George Fenwick is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Push Push guitarist Andy Kane plays on despite Multiple Sclerosis

Andy Kane (second from left) is playing on despite a battle with multiple sclerosis. Photo / Doug Peters
Andy Kane (second from left) is playing on despite a battle with multiple sclerosis. Photo / Doug Peters

Push Push guitarist Andy Kane has returned to the stage this week as the band joins The Darkness on their New Zealand tour - despite a debilitating condition that affects his guitar playing.

Kane was diagnosed in 2007 with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease in which the immune system damages the protective covering of nerves, disrupting communication between the brain and the body. Symptoms include problems with movement, balance, co-ordination and vision, as well as paralysis.

Despite the disease affecting his most valuable guitar-playing tools - his hands - Kane resolved upon diagnosis to take every possible step towards fighting the condition.

"The possibility of not being able to play the guitar was cause for major concern, and really put far more weight behind the 'let's sort this s*** out' part of my personality.

"So I got on top of it really quickly. Those initial symptoms subsided. They come back, never with the vengeance they did initially, but they do come back."

Kane took the advice of a friend who was also diagnosed and swiftly focussed on getting on top of the disease; eating healthier, maximising his intake of Vitamin D and meditating frequently.

And though playing live is certainly more challenging than it once was, Kane says picking up his old Push Push guitar helped "immeasurably".

"As soon as I picked it up... all that Push Push stuff was easier because of muscle memory. Where I go on the fret board is ingrained from doing countless gigs and those guitar runs countless times."

Speaking after a "warm-up" gig ahead of their tour with The Darkness, Kane said the demanding riffs in certain Push Push tracks took a lot more focus than they did before.

"I burn myself a lot quicker on my fingertips these days, and they're not completely gone, but it just takes that much longer for me to feel what's going on in my fingertips," he said. "And that's obviously pretty crucial when I'm doing one of those classic 90s guitar solos like Song 27.

"So I was pretty mindful of looking as much as I was hearing and feeling last night. I don't want it to get any worse and I'm making the most of this opportunity while everything's still working enough."

Push Push finishes their tour with The Darkness at The Foundry in Christchurch on Saturday night. Last week, the band released a new EP, Talk2Me.

- NZ Herald

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