lig interview
(23rd July 1997)

It turns out we have something of a connection, me and singer Andy, in that his mom and dad lived just down the road from mine. Spooky, seeing as he's lived in New Zealand for ages, formed a guitar band that somehow manage to be original, written a brace of cracking off-kilter pop songs, played the circuit down there, moved over here with the band and released the "Empty" single and "Bacterial Activity" album on Abstract Sounds before happening to be at the Cambridge Boatrace at precisely the same time as I was. Sting might call it synchronicity, but I'd call Sting a twat. The whole band enjoyed the interview experience but, with the exception of bassist Barbara, the tape makes them sound like one person. Most of it is Andy, but there's probably a few quotes that weren't. Sorry.

The best thing about Lig is that their noisy guitar pop doesn't sound a lot like anyone else: "..the last song we listened to a lot, was, err, who were those American guys?" No-one could remember. Andy's into Bevis Frond though, and the Longpigs were dredged up from somewhere. Influences are a similarly difficult concept: "we're more influenced by what we don't want to sound like". So who don't they want to sound like? "Well, if you start naming people, you're on tour with them the next week, that's what usually happens." A very poor answer. "Alright then, we're five individuals that have our own individual tastes, so it's quite difficult. For me, it's anyone that writes a good song."

Is New Zealand an influence? Barbara: "people are into different types of music than they are in Europe, and a lot of the alternative music is more American-based, slightly heavier, and it's so small you get lots of groups of really eclectic people doing really crazy music" And over here? "When something goes off over here a lot of people copy it, things like Cast..that whole spectrum of media-championed bands. They have their posters everywhere, they get their chance, to me it's like the melody-base is OK, but what they're doing note-by-note or chord-by-chord isn't necessarily what one aspires to."

Very diplomatic, but why do you think not many New Zealand bands make it big elsewhere? Andy: "It's far away, and industry-wise the corporate labels that have a prescence in New Zealand pay their bills from the Michael Jacksons that are imported, that are already successful and will be well-received and that it doesn't take them much to do well with. But to try to take a local act to the rest of the world you have to deal with the international A&R departments and these are just people who have careerist jobs and have a nice company car and don't have to put their own tastes on the line in a lot of cases to decide if they're going to release a band from New Zealand or a band from Brazil next week. You're dealing with personnel that let the artist down all along the line." A bit of personal experience? "Yeah, that's why the flow from England and America to the rest of the world is well-established, but the flow from New Zealand to the rest of the world is..you're just trying to break new ground all the time." Is that why you moved over here? "Being big in New Zealand is like being big in the Isle of Man, and we've all experienced going round and round playing the same places for years and years, and you lose interest in that..but you don't lose interest in the song and the actual art of playing music in front of people you don't know. That's a compulsion, almost a curse to a degree, 'cos that's what you do and that's your focus. Record companies--the bankers--come and go, next week we might find somebody who'll put our posters on the wall and run a $200,000 campaign to make us known and then we have our chance, but that would never happen in New Zealand 'cos there aren't enough people, so they won't invest in it. But they don't want to do it here either, because the precedents for getting away from New Zealand aren't that huge. So you're constantly running that gauntlet based on your desire to keep playing original music and find someone that's going to validate your existence which unfortunately has to be the concept of audience, cos you have to have someone buy your records to make the bankers who are record companies bother to apply themselves to what you're doing. Bands like The Muttonbirds came over here on the back of Virgin, they spent a whole year in the top 50 in New Zealand. That's the only time a multi-national will say "well, you've done well in your territory, we'll try you over here". Unfortunately, we're not in that situation because of the style of music we do and we've got to find someone here to make people aware of what we do."

Garageland seem to be doing OK after coming over here with Mushroom, they seem to be quite up for supporting bands on the back of Peter Andre and people like that. "Yeah, absolutely, and that's great but Garageland for us are in an enviable position because Flying Nun are aligned with Mushroom, the people that push Peter Andre, they get a really good chance that people will find out about them. Whilst to us, we're all in the same ball-park, song-by-song, playing things on the stage but they've got a banker now, and we haven't. Flying Nun is almost the only established label in New Zealand where, if you make a record for them, it'll get sent around the world on that label. Sony and all those majors, their international A&R departments don't care, they aren't discerning, and to them it's just budget decisions."

Depsite how this interview might have come across, Lig do not have a massive chip on their shoulders. In fact, they're one of the most unassuming and articulate bands I've interviewed, having obviously given the whole thing a bit more thought than: money, beer, money, good laugh, 3 chords. Sounding like a choppier, poppier early Sleeper at times, more noisily experimental at others, this is a band that could really do the business--given a chance and a banker.


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