Songlines Across New Zealand
  Harry Lyon from Hello Sailor(interview conducted by Email)2006
 
 
1:What have you guys been up to since each of your last albums
H – I’m the head of music at MAINZ (Music & Audio Institute of NZ) so that keeps me pretty busy. Apart from that there are Sailor and occasional gigs with The Golden Kiwis, a corporate band I also play in.
2:How did you come about to decide to do an acoustic album
H – The idea for an acoustic album has been around for about ten years. About five years ago we went as far as mastering some live recordings but we weren’t happy with the audio quality so when we were approached half way through last year to make an album for the Liberation Blue series we jumped at it.
3:How long has this reunion concert been in the making
H-- Liberation is run in NZ by Brent Eccles who also promoted the Hauraki 40th tour so the idea of a tour to help promote the acoustic album came along with the offer to record.
4:How long has it been since you all performed as Hello Sailor live (not including the acoustic album)
H – We play together quite regularly. Our last gig before the tour was the week before the tour started.
5:What was it like to be playing together again for this 40 year  reunion
concert
H – As I’ve said we play together quite often. The difference on the tour was that we used Josh Sorenson (drums) & Aaron Coddel (bass), the rhythm section that played on most of the tracks on the album. They play a lot of jazz gigs together and we decided that it would give the acoustic record less of a rock feel and as we played an acoustic set on the tour it made sense to have them do that too. The tour was the first time that we have played so many shows close together (17 in 3 weeks) & I enjoyed that. By the time we hit the third gig the band was feeling very comfortable; we had the set list sorted out, we all knew the songs and for me then band always gets more musical because you aren’t just trying to remember your parts and just ‘get it right’. It means you listen to the other players more and really start playing together as a combo. Also we were playing in really cool venues, mostly old theatres, with a great PA & light show AND with a bunch of mates in the Hammond and Th’Dudes, so it was fun too.
5A:have you missed playing live
H - No because I hadn’t stopped doing it.
6:What's the best thing about performing live
H - Apart from the creative satisfaction of playing mentioned above, it’s the audience. A good audience that’s got plenty of energy and that is letting you know about it can make a live gig really take off. Tha’ts the buzz.
7:What was the move to L.A like in the beginning
H - Well we were in a new place, & we thought a pretty special and amazing place for a kiwi band, especially at that time. Once we started gigging it became a lot of fun. We played some very well known venues like the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, The Troubador, Madam Wongs and The Starwood and were well received.
8:When you were in L.A what did you miss about New Zealand
H - Family & friends, cheese (they had this awful yellow plastic stuff) … but not too much. We were too busy having a good time to get home sick.
9:What would your highlight be from the Hello Sailor years
H - The first five years of the band were pretty cool. Like a lot of young guys we wanted to start a band and take over the world and for a while there it seemed to be going pretty well. We worked hard but it was a lot of fun and packing out venues, making our first records and having them played on the radio, going to America were all new and exciting experiences. So that was pretty cool. However, now some 31 years after Dave, Graham and I started the band we feel pretty good about the fact that we’re still making records and touring, and that there is still an audience that supports us.
10:What was it like to find out a couple of your songs made it into the top 100 NZ songs of all time
H - I was pleased for Graham & Dave and thought that Billy Bold might have made the list too.
11:Which hello sailor song stands out in your mind all these years later
 H-- I guess Blue Lady is the one we usually finish our set with and its an audience favourite, so that has to be up there, but I like all the songs we play sometimes for different reasons. Some are crowd pleasers because they’re hits, others because they have a great groove & others because they rock out.. that all works for me.
12:What would be your favourite Hello Sailor song be
H--See above.
13:What has been the most memorable highlight of your musical careers
H-- Some of the LA gigs with The Knack were pretty cool and so has been supporting some major international acts like Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, The Eurythmics, Robert Plant, Marianne Faithful …. There’s lots, although I would probably die happy if we could support the Rolling Stones & that hasn’t happened … yet. I was also fortunate to be in Belinda Carlisle’s band when she played the Mission Concert a couple of year’s back and that was a good experience.
14:Has there been a least memorable moment in your musical careers  you’d like to forget and could you tell me what it was
H-  I know that at one Sweetwaters, 1980 I think, I just had too much of everything and was beyond playing once the time for our set came up. I spent the entire time struggling to sober up… ouch.. haven’t done that again.
15:If you could go back to the start of your musical career and do it all again would you
H - Yes.
15A:would you do anything differently
H - Yes.
16:When you hear one of the Sailor songs or your own song on the radio while driving do you listen to it or switch station
H - I will generally listen, especially if I’m alone, just to check out the sound of it compared to other material being played. So its with a ‘work’ ear rather than for pleasure.
17:What are your thoughts on Gutter Black being used as the opening/closing theme for the TV series Outrageous Fortune
H - Its great; it pays a bit of money and its more exposure for Dave (who wrote it) and the band.
18: Is there any plans of the hello sailor videos or any recorded live shows on dvd
H – The first St James gig of the recent tour was filmed so we have some footage and its possible, yes.
19:Do you consider yourselves legends in the NZ music scene
H – The first band I was in when I was 15 was called The Legends… so yes I have been a Legend in the NZ music scene.
20:What are your thoughts on NZ Idol
H – It’s a talent contest. Some of the contestants have talent and some don’t. Some of the judges have talent and some of them don’t.
21:What are your thoughts on the state of NZ music now compared to when you started out
H – There is more of a recognition that music is an industry now with the government and the record companies aware that NZ music has the ability to be a substantial export earner. So, there’s more infrastructure and support on some levels. When we started though there wasn’t the same competition from professional sport, the café society, dance culture etc, so we and bands like Th’ Dudes, Street Talk, Citizen Band and a host of others that emerged in the 70s & 80s we around when going to see a kiwi band playing their own material was THE thing for young people to do. This made for a very vibrant and healthy live touring circuit in those days, supported then by plenty of airplay from the relatively new (and few) independent radio stations throughout the country that played the band’s records.
During the 1980s and 1990s there was precious little local music on radio and the fact that there is now around 20% NZ content, from a low of about 4%, has helped sales of NZ music and invigorated the live scene.
22:In your opinion what do you think makes NZ music stand out from the rest of the music around the world
H – The most distinctive NZ music is that with obvious Polynesian influences. A lot of the pop/rock music is often generic and perhaps only distinctively NZ by nature of lyrical content that references local place names, event or idiomatic kiwi language. I do think though that we take our music quite seriously and there is an integrity to a lot of kiwi music. Its interesting that we’ve never really have ‘boy band’ or ‘girl band’ (or and Idol) that has had any sort of enduring career.
23:Who would some of your favourite NZ bands or artists to listen to
H - There’s a lot, early it was Ray & The Invaders, The La De Dahs, Larry’s Rebels, then & now there’s mates like Hammond, Th’ Dudes, Dragon, Midge, Jordan and all. I loved Herbs when they arrived and especially when Charlie Tumahai joined them. Currently there’s so much new material, I like; FFD, Neil, Shona, Bic, Brook, Pluto, Electric Confectionaires, Tutts and seeing ex-students touring the world with Te Vaka and & playing in bands like Goodnight Nurse, The Twitch, Ruptus Jack & Stylus.
24:What was the last NZ album you bought
H “Moves On” – Sola Rosa
 
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