- SPONSORED -
Opshop front man Jason Kerrison is building an ark. No, not the biblical, two-of-every-animal kind of vessel that Noah took to the seas in. Rather, the ‘ark’ is his pet name for a state-of-the-art, dome-shaped, monolithic structure, in which he intends to survive what he terms “the end of the great cycle”. Kerrison believes that life as we know it will undergo a dramatic transformation on 21 December, 2012, as the ancient Mayan civilisation prophesied. He can’t offer us the future—he doesn’t know it himself. All he can offer Salient feature writer Elle Hunt right now is his take on what might happen on the eve of 21/12/12, and how we can best prepare ourselves for it.
When did I first get the idea to build the ark? I guess the interesting thing is if I look back on what may’ve influenced the decision, it goes way, way back, actually. When I was in my first band—Goldfish Shopping Trolley, GST for short, which later became Opshop—we decided to make a video [for a song] called ‘Put up a Fight’. I won’t go into a whole bunch of detail here, but we ended up filming the majority of it at my landlord’s house, and he lives in a monolithic dome structure.
Norm conceived the idea after he survived a hurricane in Darwin; pretty much all the homes around him had been decimated, apart from the dome house, so he started looking into that. He and his father came up with this structure that’s really unique in the way it’s put together, the details of which I can’t disclose, due to a non-disclosure agreement. But suffice to say, it’s a pretty special place. Norm’s actually lived in this structure for the last 20 years with his family. When I stayed in one of his other places out near Kerikeri, we had a lot of discussions, and in this thing we call ‘Thursday Think Tank’, in which a bunch of like-minded people just kind of… think things through, we eventually got to this point where we’d effectively redesigned an upgrade for his house.
I call it an ark because, you know, if I said to people, “hey, I’m building a bach, it’s a monolithic dome!”, they’d be like, “oh, that’s cool, man”, you know, “that’s nice”. But if I throw something that’s a bit… tangential and provocative in there, it gets people thinking. I think the word ‘ark’ is awesome, because people start going into their own historical archetypes of what that word means to them. Even a conversation I had last night at the Prime Minister’s dinner was “hey, so you’ve got a boat in your backyard, eh, mate?”
That’s really the point. It gets people to start thinking about what an ark is—just to have that conversation about the word. Hopefully they delve into “what was that ark built for?”. The idea is, the natural path you’d follow is, “oh, an ark.
Oh, a flood. Oh, hopefully we’re prepared when anything like that happens.” The ark conversation is about being prepared. I’m not saying I have any answers—I’ve got a lot of questions more than anything, but I want to provoke that discussion, so that we can all evolve from having had it.
I’m not religious in any way, shape or form. My context was a Christian as a kid, because I was brought up in the Catholic church, but I’m probably a practising atheist if anything these days. I read too many Richard Dawkins books, y’know? Don’t get me wrong—he’s not my next saviour either. [The ark is] a structure that, ultimately, is ultra high-tech, off-the-grid, and the start of a sustainable community. That’s what we’re looking at. We’re literally looking at structures that will be able to withstand (according to the engineers that we’ve talked to) earthquakes of 8.1 magnitude plus. I’d rather be in that than a straw house.
I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen on 21/12/12. There’s a book called The Mayan Pophecies: Unlocking The Secrets of a Lost Civilisation, by Adrian Gilbert and Maurice Cotterell, and what it says is, ultimately, it’s the end of the great cycle; it’s the end of the Zodiac, and the beginning of it yet again. It’s only literally in the last 10 years or so that we’ve worked out what our universe and our solar system and our Milky Way consists of, but [the Mayans] were only a couple of seconds off predicting full moons and the lunar cycle. They’re just so accurate. They were the skywatchers, the timekeepers. I just think—who are we to say that these people didn’t have something that is worth looking into? I see the discussion as actually a catalyst for people to once again evolve themselves to be prepared for anything, any time, anywhere.
If you look around you, there are more earthquakes of 7.0 magnitude plus at the moment than ever before on our recorded history. 90 per cent of all fish stocks have actually been fished out of the ocean. Most large fish are actually gone; a third of our coral reefs are gone; 70 per cent of the world’s biodiversity is gone. Whether you’re waiting for a particular date, the fact of the matter is, change is happening—so what are we going to do about it? Are we going to be prepared? Are we willing to all stand up as a collective and make a difference, with our government that represents us? And are we going to be prepared to set up
structures and communities?
There’s an idea at the moment to be part of an initiative to create an off-the-grid sustainable community. These things are popping up all over the world, so what we’re doing isn’t necessarily unique—in fact, far from it. We’re borrowing models from all over the place, and trying to integrate into it specific requirements. Not everyone in the community will share exactly the same view, other than having a sense of preparedness, because you just don’t know when and where, or how nature’s going to unleash her fury. Whether it’s to do with the planets aligning with the centre of the Milky Way, or a fault line in Christchurch decides to wreak a little bit of havoc… you just don’t know. At the end of the day, the key message is about being prepared for anything, no matter what, no matter when.
I’ve started up an initiative called Earth Prepared with a couple of like-minded friends, and really, our directive inside of that is to help people be more prepared in whatever way they possibly can, at whatever level they can integrate and afford. We’re going to start making bug-out bags available in the easiest possible places—hopefully, we’ll get [supermarket] chains on board. For Cantabrians especially, there really is a real sense of being at the mercy of nature, and realising that you can simply either be prepared, or not. At Earth Prepared, we realise that there are various levels at which people are willing to integrate at—whether it’s getting a bug-out bag, or building a bunker, or, in inverted commas, ‘an ark’, like we’re doing ourselves. We’re trying to engage on as many levels as possible, with ultimately the key message being, “Are you ready? Are you prepared?”’
I’ve written an album that, to me, incorporates a lot of these concepts. I think an unprecedented number of cultures have predicted this end-time, and that’s effectively why I called the new record Until The End of Time. It’s not the end of the world, it’s the end of time, it’s the end of a grand, great cycle. With the end of a cycle, comes a new one. Just like with the end of night comes a new day, with the end of the month comes a new moon, with the end of the year comes a new year. It’s just on a much grander scale that our little part of human civilisation doesn’t quite involve itself in yet.
From the timeline we’ve got, we’re hoping [the ark] will be done this December. We’d like to have it finished as soon as possible, certainly before the next solar maximum or mythological crossing point. I want to have my bug-out bag ready by tomorrow. But at the end of the day, Norm actually built his external structure in literally two days. We’re not in a hurry; we’re just in project management mode. We’re intending to build whatever works best by the time we’ve collated all the data that we need to. We’ve looked at 20 metre domes, we’ve looked at 15 metre domes, we’re looking at smaller domes… The 300 acres of land that we’ve got set aside for it could potentially house a lot of these domes.
At the end of the day, the ark is a self-sustainable home that incorporates a lot of cultures’ ideas and concepts. That’s really it. It will be something ultra high-tech and modern; something that’s quite extraordinary. In my heart of hearts, I think it’s going to be just the most wonderful thing. Shit yeah, it’s going to look really cool.
Please do not believe a thing I say—go check it all out for yourself, and make your own conclusions, and work it all out for yourself. Your truth may not be the same as mine; it might be slightly different. Hopefully, though, the fact you’ve engaged in a conversation about it means that you’re ultimately more prepared.
Obviously, you throw yourself out for potential ridicule when you start talking about this type of stuff, and I had to make a conscious decision at the beginning about doing that, about sacrificing the lamb for the greater good—taking one for the team, if you like. But I think of Bob Dylan, and that line—I’ve used this quote before, because I think it’s so perfect—“Don’t criticise what you don’t understand, for the times, they are a-changin’”. I love that. You’re either onto it, or you’re not, and either way’s fine. End of story. We’re all human, with the opportunities to make choices for ourselves.
My main objective is to make people consider that events could happen, and that they should be prepared for them. Whenever I get an opportunity to talk about it to the media, it means hopefully, someone sitting at home or in the quad at university gets a moment to have that consideration. And if they’re in a space in their lives where they feel that they want to go a bit further down the rabbit hole to check it out, then, that’s great. If not, that’s completely their choice, too.