After spending most of 2019 in the United States, NZ pop star Ben O'Leary is ready for a good old Kiwi summer.
For O'Leary, one-fourth of New Zealand band Drax Project, it means heading home to the Bay of Plenty to catch up with friends, family and, of course, to work.
The guitarist and former Katikati College student who grew up in Waihī Beach, along with his bandmates - Shaan Singh (vocals, saxophone), Matt Beachen (drums) and Sam Thomson (bass) - will perform a five-date summer tour that includes a Tauranga show.
The Drax Project Summer Tour 2019/2020 will start in Riwaka on December 28, before making its way through popular holiday spots Whitianga on December 29, Oakura on January 3, Mount Maunganui on January 5 and Havelock North on January 10.
"We can't wait to be back home for the summer and playing shows ... it's going to be good, we're so pumped," O'Leary says.
The last couple of years have been massive for the band. They've opened for Ed Sheeran on his New Zealand tour, Christina Aguilera on the European leg of The X Tour, performed at Rolling Stone's Coachella party and toured with Camila Cabello.
This year, they were part of Six60's record-breaking show at Western Springs, spent the most part of 2019 based in America writing music and making connections, released a version of their hit Woke Up Late with American pop star Hailee Steinfeld, revealed the visuals for the track, which featured American actress and comedian Liza Koshy, won the International Achievement award at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards and released their self-titled debut album.
"That's the biggest crowd that we've ever played to so it was just fun, a lot of fun and just hanging out with those guys. They're all like real lovely and again, like real kind to us and accommodating so it was just good, all positive stuff really," O'Leary said of the crowd of 50,000 people at the February Six60 gig.
"We're super stoked with how it all turned out and how [the album's] been received. We've had a lot of positive feedback and it's just cool to have it finally out you know because it was such a long process ... some of those songs, like Catching Feelings [featuring Six60] has been a song for nearly two years before we put it out so it's just finally like, it's refreshing to have this music we've kind of been sitting on for ages released."
What they're most excited about now though is being home, "spending Christmas in New Zealand with friends, family, girlfriends".
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"This year's been awesome, travelling a lot, like seeing cool places and doing heaps of writing, but definitely missing friends, family and just New Zealand as a whole."
Fans are promised "a lot of energy, a lot of excitement from us to be back in New Zealand playing the album but also playing new songs".
"We want to start testing out the songs that we're writing at the moment to see how they go so, yeah, a lot of energy, new music, fun times."
They'll also be performing at Rhythm and Vines, again with Six60 at a couple of their New Zealand shows over summer, and they'll all be at Laneway in Auckland - but as fans, not performers.
One of the highlights of playing at home is recognising people in the crowd, O'Leary says.
"It's kind of almost like, I shouldn't say the best part, but it is a massive bonus when you're playing shows and every time you look out you kind of see a familiar face and it's like 'oh wow ... thanks for coming'."
He's expecting to see plenty of familiar faces at their show in Mount Maunganui - O'Leary's second-favourite place in the Bay of Plenty. Home is number one.
"Home is Waihī Beach for me, so it's probably top of the list."
And when he is home, O'Leary says he's just another local, which is exactly how he likes it.
"It's all the same. Everyone keeps you humble, which is good. Everyone's just the same. It's great, I love it, I can't wait."
The Drax Project Summer Tour 2019/2020
Cooks Reserve, Riwaka (R18).
Coroglen Tavern, Whitianga (R18).
Butlers Reef, Oakura (R18).
Soper Reserve, Mount Maunganui (R18).
Black Barn Vineyards, Havelock North (all ages, licensed).