Published on August 29th, 2013 | by Skye Pathare0
I’d like to begin this piece with an embarrassing but hopefully semi-endearing admission – I’m always at least a fortnight behind the times when it comes to colloquial language, and regularly refer to urbandictionary.com post-social interaction to discover what the shits my friend was saying. A ‘trust punk’, according to this 100% legitimate gem of a site, is “a person between the ages of 17-25 who lives off of their parents’ money, yet maintains that they live a punk lifestyle.”
The former requirement at least is met by the five members of the “vaguely punkish” Auckland group the Trust Punks, who have been together for seven months. However, the lads have been kicking around the local music scene for years: Lliam Powell and Maté Vella played together in Cool Cult, Joe Thomas and Paul Brown hail from Grass Cannons, and Alex Grant played in both (now defunct) bands.
Early January is the time hungover/broke/STD-ridden individuals typically make half-assed tweaks to their lives that they pray will make this their year! 99% of these weaklings (me included) fail, but it seems like the Trust Punks’ decision to say fare thee well to their old bands and, by their powers combined, form a five-piece under a new name was a solid one. “We were all feeling really jaded and a bit set in our ways”, says articulate, azure-haired Joe. “We decided a new band with different dynamics and better songs, songs with more impact and attitude, was what we needed to get excited about playing music again.”
Cute boys, adventurous arrangements, considered lyrics that stop you in your tracks, and not a scrap of pretension is always a winning combination, so it’s no surprise the Trust Punks have amassed a loyal following over the course of the year.
They’re good, heady fun to watch live and jarringly intelligent, with a sound that has been compared to UK band Wire and described by my boss as “the sort of music that transports you right back to a student dive bar in 1980s Dunedin”.
The three songs they’ve released thus far (Amphetamine Psychosis, Karl Marx Real Doll and Prone Hold) are awash with political angst and brawls with personal demons; written from a very leftist perspective. “We’re very aware that we’re all white, middle class, straight and cis-gendered males with first world problems”, Joe laughs. “So our name and themes draws attention to that before anyone else can.”
Alex, who shares the title of lead singer/guitarist with Joe, sat down for a yarn with me one week before the Trust Punks embark on a nationwide tour (04/09 at the Dark Room in Christchurch, 06/09 at Queens in Dunedin, and 07/09 at Wellington’s Mighty Mighty) and a few months prior to their trans-Tasman debut (Wollongong, Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne, dates TBC).
Can you describe the method or process you go through with each new song?
We generally write the lyrics separately and collaborate when it comes to instrumentation. There’s not a lot of co-writing as our styles are quite different, due to varying music tastes and personalities or temperaments. This is quite reductionist, but the way I write is less aggressive and more anxious than Joe; which is evident in Prone Hold. So the tone is pretty different, even though it’s thematically similar to our first two songs.
Where can we listen to your music?
Our online platform is Bandcamp, where you can download our songs for free. Previews are available at Under the Radar. [Or like ’em on Facebook to be in the know about their live shows, which go down every two weeks or so].
Who do you listen to?
I like Liars – they’re from all over the place and hard to slot into any genre, but I guess you’d call them an American rock group.
When are you playing next?
At Lucha Lounge [in Newmarket] on the 31st of August. With Surf City, one of my favourite Auckland bands, and Las Tetas. It’s a good, intimate venue, but it’s really hard to fit all of us and our instruments on the stage. Plus there’s a hole in the back that catches you unawares. I fell through last time we performed there and twisted my ankle.
What’s been your most boast-worthy moment?
Topping the bFM Top Ten chart without resorting to self-voting.
What are the pros and cons of being in a five-piece?
It can be expensive paying for everyone’s flights and so on when we play other cities, and it’s tricky finding time to practice as five different schedules tend to clash more often than not. Three of us are still at Uni, and I work two jobs – Mag Nation in Ponsonby and at a company subcontracted to pack the My Food Bag bags [the rather genius and budget-lovin’ invention by Masterchef winner Nadia]. But, from a creative standpoint, having five members makes us distinctive, and the workload is never too overwhelming – no matter how ambitious the song structure or time frame. We only need three people to actually perform the songs, but having five just takes it up a notch.
Where do you see the Trust Punks going? Do you want to be a professional muso when you grow up?
No – I think this is the perfect time in my life to be in a band. I don’t want to be one of those old guys playing a young man’s game; it’s a little sad. I definitely see the Trust Punks as having longevity because everyone’s very committed in their own way. But it’s also a bit fragile because I think if even one person left the band, it would end – our current dynamics are just right.
If you’re planning to attend the show at Lucha Lounge this weekend (and why wouldn’t you?) donning a Trust Punks t-shirt will amplify your enjoyment by approximately 250%. The illustrations are brilliant and they cost the same as ASB’s accidental overdraft fee – twenty bucks.
Photography by Rabie Alburaiky