UK-NZ outfit Breaks Co-Op is uncorking a new album with a winery tour, reports Lydia Jenkin.

If the New Zealand summer of 2005 had a theme tune, it was The Otherside - that song with the tricky little guitar lick and the inviting chorus: "So take my hand, and I'll lead you back, to the other side ... ."

It was a huge hit, its breezy charm worming its way into the Kiwi consciousness, making The Sound Inside a double-platinum selling album for Breaks Co-Op. Then, they were a trio - a band originally formed by Hamish Clark and Zane Lowe in Auckland, before the pair decamped to London, and asked Brit singer-songwriter Andy Lovegrove to join them, first as a producer, but eventually as a vocalist as well.

They toured The Sound Inside for two years before finishing in London and starting work on separate projects. Lowe became a renowned BBC radio host and DJ and it seemed increasingly likely we'd heard the last of them.

Lovegrove released a solo album in 2008. But he was soon feeling over the music industry and decided to take a break.


It wasn't until his wife, Emily, suggested he needed to give it another go in 2011 that he considered another Breaks album.

"My wife got quite irritated with me in the end. She went, 'I love you to bits but I really miss that creative element to you, you never play and you're not doing anything, what's going on?'

"So she spoke to Hamish behind my back - he was living in Berlin at the time, and then she booked me a flight and said: 'There's your ticket, you're going to see Hamish for five days, come back with something, or don't come back at all,"' he laughs.

So Breaks Co-Op were reunited (Lowe was too busy to join in this time round but he provided feedback down the phone when asked) and within five days they'd written three songs.

"Hamish and I hadn't really written together before, because on The Sound Inside Hamish and Zane had written the backing tracks to the majority of the record, and when I got involved Hamish was on his way back to New Zealand, so I mainly worked with Zane. But it was great, it worked so well."

They weren't about to drastically change their sound but they did have a particular new aim in mind as the songs started flowing.

'We did it with the mentality that we didn't want to write an album like The Sound Inside where we only had the one single. It was a great album, and I'm not taking anything away from it at all, but in terms of commercial value it had The Otherside and that was about it, and we were determined that if we were going to make a new record we'd like it to be more accessible to a bigger audience.

"Without being too surgical about it, of course - we were just keeping on eye on the length of songs and hooks, and what their commercial value might be."


It was about three years in the making - Clark got married and Lovegrove had twin baby girls in that time, which stretched things out a bit.

What they've come up with has been worth the wait, though - an album that's less atmospheric and more about the songs, which are eclectic and varied but bound to catch the ear all the same.

"That eclecticism is a very Breaks Co-Op thing - The Sound Inside was very eclectic in its sound, too. I just think this has stronger songs, basically.

"It feels like a coherent piece of work but it's still got all the little twists and turns in it musically. As a body of work, I've never been so happy with anything before."

The electronic music landscape has changed a fair deal in the past decade, but the pair weren't fazed at all - they just wrote what they wanted and were amused to find some connections between one of last year's chart-toppers and a track of their own.

"There's a track called Moment in Time on the record, which has a bit more of a dance direction, and it kind of reeks of that Daft Punk Get Lucky vibe," he laughs.

"We'd done the tune before Daft Punk put out their tune, so it was a bit of a surprise. And, of course, it's Nile Rodgers [on Get Lucky] and the guitar sound is very much a parody of that kind of thing. So I was like, 'Ah brilliant, we've nailed it'."

He's looking forward to the Winery Tour and the opportunity to share the new songs, though performing with a new band (Paul McLaney on guitar, Mark Vanilau on keyboards and vocals, Richie Pickard on bass and Andy Keegan on drums) is an exciting but nerve-racking process.

"They're all amazing musicians so there's no reason for it to not go well, but it still makes me nervous."

But the fine wine, dining and chance to get on stage with Stan Walker are making it all worthwhile. "I'll know all Stan's dance routines after a few shows, so I'm gonna get on stage with Stan."

Who: Andy Lovegrove, lead singer for Breaks Co-Op.
What: New album Sounds Familiar.
Where and when: Performing on the Winery Tour, which kicks off in Hamilton at Mystery Creek on Friday, Jan 31, heads to Ascension Vineyard in Matakana on Saturday, Feb 1, and takes in 13 other wineries around New Zealand including a show at Villa Maria Estate in Auckland on Saturday, Feb 15.

- TimeOut