Heroic tales told with song

20:19, Feb 06 2013
Sam Prebble
Sam Prebble: Bond Street Bridge songwriter brings Antarctic exploration theme to Dunedin.

This week Auckland band Bond Street Bridge visits Dunedin for two multimedia shows revolving around the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration. Gavin Bertram reports.

Sam Prebble says he grew up with the epic tales of the great Antarctic explorers as his bedtime stories.

The Auckland songwriter's parents were both trampers and mountain climbers, and so the idea of adventure in the great outdoors was always around him.

In recent years Prebble has delved deeper into the century old Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, and spun that fascination into a song cycle.

This week his band, Bond Street Bridge, visits Dunedin for two multimedia shows entitled The Explorers Club: Antarctica.

Along with Prebble's songs, the show takes in spoken word storytelling, heritage photos from Antarctic expeditions, and illustrations by artist Emily Cater.


"I tend to respond to things by writing songs," Prebble says.

"If I read something interesting it tends to provoke or inspire a couple of songs. (The illustrations) have added this whole extra dimension. It's taken it in a direction I'd kind of hoped for but not been able to realise myself."

It's 100 years ago this week since Robert Falcon Scott's ship Terra Nova visited Oamaru, bringing with it news the great British explorer had perished on the ice.

Fittingly, Bond Street Bridge will be performing at the Oamaru Scott 100 festival on Thursday. The expeditions of Scott and Ernest Shackleton are foremost in Prebble's fascination with Antarctic exploration.

The Explorer's Club songs draw from the diaries and letters of those two, while images taken by Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley from their expeditions feature in the show.

"I realised how incredibly lyrical a lot of their writing is - especially Scott," Prebble says.

"And there are some incredible images. You start to think about the tribulations they went through to just take these photos. And in the case of Hurley on the Endurance, he not only took the photos, he managed to maintain the negatives through nearly two years of shipwreck, starvation, and open boat voyaging. It just boggles the mind."

Song offers a useful way of drawing audiences into a subject they may otherwise have not given much thought to, he continues.

Due to the well researched historical nature of the material, Prebble found offering spoken introductions explaining the songs proved popular when the songs were premiered last year.

Once the current tour is over in late March - following another appearance at the Dunedin Fringe Festival - Bond Street Bridge will record The Explorers Club: Antarctica album.

It'll be a new experience for Prebble, who's recorded the two previous albums solo at home. This time he'll be joined in Auckland's York St Studio by the band he's touring with.

"Doing it with the band is quite exciting. The recording is going to be four or maybe five of us, and the only way to do that is to do it live. That way you get the energy and you don't end up squeezing the life out of it."

Fast facts
Bond Street Bridge presents the Explorers Club: Antarctica
WHERE: Chicks Hotel, Port Chalmers
WHEN: 8pm Saturday

D Scene