When there's a boy and a girl who each write songs in a band, there is bound to be a clash. When it's Kirsten Morelle and Geoffrey Maddock from Goldenhorse, it's a given. It doesn't take long for them to disagree today, although it could have something to do with the fact they're both dying to eat.

They have just finished a long rehearsal with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the menu at Wellington's Lido Cafe is more of a priority than talking about their new album, Out of the Moon.

Maddock is crabby. He orders the kransky sausage penne pasta and Morelle settles for the fish cakes. She is dazed from the bright lights that shone in her face for the past three hours.

Despite this she still has glowing eyes and is so well-spoken you'd describe her as posh.

She is contemplating the success of their debut album Riverhead, which she believes has a lot to do with their extensive touring around New Zealand, when Maddock interrupts.

"Hold on, I want to stop you there," he says, "because you say we've gone around lots of the country and we haven't. There's places we've never been."

"Like where?"

"The whole of the frickin' South Island."

"We have been to the South Island. We haven't been to the west coast of the South Island."

"We haven't been to a lot of places, I just don't want to seem like we're attempting to be the people's band. Because I don't really think we are."

Gee, poor Kirsten. Get some food into you Geoffrey, it'll stave off the grumpiness.

But Morelle doesn't seem the slightest bit miffed by the disagreement and, next thing, Maddock is asking if she wants to swap a kransky for some fish cake.

You have to question Maddock's reasoning about his band though. Apart from the feelers, they are one of the few recent New Zealand bands with decent album sales. Solo artists such as Brooke Fraser, Scribe and Bic Runga sell well, but it's hard to find a New Zealand rock'n'roll band who last sold more than 50,000 albums, as Riverhead has. They could very well be the people's band.

Goldenhorse has its roots in Maddock's previous band, the quirky popsters Bressa Creeting Cake. But that band parted ways. Morelle rates a pre-Goldenhorse collaboration with Maddock and Edmund Cake (also from Bressa Creeting Cake) as a turning point in her musical career.

Thanks to BCC, Goldenhorse became student radio darlings in their early days - Auckland's bFM stopped playing them only when the mainstream ZM network picked up on Maybe Tomorrow.

Riverhead was released in October 2002. It slipped out of the album charts by Christmas, and a year later had sold only around 7500 copies. But last year it was one of the 10 biggest-selling albums of the year.

Maddock and Morelle aren't feeling the pressure of the all-important follow-up album.

"I feel the pressure from me more intensely than I feel the pressure from the audience," Maddock says.

And Morelle feels better about Out of the Moon because she had a rush of creativity and wrote several songs she was happy with.

"That relieved me of that feeling of, 'Do we have the songs?' And the process was easier. We knew what we wanted as well. We went into the studio and we knew what we wanted. We didn't go down those tracks of no return that we went down with Riverhead.

"We have matured. There are only so many times you can run away from the studio screaming your head off, crying into a forest until someone comes and gets you. There's no time for that anymore because you really have to focus on what you're doing," says Morelle.

And both of them pay tribute to co-producer Murray Grindlay. "He lightened up the sessions because bands have a tendency to fight," says Morelle.

"And he has an absolute depth of musical knowledge. Geoffrey sort of needs someone like that, or he doesn't respect them," she adds.

The pair may bicker but as songwriters they have a great respect for each other. They have an arrangement where they both have an equal number of songs on their albums - although, on Out of the Moon, Morelle wrote an extra one.

Out of the Moon has a celebratory tone and when I suggest that could reflect the band's success, Maddock is quick to respond: "Why should I saddle the audience with my ideas of the songs when we should just play them and see what they think?"

"For me," adds Morelle, "when I was writing for the album I was going through a full-on, challenging time so it surprises me that you say it's an upbeat album. But it probably is. We've got quite a bit more rock'n'roll in there and it's more of a reflection of the band live.

"I remember having more time to have creative writing space for Riverhead, sitting on a beach for days on end, and being out at Piha. We haven't had that this time around but the pressures of life go on you, and you're writing at the same time, so that's been the process of the writing the album for me. You go through life-changing things," she grins.

What like?

"Another operation for my endo." That's endometriosis, a chronic and painful disease where abnormal uterine tissue grows in a woman's abdomen.

"That meant big hormonal changes, that sort of thing," she says flippantly.

But by the sounds of the bright and breezy, yet sinister, sentiment of Cool Pants you don't want to mess with Morelle. "Well, yes, it's definitely a song about boys. It's my song about boys and for some reason there's a whole lot of vampire imagery in there."

Run Run Run is the first single off the album and Tracy Magan, from Siren Records, who sits in on the interview, says the song shows how Goldenhorse have changed since Riverhead.

"It's not the most commercially sensible song on the record. We thought about Cool Pants but we don't want to come out with the obvious single, we want to build it slowly and let the audience discover the band again for themselves," she says.

The band's manager, Michael Keating, has an idea about Goldenhorse's audience. "Your nana and your niece," he says.

And a lot of people in between, presumably, eh Michael, when you take into consideration the sales of Riverhead.

"I'd like to say my Nan," agrees Morelle.

"There was a 7-year-old doing air guitar to Geoffrey's licks," laughs Magan.

"Then again, he would've danced to anything," adds Maddock dryly.

Earlier, TimeOut met the rest of the band after the rehearsal with the NZSO.

Vince Hine, the bass player, is a cruiser. He's wearing makeup, his hair is reasonably well groomed and he has on a button-up shirt. He's not used to any of those three things and as soon as the rehearsal is over he's asking if he can take off the makeup and the shirt.

Five minutes later, backstage, he still has on his makeup but his hair is messier, his sunnies are sitting on top of his head and he's wearing a well-worn Van Halen T-shirt.

He and drummer Ben Collier - who is noticeably in the background during a brief photo shoot in the auditorium - happily leave interviews to Morelle and Maddock.

And then there's guitarist Ben King - a songwriter who released a solo album last year - who plays the coolest, most diddly guitar parts with stoic ease.

"He's been pretty much there from the beginning and he's a good influence and a good player, To have that extra person in the band like that is great," says Maddock.

"It's a bit weird talking about the other band members," adds Morelle.

And so Geoffrey, what about Kirsten?

"I don't know. All I can say is I think the two of us have found something that works. It's taken a while to bash into shape and we will take this as far as we can. So I think we've figured out that we can work together and make something great." 

LOWDOWN


WHO: Goldenhorse - Geoffrey Maddock, Kirsten Morelle, Ben King, Ben Collier and Vincent Hine.


WHAT: More catchy tunes on their sophomore album.


KEY RELEASES: Riverhead (2002), Out of the Moon (on sale April 4).


TRIVIA: Kirsten Morelle was born in London and moved to new Zealand when she was 12 years old.