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March 17, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Actualities Interview

Wellington-based band The Actualities, are wanting to do things right this year, with their latest album Workers Leaving the Factory just released in December, and many a gig on the horizon for people to have a bit of a dance to. With their blend of orchestral sounds, rough yet upbeat rock sensibility and drifting melodies surging through the mix, it’s not surprising that they have been added to the ever growing list of bands to watch. Salient music writer Sarah Taane sat down with guitarists Chris Conaglen and Tonya Cooper and drummer Patrick Whatman to get some sun action and have a little chat.

On most bands’ Myspace page there’s usually a list of bands/artists that have influenced them. Unless it’s the type of band that likes to be ‘different’ and state that they sound like ‘no one else’, it’s always nice to see Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Jeff Buckley and Sufjan Stevens listed here. The influence game becomes all the more clear when Chris mentioned that a new song the group had written the previous day, “ended up sounding like Radiohead”. As Patrick adds, “I think the influences are pretty big and certainly we like to watch all those bands performing… so even subconsciously, it might have an affect…but we don’t try to look or sound like them.”

Despite the growth of the stereotypical ‘indie’ rock bands in the Wellington music scene (pop synth/electro/electro-folk teamed with skinny jean and waist coats), there are many a diamond among the diamante. So how does a band stand out or differ musically from other bands around? As Tonya explains, “We combine a lot of the elements from the Wellington scene to create our sound.” As Patrick further elaborates, “we’re a bit in the middle…we may sound a little bit like Radiohead or So So Modern, or we might sound a little like Phoenix Foundation, all these bands we love… but we are neither one or the other.” This is apparent on Workers Leaving the Factory, the result of a “lengthy process” of honing in a more focused and produced sound. The usual time barrier of budget and conflicting schedules is no stranger to this band. But through all the organising and mind-changing, The Actualities were able to deliver a more polished sound that still retains the ambience of live music, without sounding overworked. The Actualities have progressed in leaps and bounds from their initial conception, Patrick explains; “when we first started we didn’t have distortion pedals, we didn’t have delay pedals, so technologically we sound a lot different…we have a bigger sound now.”

The Actualities are a band who love playing gigs around the country, but, wisely, are not rushing into things too quickly. With the upcoming shows on the 18th and 25th of March at San Francisco Bath House (FOR FREE!), and a few follow up dates in Auckland in May, there are no excuses for you not to check these guys out!


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