Julia Deans of Fur Patrol is heading out on her own for a nationwide tour as she gets ready to release her solo album in June.
What have you been up to and where is the band at?
We're on a hiatus and the time was right to have a break because I've got all these songs I've been wanting to get out for ages. We're not breaking up because we know that we want to play music with each other in the future. So there's no point in doing the, "Oh, we're breaking up", because then you have to do that embarrassing, "Oh no, we're actually having a reunion".
It must be weird after being in a band for 14 years.
It's been funny organising things for this tour by myself because there are little bits and pieces I want to confer with someone about but there's no one to talk to. I have to make all the decisions myself [laughs]. It is weird because Simon, Andrew and I have been playing music together for years, so to be suddenly working on things that are just for me rather than the group is kind of odd. And going places by myself, like picking up my guitar, going to the airport, getting on the plane, and not having my partners in crime, it's like, who am I going to talk to now? It's quite peaceful but it is a little bit sad.
If your EP (A New Dialogue, which came out last year) is anything to go by, your solo material has allowed you to expand your horizons in terms of sound and style.
I guess because it just starts from the acoustic guitar and vocal and I can put whatever instruments around it that I feel are appropriate rather than the building blocks of bass, drums and guitar of Fur Patrol. The songs on the album all have upright bass, acoustic guitar, and mountains of backing vocals. I think I went a little bit crazy there.
So you've got lots of friends to use?
Yeah, yeah, they are all these amazing people I've met over the years and I've gone, "Oh, I want to play music with you", but you can't really do that as much when you're in a set band. Dino [Karlis] from HDU and Dimmer plays drums on most of the songs, then there's Nick Gaffaney; Aaron Tokona [Weta, Cairo Knife Fight] plays some mean guitar, my friend Celia Church does backing vocals, Karl Kippenberger [Shihad] plays some bass, so it's kind of utilising heaps of my mates. It's quite refreshing, too, to be doing something different.
Because these are your songs are they more personal than Fur Patrol songs?
I don't think so because I've always written from quite a personal perspective. I think maybe the format makes it seem more personal, just the acoustic guitar and vocal can make it seem all that much more intimate. One song, it's called Little Survivor, is really sad and a poor little lonely me song [laughs].
You've been based in Australia for nine years now but is New Zealand still home?
Without a doubt. I love Melbourne and Australia is a beautiful country, but whenever I go back to New Zealand I think, "This is amazing". Especially when I did that tour last year with Anika Moa and we got to play all over the country, going to a whole bunch of places I'd never been to, and the whole stretch down the West Coast and then going to Stewart Island was mind-blowing. It's rugged, and wild and like nothing you've ever seen.
I hear you and Anika Moa are starting a band?
We've been having jams. She's over here at the moment and we're doing a show on Thursday and we've been sitting round at her apartment with acoustic guitars writing really big dumb 90s rock riffs. It's hilarious.
We'll look forward to the album at the end of the year then?
Ah, yep [laughs]. And I've also been doing some writing with Jon Toogood for his [solo] album that he's working on. That's been great fun as well. And it's quite a new experience writing with people, and trying to write lyrics with people, which is something I've never done.
Does it seem a long time ago since Lydia - and looking back what do you think about that song?
It does seem like a long time ago. But it's been and gone. Done. But I still like Lydia as a song and I'm quite proud of it. I don't really spend much time pondering the great mysteries of life when it comes to things like that. Reflecting is good but it's all about keeping moving because there are so many things to do.
So you sound happy with your lot at the moment?
I am actually. Very happy. And quite satisfied with the way things are going and being busy makes you a lot happier. I still have mild panic attacks about how much I've got to do and, "Am I good enough", but I think everyone has those about life in general so I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary [laughs].
* Julia Deans starts a nationwide tour on April 1 at Wellington's Ruby Lounge, and at Tabac in Auckland on April 8. Her debut solo album will be out in June.