UNFAITHFUL WAYS Q&A
Having recently attended the finalist showcase for the NZ Music Awards 2011 Critics Choice Prize at Auckland's Kings Arms Tavern, we were blown away by Canterbury-based alt-country band, The Unfaithful Ways. They performed on the night alongside charismatic pop singer Kimbra and Auckland trio Popstrangers. Although the band didn't triumph on the night, they certainly made more than a few more fans - the NO team especially. NO chatted with the band about the pending release of their debut album and their favourite movie soundtrack.
When did you guys form Unfaithful Ways? What inspired you to make music together? We formed in late 2008. Marlon and Ben had been playing together for a few years, and they had a connection with Sebastian as a student a few years ahead of them at their high school in the choir and musical productions. Simon came into the mix as a teacher at their school and was playing in a few local bands. After a few enjoyable jams in the school band room with Simon, Marlon and Ben invited Sebastian to come along. We all had a connection with a love of country music and aesthetic and playing 'for the song'. We were inspired by the bands that we all listened to, western movies, and the satisfaction of writing and paying a good song together.
Congratulations on being a finalists for the Critics' Choice Prize - what has that meant for you as a band? Critics' Choice has been a real encouragement; being based in Christchurch/Lyttlelton is great but a little detached for the media center in Auckland, so it's nice to get the recognition that people enjoy our music. It's also good to see people are giving country music a chance. We are very serious about our passion for music and to be acknowledged critically in that forum means a huge amount to us before we put out our debut album, commercial success or not.
Your debut album is due for release this month - what was the recording process like? The initial recording process went relatively smoothly. Many of the songs had been worked on live for a few months. We had used the studio as a practice space for over a year so it was quite relaxed and fun, a good chance to try a few new ideas and push ourselves to get good takes. Just as we had some initial mixes done the earthquakes struck, which was quite stressful - the second earthquake left all the master files trapped in a building for two months. Fortunately we retrieved the album and could remix it and get it mastered.
Who would you consider to be your influences when writing music? We all have lots of different influences and bring our own taste to the band, but collectively some of our biggest influences would be The Band (with the multiple singers), Flying Burrito Brothers, Gene Clarke, Neil Young, and Ennio Morricone.
Being based in Lyttleton, How did the Christchurch earthquakes affect you guys? The earthquake affected us a lot. Marlon, living in Lyttelton, saw many important and influential buildings and venues crumble firsthand. While Sebastian, Ben and Simon live in Christchurch itself, the loss of Lyttelton and Christchurch venues and areas of artistic community has been a really difficult change to deal with for everyone.
You’ve been hard at work over the past few years, recording and playing loads of gigs. What's been your favorite venue or show to date? Sebastian's favourite venues have been the recent Christchurch Arts Festival's makeshift Telstra club - very intimate and old fashioned - and Golden Dawn. We recently played there and it has a great relaxed atmosphere. Simon has enjoyed the contrast between the rockier gigs like Band of Horses at the Powerstation and Critics' Choice, with the more community country style gigs like the Gore Moonshiners Fest, the Duvauchelle end of year gig at the local hall.
Do any of you have other side projects? Marlon regularly performs solo, but performing mostly his Unfaithful Ways compositions and various covers. He and Ben also were part of The Harbour Union tour recently, with Simon and Sebastian taking a small role in the recording of that album.
What’s the future looking like for you? Any summer gigs lined up? We will be back up to Auckland and Wellington in late November to promote the album, then tour more extensively in the summer, nation wide. New material is also currently on its way. We're looking towards production of the next album!
The new issue of NO has a 'screen' theme. What are your favourite television shows and films? Sebastian's favourite television show is Curb Your Enthusiasm and his favourite film at the moment is Von Trier's Melancholia. The band all enjoy Peep Show, and Simon and Ben have a fondness for David Attenborough's nature shows.
What’s your favorite film soundtrack/score? Soundtrack: Jarmusch's Deadman by Neil Young, Morricone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.