Lydia Jenkin is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Five Mile Town headed on an upward path

Auckland band Five Mile Town. Photo / Supplied
Auckland band Five Mile Town. Photo / Supplied

Having agreed to meet the young lads of Five Mile Town at an Auckland bar for their interview, one unspoken question arises before they're even seated - are they old enough to be offered a drink?

As it turns out the answer is both yes and no. Double bass player Levi Heeringa is 17, as is lead singer Louis McDonald, while guitarist Adam Quigley and newly recruited drummer Ryan Wilson are both 18.

But being surprisingly mature young men, the question is not even raised - they're all sensible enough to order sodas or french fries as they settle down to chat about their quick rise to popularity - and earning enough fans to book themselves a show at the Town Hall Concert Chamber this weekend.

"The Concert Chamber is cool - it's in the Town Hall," Quigley laughs. "And playing a seated show works for us."

A seated gig in the somewhat prestigious - and large - Concert Chamber from a relatively new teenage band might seem a bit incongruous, but despite their young age and forming only last October, Five Mile Town are already well on their way to success.

They've played the Waiheke Jazz festival, performed in Wellington and a variety of interesting Auckland venues, been booked for several corporate gigs and been to Australia to support Sydney band Set Sail. Not to mention being short-listed for an APRA Silver Scroll award.

They're youthfully ambitious and enthusiastic, while being level-headed enough to take their time. But to be honest, they make it sound like a pretty easy ride so far.

They all went to different high schools, but when Quigley (son of the Nairobi Trio's John Quigley) and McDonald met through a mutual friend last year, they formed a duo for Rockquest.

"We were attempting to be an Irish folk duo," laughs Quigley.

Heeringa came on board after they bumped into him at the Rugby World Cup and decided they needed bass, and Wilson is a more recent addition, as their need for a fourth member and live drummer became apparent.

Though they're not quite sure how to class their music in terms of genre (it's not traditional folk, but "we're an alternative band who play songs acoustically", offers Quigley) they seem to appeal to a wide age range - a fact they're rightfully proud of.

"I guess it's kind of like Adele, she's got a broad appeal age-wise," Quigley muses.

"At our EP release it was mostly teenagers, and a lot of people we didn't know, which was cool, because we thought it would be just our friends, but then there were parents as well," McDonald adds.

"I've had lots of friends say 'oh yeah, my mum really likes you too'. It's nice to be able to play to anyone, or share your music with anyone," Quigley finishes.

Not many teenage bands would already have a professional-looking and sounding EP to their name but even the decision to record after only a few months together was an easy one. They were lucky enough to be mates with Rich Bryan, who'd just started working at Big Pop Studios, so they thought it was a good opportunity to lay down the tracks.

"He's our mate, he's got ProTools, he's got some mics, he knows what he's doing," Quigley shrugs. "And he's really good at vocals. That was the main thing. And we thought the vocals were important."

So far the direction of their music has been mostly influenced by their chosen instruments and their natural abilities, rather than particular musical heroes.

"Something like the fact that Levi plays the double bass, it changes the way he plays the bassline. I think before Adam joined we were quite limited in what we could do with just the three of us. We didn't have a drummer, we had to be creative. And that moulded the way we wrote songs, we had to create rhythms between us rather than using drums for rhythms."

One of their key reasons for recording the EP, however, was to prove their talents to their friends.

"We kept telling our mates how we're in this band, and they'd be like 'oh yeah, everyone's in a band', so we wanted to have something for them to listen to."

With 70,000 views on their video for debut single Saturated and a slot at the Rhythm and Vines festival at New Year, their friends are sure taking notice now.

So how long will it be before they're playing the actual Town Hall?

"As soon as we can pack it out," Heeringa says with a grin.

Who: Auckland band Five Mile Town
Where and when: Performing at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber on Saturday night, with Great North.
Listen to: Debut self-titled EP released in March


- NZ Herald

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