Mountaineater is the new band featuring Tristan Dingemans - formerly of HDU. I caught up with him to have a chat. The band is playing with Flipper in Wellington this Thursday, as part of a tour that kicked off last week. Click here for the full list of dates for the band's nationwide tour.
Dingemans is joined by Chris Livingston (drums) and Anaru Ngata (bass/guitar) for his new group. Meeting them was easy. "They were both fans of HDU and I met them, first off, from a gig; they were in the audience."
From there plans were hatched to have a jam. Dingemans had been sporadically appearing in his solo guise (Kahu) and filling most of his time as a parent. The catalyst for performance was a chance to open for Die! Die! Die! in Dunedin. And from there the wheels started to roll.
This is a new band but Tristan understands that part of the lure of Mountaineater, for fans of his sound, will be in seeing the guy from HDU.
"In many ways there is not a lot of difference in the way this band operates. For a start it's a trio. And I'm playing guitar and singing and the songs have come from me bringing ideas to the band; from there we jam on them, we're open to improvisation. And to be honest there's not really a lot of difference there between Mountaineater and HDU."
But he is happy to be playing again. "Things are all good with the other HDU guys, we just live in different parts of the world, so after some time out this feels like a good project and I'm really excited about it."
And being away from the music industry - in an active sense - has created time for reflection. HDU's sweeping, sonic landscapes drew on isolation, something that Dingemans believes is key to the experience of making music in New Zealand. And with his new project the time off has meant time to think about singing and singers.
"I've been listening to some stuff I wouldn't normally listen to - or just haven't listened to in a while. Bob Dylan and David Bowie have been very inspiring, in the way they sing, the rhythm of their writing and performance." Dingemans says certain insecurities have turned him away from singing in the past and in many ways he feels like he's still learning how to use his voice in that role. "But I do feel like my guitar playing has really come along" - and again there's the influence of all sorts of music ("Mars Volta and Miles Davis") but the overall approach to writing has remained the same. "Words still come at the end of the construction of a piece - if they do come."
Dingemans imagines Mountaineater as a lasting project ("I'm genuinely excited about what this band might do") and says that early reports of the band being louder than HDU are something he's not sure about. "I dunno bro, I really don't know about louder...but if people are enjoying it then that's cool. We had some pretty passionate fans with HDU so even though I want this to be its own entity I do understand that if people do just relate it back to HDU then that's okay; it's hopefully a compliment, I guess."
And then this gem to sum up exactly how passionate some HDU fans are:
"One night we were playing and this guy from the crowd yells out 'you're the best band in the world and you're playing like sh**' and that kinda sums it up really; that's so brilliantly, quintessentially Kiwi" and there's laughter at both ends of the phone line.
Excited by the prospect of the tour and open to whatever possibilities present themselves, Dingemans is planning to record parts of the tour ("as many of the shows as we can") and listen for possible material to release. The band will have a seven-inch available at gigs but from there's a case of "take it as it comes; see what happens" with regard to releasing new material. There are no definite plans for an album yet, but Tristan repeats that he's "very excited by this band. It's all sorta fallen into place naturally and I think we have aspects of punk and metal, we have the noise thing going on and pop with melodies too."
He tells me "I think people are going to like this. I hope they do. I'm really quite proud of the way we're sounding."
Now - very kindly - the San Francisco Bath House (venue for Thursday's gig which sees Mountaineater opening for Flipper) are offering one double pass to the gig. So, if you're in Wellington this Thursday, June 18, and you want to go and see Mountaineater/Flipper then just write a comment below explaining why you deserve a free ticket for this gig. I'll pick the one I think is most worthy.
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