Laneway 2017: Cut Off Your Hands talk hiatus, growing up and 'keeping door open' video

Cut Off Your Hands were something of a big deal in the early noughties.

The post-punk Kiwi rockers stormed the local music scene with radio hits like Oh Girl and Still Fond, becoming renowned for their quirky nod to a brand of rock gone by.

Earlier this month, the four piece released their first single in five years. Hate Somebody was recorded by Jeremy Toy at his Spare Room Studios at the LAB and mastered by Dave Cooley of Elysian.

"'Cut Off Your Hands Return' it's an easy narrative. But we never broke up and we didn't announce it, for a number of ...
Jinki Cambronero

"'Cut Off Your Hands Return' it's an easy narrative. But we never broke up and we didn't announce it, for a number of reasons," says lead vocalist Nick Johnston.

Nowadays, the band - Nick Johnston on vocals, Philip Hadfield on bass, Brent Harris on drums and Jonathan Lee on guitar - are all grown up, with real jobs and adult responsibilities.

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The four piece will reunite on January 30, performing at St Jerome's Laneway Festival in Auckland's Albert Park.
Jinki Cambronero

The four piece will reunite on January 30, performing at St Jerome's Laneway Festival in Auckland's Albert Park.

"When you think of it as a 'side job' or a hobby, I picture these ageing rockers, dusting off their guitars or something," laughs Johnston, who is now an architect. 

"It just got exhausting," he says, off life on the road. "Other things started happening and I think we got a bit jaded. Three years of touring and performing, close to 200 shows a year. Another four or five years of solid touring and gigging every night - it becomes quite hard, that whole lifestyle. I'd started studying by that stage."

Shortly after their critically-acclaimed 2011 album release, Hollow, the band slipped off the grid.

"We didn't announce (we were taking a break) for a couple of reasons. It wasn't as if the Rolling Stones were breaking up or something, and we didn't want to make a song and dance about it - we didn't want to say never."

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The four piece will reunite on January 30, performing at St Jerome's Laneway Festival in Auckland's Albert Park.

Laneway co-promoter Mark Kneebone, says the boys are a welcome return to next year's festival line-up.

"It's fitting to welcome back these favourite sons of Laneway as they finally release new music, I'm a huge fan of the band, and Hate Somebody is an excellent track."

Johnston insisted that the band sat down prior to agreeing to play the festival, in order to ensure "everyone's expectations were in check."

"'Cut Off Your Hands Return' it's an easy narrative. But we never broke up and we didn't announce it. We didn't want to close the door on (future opportunity) and we wondered if anyone would care?" he says.

"Laneway started nagging us to come back, (organiser) Mark Kneebone reached out to us. I guess we still had an itch we want to scratch."

"A few of us went on to other things, we stopped viewing it as a means of making money or a full-time career in music, like we had in our 20s," he added. "We're not kids that want to make a career out of this anymore. I moved to Melbourne and studied architecture, actually, and the (other band members) did their own thing."

The band's brand new single, Hate Somebody, was penned over two years ago, Johnston adds.

"Oh yea, there would have been enough material for a whole album, two years ago," he says. "We were sort of questioning why we'd release in that format anymore? I guess these days, it's different, people tend to (stagger) out their singles, as opposed to releasing all 24 tracks at once. Some of the best albums (receive) only two weeks blog life."

The band are looking to release an EP at the end of January, coinciding with their Laneway gig.

"(With touring) we know what to avoid. We had those discussions and our whole approach has become a lot more casual."

"Laneway, for us, it was huge. It's kind of just starting to become this beast that it didn't start off as. It started out as a pretty boutique festival - it's an internationally recognised festival and good for our confidence."

When it comes to their reinvigorated new sound, Johnston admits that they've learnt a lot over the past decade. 

"You kind of go back to bands that are points of reference. (In our twenties) we wanted the song over in somewhere between 1-2 minutes, now I think we understand the value of repetition."

St Jerome's Laneway Festival will kick off on Auckland Anniversary Day, Monday January 30, 2017.

For additional ticketing and show information, see the Laneway Festival website.

 - Stuff

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