[11 March 2013]
PopMatters Interviews Editor
Mark our words: Popstrangers are going to be huge.
While this group of dusty New Zealand rockers wound up putting out more than a few fantastic singles on the Flying Nun label, it was until the release of their debut album Antipodes that people started taking notice of this group and their very unique sound: it’s garage rock with a ‘90s-grunge makeover, which would sound like utter trash were it not for the band’s absolutely incredible pop instincts. From the surprising uplift contained in lead single “Heaven” to the absolutely atmospheric closer “Occasion” (which is a nice kindred cousin with the Dismemberment Plan’s “Rusty”) to the gloriously off-key “In Some Ways” (which, literally, starts completely off-key before the bass kicks in), Antipodes isn’t just a great rock album—it’s already in the running to be heralded as one of the best of the year. Our own Zachary Houle even awarded the album a rare 9/10 rating, showing that yes, rock’s second coming may very well be in the hands of these scruffy young’ns.
So while Joel Flyger, Adam Page, and David Larson tend to keep their biographical details a bit on the light side (they are from New Zealand and did record the album in a basement—that much we know!), it felt imperative that we get the band’s perspective on the world and culture at large, and when Joel answered PopMatters’ 20 Questions, he did not disappoint, revealing not only a close kinship for Peter Pan, but also how he is good at sneaking, wishes to revolutionize the hospital industry, and why he got so pissed off when an episode of American Idol made him cry ...
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Movies make me cry fairly easily. Books don’t make me cry, I can usually hold back the tears in a book, but with a movie I am more stuck to the screen, and there’s music. I can’t think of the last movie though. Anything where a character faces a certain amount internal conflict is pretty emotional. I watched an episode of American Idol the other day which made me well up, then it pissed me off.
2. The fictional character most like you?
Perhaps it would be Peter Pan without spending too much time finding similarities. The “staying young forever” thing would be something I can or would like to relate too, and what interested me most when I first met Peter Pan. I hate running out of time. I’m not even a very busy person at all but I still feel as though I am running out of time to do anything and everything.
3. The greatest album, ever?
Spik and Span by the Gordons. Its the only album right now I can think of off the top of my head that I could listen to everyday, or hear every song on the album and not skip to the next song. Perfect mix of aggression and warm emotion.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
5. Your ideal brain food?
I go through stages of deciding when I function best. I don’t have to have much sleep to do generally anything, and write songs mostly early in the morning. But my mood changes quite often when I’m tired or I get bored of something really easily. Seeing or hearing things that stick in my memory are the biggest inspiration over anything really.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
There are things I perhaps should be more proud of, or value more than I do. And I really do think I will do something soon I will be really proud of, but at the moment I’m still on the way to that. There are probably things in the past that I was proud of at the time, but I honestly cant think of them to write down right now.
7. You want to be remembered for ... ?
Writing memorable pop songs. Or revolutionizing the hospitality industry. Something I may or may not be trying to do.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Just people who have done something different and gone about it in their own way.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I know I’ve already mentioned it but the Gordons Spik and Span or Clinic’s “Porno” or “Talk Show Hosts” by Radiohead or “Dramamine” by Modest Mouse or there are lots ...
10. Your hidden talents ... ?
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
“Go to Spain” by my friend Sam, and because it was a proper relaxing visit.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
I swapped an old Ashton electric guitar for a pedal that at the time I thought was useless. That was about eight years ago. I started using the pedal all the time about two years ago.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or ... ?
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Someone with a lot of secrets or privileged info. Not a politician though.
15. Time travel: where, when, and why?
The future, but far from now.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?
Codeine, cigarette, or head massage. All at once would be good.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or ... ?
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I don’t know where I want to be next week. So no preference.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Just working on making more music for Popstrangers, organizing tours, moving overseas etc. Thanks!