“I think generally we’re pretty true to the album versions,” Augie March keyboardist Kiernan Box tells me in reference to how the band approach playing live. “There’s usually a reasonable preoccupation with reproducing parts from the album, but on the last tour we did – the acoustic tour where we just played at some smaller, more candle-lit venues – we really tried to reinvent the songs from the recorded versions, you know changed the temp, the arrangements, maybe for the first time.”
With the band releasing their fourth studio album last year and having already completed two national tours since then, it’s understandable that Kiernan is eager to be able to have a bit of a play around with the songs, especially since the band’s song writing process has gotten progressively tighter since their third album Moo You Bloody Choir.
“I hope for this next tour that we’re doing we can do more of that – introduce a bit more of that freedom. You’re probably right, that over time the band has become a little more perfectionist – that’s a nice way of saying it – a little less improvised and more planned.
But for this next tour that we’re doing we’re just trying to represent every era of the band, so we’ll go back to look at Sunset Studies and Strange Bird, but cos it’ll be the last tour for a while I think there might be a little bit of trying to loosen the belt a bit and let it all hang out a little more.”
But a loose belt might not be the best option for the band considering the pounds they must be shedding with their tireless touring.
“Yeah look, we’ve been solid but we haven’t been relentless,” he assures me putting to bed my anxiety over loosing the band to stress induced aneurisms. “We’ve done two tours of our own and quite a lot of special appearances and festivals, as well as a couple of supports… I mean we’ve been out there but it hasn’t been insanely busy – it’s not like a couple of years ago when we were tyring to get somewhere in America – we were going to the states every few months, that was hard. We’ve been doing it a little more at our own pace this time.”
However doing it at their own pace isn’t always so easy, like when the band flew to Auckland to record their latest album Watch Me Disappear.
“We had problems,” he explains in a calm tone of acceptance. “We had trouble getting in a sort of musical groove with that record, I think it took a lot longer than we intended. But going away changing the backdrop, taking yourself out of your comfort zone – they’re all good things for recording. Having said that, I think next time we’d probably go the other way and do it in a more comfortable way, close to home, not so intense. But that always happens with records, whatever you did last time you want to do it different next time. You’re constantly trying to reposition yourself.”
Things weren’t always this way with recording though as Kiernan describes his first experience working with the band on their 2001 offering Strange Bird.
“I have very fond memories of how that came together. It was very intuitive. There was a lot of rehearsing for it and a lot of prep and a lot of thought went into it but in the end it just sort of clicked, we didn’t have any sort of difficult midwifery issues. It was an easy delivery,” he surmises with a well-earned hint of satisfaction at the metaphor. “Whereas the album after that seemed a lot more difficult,” he continues. “It just didn’t happen as spontaneously, as magically as that one.”
Nearing the end of our time I ask what the band have planned after the tour.
“Well, I don’t know,” he replies, “we have been fairly busy, there hasn’t been a lot of time to really think about that. I know Glen Richards, the lead signer and songwriter has a strong desire to do a solo record so I would expect to see that before too long.”
“I’m working on a couple of albums – one with a band and one which is a little more of a duo project I’ve got going. You know, I hope everyone continues musical projects but it’s quite possible they won’t. It can take it out of you, being in a band and I’d understand if people wanted to do something totally different.”
Let’s hope not.
Be sure to check out Augie March when their Watch Me Set My Strange Sun You Bloody Choir tour hits the Metro on July 17.