It has been a big couple of years for Auckland band Steriogram since their last major New Zealand tour in 2002.

Since then, they've signed with big United States label Capitol Records, released their debut album Schmack, and had a video for their song Walkie Talkie Man made by hip French film-maker Michael Gondry. As well, they've played hundreds of live shows throughout the world.

Notwithstanding all those successes, guitarist and singer Brad Carter says the band are excited about this month's New Zealand tour, which sees them boldly go where most artists who've had the pleasure of hanging out with Marilyn Manson and MTV's VMA awards just wouldn't bother.

"We've just done 300 shows out of the country," Carter says.

"For us it's not a big tour, but I guess a lot of people in New Zealand would be going, 'Man that's a big tour', because most bands in New Zealand must do like 12 dates or 15 dates.

"It's not like we're trying to be like 'Oh we did the biggest tour', or anything like that.

"I was born in Balclutha and I kind of always had a soft spot for the small towns and I know they don't get that many bands.

"So we thought, 'Man we should go really hard and take this show to all these towns like Ashburton, Greymouth and Whangarei'.

"I don't know how it's going to go but if we go there and show them some love I'm sure that they'll be into that."

Carter says he and his bandmates - rapper Tyson Kennedy, guitarist Tim Youngson, drummer Jared Wrennall and bassist Jake Adams - haven't been on the road properly in New Zealand since 2002. They've done a few beach shows and dates supporting other bands, "but this is our first headlining tour so it's going to be exciting".

Since the band has been overseas, a lot more people in New Zealand have got into their music, pushing sales of Schmack close to platinum.

"It's going to be quite interesting with the album out now, seeing how people like the songs," Carter says.

But the band also want to build up a live following in New Zealand.

"We want to be able to, for years, just keep going around these places and just turn up and go, 'Hey we're in town, let's have a show, let's have fun'."

Even in some of the bigger centres where the band have performed they haven't had the time to hang out as much as they'd like. "So it's going to be cool just to kind of get down and dirty and rock and roll and stuff."

Steriogram's tour follows not long after the Hook Up tour, which took live hip-hop to many smaller centres that usually miss out. The fact that the tour met with such an enthusiastic response in places not famous for their love of rap - such as the West Coast - indicates the wave of popularity that home-grown music is now riding.

"It's wicked, honestly man, New Zealand music is going off right now," Carter says.

"It's exciting for all genres.

"We're really good friends with the Fast Crew. We were hanging out with them yesterday and they're doing amazing things. It's just so exciting for me and all our band that this country's finally realising there's really a lot of talented people in this country and that it is just as good as a lot of the stuff from overseas."

Steriogram have proved that with their international success, including a recent No 19 hit single in Britain and successful tours of Japan and the United States as well as Britain.

"That tour was wicked, we were packing out all these rooms.

"It was kind of like this tour that we're doing in New Zealand. The venues weren't that big but the people were really cool. It's awesome to travel that far in the world and see people singing your words."

Then there was their attendance at last year's Grammys, where they were beaten to the best video award by a certain little-known Irish pop combo called U2.

Carter says the Grammys were "cool but a bit boring" and that the MTV awards were much more fun.

Once this tour is finished, the band will head back overseas to record their second album and resume their international tours.

"We're off to a good start, that's the way I see it," Carter says. "Around the world a lot of people know about our band now but they kind of don't know that much. It's just up to us now to keep working hard at it and keep building up the knowledge about us so they learn more about our music and we can hopefully just keep touring."

- NZPA

* Steriogram, 48May and Goodnight Nurse play Feilding June 8, Napier June 9, Palmerston North June 10, Wellington June 11, Upper Hutt June 12, Gisborne June 14, Whakatane June 15, Mt Maunganui June 16, Hamilton June 17 and Auckland June 18.