The three wild guys from Wellington's The Nudge feel they have found their musical niche, writes Scott Kara.

They look like a bunch of galahs - and on occasion they behave like them too. This is them doing their best fruity animal impressions. The three likely lads from wild Wellington psych soul blues rock group the Nudge - made up of singer and guitarist Ryan Prebble, organ player and bass keyboardist James Coyle, and drummer Iraia Whakamoe - like to have a laugh or two. Mostly it's when one of them says something cosmic - or deep, man - and the other two crack up, and take the mickey.

But oddly, the three 29-year-olds take their music very seriously.

"We do take our music seriously," agrees Whakamoe, "but you can't take life too seriously without going grey too early and stuffing shit up. So you've got to have some fun."

Although, this is coming from the man who has high hopes for the Nudge. He reckons the band can take him and his bandmates far.


"Music is a gift," he says. "I've got some personal expectations on myself to achieve some shit. And I don't chuck them at the boys, but I believe this is the vehicle that's going to make that happen. So when I play my part in it I'm going to play it until the end. I want a family, I want a living, and I want a lifestyle and I really want to be happy doing what I do."

No pressure then chaps. But with the people behind Fat Freddys Drop at the Nudge's side, an addiction to playing live, and an intriguing debut album, Big Nudge Pie, just out, they're on the right track. And, they report proudly, they made money on their recent South Island tour.

"It's about letting it take us wherever it goes but then be willing to go wherever it goes," reasons Prebble. "We're in it for the long haul but if it doesn't go our way then I don't think we're going to be too gutted. We're musicians so there is always something new coming up.

"But this is feeling like the best band ever for us. So we're just on a journey really."

In a live sense, and on Big Nudge Pie, their songs sure take a wending, winding trip into your mind - and tracks like smouldering sonic opener Shook Me is liable to take over your body.

"You can't get that kind of feeling off drugs. Although I've tried," smiles Whakamoe.

"It's savage, eh?" says Coyle. "It's uncompromising and people are quite surprised that we don't give in to the audience."

Whakamoe: "Oh, you don't like that. Well you're going to hate us even more now."


Coyle: "My first band was actually a Doors covers band and I loved that band, and I branched out into folk, reggae, and dub, but I'm really enjoying this kind of vibe. It's a bit more rocky I guess, a bit more animalistic. There is a definite aggressiveness, and a competitive vibe between the three of us."

Their music is a unique mix of traditional, yet hard-hitting blues inspired by the likes of John Lee Hooker, there's the psychedelic swirl and squall of Jimi Hendrix, a good hit of thumping funk, as well as a more unhinged and improvised side. So it moves from the stomp and holler of Come Home, through to the sprawling poignancy of 13-minute final track Raising the Greyscale, during which all three players remain solid, yet subtle. It's that sort of unflinching playing that they pride themselves on.

"We're all musos you know," says Coyle, "and we're quite keen for this to be our living and [playing like that] is about a work ethic."

"But it still has an element of freedom," continues Prebble, "because the guitar is meandering free. And I think it's like any good relationship too, it's about being able to control but also being controlled by it. You know, having control of the music but also being open to take it to places."

Whakamoe and Prebble - the latter is part of the prolific production and music-making Prebble clan also made up of brothers Tim and Lee - are from Hawkes Bay originally and knew of each other from playing in Rockquest bands.

Prebble moved to Wellington, and it was there he met Coyle, who Whakamoe also met a little later on. They have all played in various bands over the years; Prebble was in feverish Wellington collective Spartacus R and a solo performer.

But he got frustrated with playing on stage by himself, and missed having others to feed off musically. "So I thought long and hard about getting a band together, how many people would be good, and whittled it down to having a solid three-piece, and I had these two guys in mind and they were keen," he says.

"So musically it was just a matter of time before we got together," adds Whakamoe.

"We all f*** each other off, and we all love each other. It's all as real as it looks."


Who: The Nudge

What: Wild psych soul blues rock from Wellington trio

When & where: Friday, Golden Dawn, 134 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland

Debut album: Big Nudge Pie, out now

- TimeOut