Around 38 years after first starting out with iconic Kiwi post-punk band Blam Blam Blam Don McGlashan is still writing songs that are classics.

Songs that manage to sum up the quintessential feel of what it is like to be human, songs that strike a chord with many and make them think.

It's taken McGlashan a little bit by surprise that he's still producing so much music that still has so much resonance to New Zealanders.

McGlashan is starting his Free Flight NZ tour in Whangārei at the Butter Factory on Thursday, then at Leigh Sawmill on Friday, September 14.


The tour was supposed to be 17 dates, but several have already sold out and he's had to add four more, including a free concert in Kaikōura to give the quake-ravaged locals some entertainment.

"There was a gap in the South Island tour, so I thought the good people of Kaikōura might like a free gig. They've had a hard time lately, and I want to show them some support," McGlashan said.

"Tom Dalton, my manager, made some calls, and it all looks like it's going to happen. It'll be a blast. I haven't played Kaikōura since the Blams I think."

He's a bit taken aback by the interest, but he shouldn't be, after all, he's responsible for some of the country's most iconic songs, whether with the Blams (including Don't Fight it, Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both Of Us that won Song of the Year in the 1982 NZ Recording Industry Awards) the Front Lawn (their 1987 record Songs From The Front Lawn won three New Zealand Music Awards) and with The Mutton Birds (anthems including Anchor Me - APRA Silver Scroll winner 1994, Dominion Road White Valiant (1992) and their iconic cover of The Formyula's Nature (1992).

The Mutton Birds' Lucky Stars (released 2015) charted in the top 5 of the NZ Album Chart and saw an overwhelming number of rave reviews in both New Zealand and Australia.

McGlashan said the upcoming gigs would feature a few songs from Lucky Stars, but there'll be a broad cross section of his classic hits as well.

He decided to start the tour in Northland as a bit of departure from the norm.

"I usually start at the bottom and work my way up, but this time I thought I'd do it the other way round. I actually wanted to do more gigs in Northland but couldn't really so I'll make sure there's plenty in the ones I do up there to keep people happy."


Keeping them happy shouldn't be too difficult as just a few bars of many of his songs will have people up, smiling and dancing.

I ask him if he ever thought when he first started out all those years ago that he'd become such an iconic Kiwi songwriter and would still be making a living 38 years later?

"Wow, that's nearly 40 years ago! That's a good question. I've really had two different sides to me. There's the part of me that says this is what I'm going to do for ever, I love it.
But there's also the part that says that's just not realistic full stop, so I've always been conflicted.

"My dad wanted me to be a civil engineer and my mum wanted me to be a doctor. But at one stage early on my mum said 'yeah, you make many people happy through music so never mind.

"Her thought was that it connected with people and that's really good to know."

McGlashan said he doesn't set out to write such quintessential songs, but just wants to tell a story of a particular time or particular place. It helps that other people connect to the lyrics and the songs become part of the social fabric of the country.

So where do these songs, that so capture New Zealandness come from?

"I write to catch whatever I'm feeling or experiencing, whether it be about that beach or particular road [Dominion] or car or person. Then trying to get it to fit into that verse/chorus structure and see what come out of the other end. And then you hope it resonates with others and they see the same things as you through the song.

"I've written songs about what it's like to live in London and other places, but it's the place that you grow up in and had your childhood, that's the place you will remember and experience the most clearly. I love it when people tell me there's a lot of things that click with them in what I write. I'm not trying to do that. I'm just trying to describe what I've experienced."

And those experiences seem to make a real connection with others.

We finish with me asking McGlashan to tell me something he'd never revealed in an interview before.

"Oh. Mmmmm. McDonald's! McDonald's wanted to use one of my songs Pulled Along By Love in an ad. So we had a whole family meeting about it, which would make the decision whether to go with. But the family could see how miserable it would make me, despite how much it might make me, so we decided not to do it.

"Do I regret it? I don't regret it at all."

■ Don McGlashan plays at The Butter Factory, in Whangārei, on Thursday September 13, then Leigh Sawmill Cafe the following night. Tickets for both shows are still available at edition time.

Follow McGlashan online and on the road: