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March 8, 2004 | by  | in Features |
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Fur Patrol :: This is Collider Year!

All in a frustrating eighteen months of work – Salient talks to Julia Deans and Simon Braxton of the former Wellington band that have since relocated to Melbourne, fought their way out of a few corners, and emerged with Collider – it’s louder, tougher, even coarser…but there’s still a little heart!

Julia and Simon are twenty-five fashionable minutes late. It’s 9:25 on a typically overcast and humid morning during what’s referred to as summer in Auckland. I’ve been driving through the night so as to meet Fur Patrol early in the morning at a café in Ponsonby. Initially hoping to snatch a few hours of invaluable sleep, I’m still awake when they arrive. I knew we should have synchronized our watches…

Julia looks hung-over and ravenous as she digs at the fried mushrooms on her plate. Throughout the ensuing hour, the singer guitarist will let her words linger, choosing vigilantly how to finish a sentence. In the meantime, drummer Simon Braxton will gladly finish these for her.

“Things were looking pretty grim and we nearly reached splitting point,” admits Julia. “Our manager was just like, did you come over here to play fuckin’ music? Or did you come over here to…”
“Feel sorry for yourselves,” adds Simon.

Understandably there was perfect reason for this emotion. For a while, the band that issued the much adored and acclaimed debut Pet, which spawned ‘Lydia’, the most played song on New Zealand radio in 2000, could not afford to tour or record. “Most of the songs [for Collider] were written in the year before recording,” Julia, explains. “We were pretty much not gigging at that stage because we just couldn’t afford to. We were supposed to be writing you know? Regularly and solidly, but we were all sort of…”
“Feeling pretty depressed really!” Simon finishes.
“Yeah,” laughs Julia. “Drinking ourselves to a happier place.”

Originally picking up a support slot for the Dandy Warhols Australian tour after the release of Pet, it seemed that Fur Patrol had their sights set on crossing the ditch. I ask the band if they experienced the ‘difficult second album’ syndrome in the midst of moving to a foreign land. “Our second album syndrome was like ‘why the fuck can we not record our second album?” Julia says. “Why are we stuck in this contract?” The band managed to ink a deal with Universal Australia, but before doing so, had to negotiate a way out of their previous contract with now the defunct Wellington label Wishbone Records. “They weren’t willing to help us out or let us go,” Simon confirms. “We weren’t even sure if we would get to make it.”

On a more positive note, Simon and Julia are keen to leave the past the behind. Entering Melbourne’s Sing Sing studios last year, they recorded Collider, the darker, more live sounding follow-up to Pet. I tell them I genuinely prefer the new album, that there’s a lurid consistency. It’s as though the album was belted out in a period of several hours, while still retaining a certain pop sensibility and production that go hand in hand. “It’s a fuckin’ good one to go out and play live and it really works,” explains Simon, as Julia nods in agreement from across the table. “Collider is much more a document closer to what we’re like when we play live than we’ve ever had recorded before.”
“Which I think is part of that whole thing of having played a lot more together,” Julia continues. “We’re a lot more comfortable I guess, and confidant with ourselves.”
“And coherent…to drop another ‘C’ word in there,” Simon adds.
“Aah you cunt,” laughs Julia.
“Wa’hey that’s four,” Simon finishes.

The mood seems to lighten when our food arrives, and it’s evident why Julia and Simon are the two band members that always seem to give the interviews, they can talk. I offered to buy them a drink but it turns out we all get to eat at the expensive of their record company. I decide not to ask if they have to pay this back through album sales – instead the conversation moves to their first single ‘Precious’.

When you slide Collider into the stereo, you’re greeted with what sounds like backward guitar feedback, the siren like riff of Steve Wells’ guitar bursts through a filter before Julia’s almost sadistic sounding voice cuts in, “You can crawl all you want I’ve come for your head!” It surprises me to hear that ‘Precious’ wasn’t written about a lover situation, but rather from the group’s point of frustration when facing the future. “It’s that whole sort of… I’m feeling strong right now I’m gunna fuckin’ take you on,” explains Julia.
“You know, fuck you we’re gunna go for it anyway,” says Simon.

I tell them I got a strong feminine control vibe from ‘Precious’. Like a woman using and controlling a man, I don’t say the word bondage because I don’t want to blush in front of Julia! I mean what does the line, “I’ll keep you in line if you’ll bring me the cheque,” refer to?

“Oh yeah, that’s because I’m sick of being fuckin’ broke,” laughs Julia. “All my songs are stories influenced by experiences. It’s like I’m tired of putting everything out there and not getting anything back. I mean cash rhymed with back!” She laughs at my interpretation of her lyrics. “Maybe if I’d written, ‘You can crawl all you want I’ve come for your balls!”
Stop it Julia, now I’m really blushing.

The new single ‘Fade Away’ starts in a similar fashion – twenty seconds of what sounds like wind-through-a tunnel and hi-hat tapping before a fuzz-saturated Kinks style guitar breaks the silence. I can’t hear a ‘Lydia’ on Collider, I mean Karori housewives felt a connection with that song. “Yeah,” they both agree in unison. “It’s been very helpful in lots of ways that song,” admits Simon.
“I think ‘Into the Sun’ and ‘All these things’ are the most ballady on the album,” says Julia. “I really like all the songs. It’s been really cool coming back doing these dates and playing ‘Lydia’ again because we haven’t played it for ages.”
“No one in Australia knows it,” explains Simon.

Fur Patrol are touring the album for most of this year. “We’re absolutely stoked with it, this is Collider year,” states Simon. Before this article goes to print, the band would have played Wellington and Auckland with locals group the Accelerants. If expectation of an excellent show falls on the strength of the new album, then my satisfaction is guaranteed. I was going to do a giveaway of the copy I had while writing this article. Turns out I don’t want to anymore.

Collider is available through Warner Music.

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