seriously though, the price of this happiness is coming across like One Direction (probably a death in of itself) and that means (probably) having your own rent-a-writer.
"It comes across as less authentic and I'm guilty of it," Juanita confesses. "When I was young we were eager and we're an ambitious band and you have to try, you have to at least try [to write those songs]. Now I'm more of the train of thought where you can't please everyone but you can please some people and they're important."
Still not a fail safe, but it's not really about being safe. Besides, no matter how safe you try to be, the bad will come and come and come.
"There will be people who appreciate it and there will be critics who cut to the core what you're trying to say or do. It can be soul crushing. You put everything there on a platter for it to be stomped on. When you're a young artist it's hard. But when you're progressing and consistent then that becomes less important."
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
To this day I still remember my introduction to Sepultura - camped out in the granny flat bedroom of long-time friend Kerry - a live version of their cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron, and from there it continues to this day
Due to incredible demand, internationally renowned award-winning musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer TIM MINCHIN has today announced a third and final Auckland show as part of his Australasian tour of his live show BACK.
Legendary, GRAMMY-award winning band FLEETWOOD MAC today announced an Australian and New Zealand tour, set to kick off on August 9 with two shows in Auckland on September 16 and 19, along with a welcome return to Dunedin on September 21.
California’s radical sons, The Growlers arrive in the country this week for the start of the Australian leg of their mammoth worldwide ‘Beach Goth’ tour. In what is guaranteed to be a rollicking, majestic wave of movements all around our golden coast,
Timaru’s iconic Soundshell in Caroline Bay will host two of the most well-known bands in New Zealand in a one-day entertainment extravaganza this January. Katchafire and The Black Seeds will headline the R18+ event at the Soundshell on Saturday, January 26, 2019. They’ll be joined by The Butlers.
In true kiwi summer tour tradition Marlon Williams will now take The Tūrangawaewae Tour to a further six markets this February making it a total of 12 shows - Marlon’s most comprehensive New Zealand tour ever!
With sounds primed for a hot summer ahead, Christchurch four piece Mako Road have arrived with the perfect soundtrack for long nights, cold drinks and hazy days with the ‘Local Safari’ EP, which releases today.
“Music can bring us all together, it bonds us, it strengthens us...” this song “Your Guardian Angel” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus has been dedicated to Toyah Cordingley.
Please spread the word to anyone who loves the song, or has lost someone too early also, feel free to leave any dedications in the comments of which we will share direct for Toyahs’ family and the band to see.
On the heels of releasing several collaborative hit tracks this year, five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson returns with a brand new single of his own ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus.
George Ezra toured the world nonstop for more than two years following the release of his debut LP Wanted On Voyage, finally making it to Aotearoa for one of the standout sets of this year’s Auckland City Limits.
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.
The critically acclaimed, award-winning comedian and actor, Catherine Tate, is bringing The Catherine Tate Show - Live to New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch commencing November 28, 2018.
It has been announced overnight that Last Tapes Theatre Company's original production Valerie has been selected for a month-long season in the prestigious Summerhall programme at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.
Featuring Brouhaha: choreographer Malia Johnston, composer Eden Mulholland, AV designer Rowan Pierce; In Transit: choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant, composer/AV designer Paddy Free; The Geography of an Archipelago: choreographer Stephen Shropshire, composer Chris O’Connor.