Whanganui band The Pussywhippers shared a stage with one of the world's rising rock acts. Zaryd Wilson talks to them after Saturday's gig at Bodega.
Born and raised at Whanganui music venue Space Monster, The Pussywhippers are starting to garner national attention.
The band played support for south London's Fat White Family at Bodega on Saturday despite half the band having ten days to relearn every song on a new instrument.
An album and more frequent gigs around the country beckon for the Whanganui four-piece.
Matt Edmonds (bass and vocals), Jack Mitchell-Anyon (guitar) and original drummer Jamie Waugh formed The Pussywhippers about three years ago.
Edmonds and Waugh had been making music together and played a gig at Space Monster which was run by Mitchell-Anyon.
"It was just Jamie whacking out of time and me playing out of tune," Edmonds recalls.
"(But) Jack saw it and saw something in it I guess."
Mitchell-Anyon then joined as a guitarist and added the required polish to the sound.
"Jack taught us how to get in time, stay in time and also just took the concept into something that was palatable," Edmonds says.
"I think when we started working together the songs became songs instead of just mad ideas in my head and they got timing and they got stops and starts and a crispness about them.
"And everyone seemed to enjoy what they heard. It's quite a distinctive sound in many ways. If you hear the opening bars of The Pussywhippers, you know what it is."
What they have created is fast, playful and tight surf rock.
And they'll make you love it.
"When we first started, I'd pick somebody in the audience and I'd rant and rave about how we wouldn't stop until somebody I'd picked had started dancing," Edmonds says.
"It would generally be a balding guy in the back row who would stand there.
"It'd be interesting because they'd be leaning on something and then they'd slowly get the elbow off and start to move and they'd get into it."
This year the band has evolved further.
Waugh left due to other commitments and was replaced on drums by Neil Buddle while Nick Erickson - who had moved to Whanganui after playing gigs at Space Monster with his band Diving - came on board playing keys.
"He in a very short space of time taught himself how to play keys and play our songs - which is a fine way to learn - and got up to speed amazingly quickly," Edmonds says.
"It's more sonic. It's got a lot more muscle and a lot more depth. It's developed in a nice way."
The band stress the importance of Space Monster - which closed last year due to compliance issues - in creating the opportunities which are now coming their way.
"Space Monster was sort of the training ground and also the connection ground, meeting musicians and making friends. It all helps getting gigs," Mitchell-Anyon says.
"And I think it gives you the confidence because once you support some really stonking acts who you think are five times as good as you, and they tell you they like it and ask you to come and play, it makes you think 'this is really cool'."
The band are concerned that will be lost if something like Space Monster can't get back on its feet.
But for now The Pussywhippers are reaping its benefits even if last weekend's golden opportunity came at the worst time.
Mitchell-Anyon had recently cut tendons in his hand with the subsequent surgery putting him out of guitar playing for months.
"And a few days later the phone goes saying 'can you come and support Fat White Family?' So we had a urgent shuffle of deck chairs," Edmonds says.
Mitchell-Anyon says he considered not doing it but was swayed by Edmonds' and Buddle's keenness.
"I was going to play it anyway," Edmonds says.
Mitchell-Anyon: "Matt would literally be up their with a f***ing kazoo, going nuts. And life's too short. Why not? It's better to take a risk than stay at home."
So in ten days Mitchell-Anyon taught himself to play all their songs on an old keyboard he found at a Hawera op shop. Erickson did the same the guitar.
They pulled it off and there will be more opportunities coming their way.
"It's nice that someone like Fat White Family arrives and we can be in the same room with them and hold our own and it's really getting to that," Edmonds says.
"We're in the process of recording an album but we're living on reputation at the moment.
We're also showing that you can run a band out of here an be successful."