Adison Whitely (guitar and vocals), Fraser Hunter on drums and Tom Dennison (bass) make up Auckland surf/punk/rock/fuzz/cockrock/garage band Heroes For Sale. Formed by Hunter and Whitely at Green Bay High School only a week before competing in Smokefreerockquest, the band started out as a two-piece.
“At the time we were really into The Black Keys, The Oh Sees and Ty Segall,” Hunter remembers of his and Whitely’s late high-school years. During the filming of the duo’s video for I Wish You Knew Jim Morrison, which featured the band playing in 13 different locations (along with partial nudity, babies, ballerinas, gym bunnies, old folks and instrument destruction), they met Tom Dennison, who became the third member of the band. Released in 2014, the now trio’s self-titled EP was recorded at Dennison’s house.
The band’s upcoming debut album, now expected early in 2016, was recorded under quite different circumstances. The trio travelled to Australia in September to record at the legendary Studio 301 (which has seen the likes of Kanye, Springsteen and Bob Dylan) as part of winning Converse’s worldwide Rubber Tracks competition. A golden opportunity they nearly missed over a communication breakdown.
“I got an email and didn’t check it cos I get tons from Converse. They emailed again and I deleted it. Then they Facebooked us, ’Yo it’s been a week, have you got the email, are you guys keen to do this?’ Strike!”
The eight tracks Heroes For Sale recorded at the Sydney studio are currently being mixed by Jonathan Pearce in Auckland. “We won the musical lottery!” laughs Hunter. With only two months before they were due to hit the studio, new tracks were written more efficiently than their previous material, with the band aiming to record a full album.
“They all pretty much start as jams. Most of our songs start out as funk or some kind of jazzy thing, Hunter explains. “We changed our sound a little bit and sort of our inspiration and kind of our ideas behind the songs. We’re a way better band than we used to be.”
By the sound of their latest single, Eviction, the trio have taken a more musically and instrumentally complex approach to songwriting, borrowing elements of surf, shoegaze and ambient music. “Now were into bands like Swans and Boris. Me and Adison are really into drone and ambient music. Tom’s a jazz bassist so he listens to tons of jazz. We draw inspiration from everyone.”
The band’s been kicking around in the Auckland music scene since 2011. Whitely and Dennison also play in a couple of other projects, while Hunter hosts bFM’s Totally Wired show on Saturdays.
“I hope we go and do cool shit, he enthuses. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter, I’m pretty chill just to be part of the Auckland scene. I think we have such a sweet scene.”