The music emanating from Tauranga of late indicates something of a purple patch for music in the area and All Hail The Funkillers typify the hard work leading to success for several local acts. With strong roots in the punk and alternative genres, these bands are pushing back hard against the staid traditions of the pub cover bands and blues jammers who’ve previously dominated.
As Austin Cunningham of Tauranga Music Sux, one of the main forces behind the local scene puts it; “All Hail the Funkillers was one of those groups that benefited from the pioneering hard grafting musicians of yore, but that is because they were pioneers. A Tauranga supergroup if you will.”
The Funkillers’ sound is a punchy blend of punk energy and pop smarts, with bristling guitars, a hard-hitting rhythm section and clever vocals. The band is comprised of veteran Scottish drummer Willie Mone, American ex-pat bassist Doug Yeiter, with locals Rob Heath on guitar and vocalist Shannon Avery. A mix of youth and experience, each adds a different element to the group sound bringing a wide set of influences ranging from heavy electro-industrial to indie guitar bands on through punk and rockabilly.
“We’re like the Jesus Lizard meets the Yeah Yeah Yeahs!,” opines Yeiter when asked to describe their sound.
“There is also a really strong work ethic with this band. It applies to the whole writing process as well as more mundane things like booking gigs or packing the car,”Heath adds.
Their self-titled debut EP was recorded at Media in Motion studio in Tauranga with Evan Pope.
“We tracked for two days, everything was pretty much live,” says Yeiter. “Rob was adamant he wanted that whole live feel, so bass, drums and guitar were one take, no punch-ins.”
“We spent a long time mixing. The first guy we worked with wanted it to be polished, he didn’t get it at all. We wanted it to have a more garage-feel,” Heath explains.
Mastering was done in Tasmania by Chris Townend, who has worked with the likes of Tim Finn, The Hard Ons and the Violent Femmes. Yeiter describes their writing process as a collaborative exercise.
“Everyone is thinking more conceptually, about what works for the song. Sometimes it’s textural, or it’s about knowing when to shut up and not do anything. We will practise a lot with just the band and then Shannon will add her lyrical spin to the songs.”
From early on he was struck with Avery’s song craft and phrasing, while for her part Avery says she likes having an established musical base with which to work.
“This is the first time I’ve been in a band with so many creative opportunities. I can be melodic or thrashy. It’s nice to not be the angry girl with a guitar who only knows three chords. It’s great to be part of a team, and I feed off what the guys are doing.”