For most of our readers you are a new name in the "instrumental post-metal" scene. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, the band's history and your personal backgrounds?
We started playing music together in 2005. We all had other projects we were working on at the time so we were just meeting up once a week to just jam in David's (the guitarist) studio. We recorded everything we did and after some time we decided to concentrate on just some of the ideas. We never had any large pre-conceived ideas or anything, it just kind of turned out the way it did.
Your new album 'Vilayer' has been released to the world for a while now. How is the reception so far?
It's been really positive. People have said some really nice things about it all around the world and we were lucky enough to be nominated for a The Taite Music Prize in NZ, which is New Zealand's equivalent of the Mercury. So getting some recognition is kind of nice as well.
What does the title Vilayer stands for?
It's the album, so in a sense it's a new noun meant only for that. It can mean the same to your Dutch readers as it does to someone from New Zealand or Germany.
On Vilayer, vocals are not really missed. The music speaks for itself in a way, but what exactly does it say? Do you simply make songs, or are your songs about something?
Because they don't have vocals that are naturally being understood by the listener, you can take from the music whatever you wish. It can be something visual, a memory, or it can be some aural wallpaper that adorns your house and is nothing more than background sound. When we were writing the tracks, most of them were all spawned from our initial process of just coming to the studio and playing music. Some other parts we actually wrote to a visual medium and kind of "scored" it to that. In terms of what our songs are about; I prefer the idea that someone who is listening can have their own interpretation. Sometimes answers are best left unsaid.
Coming from New Zealand kind of cuts you off from the rest of the world, physically that is. I suppose you have access to all the stuff we get exposed to over here, or is there something you miss?
Globalisation means that even if we are literally on the other side of the globe, we do have access to a lot of the same information as the Netherlands. Also, as much as the isolation can sometimes be difficult, it also has distinct advantages. We feel we don't have to fit into a scene musically and we are able to go from the metropolis to a beach or forest within 30 minutes.
When referring to your music, it is inevitable that some names pop up: Isis, Mogwai. What do you think of such comparisons yourself? Are these bands sources of inspiration to you?
I suppose it helps that people have a reference point when reading about us. We're not influenced by instrumental bands, if anything we're more influenced by bands that are musically far away. Often these don't have heavy guitars, and some are completely absent of drums.
In Europe and the U.S. we are privileged to be able to see almost all the bands we would want to see on stage. How is that in New Zealand? Are there many bands from overseas coming for tours, or is the scene more domestic?
We don't have the influx of bands that you or the US have as you can't be in a tour van/bus and tour for six months, however there are a lot more international bands now than there were five to ten years ago. I think this is because bands have to tour to make a living as they can no longer count on LP sales to make revenue. We used to have one very large festival with really big artists like Metallica and Bjork and that was the only festival, but now there are more for different genres. Now it's a lot more obvious when bands are touring seasonally as we get a lot of touring acts from EU/US from December through to March. I suppose if you're into any types of music, there's now a greater opportunity to see your favourite artist perform that what you may have ten years ago.
Are there many venues you can play? New Zealand is a large country, but with a small population. Can you do regular club tours across the islands?
In terms of touring, it is a lot harder as you have only four cities with more than 200,000 people, which you can't play too often. There are some great venues in the bigger cities, but like any country, often playing in small towns can be difficult as their just isn't the population. Also, the one thing I noticed you have in the Netherlands in some places which we don't have in New Zealand when you're a new band and just starting out, is some venues providing backline like drums and amplifiers etc. We don't have that here. Low population density = bad public transport.
For me, New Zealand is musically best known for its melodic jangle pop, the Flying Nun / Dunedin sound so to speak. Bands like the Chills, Verlaines, 3Ds etc. who all seem to be very, very different from what you are doing. How is the scene for the kind of music you make?
There are some experimental type acts in New Zealand, but there are so few, it wouldn't be large enough to call a scene like the ones that you've mentioned as their label Flying Nun was a reference point. We mostly perform with bands with vocals and verse/chorus structures etc. There's just not enough people in New Zealand to make an instrumental scene. There are others of course that might like the same types of music, but it's hardly a case of going from band to band and checking out who has new guitar pedals or anything.
On the other end of the spectrum there are kiwi bands such as the Dead C and Black Boned Angel. Any connection with these?
We put a track on this 12" compilation called Effectuation which has a Black Boned Angel on it. It's a limited edition 12" and you can only get the track on that release. I played some drums for Aidan Barker's (Nadja) new and yet to be released LP, and they did a split 12" with Black Boned Angel. The drummer from Dead C came to a show one time to see the other band.
Is there interest from the media (radio, tv.) or are you forced to an underground existence?
There is some interest for sure. We often don't do a lot of press. We haven't done any TV/video/internet streaming for example because we don't have a charismatic frontperson for Kerretta like some other artist's. So far we've been instrumental, and we try and let the music just speak for itself. I'm sure there are other bands out there that this works for though.
Have you done any shows abroad?
Yeah, we've played show in Australia and toured the US. Touring in bigger countries is great. You meet loads of interesting people and are able to play shows in many days in a row.
Are there plans to do so, in other words can we see you in Europe soon?
We're working on some plans for a European tour in 2011. Unsure when yet, but it would depend on when the release date for the new LP is.
I have seen pictures of you in a wonderful room, with a deer head on the wall, and projection screen etc. Is that your practice room?
That picture was taken in the room where we were recording our first 12" Antient. It's a Masonic hall in a small town called Port Chalmers fifteen minutes out of Dunedin. It was a great space to record and had a giant room sound. If you're a fan of Flying Nun's music, this is the part of New Zealand where a lot of it was created.
What are the plans for the future? Hoping for a breakthrough or hoping to have fun - or both perhaps?
We are currently finishing our second LP. It is very different than the first and we have approached it in a very different way. I don't wish to say in what way, because it'd be nice to give people the opportunity to hear it first. And we're having fun doing it of course! When it stops being fun, we'll stop doing it. Isn't that what making music is about?
Thank you for your time. If there is anything you'd like to say to your fans, please do so.
Thanks for taking the time to listen to our music. We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we did creating it!