Kiwi band Nightchoir are relatively new, but members Matthias Jordan, Michael Franklin- Browne and Mike Hall, set to release their second album, have been on the scene for years.
All three were in Pluto for more than a decade, and they have also shared their talents with artists including Dimmer, Pajama Club, Gin Wigmore, Stereobus, Julia Deans, Anna Coddington, Head Like a Hole and The Brunettes.
Their first album 24 Hours of Night was well received, and now, with the release of See The First Star, the band are hitting the road on a national tour.
We asked vocalist/guitarist Mike Hall about the new album and about what fans can expect from their live shows.
Describe Nightchoir's sound for our readers.
I think of us as melodic rock 'n roll music. There are some alt-country or folk tinges. But basically melodic tunes.
Were there any major challenges writing and recording the new album?
Overall it was a really enjoyable experience, we had the same financial constraints as everyone else these days, and so did a lot of the tracking ourselves when we could. So I suppose the biggest challenge was learning some of the ropes doing more final type recording, as opposed to demoing.
How has the band (and the music) grown/changed since the first album?
The first album was material accumulated over a longer period of time with the primary aim of being a one record project. Although it turned into a band (after Mike FB and Matthias contributed and co wrote extra stuff) and the songs were quite collaborative, this new album was always thought of with our Nightchoir band in mind and as the primary focus of our time and effort. Not just a side project anymore.
Which track has the most personal meaning?
This is a tough one. Probably Sunday Moon for me personally, or maybe See The First Star.
What can fans expect from the live shows?
We have had the goal of a three-piece live show since deciding to make a second album. The major change is that Mike FB is playing bass loops with an MPC and drum pad triggers. We have to do a lot more, so it's quite challenging, but very spontaneous. The new tracks are sounding cool.
There's a touch of the epic on for example, the track Shift Up. How do you think your sound will translate to the live performance?
This is a good example of a track we can extend or mess with live with the MPC and some other samples that Matthias has. It's important to us that we have some songs in which have room to move into different places and new territory. That kind of spontaneity is one of the things we have always enjoyed most about playing live.
Interesting selection of tour venues - is there a story behind those? And are you looking to visit other NZ towns in the near future?
Matthias looked after the tour and has done an amazing job, it's a run of places we've had great gigs in the past. Yeah, we are planning to visit a variety of other places over the next six months. Being a three-piece now lends itself to being able to go to many different places and make it work.
Ultimate gig: Nightchoir and ... ? And the track you'd combine on would be?
Hardest question ever. Right now I'd say us and The Shins. Just because I can't stop playing their latest record. Matthias and Mike FB may have another band in mind. I reckon we'd do a cool version of I Am The Walrus, with some of our kids doing backing vocals.
If you could only listen to British or American music, which would it be and why? What if you had to choose a decade as well?
Sheesh. British I suppose ... 65-75. Ground breaking recordings and song writing. Hearing the discovery of new gear on a lot of those albums. Then transition into punk rock.
Finally, you've enjoyed success, recognition and accolades, including being invited to SXSW and playing with Muse - what has been the highlight of your career(s) to this point?
Without sounding too light or should that be "lite", the highlight is still being able to write, record and perform original music. Our ultimate goal is sustaining just that. We've collectively and individually had the privilege to perform and record with a wide range of artists and these have all been absolute highlights. Never a dull moment. But yeah just keeping on going trumps everything.
Nightchoir national tour:
Friday 10th August Album Release - Leigh Sawmill Cafe
Saturday 11th August Auckland - Dogs Bollix
with Dictaphone Blues
Still to come
Friday 17th August Paekakariki - St Peters Village Hall
with Family Cactus
Saturday 18th August Wellington - Mighty Mighty
with Craig Terris (Cassette)
Thursday 6th September Oamaru - Penguin Club
Friday 7th September Dunedin - Refuel
With Two Cartoons
Saturday 8th September Lyttelton - Wunderbar
with Hanna Harding