Songlines Across New Zealand
  Todd Hunter (Dragon) 15-11-2013
SANZ: Now dragon had been out of sight out of mind for about 8 years till about 2006 how did that reformation come about
Todd: There was going to be no band well there was no band after Mark died basically I left before that to do soundtrack work and it was just completely gone and then after about 10 years of doing Heartbreak High and a whole bunch of other soundtrack things I just felt like playing again and it felt like the songs needed to be played and it felt like everything should be gathered together on the net which is sought of what’s happened. Also was at my kids school playing at a   parent teachers night where the teachers and parents played and I was the bass player and I played all this different stuff and halfway through the night I was like this is what you do you idiot so the problem was to play what blues on a Sunday or go back to Dragon. So it just sought of evolved did an acoustic album
SANZ: That was brilliant one of my favourite ones
Todd: Yeah. A lot of people didn’t like it but that’s good.
SANZ: I was at that tour you did at bay court and came away as that was just a brilliant night 
SANZ: How did Mark (Williams) become involved in the band
Todd: I rang him up said do you want to be in a band he said yeah I’m not doing anything and that was it really there was a guy in my studio working and I said do you know any guitar players and he said Bruce was a great guitar player, rang Bruce he said you got a drummer I said no he said I know this great guy Pete and we just got together and started playing there were no auditions or anything .
SANZ: It’s definitely been a good lineup 
Todd: Yeah it’s the most stable lineup so far and incredibly literate 
SANZ: How did the name for the band  come about  for Dragon
Todd: We were playing Mt Manganui there was little hall over there it’s not there anymore on new years eve just as like an unamed band we played at the beach and we needed a name to play at the great Ngaruawahia rock festival which was the first ever rock festival and our keyboard player a guy called Graham threw the ichi and it came up and that was it   it was really Spinal Tappy you know open the page and there was Dragon a huge bolt of lightning and thunder and the whole house was shaking a big storm
SANZ: And its worked for you since
SANZ: What do you prefer to do work and record in a studio or perform live
what would you say is the best thing about performing live
Todd: Oh live now. I did a good ten years of studio work which is great really good but our studios out in the country a couple of hours south of Sydney and so everyone would be away all my kids went away to boarding school so I’d be there for a week working away getting up at six in the morning when your working for like sesame street, teenage workshop  or channel 4 those are their hours so you work to their hours   because your on the net the whole time  Id be there for a week by myself and the bushfires would come over the hill the fire brigade would say you got to get out I got to finish this deadline and you would just finish the deadline and the rain would come so it got too solitary for me and I miss the immediacy of playing live 
SANZ: What would you say is the best thing about performing live
Todd: The best thing ever is having a crowd sing your songs back to you. It’s completely thrilling it means the crowd has to work hard it does mean that everyone in the room is in the band 
SANZ: You include everyone
Todd: Yeah it elevates you the band is up on the platform and we just connect. We’re just idiots like everyone else 
SANZ: How did the band become involved with the church tour series
Todd: They simply said would you like to do it and we said yeah. It was just a thing that came up we said yeah we’d love to. It’s an established tour isn’t it
SANZ: yeah it’s been around for some time 
Todd: And it just seemed like a great .. We’re constantly changing stuff around and like the last thing we did was the Police show Dragon celebrates The Police
SANZ: Yes I didn’t get to see it but I heard about it
Todd: That was great we did about ten Police songs in the middle of the set 
SANZ: How different will this tour be compared to previous tours through the pub and arena scene
Todd: very. The music is completely different and it’s ahh we pulled everything apart and put back together again acoustically
SANZ: since you’ve been based in Australia what do you miss most about NZ 
Todd: The landscape you know when I drive around now it’s a constantly shock of recognition so your subconscious is imprinted in this country and you never get away from it so I completely love it.
SANZ: Over the past 40 years or so What’s been the best thing that has happened to Dragon so far?
Todd: Just being able to have a life in music basically and that’s the reward just to be a working band and be some sought of niche thing that always survives and to keep going that’s the game just to keep playing with whatever you got at the time 
SANZ: What has been the most memorable moment in your music career
Todd: umm actually it was at rhythm and vines in Gisborne a few years ago that was fabulous it was so good it was hysterical so that’s my favourite moment there would be thousands of  un favourite moments stuff I forgot 
SANZ: If someone had told you 40 years ago that you guys would become a big name in the NZ and Australian music scene what would you have said to them
Todd: Well I would say that’s fabulous cause  my intention was to waste my whole life playing music
SANZ: It’s not really a waste
Todd: No it’s not. But I mean Mark and I had a band in the second year of primary school and there was a young teacher from England who had a red MG 
And we would get the school you don’t have projectors now but they had these boxes that project a film and you could plug your electric guitar into it. It had this fabulous distorted sound so we’d throw those in the back of his MG and go to all the schools in king country and play at the socials 
SANZ: So you were touring from a very young age
Todd: Haha yeah from seven onwards 
SANZ: What are your thoughts on the NZ music industry now compared to when you started out
Todd: Ohh look I think it’s incredibly healthy there some great young bands and plus stuff like Lorde happening 
SANZ: Yeah she has taken to the scene quickly
Todd: That’s right so what’s great about it is great songs are making a difference and kids can do stuff in their bedrooms and then go from there to the world stage like they could never have done before. What a great time to be a young musician 
SANZ: If you had a chance to go back in time and repeat your music career over again would you do that
Todd: Yeah absolutely 
would you do anything different
Todd: Well we were never a career band we just screwed up the whole time we were lazy and stupid but you know in the seventies in the eighties was much better we were much more focused so you know yes what I probably would do get the whole band to move to America and just stop dicking around although on the other side of that it’s a beautiful place to live and you have a better life you know Keith Urban came and played on incarnations album in the nineties sometime and he said I’m living in Nashville and I’m going to stay there till I either die or I get famous that’s what you have to do if you are a young musician 
SANZ: Out of all of the videos Dragon has done which is your favourite and was the most fun to film?
Todd: I think  Speak No Evil which was filmed at smokey Dawsons dude ranch and it was made by Kimble Rendall who was in the XL Capris who went on to become a second unit director on The Matrix and Irobot and tonnes of stuff and he’s a good friend and we just had a great time making it.
SANZ: Out of all of the videos again which is your least favourite/or was the least fun to film
Todd: This Time because we used to have a um when we first moved out of NZ we had a big box or Tea chest full of all the clothes everyone was roughly the same size so if you got up last you got the crap clothes so I had my girlfriends blue velvet pants on Marks old alligator boots that he spray painted silver 
And we would drive around the cross in a little red MG  but it was funny looking back you tube is great for all that stuff all those crimes against 
SANZ: Its comes out in the light of day
Todd: Everyone can see it yeah.
SANZ: Speaking of the internet When people first started sharing music over the internet what were your thoughts on it
Todd: I thought that was great. Everything that I can I stick up on to our sound cloud
SANZ: Yes I keep an eye on that you’ve got some great live stuff on there
Todd: well look I’ve got maybe a hundred and fifty to two hundred tapes that are all going to end up there
SANZ: That’s going to be a lot of listening for those fans 
Todd: Yeah it’s just somewhere. So I have no problems with people downloading music I think if anyone can be bothered to listen to anything we do great I don’t care the circumstances. You know the only way is live and signing cds and so I’m happy with that
SANZ: When it comes to song writing what do you find inspires you
Todd: There’s an indefinable thing about song writing it’s got to come from somewhere you know it’s got to come from within somehow. I haven’t written any songs for a while mainly because I’m involved with the management of the band and you can’t do it all the time but I think next year it may happen so its an indefinable thing the way a song works it’s just flowing it just sought of comes out it’s not like if you try and sit down in a studied manner  and sought of put it together it’s terrible it’s got to sought of pre exist so it just scrolls out of you 
SANZ: what would you say makes NZ music unique compared to say music from America
Todd: I think the distance away from everything the fact that New Zealanders have always had a idiosyncratic sought of thing of their own and its nothing you can recognise as being New Zealand that gives it flavour to it but it’s stuff like the south pacific harmonies  there’s a certain melodicness about New Zealand artists  to me that I recognise 
SANZ: What would you consider an iconic NZ song
Todd: Ah ok, Dance All Around The World by BLERTA 
SANZ: It’s kind of a hard question cause there’s so many 
Todd: Yeah that’s right what was that Underdogs song? Sitting in the rain, Painter man, this is all sixties and then all the way through to well  you got to say Royals 
SANZ: Dominion Road from Don Mcglashan another great iconic song 
Todd: Gutter Black
SANZ: Yes that’s going to be in peoples heads for some years now 
Todd: some fabulous Split Enz song 
SANZ: haha there is soo many of them it’s kind of hard to name which one
Todd: It’s a very healthy Pantheon of New Zealand songs
SANZ: Who are some of your favourite NZ bands to listen to
Todd: To listen to I don’t listen to bands at all When my kids were younger and they were all doing  Djing so I was hearing tonnes of stuff like (Whispering) all sorts of people all the time and I got used to not listening to music at home because you put something on and they’d just go turn that off please you know so what was the question
SANZ: Favourite NZ bands to listen to
Todd: I don’t listen to NZ bands but I don’t listen to any bands at all. And I think it’s being around music for so long you get allergic 
SANZ: Listening to other peoples stuff
Todd: Yeah I don’t watch tv or go to movies either because I did soundtrack work for so long all I hear is the director saying lets have this bit like American beauty then the scene goes from here and play against the action here  ohh no don’t want to be manipulated like that
SANZ: You want it to be your own handy work not someone else telling you what it should sound like 
Todd: I’ve got to get back to where I want to listen to music for pleasure in the studio this beautiful great turn table and a great amp you put vinyl on and like blam whoever’s playing is in the room sounds so good but I never go over there and sit down and listen to music so hopefully I’ll get back to that.
SANZ: What are your plans for the rest of 2013/2014 will it include a new album by any chance 
Todd: Yes we got a church tour album out at the moment 
SANZ: when was that released
Todd: when you say release we put it out. There is a new dvd we did last year that’s coming out now that’s just being mixed it’s good it sounds really good it was at the arms theatre in Melbourne it looks great and then we’re doing what are we doing, we’re just playing all around the place Vanuatu at new years eve 
SANZ: wow that’s nice
Todd: Yeah it’s wild and just here and there then we have a tour in March that will run right through until august 
SANZ: That’s going to be an intense year 
Todd: Yeah yeah and we’re here in March 
SANZ: so you’re coming back to NZ
Todd: Yeah we’re playing at the power station and in Christchurch at the stadium and we booked a tour till September next year most weekends  
SANZ: This last question is a bit more of a little light hearted from a reader
If you could write the greatest song in the world that was guaranteed best song of the decade what would the song be about
Todd: loss basically loss and longing rather than being happy 

You can hear the audio for this interview here

you can check out Songlines Across New Zealand's review for the gig here

You can also check out our review for the Dragon: The Acoustic Church Tour Album here

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