Fur Patrol Interview for The Package

[first published in The Package may 2004]

Currently touring their new album “Collider”, drummer Simon Braxton took time out to answer some questions about life in the band Fur Patrol.

What inspired you to start drumming?
I’m not really sure exactly what it was that inspired me to start drumming. As a wee nipper I used to bang away on pots and pans using chopsticks, so I guess it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I can tell you that I used to play along to The Police, Cream, Hendrix and the Cars to name a few, those drummers were an early inspiration.

What do you think your role is in Fur Patrol outside of being the drummer?
That’s a tricky one… each member of the band does much more than just play their instrument. We all contribute to the band in many ways, from arranging songs and making decisions on business issues, to loading gear and concocting set lists. I’m not sure I have any role in particular outside of the drums.

Fur Patrol is nearing its 8th Birthday, Does it feel like you’ve been together that long?
Sometimes it feels like we’ve been together forever and sometimes like we’re just starting out. Both have their plusses and minuses. We’re very aware of the fact that we’re a very young band as far as most people in the world are aware, so there’s plenty of work to be done… I THINK that’s a good thing.
What’s the best thing about being in Fur Patrol? Being able to make music that we love and to have other people let us know that they love it too. That’s a pretty awesome job to be able to do… if only the pay was better.

As a band that is best known for a lot of energy from live shows how did you try to translate that in a studio environment?
That’s a problem most bands have, I think. The fact is that the studio and live environments are so different that it’s unrealistic to expect to get the same level of intensity in the studio as you do at a gig. Just as you can’t expect the sound to be as clear and perfect at a gig as it is on record.
We’re stoked with what we’ve got on Collider. I think it’s the closest we’ve ever got to the energy of our shows but still has enough layers to the sound that you hear a little something new each listen.

Was there a difference to recording Pet in New Zealand and Collider in Australia?
The main difference was the fact that we had twice as long to record Collider as we had for Pet. That allowed us to experiment a bit more with different sounds and arrangements. The other main difference was probably that we were more experienced both as a band and as a band in a STUDIO. So we were more relaxed and confident while recording this one.

Since changing to Universal Australia how have things changed for the band?
We’ve been much busier, basically. We were battling to extricate ourselves from our old contract (with an independent label in N.Z) for over a year! Before we signed to Universal. That battle was sapping us financially as well as on an emotional level and made touring and recording almost impossible. Since Universal came on board, we’ve been flat out. Making the album, getting videos together, going on the road in Oz, the UK and in Aotearoa.

What was it like to go to Abbey Rd to master the album?
Abbey Road was a real buzz! It was great, we had a quick look into studio 1 and it looked just like all those pictures you see of the Beatles when they were recording. Mark (our producer) showed us the place on the roof where they used to nip out for a joint while they were making Sergeant Peppers… ah, history.

Fur Patrol have had some pretty fancy videos made for the new album, is that something that comes with the territory of trying to make it overseas?
Unfortunately. If you want to get your vid played on the major music stations and shows, it has to look fucking flash (and, preferably it would seem, have lot’s of scantily clad girls gyrating everywhere). It’s madness if you ask me, but a lot of bands spend more on the vids than they do on the album.

Is it hard being a New Zealand band trying to make it in an Australian market?
It’s possible there’s a bit of a stigma attached to NZ bands trying it in Oz. Basically though, it’s bloody hard for ANY band trying to make it. Anywhere! There are HEAPS of bands out there and only a handful of spots at “the top”. You’ve really gotta love what you’re doing and the rest is hard slog and luck.

Why do you think Melbourne is the destination of choice for NZ bands these
Melbourne is a great city to live in for bands; they come from all over Australia as well as New Zealand to settle there. It’s got the best live scene in the country in terms of good quality venues to play at. It has the second highest population of any city in the country and there are plenty of great bars and cafes to get part time work at and/or hangout in. Apart from the fact that the locals are rabid about Aussie rules and it’s not situated in the most beautiful country in the world (I’m fucking serious about that, people! NZ kicks ass!) Melbourne’s got it goin’ on.

Do you think the band will ever live up, (or live down) the reputation they
got from “Lydia”?
Ooh, that’s a bit of a snakey one… I think a lot of people never understood that we were anything other than “that band who play Lydia” which is a shame coz there’s obviously more to us than that. I’m not really sure what kind of reputation that song gave us, to be honest. It’s a great little song, so hopefully we can live up to the reputation of playing great songs. If some people can’t be bothered listening past that one, well that’s their loss.

What can we expect from the upcoming tour of NZ?
Well, we’ll be focusing mainly on songs from Collider but there’ll be some Pet stuff in there as well. We’ve been on the road a lot over in Oz and we’re really crankin’ at the moment, it’ll be a pretty high-energy bunch of shows. We’re also really excited to be sharing the stage with the Accelerants and Mini-snap, both of whom make bloody great music, so you’ll all have to come along early to see those guys with us. We’ll be watching from the bar and you can buy us a beer and have a chat, if ya like.

Fur Patrol play the Rocky Cola Bar on May 7th with the Accelerants from Wellington and Minisnap.