Depending on popularity or record label backing, when a Kiwi band tours overseas it may hire a van or bus to tour across the United States or Europe. But Die! Die! Die!, the noisy pop-punk trio, formed in Dunedin more than a decade ago, plan ahead.
The band has a van ready and waiting for whenever it tours or visits Britain or mainland Europe. “It’s awesome. We have a van over there in an industrial estate in London and we tour [with it] really well. We also have a van in New Zealand, too,” says singer and guitarist Andrew Wilson. “We have vans all over the world,” he jokes.
A tour in February next year will be Die! Die! Die!’s third visit to Europe in 12 months.
“Our last two albums have done really well. They’re not massive, but we get the same sort of crowds [in Europe] that we do in New Zealand. We are in a lucky situation in that we can go over there and make our money and make it quite big.”
But well before the return to Europe is a New Zealand tour, which includes Palmerston North tonight and Wellington tomorrow, then Australia next month.
The tours come on the back of the band’s fifth album Swim. Unlike the band’s 2005 self-titled debut, recorded in Chicago, 2007’s Promises, Promises recorded in New York or last album Harmony, recorded in France, the band recorded most of Swim in Auckland.
But Wilson says there was still overseas travel. A few tracks were recorded in London and producer Chris Townsend, who has worked with the likes of Portishead and Violent Femmes, invited the band to help him mix the album at his studio retreat in Tasmania.
“He has got a wee studio in the mountains above Hobart and he’s pretty cool. We played in Dunedin on New Year’s Eve and then in the morning flew to Tasmania and we just mixed it. And we hung out with his goose and him and his kangaroos.”
American Steve Albini, who has worked with a wide range of bands and musicians including Nirvana, Pixies, Manic Street Preachers and Jarvis Cocker, produced Die! Die! Die!’s debut. The band then landed two Kiwi music heavyweights with fellow Dunedin musician Shayne Carter producing Promises, Promises and The Skeptics’ Nick Roughan for 2010’s Form. But Townsend is the first time the band has used the same producer twice in a row, having worked with him on Harmony.
“He really gets me and I really get him,” says Wilson. “I’m a pretty unconventional musician. I don’t really like planning and he really embraces that aspect. He does lots of sound stuff and he is kind of an artist, he does sound installations all around Australia. We kind of really click, so it’s kind of good.”
Die! Die! Die!, which Wilson formed with drummer Michael Prain and bass player Henry Oliver, is one of only a handful of younger Dunedin bands who have had a national and international clout with the same alternative sounds cemented largely by Dunedin bands signed to the Flying Nun label in the early 80s. Wilson wrly notes that he went to the same Dunedin high school as The Chills’ Martin Phillipps and The Verlaines’ Graeme Downes, and he’s joined them on the school’s alumni list.
But unlike his Flying Nun ascendants, who played for years before having an impact overseas, Die! Die! Die! landing Albini for their debut and regularly recording and touring overseas early in the band’s life, showed how much more quickly Kiwi music could be embraced overseas.
Wilson, who was just out of his teens by the first album, says things did feel like they were moving very fast for the band to suddenly be in Chicago and with Albini for the debut.
“It was not what we were expecting, but it was cool and it was fun and part of what we achieved.”
Swim is also the first album with bass player Michael Logie from The Mint Chicks, replacing long time bassist Kane Goulter.
“We get a bit bad rap for the revolving store of bass player, but Logie’s been in the band for over two years and most bands don’t even exist for two years.”
In fact, the relative longevity of Die! Die! Die! is a point of pride for Wilson. Nor is he concerned about the trio still being referred to as a Dunedin band despite the fact Auckland has been his base since 2002.
“Once you’re from Dunedin, you’re always from Dunedin. There’s a certain personality type that comes from there.”