Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you kicked off your music career
I was always into music from a young age, I always loved listening to it and playing it. I originally started playing the piano then progressed onto guitar and singing. As I went into high school, I got into it more and more and was a part of a band by the age of 16, singing in gigs across Auckland. I knew I wanted to be a musician when I started listening to Nirvana in High School. It was that whole grunge era and something about the aggression in the music made it feel powerful.
When I was 19, my friend - who was the drummer from our band - & I decided to move to Melbourne. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was a better place for music. I ended up getting a job at General Pants Store (never a place I thought of that I would work at). Coincidentally, the guys from The Temper Trap worked there whilst in their original band called Temper Temper. I got along particularly well with Dougy (lead vocalist) and Toby (drummer), so I went to a lot of their gigs - their music was quite different to what it is now.
When they started recording their first album Conditions, they asked me to fill in for the LIVE shows as a session musician, as they went in a different direction with a new sound. From there it turned into another show, another show and kept going. I ended up doing some recording for them on the first album and by the second album I was writing and performing with them for all their shows - it was so surreal.
After I joined the band my life turned upside down, from just being in Australia and New Zealand to now very quickly saying ‘we’re going to London to do a showcase, oh then we’re going to LA, Austin’. Then suddenly the album came out and the band became so successful.
I feel as though I’m very lucky; I was just in the right place at the right time. There were way better players that could’ve been in my position, but I got along with everyone in a way that worked, as it’s quite a difficult thing to make a band work. So whatever it was about my personality just worked in our setting.
Did you always want to pursue music growing up?
I was always interested in music from a young age, and it probably began when I was the lead in my primary school musical which was ironically, ‘Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was into music, but it was never a catalyst, so Nirvana really changed it for me in high school. I liked metal and death metal in high school too because it made me feel like I belonged to something. As I grew up, I started to appreciate more types of music.
I quickly became obsessed with music & it became my identity - it was the whole reason why I moved to Melbourne. It just felt like it was a straight line and there was no other option, I didn’t give myself another option. My mum always encouraged me to pursue music, but like any parent had hesitations because not everyone ‘makes it’. I’m very lucky it worked out the way it did, as my story is so unique.
How did you start with The Temper Trap?
I started playing with them in 2007 and my first show was at The Oxford House Factory in Sydney. We then played together at the Tote in Melbourne and the Northcote Social Club. The guys were recording Conditions at the time. I came in and helped them record a few things but didn’t do any of the writing. I started writing unofficially a little bit for their next album and contributing here and there, but it wasn’t in 2011 that I was officially a part of the band.
How would you describe your experience of supporting The Rolling Stones in London?
It was pretty special! The show itself was great. I didn’t realise it was going to be super sunny on stage and since I’m quite pale, I was super cautious and had to put a towel over my head. If you look up pictures from the show it looks pretty funny, but I had to protect my skin! Overall it was incredibly special to be around them. They had their own compound but there would be times that we would go past them in the catering area, and you’re just like casually sitting across from Keith Richards. One funny story was that we weren't allowed any unauthorised photos outside the professional ones, but Johnny (bassist) sneakily got a photo with Keith. It’s now a little memento for us because we never got the official photos of us with them.
Any future exciting plans for the band or as a soloist?
The band has been on a little bit of a hiatus because of COVID, and during that time I’ve started teaching which has taken over most of my time. The band hasn’t broken up - we definitely want to do more - but it’s just about finding the right time since we all live in different places.
We originally all lived in Melbourne then moved to London together, but everyone’s lives are so different now. Johnny is married with two children and they decided to move to the US. Dougy and his girlfriend decided to move to Berlin, so we’re all pretty spread out. But during COVID we wrote a lot of songs and had a Dropbox and uploaded all our ideas. There’s a possibility to make a new album but we’re just waiting until the time is right. It was actually good to have a break though - we’ve been going solid for close to 10-15 years of playing, touring, and writing - so once everyone is on the same page it’ll be possible.
What do you like to do in your down-time when not performing or teaching?
My fiancé is Japanese, so I’ve been trying to learn Japanese. When I wake up in the morning it’s the first thing I do because it’s the most difficult part of my day. That’s my determination and hobby. It feels like sometimes I don’t know when I’ll be able to speak it, because there are so many barriers, so it’s a lifetime journey for me.
My fiancé and I love to go out for dinner too. I also love to skateboard and go bouldering, which is like indoor rock climbing. It doesn’t require any ropes and it’s not super high, which means you don’t have to bother with the harness. I do that 3-4 times a week. It’s all to do with your core and grip strength, it’s hard to progress as well. And I feel like music is always a hobby for me because I’m always playing and learning new things.
Give us your on-stage outfit versus’ your casual, everyday outfit
In the early days when the band was getting big, getting signed to big labels, they had this whole thing where you had to look like a band. They took us to Barney’s in New York with a stylist with a budget which was great. But we just looked so bad, I remember I was wearing a blazer on stage, and I just felt like we looked worse once styled. For me I’m not very adventurous. I’ve pretty much worn the same clothes for the past 10 years. It’s usually jeans and a t-shirt or with a shirt on top. I don’t feel comfortable trying to make a statement through my clothes. I just prefer to be more neutral.
One pair of Wild Rhino’s you keep your hands off?
Richmond, the more I wear them the more I love them! I feel like they can dress up any outfit. They’re definitely going to be a staple for being on stage, out for dinner or any casual or dressy events.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Early bird or night owl? Early-bird
Drink of choice? I’ve recently got into drinking Whiskey
Electric or acoustic guitar? Electric
All-time favourite song? Paranoid Android by Radiohead
Introvert or Extrovert? Introvert