Our chat opens with a shock admission from Mike Hodgson.

"I didn't do one for my 21st," he laughs when asked if Pitch Black will be downing a yard glass as part of the group's 21st birthday celebration tour. "I had a two-week 21st as a kid and it certainly was a rite of passage but it didn't involve yardies. It involved ... other stuff that was new to my life."

So although he can't confirm whether this Saturday's show at Neck of the Woods in Auckland, or any of the other shows on their quick blat around the country, will involve the traditional Kiwi yardie, he does promise that the shows will be one helluva party.

"We put a lot of effort into our 20th tour, which felt very formal. We worked hard to pull off an adult, coherent show," he says. "But I'm liking the idea that we can be more flippant for our 21st and less worried about the formality of how we play."


That footloose and fancy-free spirit is influencing every aspect of the tour, from the set list, which Hodgson and partner in crime Paddy Free are yet to work on ("We're getting together the day before the first show and we're gonna spend 24 hours slamming together where we're both at") right through to the low, low $20 ticket price.

"We've kept the ticket prices super cheap," he says, "We just want people to come and enjoy having a great night out".

Hodgson, who lives in London, says it was the loose informality of it all that made it appealing to him.

"The reason I'm back in New Zealand is because Philip Dadson from From Scratch invited Pitch Black to be part of his Auckland Festival show. We're doing six shows with him where we integrate with the crazy machines of From Scratch and do our dubbed-out vibe as part of the show within his show," he explains. " So I said, 'Hey Paddy, I'm gonna be back for two-three weeks why don't we put together a quick little tour and just blast out like we used to?'. I wanted to approach it from a very lighthearted and playful point of view."

He talks about his desire to get more experimental with the sounds and video of Pitch Black and also how the duo have found a new sense of freedom within the group.

"As we've got more mature as artists we're a lot more tolerant of each other," he says laughing. "Paddy and I are so different but, because we've both gone on to have our own careers, the one thing we're most known for is the thing we can have the most freedom with because, ironically, it's not the thing that drives us. We're both living these completely different lives. Pitch Black is us but it's not our primary reality."

Then, smiling, he says, "The longer we go on the less serious it is."