outsider-punk noise experimental rock two-piece from Aotearoa New Zealand


Calling London 

This post for London spans shows in the city across November.

We’ve just arrived in the UK from Italy. We land at Stansted and slip into London on the train. We wheel the gear across the park known as London Fields to Chrissie’s sisters. It’s a familiar route and feels a bit like coming home. We know a few folk here from previous visits and an invitation onto The Other Rock show, a weekly radio show hosted by Marina Organ on the independent station Resonance FM, is gratefully accepted. It’s a chance to promote the first London show in 2 days time.

Before that though, we squeeze in a quick trip to Brighton to catch an exhilarating Sleaford Mods show before heading back to London for our own.

This first show was booked by Metal Postcards. Metal Postcards is a USA based independent distro who has recently included our back catalogue to their collection. The booked venue is the Vegbar, in Brixton, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that also hosts noisy shows fairly frequently.

Also on the bill are two other groups promoted by Metal Postcards. The first is Dream Herbs, a young group that draws influences from psychedelic music, Syd Barrett, and a desire for volume. Daij VHS is the third representation from Metal Postcards. His songs against backing tracks seem dark and deeply personal. The fourth act is a solo performer called Danny Trash. A fifth group was advertised to play but simply didn’t arrive, no one seemed to know who they were.

It’s a night of organisational improvisation. There is some confusion around equipment. One act expect a laptop. When it isn’t there, they improv an accapella set. Though this could have been very stressful we’re impressed by the lack of fluster this seems to generate.

Dream Herbs kick off the night and they deliver on what they say they will do, a number of swirling entertaining tunes, the influence of Syd Barrett is obvious to discern. The group is a three piece with guitarist front and centre,  but the rhythm section flys between loose and free play to held, considered and solid sections.

Danny Trash set is second, performing unaccompanied and with guitar. Then Daij VHS plays a short set to preprogrammed backing beats. Both performers deliver lyric in a free rap-styled format in a very raw, personal, unmediated impression on their local world.

Then it’s our turn to play. The audience, which seems to be predominantly the friends of the other three acts gets swept up in the energy of the event. Granted what we bring is quite different to the others, but it still feels like it has a real sense of collegiality and continuity. The night turns out to be a lot of fun despite the shaky organisational start. Vegbar is a sweet wee venue, and Assad who drives the sound desk was super helpful.

Fast forward to end of November. Our next two shows are back to back and organised by the Club Integral folk. They helped us out last time we were in London. They also host a regular radio show on Resonance FM.

The first show is at The Others in Stoke Newington. Remarkably easy to get to from the train, a short five minute walk past a tiny Caribbean fast food joint, some accommodation then turn right up the stairs above a snooker hall. The Others is one of those wonderful committed and dedicated venues that puts music front and foremost ahead of alcohol and profits. Spaces like these are essential to the nurturing and development of new music, skills of performers and provide opportunities for ideas to be explored. Venues such as these are well worth supporting and essential for keeping the parameters of music wide open.

There are two acts at The Others, ourselves and a trio called Knock Knock.

Knock Knock is a three piece – drums, saxophone, and mask/broken cup/cymbal. Reminiscent of a sped up Bhutto dance, Wayang puppetry with out puppets, a theatre show without a script, with some sounds, some music, and a bit of fisticuffs. Somewhere and somehow in this trio there are connections with the Tiger Lilies. Knock Knock is a frantic energy that is thoroughly entertaining.

Our spin on the floor and is a delightfully intimate affair. A lovely show that generates a load of conversations afterwards.

For the second show we head to Lambeth to play in a creative enclave, the venue in this space is called I’Klectik, another music-first space with a ear for invention. It’s a large room, with the feel of a small hall or a large wooden classroom. The space has a bar, zine display and music selection for sale focusing on what looks like experimental and improvisational music. Again tonight there are only two acts. We share the floor with a trio called the Honey Hahs, three sisters playing original music. The quirk is that they are aged between 9 and 15 maybe, they come with an entourage of family members. It is perhaps our most incongruous show to date. The trio perform with skill and it’s really very sweet.

We take our turn adding our our contrasting sounds to the innocent tones of the Honey Hahs. The show marks the end though of the northern hemisphere section of this tour. It’s a mixed sensation, a sense of completion of the bulk of the tour, there are only two shows after this, mixed with a sense of not wanting to be completed yet, it’s too fun to be finished yet…

But what unfolds unfolds and the night comes to the end. This time around there seemed to be more potential to do more here, there were several shows we had to decline when organizing. It would be nice to return and devote a decent amount of time to exploring and playing the UK, the north looks attractive. Till next time…

From Czeching in to checking out

20161116_174332.jpgHere we are, sitting in a hrad, Czech for castle, in the western town of Loket. This place has been hill-top and centre in this village since the 12th century. The actual location of our performance tonight is reported to be in the ancient royalty’s entertainment room, where the various monarchs entertained or administered other business. The throne room is backstage.

It’s been two and a half years since we were last in the Czech Republic, it’s so nice to be back.

We left London before dawn this morning, up around four-ish and back through the sleeping city to Stansted. We land at Praha (Prague) and have a small wait for our ride to arrive. It’s easy to remain occupied with pizza, beer and Czech-watching.

Mirek, frontman for Už Jsme Doma(UJD), arrives by bus first. The van with the rest of the band is not far behind. Once it arrives, loaded with equipment and bodies, out spill the rest of the band. It is always wonderful to reconnect with old friends, warm, enveloping and welcoming

There are also new introductions, firstly to Ruda the driver, and Votja the new drummer for UJD. Votja has been with UJD for the past year now, and comes with the experience of playing in punk bands for many years. We load our gear into the last space available and leave Praha for the town of Loket near the Western boarder.

The trip is all talking, story-telling, and Czech beers in the backseats. Evening falls and we enter Loket after the two hour journey in the drizzle. It is a winding route to access the castle shrouded by low cloud and poor visibility. You can imagine the ominous image cast in centuries past as one approached this fortress in the gloom. We enter Hrad Loket through large wooden gates. The town is dressed in mist and drizzle, there are radiations of orange from tungsten street lamps through the wet, the air is full of gems of orange as the light inhabits single falling raindrops.

We have a task to do though. We park in the central grounds of the castle and load guitar amps, drums, and PA gear up the stairs and into the festival hall. The equipment is assembled and soundchecked surrounded by ancient swords and crossbows. At the other end of the hall is the dining room. Long tables are set out and wait for the dozens of bodies to occupy. Someone is setting up the kegs. This castle happens to be the only venue in Loket and it has been functioning for the past four years in its current iteration. It appears it took some convincing to get the go-ahead to be able to run modern concerts but it has been a positive step for the town. Bands now come and play in this extraordinary venue, and subsequently more people visit the historic site as a important site of tourists interest.

People start to arrive early and in numbers. We are thankful we are up first, in the lineup of three acts, and can fully enjoy watching UJD. We make ourselves up into our costume, walk across the open courtyard, up the stairs and then enter the hall via the front main entrance. We are all ready to go, there’s a decent audience waiting, and boom! we’re off. It’s a great set, we look out and see people smiling, dancing and a party unfolding. Playing in Czech feels like coming home.

Next up is UJD, they deliver a solid set. It’s a delight to stand in the audience and hear everyone around singing along. There are new arrangements of songs and a host of other familiar tunes. Votja’s drumming seems harder than the previous drummers we’ve seen, more wirey, more punk, more attack. It adds a powerful lift to the music. The final act is a local group called Blahobeat, a local five-piece, sturdy old-school/post-punk rock band. A fantastic gesticulating frontman who is a dynamo and holds centre stage.

After the show we go to friends of Mireks’: they have offered to let us stay at their house for the night too. So we pack down our gear in preparation for leaving the next day, and then head out into the mist for a midnight stroll across bridge over the river to bed. Once at the house we’re offered nightcaps of Slivovice, a strong Czech alcohol, clear in appearance, made of plum and tastes like fire. If you inhale at the wrong time when consuming the burn is so much more intense! It takes a couple of goes to get it right. Sleep is welcome.

After waking, our plan is to meet the band at a restaurant but first it has been arranged that we have the opportunity to explore the castle in more depth. It’s a fascinating walk up the wooden stairs to the top of the towers. We see the geography of the land from every direction. On the way down the stairs continue to go further into the basement from our exit point from the building. Looking over the banister in the central well is a large sculpture of the local dragon, every castle needs one.

Another ‘key’ attraction of the castle is the ‘torture chamber’ display. This is definitely eye-catching with the ultra realist sculptures illustrating in graphic detail the interrogation techniques used in-house during the dark ages. It’s extremely graphic and brutal and quite unsettling after such a pleasant time meandering moments before. We didn’t take any photos. How is it possible to forgot the horrendous acts inflicted by one human onto another? Additional reminders do not seem necessary. There were tiny cramped cells, sensory deprivation chambers, chairs of deathly discomfort and devices of entombment and suffering. Directly upstairs from this basement of suffering was the palatial chambers for the monarchs. It was a graphic education.

We left and went looking for lunch and to reconnect with the others in a local restaurant.

Czech food is often limited for vegetarians, and harder for vegans. Today there’s a lot of deep-fried cheese in multiple varieties of presentation, onion soup or our tour staple, Bamborachy, a Czech savoury potato pancake. And a country that has a sweet fruit-filled dumpling on offer as a main cannot be all bad either.

Sated, we load up and leave. Our next destination is the town of Tabor, at the venue CESTA (previously mentioned in the Italian post). It will been ten years since we last set foot through the doors of CESTA. A lot has happened since then and we’re both deeply looking forward to being back there.

20161117_191312.jpgWe arrive Tabor in the dark, and the cold has set in. Warmth returns in bearhugs with our old friend Chris, it’s like time hasn’t passed and we seem to pick up where we left off. Pressing practical matters take precedent and we need to set up the show. Only our two acts are playing tonight. There’s some swift and skilful problem-solving required to manage several technical issues, and things feel tense as the approaching starting time looms. Technical issues are always a potential issue to navigate, sometimes a show can feel like a constant battle against the elements. But there’s a skill learned across time that it’s better to roll with the challenges that present, such as equipment faliure or sound issues, than to fight them. 

We play first and it is a gratifying personal milestone to be back here making music. CESTA holds a significant place of importance in our experience of developing and presenting our creative work. UJD follow us, and the room swells with locals. If we’re not mistaken this may be UJD’s first show in Tabor in their nearly 30 year duration. It is amazing how busy this band is and how many shows they are able to play in Czech Republic every year, a country that is not so different in landmass to Aotearoa. It’s impressive that there is such a wide number of welcoming venues available to this assertive Czech rock music on a regular basis.

The show ends and some head to the bars in town. We remain at CESTA and are able to catch up with Chris properly after his task of hosting the show is complete.

Bedtime arrives and we go to sleep to the sound of a potbell burner gifting heat to our room on this satisfying Autumn night.

Morning brings breakfast at CESTA, coffee, dark rye bread and jams. Chris returns from errands and we spend a bit more time talking before we need to return to the road. We appreciate being in close company again and to be able to hear and share the details of large life events. When you live at such distance from each other, settling for quality rather than quantity is essential.

In the back of the van and unsuccessully trying to sleep. Got to sleep at about 3-4am last night after a very late show in Lanškroun, our third show. It was a great show for us, assertive, solid and intentional. We didn’t take to the stage till about 01:30. UJD went first just after midnight delivering another powerful set. Great sound by Miloz who has been the band’s most regular sound person for many years. It is a loud venue. This show was part of a local arts/theatre festival, and the bar was flooded with folk who had attended or participated in theatre events. Our concert is the after party. And they partied.

We leave Už Jsme Doma in Lanškroun. Good byes are always emotive, and we hope it is only a see-you-later. We feel lucky that we have found a fraternity, a family, of like-minded music makers across the globe.

Now the GPS is giving directions in Czech. We are in Votja’s van moving towards the Webrocka festival where we play our fourth show. Low damp cloud is everywhere and there is very little to view. We are moving towards the Polish boarder.

This is the 15th year of the Webrocka festival,  a local festival that also acts as a fundraising event for a local group working with kids. There seems to be a large turnout for the festival. Two stages are programmed and music runs continuously. There are also breakaway rooms with smaller but very roudy acoustic performances. One stage starts as the other finishes and change-overs happen simultaneously. We are on the downstairs stage in a very cold cellar space and we play after Votja’s other group 100%. They are great, high energy punk/funk styled chaotic songs. The bass player Marco, an english bloke living in Czech, has a spectacular and aggressive bass technique, an assertive slapping style that treats his instrument as a true uninhibited extension of himself. The sets feels a combination of songs and improvisation and these two are rock solid with each other. It’s a delight to watch, a real highlight to see this committed performance.

The entire event seems to be tightly stage managed and on schedule till the headline band before us takes the stage, then the schedule seems to stretch. Our first set was to start 1145 but didn’t start till 0030. We are rostered to play two sets, this first and then a second about an hour later. Time continued to stretch and we ended up completing our second set at 3am. Fortunately at the end of the night we have a much warmer space upstairs to put our heads down for a few hours sleep before heading of early to a town to catch a train to Prague.

Our final journey to Prague is through amazing country side of rock formations that feel like giant’s building blocks,  unusual and very old. We leave Votja at Pardubice train station, this line will take us the rest of the distance to Praha.

We exit the train at the terminal and are met by Romek Hanslík, the bloke who has helped us with our Czech bookings. Romek also runs a tour management service that includes UJD and the Plastic People of the Universe.

Our final show is at the Prague rock club Vagon. It has been arranged that for our final show we open for the Plastic People of the Universe,  a group that has obtained a legendary status through the history of being a long-haired, underground psychedelic group prior to the end of the communist regime. They were often in trouble with the authorities which resulted in prison time for some of the band members. They also moved in the same circle as Vaclav Havel who became the first prime minister after the Velvet Revolution. They have also achieved the status of iconic legends for also for being a group performing for almost 50 years. There is one remaining original member.

20161121_000406.jpgCoincidentally, in relation to Velvet Revolution, while we have been here there has been a national holiday to commemorate the events which sparked the  Revolution, the bloodless transition from a communinist state to something more open. A commemoration has been set up across the road, across from the venue, and people have come in their droves to lay and light candles at a sculpture to mark the place and the event.

Sunday night shows, like many places on the planet, are plagued by the pull of Monday morning work. People tend to remain home and tonight is no difference, our audience is compact. We open the evening with a sense of personal closure, this is our last show here and it’s been a whirlwind. It is gratifying being back and being able to access these opportunities. We are thankful to the people that have supported us to make this a reality.

It’s a tough audience, hard to know what they thought, but we gave it our best and what more can you do than that. The Plastic People take the stage, Jiri, the original member, the guitarist who has been with the band for years and a much youger trio of bass, guitar and drums. It’s obvious that this is who the audience have come to see. It is definitely cool to see the Plastic People, and a privilege to see them tackle three new songs tonight.

It’s done. We pack away our gear as all the equipment is dismantled and head for our backpackers for a few hours kip. We need to be up at early-doors and return to the airport and the UK.

Snow shows – 4 days in Finland

We leave London at sparrowsfart to catch our plane to Finland. It’s early early and its amazing to see the city asleep. It’s an interesting thing to contemplate – at this pre-dawn hour the majority of the population of London appear to consentually slip into sleep in their millions simultaneously. It’s as if at the end of the each day they all collectively go ‘good night’ and slide into slumberland. This major city feels truely dormant at this dark hour. It seems a bit odd. We catch our train then plane and leave.

mmexport1479940875953.jpgDescending through the blanket of cloud we start to see the outline of islands and water. At a distance these look like pebbles in a puddle but that is just a illusion of distance. As we go lower we can see roof tops and roads, signs of life appearing out of the beautiful snow covered landscape.

We land at Helsinki airport. Leaving the plane to walk across the tarmac to a bus to take us to the terminal in the whisper of falling snow. We learn swiftly to step with caution as the black ice makes itself known underfoot.

Finland, to date you win the prize for the most grumpy boarder guards at passport control. More chilly that the outdoor environment. Well done.

Once across the boarder we eventually decipher the metro line that will take us into the heart of Helsinki. There are two trains to choose from and they both go to the same place, but it took some moments to learn to interpret these new signs and directions in a completely unfamiliar dual language.

We arrive at the central terminal where we make our way to the front entrance of the train station. As we leave we look back at the remarkable facade of massive stone sculptural figures holding illuminating orbs to light the paths.

It is bitterly cold, zero degrees. It is a land of coats, hats, gloves and scarfs. Although there is still the random pedestrian seen strolling in shorts, t-shirt and jandels!.

We walk to the venue which is a short distance but maybe takes longer than usual to walk as we navigate snow drifts, traffic and ice. Mounds of fresh snow are piled up to the side to keep the paths open. These snow banks are over one metre in depth.

GPS is our friend and we find the venue, Henry’s Pub, easily. It is located on the perimeter of a central square. It’s a modest sized bar that warmly welcomes us with rest, food and brews while we wait for our contact and organiser, Kaarle, and the other bands, to arrive.

Slowly band members start to gather and introductions are made. The other groups are Sirja & Konfuusio and Lizards. The performance of Sirja and co seemed to be a collaborative project – Sirja being the main song writter and the trio Konfuusio adding the rock to her songs. There were some solid tunes and we also really enjoyed hearing that particularly finnish sound. Moments were reminiscent of Dunedin band Cloudboy. Next up, Lizards, a competent performance that reminded of a Jack Black musical project. Our performance was last, and seemed  very well received. There were a few responses that felt quite overwhelming and some seemed particular energised from what we had offered. One lovely comment we received was that we ‘played Finnish music’. Somehow what we played made a particular kind of sense that was unanticipated. A lot of very fine music has come from Finland so we happily received the compliment.

Post show we head for the trains again, our accommodation is at Kaarle’s place, located in the village Jokela, about an hour out of Helsinki. We first need to navigate those offers of post-show drinks and after parties. The last train to catch is at a quater to midnight and it’s a close-call, if we miss the train it’s a night in a Helsinki pub and the snow.

But we manage to extract ourselves and head for the train. We find out the snows only started yesterday. This marks the start of a long winter and it’s interesting to discuss the impact this has on the locals, how they cope during the long dark winters. We catch the train with minutes to spare, striking up random conversations with others on the train who are keen to teach us Finnish swear words … important stuff to learn.

Jokela is a small village, two supermarkets, a pub and a pizza shop. We investigate the town when we wake, the local lake has already started to freeze over. Bird prints can be traced in the fresh snow, small collections of the white dust gathers and balances on the last of autumn’s fruiting trees. There’s no wind, it is still and crisp and cool. The lake has started to freeze. We pass time with pizza and beer before we have to reconvene and hit the road for our next show in the city of Tampere two hours north of here.

It is an uneventful roadtrip. There’s a small opportunity to sleep as we cruise along the motorway, between forests, deer fences and snow.

In Tampere we are playing at the pub called O’Haras, it has a vague celtic feel but plays a broad and fascinating background music selection that swings between contemporary finnish pop to brutal nordic metal. The cross section of drinkers in the pub seem to not be bothered by whatever is blasted across the sound system. It’s quite wonderful.

The bar’s venue space is downstairs. We are playing with a local trio called Xes, guitar, drums and barritone saxophone. One of the downsides of wearing make-up is that it takes about 25 minutes to prepare, and during this preparation we often miss a lot of the preceeding performance before us. It’s a constant tension. Xes present entertaining show. They are currently recording their first album with the extrodinary finnish musician Pennti Dassum. Pennti has been involved in many, many awesome musical projects and we hope at some point to meet him. We have many mutual friends. It’s funny that we almost meet via Xes. Next time.

20161105_024428.jpgWe play well. And again it’s well received. This is confirmed in part by the regular plying of alcohol from audience members with offers of gin and other alcohol during our set. And then the enthusiastic responses after we finish. It seems our music has found a natural home among some of these Finnish ears. It is definitely encouraging when we contemplate future tours to know that it will go down well here.

We leave O’Hara’s and head to a local pub for an after gig tipple. Here we get to enter into some wonderful conversation while trying some local liquorice tasting liquors. Closing time arrives and we spill out on to the street to a nearby taxi stand. We travel across town and stay with one of Kaarle’s friends in a student university hostel. A very nice meeting and full of encouragement.

We are in Finland for three nights but have only managed to get two shows. Even though we started the organising earlier in the year confirming shows seemed a challenge. We discussed this at length while in Finland to understand what the Finnish context is like. It seems the Finnish independent music scene has been hit hard in the economic downturn. Several years ago it was possible to play many venues and many shows. Things have got tighter and the opportunities have significantly reduced. Venues are only hiring bigger bands that have some draw but are not creating opportunities for newer acts. It would seem that this is going to be a problem in years to come. New acts need places to cut their teeth, to develop innovative sounds and to hone skills outside of economic imperitives.

So we find ourselves with a Saturday night off in Finland. We decide to make our way back to Helsinki, that way it will be easy to get to the airport on  Sunday.

We find a reasonable priced hotel in the inner city. The snowing hasn’t really stopped. And we seek out heat. Given that one of the things Finland is famous for is the sauna, we make our way to one of the older saunas in Helsinki central. It is a sauna that has been functional for the best part of the last 70 years, gender segregated into male and female only. There’s no obvious clear instruction so it’s basically learning by observation. The pattern seems to be hang out in the heat for a bit, then out into the snow for a beer then repeat. Health-giving activities. It seems the traditional saunas are disappearing due to the modern apartments all having electric sauna instalment. Many of the classics saunas have gone, there are only three left.

And that’s it. A weekend in Finland, an excellent investigation to see how we go here and it will be totally worth returning, hopefully not too far into the future.

A massive massive thanks to Kaarle for all the work that went into setting up the shows, and for the hosting and transportation. Also big thanks to Pietsu, Kristian, Petri, Marge, and Jan.


wp-1479240343555.jpgRome, a city of small cars and scruffy green spaces. Hints of old artifacts visible from a bus window. Does it smell as it did three thousand years ago? A country of roundabouts in lieu of traffic lights,  a roading system with more curves than a sack of spiral pasta. Big blue skies framed by rising ranges in one direction,  and the halitosis of progress breathes its smoggy breath out the other way. A city adorned in street-art tattoos on almost every conceivable surface.

Italy is our next destination after China. We land after an exhausting 30 hour journey from Beijing, through Qatar, to Rome, to train,  to bus, to van to bed. We’re camping down at Invizin. We arrive on the Monday night and have a few days to recover from the jetlag before a show on Friday. The party is to mark the 1st birthday of this recently established cultural hothouse in San Giovani, located on the outskirts of the village of Tornareccino, East coast, South of the city of Pescara by an hour or so.

It’s warm when we land but the temperature drops as we head into the hills. On a clear day you can look down to the north and see the Adriatic coast. For the first couple of days jetlag dictates our patterns.

Invizin is the new art/science/technology and sustainability project of Hilary Binder.

“Invizin is a not-for-profit international cultural laboratory focused on stimulating and supporting ideas that challenge the status quo of social tolerance and material and intellectual sustainability. We invite and form international collaborations to apply artistic practice, scientific research and analysis, technological advances, and radical thinking across multiple fields. Based in the Italian region of Abruzzo, Invizin develops and implements model solutions that build creative and sustainable common futures…”

We first met Hilary about ten years ago when SABOT, the duo she drummed with, toured Aotearoa New Zealand. Sabot had been based in the Czech town of Tabor where Hilary, and Sabot bass player Chris Rankin, established the cultural exchange station called CESTA. The CESTA project was an art/culture/activist/community development project. It was truly inspiring for us when we first encountered it,  and it still remains a key example of art and action in practice.

As well as catching up with Hilary on this tour, we are excited also that we have the opportunity to return to CESTA in a few weeks to perform at the house. Chris remains at CESTA and it’s been wonderful reconnecting in the setting up of our show there. More on that later.

We take refuge at Invizin, wrapped up in the presence of Autumn turning across the countryside. We sleep, then wake to a valley dressed in low cloud, go slow and charge up with food and coffee. We head into the village for a beer and visit local cheese shops and hardware stores. The population of the village is 1832.

The days roll past slowly as we recover from the jetlag. We spend the hours talking, eating, exploring the Invizin library, eating Gelato by the Adriatic and seeing flags of local successful protests to stop off-shore oil exploration.  In the evenings it’s back to more food and alcohol. It’s a holiday.

Much of the conversation centres on the working concept Hilary has for Invizin. The building is a multi-level space on the top of a rise on the outskirts of town. Hilary has one level as living space and library. The ground floor has a history of being a restaurant many years ago. This project of Hilary’s is a new iteration of her ongoing commitment to social justice and social change, based on anarchist philosophy and the power of creative expression. Invizin is continuing to grow into a regular space for local musicians to gather and discover musical improvisation, to gently and sonically push out boundaries of perception while establishing new patterns, friendships and opportunities. There have been other previous Italian projects as well, such as creating festivals to celebrate the women of the villages.

wp-1479239254374.jpgRecently though, the place was burgled. A whole collection of useful tools and other bits and pieces were taken. Hilary entered into conversation with the thieves in the form of posters around stating to not steal from poor artists, but the rich and the state.

Earlier in the year Hilary was approached by some local musos asking her to sing for a group they were establishing. Eventually Hilary said yes and the group Polemica burst into life. They have recently self-released their first album of original material on vinyl and are touring across Europe diy style. Many of these ways of working, in an independent self-determined way are new for the band members. It seems to us that Hilary has already helped to create new openings for some members of the community.


A huge focus of our stay though is that we get to perform at the first birthday of Invizin on our final night, playing alongside Polemica and a local reggae DJ for the locals.

The building Hilary uses for Invizin used to be a local restaurant years ago. Downstairs from the main living space is the actual restaurant and the large kitchen including a purpose built pizza oven. We spend a full day tidying up the space in preparation, and we get a fire going in the pizza oven in anticipation that it will be functioning perfectly on the day of the party. We are guided by text messages from a local pizza oven master on the best way to reignite the oven afters 18 years of sitting idle. And it works perfectly, there’s no fleeing of nesting birds or any other critters from the smoke and the heat. The heat radiates. We bank it up and close it down and hope that in the morning we have made a hearty bed of charcoals to facilitate perfect pizza production.

Our final day rolls around, the kitchen is prepared. We work on finishing setting up the space. There is constant communication back and forth of what other provisions will be brought, food, drink, sound equipments. We stoke the pizza oven and given it the first test run. Will it work? How long will it take? So many blind questions. The only way to find out is to put the theory to the test. A base is rolled, toppings applied, make-shift instruments made, and the tray is pushed into the centre of the oven, surrounded by a mound of brilliant orange embers. There’s no thermostat so we have no idea how hot the beast gets. It takes about 5-6 minutes, the pan is rotated, moved around and monitored. The Utopizza is born! And to our estimation, it was as perfect as it needed to be! As far as signs and portents go, this is a goodie.

The afternoon rolls, people start to arrive with food, drink, the DJ with a box of music, the sound system has a few bugs discovered and corrected. And the evening cranks into a party. The oven is in production, kids are in the kitchen making their own food, and the music starts. We are up first and we are warmly and generously welcomed. A few dance, people charge drinks, and we feel like we fit right in. It is a delightful thing. Wonderful conversations afterwards, people want to share there experience of us, sense is made across language divides, enthusiastic Italians with no english proclaim at length of the fun they had, alcohol is a good lubricant for language exchange. And then Polemica prepare to do their set. There’s an air of excitement for the lads of the local community and Hilary. They have just recently returned from a two week tour and are honed, great song writing, some really solid tunes, and a confident delivery. It is really very good. It is the first home show for some time and they are welcomed and the party ramps.

All finished. The community leave for home, the Dj plays the last reggae tune and powers down the system. We head off to bed for four hours sleep before we need to be up and off to catch the bus back to Rome’s airport.

Heading back towards the airport, sleep, snack, stare out the window listening to Leila Adu on headphones in this mist-lifting landscape, a fine musician and true internationalist, music for the world, skillful and hopeful. The warm weather undressed the night.


Out of step to not Offset

If you have been following our tour diary, you will have picked up that we often comment on the environment, in all its beauty and/or visible degradation (or often invisibity due to the impenetrable smog).

Creative work generally has a low carbon footprint. However, it’s unarguable that hopping on a plane to tour your creative endevour generates a massive carbon footprint.

As creative workers, we wanted to attempt to offset our impact as best as possible. Our work is not more important than the sustained ongoingness of life on this globe.

For this tour we have chosen to utilise the services of Ekos, a NZ charity that produces internationally certified CO2 offsets from rainforest protection carbon conservation projects. When we offset our flight emissions with Ekos we supported the Rarakau Rainforest Conservation Project on Maori land in western Southland, Aotearoa NZ. And it was easy and affordable. Ekos also has certified rainforest protection carbon projects in several Pacific nations.

From the Ekos website:

“Most of us understand the need for infrastructure to support and enable our economy and wellbeing. Water, energy, waste management, transportation, communications, self defence… Without sufficient investments in infrastructure, the services we enjoy from them cannot endure.

Ecosystems are also ‘infrastructure’ – they provide beneficial services to our wellbeing. For example rainforests provide water quality, water supply, flood protection, drought mitigation, climate resilience, nutrient cycling, food fuel, and building materials. These services are central to our economy, and nature provides them for free – until we kill the geese that lay the golden eggs. A smart economy takes advantage of nature’s helpers by investing in their maintenance and durability.

The time has long past when we can rely on governments and voluntary organisations to meet our ecological infrastructure investment needs. Ekos enables visionary elements in the private sector to take on a game-changing leadership role in sustainable development through an approach based on carrots rather than sticks. An investment in nature is an investment in our common wellbeing.”

We hope other creative practitioners and festival organisers can hook up with a services like Ekos and make reducing their carbon footprint a regular and expected part of creative responsibility and activity. It is encouraging the hear that some big festivals are discussing with Ekos ways to minimise the environmental impact of their festival.

FYI: A couple of books have stretched our thinking about making bigger connections. Donna Harraway’s book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene stirred lots of conversations. She talks about how this new epoch, our current age, has been termed as the Anthropocene, the age where humanity-collective is responsible for the multi-environmental/multi-species damage. Harraway suggests this concept isn’t big enough, or accurate enough, and suggest that the term Capitalocene is more apt: that the fundamental driver of environmental and species damage done is the economic model of Capitalism in all it variants, not ALL humans. Naomi Klein also discusses the links between capitalism and climate change in her book, “This Changes Everything“. Klein also discusses the low-carbon footprint of creative work. Both books are well worth read.