Minuit: The beat goes on

22:28, Jan 17 2013
WELL GROUNDED: Wellington’s Minuit got permission to pose in front of a biplane owned by Sir Peter Jackson to give their spin on Amelia Earhart. From left are Ryan Beehre, Ruth Carr and Paul Dodge.

Last night you saw this band and you were living in the moment, the bass struck your ribcage. It was a moment that only those there experienced, a unique night that cannot be replicated.

It is this feeling which is at the heart of Minuit's new album, Last Night You Saw This Band.

 ''Everything is going digital. It's all fakery,'' Paul Dodge explains. ''But nothing beats going to see a live band. The energy that comes off cannot be replicated in a YouTube clip. Going to a gig inspires me. I don't feel inspired on Twitter. I feel a little bit depressed.''

Wellington's Minuit are often described as an ''electronic band''. The trio also includes frontwoman Ruth Carr, a wordsmith who possesses a winning combination of feistiness and jubilation, and Ryan Beehre.
Dodge believes they are no different from any three-piece band.

''People like to pigeonhole bands. Minuit is tagged as an electronic band, but Ruth is a frontperson, and Ryan and I use electronic instruments to make sound.''

They have toured their eclectic, energetic sounds everywhere from Haiti to Hanoi and been regulars on the live circuit for more than a decade, and Last Night You Saw This Band is an album of bold percussive explosions that is as well travelled as those who crafted it, awash with harmonica, gypsy brass, swampy slide guitar and vocals from children from an orphanage in Haiti.


Dodge says the album was approached differently from their other recordings. On previous releases, he and Beehre would put together beats and give them to Carr to wrap her words around.

However, this time Carr wrote the core of the album while in Rarotonga, where she worked in a scuba-diving store in exchange for free scuba lessons.

Listen carefully and you can hear rain on the corrugated-iron roof above Carr as she sung ideas into her dictaphone.

Some songs were sung from the back of a motorbike, and others with water lapping on the side of the boat in between scuba dives.

''In some ways it's quite stripped down from other albums we've made. Ruth came back from Rarotonga with 16 songs and showed them to Ryan and me. Hearing the emotion, the pictures created by one person singing ... it was so human and alive.''

Influences were found from a ''mish-mash of ideas and experiences'', but it is pulled together with the overarching theme of adventure. ''I might not have money, but I have two feet.''

Looking back, Dodge says their ''real lives'' have always seeped into their music.  ''On the second album, The Guards Themselves, Ruth said, 'I don't want this to be the cancer album', but that was what she was going through. When I listen to it now, I think it was her cancer album. Nothing is hidden.''

The new album taps into life's grounding moments when you remember what really matters.

Becoming parents - Carr and Dodge adopted a baby boy on their travels - has also influenced the way they approach life.

''This album has a lot of lightness and kids do seem to ground you. A new life beginning - you want the best for them.

''When it comes to music, we're just having fun. That's how we feel. Charts and all that industry stuff are irrelevant. Minuit doesn't do things traditionally, but then everything is changing. There are no rules any more.''

Carr, who has built many movie sets, working on The Lord of the Rings and Australia, among others, had a publicity photo taken next to planes owned by Sir Peter Jackson. She is dressed as Amelia Earhart. Beehre is dressed as death. Why? ''Death is always at your elbow in any adventure.''

Title track Last Night You Saw this Band features a video of a night out seeing live music, including several Wellington bands. To the backdrop of a mariachi-style house party, Carr repeats, ''You say that nothing matters. There's only grace and disgrace''.

The Dominion Post