Openside are going places.
I don’t just mean a one hit wonder kind of place, either. One day they are going to be a name that falls seamlessly into conversation, never to be received with a confused look or a ‘Sorry… I don’t know them’. The undeniable kindness, thoughtfulness, and coolness; combined with the unbelievable talent of front person Possum Plows is a sure sign of this.
Despite being busy with figuring out the release of their new EP as well as studying computer science part time and planning trips to New York to see Hamilton on Broadway, Possum was more than happy to meet me for a chat on a Friday afternoon. I’m not going to lie, having seen them live 3 times now I have become an avid fan of the band and I was slightly nervous/a little starstruck. As it turns out, my nerves were unwarranted because Possum might just be the nicest, most approachable person I have ever met.
It’s very easy to like people who are passionate about something and it is clear from the way Possum speaks that they are passionate about what they are trying to do with Openside’s music. With 6 songs written and recorded for their debut EP, Possum is desperate to get it out there and share it with the fans.
“You get to a point where you’re so happy with something and you just want to share it.”
This certainly holds true for the new single – Letting It Out. With a radio edit locked in and a headline show under their belt, Possum’s favourite track on the EP – and, I may be jumping the gun, but having heard the finished product I’m sure it’s going to be mine, too – is nearly ready to be consumed by the public. The lyrics were explained to me as being “non specific so that it can be relatable” but to them, it’s all about evaluating the content of your character. With a chorus as hard hitting as it is catchy, it is Openside’s most personal and honest track to date.
“Sometimes I worry that I’m like that, like looking at people being critical of them and them I’m like, well why wouldn’t other people be critical of me? You have to break the cycle in your own head and feel confident in yourself.”
The sold out, all ages headline show, which took place at Lot 23 in Eden Terrace on the 28th May, proved that, for now at least, there isn’t any criticism to be heard. Whilst it was incredibly intimate with just 100 tickets available, Possum couldn’t help but comment on the unwavering loyalty of the fanbase they have already acquired. They talked about how they want to remember these fans (most of which Possum admits to knowing by name) and acknowledge the fact that they have been there from the start. The success of this headline show, alongside an opening slot at a sold out Vector Arena supporting Twenty One Pilots this April as well as more headline gigs on the horizon, shows that whilst they remain incredibly humble when discussing future successes, a warranted hope remains.
“It’s hard to imagine it getting bigger but I hope it does.”
As the band has found out, though, it’s not as simple as just putting something online and seeing what happens. Possum explained that there are factors that anyone outside of the music business might overlook but that definitely need to be considered. You have to think about things such as who else in New Zealand is releasing music? And what is the best way to do the release in a way that gains you the most publicity? These are all components that Possum and their bandmates – PJ, Harry, and George – are just starting to understand. They are learning that talent alone does not necessarily equal success and whilst their talent is indisputable, a lot of planning is also required.
There are many reasons why Openside works so well and one of them is surely the utter respect that the band members clearly have for one another. During the hour or so that we were talking, Possum referred to the three other members often – always with blatant admiration for their talent. When given the option to join (what was then) Maybe Rave, it was a no brainer, even considering the age difference. Instantly Possum held their “rare level of professionalism” in high esteem and they simply couldn’t turn away from that. Evidently, this has been consistent over the years that they have been a band and they only continue to progress and grow into themselves as time goes on. With PJ writing the bulk of the music and Possum writing the lyrics, they unquestionably have a good dynamic going on, the strength of which I am sure will take them far.
Possum and I go on to discuss a less technical and more personal side to their music. Read part 2 here.