Finding their roots in the crisp heart of Dunedin, Albion Place have been lighting up their hometown with indie rock-inspired beats since 2011. Now, they are making waves across the rest of the country with the release of the fuzzy and mellow track, Easier, and have announced their latest venture – a winter tour.
Albion Place consists of Micah Davis-Rae (vocals/guitar); Tom Kelk (bass); Hugh Fulton (vocals/keys) and Jack Ferguson (drums). The band’s first tour took place at the start of this year after the astounding success of their first few singles – notably, with their track I Will Not Forget earning them a bevy of news fan both nationally and internationally which certainly inspired them to take their talents on the road.
With a self-titled EP produced by Lyall Moloney and the uplifting album, Here We Go, under their belt, Albion Place have toured around Queenstown, Wanaka, Wellington, Tauranga, Auckland and Waihi Beach over the summer. Clearly undeterred by the atrocious weather we have right now, Albion Place are about to embark on a second tour of New Zealand’s major cities.
It’s evident that the band are beloved in their hometown of Dunedin, proven by their sold-out shows, and they are clearly a whole lot of fun – most definitely living up to their description as being “the soundtrack to the world-renowned Otago lifestyle.”
Starting up in high school, Albion Place had a similar experience to most student bands – having been unsure as to whether it would eventuate into something real, they enjoyed it for what it was, before they realised that what they had was something truly special. It was in the last couple of years especially, Micah notes, that they started to take it really seriously and expand upon the number of gigs they were doing.
The release of their track, Easier, has certainly indicated a new album in the works. The band will hit up the studio at the end of this week, but have a loose idea of when it will be finished – likely to be “October, ready for release in November” – just in time for summer.
In terms of musical influences, Micah attributes this to Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel – “as well as more recent artists like, Nick Hakim and Jordan Rakei” and mentions the significance of artists like B.B. King and Leonard Cohen:
“[They are] my emotive influences… I like the way they treat music. I like the emotion and the expression that they apply to music, and that’s kind of what I try and channel in writing music.”
Seeing as Albion Place first started up in high school, it’s intriguing to see how their vision has changed in the last few years and how they intend to shape their new album and direction.
“I’ve sort of grown up with the band, and then it’s trying to remain consistent with what we’re doing, yet recognising that we’re changing all the time, and growing, and our relationship is different to how it was when we were in high school and stuff. So, I think, like, that is reflected a lot in the music and we just try and stay honest about everything, and make music that we feel is an accurate reflection of where we’re at in life. The vision is always changing, but it’s changing with us.”
In the last year alone, Dunedin has seen a music revival, and has gifted us with some incredibly talented homegrown musicians. As Micah notes, it appears as though “we’ve had our DJ era, so the people are swinging back towards bands.” But despite the overwhelming support that Albion Place receives from the youth community in partciular, Micah shares that there has been a fair bit of friction to deal with, especially during gig season.
“There’s a contrast with the powers that be, in Dunedin. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding the university – the students, rather – and the chaos and carnage that they supposedly bring to the city. Once we had a gig planned down on Castle Street, and we took all the safety precautions because we obviously care about people’s safety, and made sure that there was enough security and the venue was safe, and things like that. Half an hour before the show, the proctor came round and threatened to kick us all out of the uni if we went ahead with the gig. So, there is a little bit of an imbalance there, and our hands were tied at that point so we had to cancel the show.”
Albion Place have been yet another New Zealand band to the feel the sting of the recent closure of venues around the country – in part, owed to the fact that venues aren’t profiting off alcohol purchases, seeing as most people tend to drink at home before they head out.
“It’s a difficult situation at times, but I guess, what kind of keeps things going is that bands are so tight-knit. A lot of the bands have members in various bands, so it’s kind of like, one big family. And we like to think that the people who are enjoying the music are part of that family, and we’re doing this thing together.”
Luckily, though, the band face unending support from their fans – which are now dispersed around the world, something that never fails to surprise and encourage them. After their upcoming tour, Albion Place will return to the grind, working on their upcoming album and likely treating fans to a few more shows in the meantime. Fans of Albion Place can also catch Micah with funk-pop, Dunedin four-piece, The Shambles, who have a few gigs lined up over the next month or two.
Despite the upsetting reality of venue closures for all music-lovers, Micah shares a bit of cool news – the venue in Port Chalmers which was previously known as Chicks Hotel has recently been renovated and converted into a studio, which will no doubt be heralded as helping to champion a new era of music history in New Zealand.
“That is, kind of, I guess, one of the reasons that Dunedin is having such a thriving music community at the moment – because there is such an accessibility to the means of production, where in the past, there wasn’t. So, heaps of bands are getting out there and it’s affordable, and we can make music out there. That’s where we recorded Easier – the first time we’d used the space – and it was a really amazing experience. Tom Bell is the engineer out there, and he’s got a lot of experience, and he’s just a great dude all round, so, that was awesome, working with him.”
In terms of how Albion Place has evolved over the years, Micah notes that a lot of this is owed to the change in environment, but is also owed to the perspective that has changed in regards to the way that they make music. It’s certainly uplifting to hear that despite the challenges that a lot of people face when choosing to embark on a creative career, there is something inherently fulfilling about being able to create – especially when that is with your friends.
“In the past, songwriting was sort of a solitary thing for me, that I would then take to the band. Whereas now it occurs in the band room, with all four of us contributing, and involved with the creation process, which has been, like, really amazing, because obviously everyone is influenced by different things, and it all kind of channels into one song or one album – it’s pretty special.”