Weta: Escaping the cave

By Scott Kara

Aaron Tokona didn't listen to Weta's debut album, Geographica, for five years. The guitarist and singer couldn't bring himself to.

It was released in 2000 and with singles Calling On and Let It Go, and the hypnotic anthem Got the Ju, the band was rocketed to the status of New Zealand's next great rock'n'roll hopes. But in less than a year they called it quits.

Yes, there were problems with drugs and booze excess, and Tokona's
battle with bipolar disorder made band life difficult at times.

"It's not the most healthy lifestyle being in a band when things rear their ugly head. But I've taken that monster and looked it square in the eye and I've come full circle there," he says.

But more than anything else, Tokona puts the band's break-up down to their struggle with the demands of being a professional band and the expectations of signing to an Australian record label.

"We stumbled into it and all of a sudden we were a signed act. I think we just basically wore ourselves out. We had a certain amount of pressure and I didn't think the touring would get to us, because it was always a great way to have a holiday, but it became a kind of monster.

"It went from being this thing you love to something arduous. And I think bands who survive it are ...

true bands," laughs Tokona in
his booming, husky cackle. "It was a relief to come away from it though," he says.

When he did finally bring himself to listen to Geographica, about a year or so ago, he was chuffed.

"We put out a record that was really loved by a lot of people and I've only really gotten to understand that in the last year. I didn't ctually
listen to that record for five years because there was this whole vibe with me. It was only in the last year that I've come to think, 'I'm really proud of that record'."

For him, reuniting with band-mates Gabriel Atkinson (guitar), Clinton den Heyer (drums) and his bassist brother Clinton (better known as
Tookie), is about unfinished business.

They have played shows in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and a few festivals, and he says it's incredible seeing people sing the songs
back to them.

"People really seemed to connect with that record," he says, still a little bemused by the reception they are getting.

Tomorrow they play the prime spot of 8pm on the Essential stage on the top field - not a bad billing for a band who haven't been around for
eight years.

"We thought we were on at about two o'clock in the afternoon," laughs Tokona.

"We just appreciate anything we can get really but then we saw it was eight o'clock and we were like, 'Woah, we had better play a good set
boys'."

Who: Aaron Tokona, Weta
Where & when: 8pm-8.45pm, Essential stage (top field)
Album: Geographica (2000)

- NZ Herald

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