Kiwi noise rock trio Sulfate are set to hit the road in support of their second album. Frontman Peter Ruddell tells us more.
Describe your sound in one sentence.
Dark, heavy and cathartic.
How did the events of the past year or so affect your music-making?
The border closure enabled us to reflect and think more inwardly about things — about how we behave and operate as New Zealanders. I built a new studio last year, with the first goal being to track the new Sulfate record — the content of which is definitely a product of the time during which it was created.
How does your second album Godzone show Sulfate's growth?
The first album was deliberately stripped back, with the majority of songs performed and recorded as a two-piece (Fender Rhodes and drum kit). With the addition of Hariet Ellis on bass guitar Godzone became much more of a "band album". We decided to impose fewer restrictions on instrumentation, and song length — letting the songs go where they needed to go.
What does the term "Godzone" mean to you?
New Zealand has been referred to "God's Own Country" — the perfect, idealised land of plenty — since the 1800s. It undoubtably a beautiful place, but the ongoing social problems are so glaring it occurred to me that the label simply does not fit.
What one song should a new listener check out that best represents Sulfate?
Crossing — I think we captured the beauty of New Zealand's scenery here, with just the amount of grit to make it believable.
What one change would you make to the NZ music scene if you could?
Breaking down the "grass-roots" vs "industry" mentality. New Zealand is too small for barriers like this to exist.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Exactly where I am — making records with musicians I admire.
What one song by another artist do you wish you'd written and why?
Paul by Big Thief. It's a masterclass in restraint — with the most beautiful, three-note guitar solo. Carl Redwood, an amazing bass player now living in Melbourne, once described the "trifecta" of a perfect song — a good song, well played and perfectly recorded. This song ticks all three boxes.
What's your all-time favourite Flying Nun album and why?
3EPs by Tall Dwarfs. It's a reminder that perfect isn't always better — best to embrace the imperfections and the chaos.
You're curating a music festival - who's on the bill, alive or dead?
Big Thief, Bill Callahan, Daughters, Sonic Youth, Chris Knox, Night Lunch, Deerhunter, Earth, Vera Ellen, Talk Talk, Codeine, Swans, Mount Eerie, Raiden Freeman, My Disco, Cable Ties, Grinderman, Molchat Doma and Tom Jones. Oh, and Sulfate.
• Godzone is out September 10.