Thursday, 6 September 2007

INTERVIEW: Robin Hinkley

Good Laika have just released their debut album, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose. Singer Robin Hinkley talks to Charlette Hannah the day before their album release.

Charlette Hannah: You’re releasing your debut album this week how does it feel to have reached that milestone?

Robin Hinkley: We’re not quite there yet. It’s Thursday, and we haven’t quite made it to Thursday yet. I’m really excited about it. We were talking about how we felt it was our birthday or wedding or something. We’ve been working towards it for such a long time. It’s been really busy, that’s all I can say about it. It doesn’t seem quite real yet.

CH: Who did you work with on the recording and production?

RH: We recorded it at Nick McGowan’s studio in Island Bay, Island Bay Studio’s. We went into the studio to record a song for a video, because someone offered to make a video for us, but we had no recordings for it. So we set the whole thing up so we could record it, and we tried recording three songs, but we thought we’re going into a studio, might as well record an album. That felt really cool, it felt cool not planning it in-depth before we went into the studio. We spent about two to three days actually recording. We all played together, quite a live kind of feel. So yeah, he did a good job of it, the mixing of it, and we had it mastered by Mike Gibson at Trident Studio’s.

CH: Good Laika have been together for a number of years now, why has it taken this long to put out your first release?

RH: Good question. I think part of the reason is that we’ve all been doing other things. I’m a teacher, Matthew’s a teacher of music, so is Ricky, Ricky’s had his other musical projects like the Boomshack band, Nic Marshall’s just one of the busiest people I’ve ever met, and Jason Fa’afoi is always out of town. So it’s been quite hard for us to find the time to get together. Also, at the beginning, when we first got together, which was probably about 5 years ago, embarrassingly, we kind of lacked a bit of impetus, we didn’t quite gel, I think. The thing that kind of kicked us into action, started something new for us, was when we made a trip to Waitare beach, and we spent a weekend playing and drinking wine by the beach, and it was just a magical time for us.

CH: How did the band come together, how did you all find each other?

RH: It was Ricky, the drummer, who really started things. I didn’t really know him very well, played a bit of indoor soccer with him, and he had seen my other band play a couple of times, and he was keen to do some songs and music with me. So he approached me and said do you want to do some music, I’ve got some other friends who’d be keen to do music with. Jason was the next person he approached, as he’d worked with Jason on What Now in Christchurch. So we played together. I think Jason knew Nic Marshall, and it just kind of grew from there. But yeah, it was Ricky who started it all, and he wanted to get more into songwriting as well, which drummers are not usually inclined to do.

CH: Who writes the songs in the band? Is it a communal effort?

RH: It’s quite a shared thing, yeah. On this album Jason’s written a couple of songs and I’ve worked with Ricky on a couple and written some of my own. So it all kind of evolved. And even if one of us brings a song which is complete, we usually draft it together, which keeps us all interested I guess.

CH: So where does the album name, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose come from?

RH: It’s a phrase that stuck in my mind actually, and it seems to sum up one aspect of the album. It sounds kind of jovial and fairly happy and throwaway, but when you think about the meaning of it it’s got this sinister or melancholic undertone. It was quite hard working out what the album felt like, where it was coming from. ‘Cause parts of it seem warm and friendly and cosy, and other parts seems kind of a bit eerie.

CH: Have you played many gigs?

RH: No, that’s the thing, we’ve played probably about five times now, live. Our first gig was something with Blink, The Low Hum guy, he set up an acoustic, sort of stripped back live show with a few bands, so we played with that first. We recorded with a friend of Ricky’s, but we’ve left those recordings behind a bit. It’s only started happening in terms of live performances in the last few months really.

CH: Any plans for a tour?

RH: Yeah. Because we’re all working, we have to call going away for a few weekends in a row a tour. We’re going up to Auckland early next month and then the following weekend we’re going down to Christchurch and Dunedin.

CH: How has being a Wellington band shaped your sound and career?

RH: That’s a hard one to answer, because I’ve never been in an Auckland band or a Christchurch band or Dunedin band. The different bands that we’ve interacted with, the musicians we’ve bumped into have influenced us. Bands like The Phoenix Foundation have been very supportive of us, and Age Pryor as well. It does feel like there’s a bit of a community that have sort of helped us, and also influenced us musically as well.

CH: What’s in the future for Good Laika?

RH: Well. We’re gonna play a whole lot more I think. We’ve already started talking about what our next recording’s going to be. But we need to not jump too far ahead, we need to give this album it’s dues. We’d really like as many people to hear this as possible, because we think it’s worth hearing.

CH: Do you plan to go international?

RH: We’re trying to keep things organic. The whole intent behind our recordings was to have us all play together, having it all feel right, and anything that happens in terms of who hears our music and where we go as a band hopefully will happen in that same way so that it grows from something real, and we’re not going to try and throw ourselves out there without having grown locally first.

(Photo by Rosie Morgan)

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