Bannerman’s Dusty Dream Hole…

It’s exciting to hear new music from a close musical collaborator and friend – Richie Setford was the éminence grise and main creative force behind one million dollars, a band to which my life was tied for a big chunk part of the last decade.

Now Richie has released his first full album as a solo artist: The Dusty Dream Hole is released under his nom de scène Bannerman. Sonically, the departure from our one million dollars adventure couldn’t be more dramatic:

The offspring of several years gestation, The Dusty Dream Hole could be described as broadly cinematic… the album encompasses lilting ballads and sharp-edged, distorted dreamscapes that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy: from the headlong jangle of My Quarantine to the glistening lounge-pop that adorns Caverns.

Richie’s musical interests and songwriting have always stretched a long way beyond the funk and soul of the one million dollars project. I was lucky enough to work with him in some smaller settings – both gigs and in various bedroom and lounge jam sessions – where Richie’s gift for melody and gently twisted song-stories could be taken outside what could be interpreted by an 11-piece groove band. In some important ways, The Dusty Dream Hole sounds to me like the logical outflow of those explorations.

The textures that fill Dream Hole reflect for me the years Richie has spent in the studio with various bands . Like a population of goblins poking their impudent heads out of hollow logs, the album is replete with chunky guitars, strings, folk harmonies, horns and stripped-back drums.

Most pleasingly, and perhaps for the first time, we get to hear Richie’s full range as a vocalist – his Tom Waits growl on Deep in the Forest is quite arresting.

Of course, my thoughts on Bannerman can never be objective. I know the musicians involved too well and –  to some limited extent – I heard the origins of this music as it took shape in flats in Western Springs and Kingsland in mid-noughties Auckland. I hope however that this album gets out to a wider audience – not just because I count Richie as a friend, but because his musical vision deserves to be shared.

The Dusty Dream Hole can be purchased online (digital and CD) at amplifier.co.nz, and free download samples are available on bandcamp.

Decade in Review

According to some people, midnight tonight marks the end of a decade. At first glance it’s hard to see how far we’ve come in this time. It’s been a decade of Dick Cheney, Harry Potter sequels and The X Factor, but surely there’s been some personal growth going on beneath the radar too.

Tash tweeted today that “we grew older, further apart and closer together, grew deeper, wiser, more foolish. Lost and found hope, but didn’t grow Up.”  Which is lovely, and possibly true if I could work out what it meant, but I thought I’d try to capture some of the spirit of the “noughties” (as I experienced it) in ten photos…



2000: living in France the first time round, learning to be an Alsatian. Hanging out in a small town at the foot of the Vosges, hiking in the hills to work off the tonnes of tartes flambées consumed.


2001: back in Auckland, joined one million dollars.  For a short period, we were something like the biggest little funk band in the land: albums, low-budget music videos and collective food poisoning in Vanuatu ensued.


Flatting in Western Springs in the first half of the decade: I learnt how to be (mostly) a vegetarian and make leek-and-potato soup.  In between cooking, we used the kitchen to make low-budget music videos.


Helping out with youth group leadership at St Paul’s Remuera, I ended up driving the van on our now-legendary ski trips. Little sleep was had by all involved, but we did get to see Paradise.


2004-06: Getting wrapped up into the free improv scene in Auckland, we formed slightly inexplicable musical units such as the Dominion Centenary Concert Band. Audiences didn’t understand what we were doing, but that was OK, because neither did we. But the costumes were fabulous.

2005: Got paid a moderately obscene sum of money to be an extra in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. It turned out to be one of the worst films of the decade, but at least the costumes were fabulous.


Over the course of the decade, I managed to ski at Le Markstein, Châtel, Méribel, Val Thorens, Arolla, Zinal and Grimentz (in Europe); and at Whakapapa, Turoa, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cardrona (in NZ). My skiing didn’t improve much, but I fell down a lot and bought a helmet.


2006-2008: In Oxford, another spiritual home was discovered. A town where you can consult mediaeval manuscripts in the Bodleian and chase semi-wild horses on Port Meadow within 15 minutes walking distance.


In the UK, one slightly inexplicable musical project got replaced by another: The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band. It provided an excuse to tour the pubs of Oxfordshire.


2009: finally made it back to France on the back of an MBA degree. Montpellier was hot, friendly and offered great opportunities for hiking, including the lovely Gorges de Lamalou.

So somehow I’ve finished the decade by moving to Paris. Looking back, it’s been a busy ten years, and I’m thankful for the good friends and family who have shared it with me.  I always had the impression I could have fitted more in, but in fact quite a lot got achieved anyway despite the procrastination and the blogging.

I hope the next decade is just as action-packed. I just wonder if the costumes will be quite as fabulous.

Have a very Happy New Year, all of you, near and far.  All the best for a peaceful and fulfilling 2010.

Blast from the Recent Past

The weather’s too good this weekend to spend time indoors writing a long blog post. So here’s Another New Zealand Music Month Post, immodestly featuring my old band… I discovered this clip that I didn’t think was online, but someone’s posted it. The song is The Original off our first album. Luckily I don’t appear the clip at all!

Filmed over a weekend on a road near Muriwai beach, in downtown Auckland, and on the cycle path along the Northwestern Motorway… shoestring budgets and digital post-production all the way!

Musica na Cabeca

posterf

It’s finally happened. On Saturday April 19th one million dollars plays its final gig ever, at 4:20 in Auckland. It’s been a long journey for the band since 2000, a journey in which I was a fellow traveller for about 6 years until Europe shouted louder than the funk.

Saturday 19th will be a great celebration, and I think it’s worth remembering what a groundbreaking band we were. The first kiwi band to break the longstanding taboo on clandestine Brazilian immigrants, the first to play for Bobba Fett’s solo dance party and the only band to ever outnumber the crowd at a gig in Hamilton.

Musically, too, the band pushed boundaries, no better illustrated than in the song Energy State – our first album was called Energy State, but the track itself was never included on the album, because it was too dangerous. Its sheer funky power severely maimed several engineers during mixing and a test version of the album actually had to be removed from a flat in Waterview by a Hazardous Materials Unit from the City Council:

one million dollars – Energy State (Unreleased)

Apart from these tricky moments, being a member of the band was a huge privilege, certainly one of the greatest experiences of my life. Beyond the small achievements of three albums (Energy State, Soup Kitchen and Stand Up for the Shake Down), several music videos, tours around New Zealand, Vanuatu and to Sydney, it was the people who I will never forget. Musicians, engineers, flatmates, friends. They all know who they are, and the problem with a funk band is that there are so damn many of them that if I start thanking them individually I’ll leave someone important out.

So guys, have a great night on Saturday, alongside our old friends The Hot Grits and our devil spawn The Shades. I’ll be thinking of you all, and the great times we spent together. It was worth every minute. Peace.

Vanuatu

Live at Fest Napuan, Port Vila, Vanuatu. October 2004

You Couldn’t Make This Up

Some readers of this blog know that I was in a band back in New Zealand. We recorded an album, it got released in Europe in 2004. A few years later, a high school band in Hungary called “Ice Monkeys” covers one of the songs, and puts the video on Youtube. They play all the horn lines on keyboard, which is just too cool.

It’s strange to think that somewhere in Eastern Europe, a bunch of teenagers heard our album and decided one of the songs was worth learning and putting on their set list alongside Simply Red, Lenny Kravitz and the Doobie Brothers. Globalisation, anyone?

Here’s the original recording and video of Who You Are, for comparison – the video was filmed in Auckland, upstairs at Galatos and on Stephanie’s back lawn in Takapuna, overlooking Rangitoto.

one million dollars – “Soup Kitchen” Launch Party

Well, it’s finally happened. one million dollars has released their new album, Soup Kitchen in New Zealand, and the world of funk is once again shaken to its core.

If you’re in Auckland, get along to 4:20 (that’s at 323 K Road) on Friday night for the launch party. one million dollars are playing of course, supported by The Cosbys. Kickoff is 9:30pm.

Soup Kitchen

So much for bands with large memberships “not lasting long”. I know 5 and a half years ain’t got nothing on the Stones, but it’s not bad for an eleven-piece band, despite (or perhaps because of) the revolving membership.

Speaking of 5 and a half years, Cashmeruffle: one of the really, really first tracks from $1MD is now available for download on myspace. It’s so old the band hadn’t even managed to find all its members yet. I’ve reproduced the song here to save extraneous clicking.

one million dollars – Cashmeruffle

From Styles Upon Styles Vol. 2 Pacific Soul Warriors: Sugarlicks [Buy]

And finally, here’s the advertising bit:

If you can’t wait for the international release schedule, purchase “Soup Kitchen” online at amplifier.co.nz (available from September 11th)

Buy the first album “Energy State” on amazon.com, hmv.co.uk, Amazon Germany, or even from iTunes Store.

one million dollars: energy state

one million dollars – City Getting Down
Demo Recorded in Auckland, NZ, first half of 2001.

This blog normally being dedicated to music of great beauty and significance, I try to avoid mentioning my own modest activities. However, I’m in a band, and today our album Energy State is released in Europe. For an obscure eleven piece funksouljazzwhatever band from New Zealand, this event is significant. So I will permit myself to briefly note the occasion here on etnobofin.


ATTENTION LIECHTENSTEIN: Look for this album cover in your shops

To celebrate I thought I’d share City Getting Down, an old lo-fi demo of a $1MD favourite from the early days of the band. In fact it’s the only recording I could find that isn’t licensed to some record label or other. It’s so old I’m not even playing on it (I joined a few months after this recording). The lovely brothers responsible are Richie Setford (vox, gat), Amos Clarke (b), Martin Schreck (tp) and Jono Goss (d).

We don’t play this song live any more, but it reminds me of those naive early days of the band, before we learnt about groupies and all-night video shoots and cramming 10 people into a van for that infamous 12 hour drive to Wellington.

Apparently the CD is going to be available most places – Virgin Megastores, soulseduction.com, and citydisc in Switzerland should have it shortly, depending on the speed of distribution. soulseduction.com even has some good quality audio samples of all the tracks.

Righto. Here endeth the self promotion. Next time, some real music.