Wellingtonian quartet Maple Syrup all hail from the windy city, and first met at Wellington High School. They originated as a folk duo (then only Vera Williams and Jerry Ramirez), with influences like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, as well as more recent inspiration from ’90s artists Ween, and Beck.
“I think we were really inspired by both of them, because they both don’t require much recording technique,” Ramirez says.
“Before I started playing electric guitar, I was always playing acoustic guitars, always playing folk… it just kind of happened, that was the music we would play,” Williams adds.
Comments from third parties persuaded them to change direction.
“We got the advice that we should get a drummer, because someone felt that we were writing music for a rock band, but playing it with just the two of us,” Williams laughs.
Adding drummer Tarquin Smith and a bassist, Lucas Jury (also from Wellington High), the expanded band morphed into a harder, rockier beast. While not keen to be defined by any one genre, they see their style has become more akin to grunge, or even punk, which is reflected in their brand-spanking new EP ‘Ace and Gab’s Honeymoon’.
“I think all of those genres come through – even a little bit of pop as well,” Williams muses. “Since we got our bassist and drummer our sound has even developed further, and our songwriting has developed… I feel like we’ve changed genres a few times.”
‘Ace and Gab’s Honeymoon’ was recorded at Tsunami Studios in Levin, and they are very happy with the results.
“Their website had a little entry form, where you could win some recording time,” Ramirez enthuses. “I filled it out, and then a month later I got an email saying we’d won a free day’s recording.”
Williams is just as enthusiastic about the experience.
“The people who run it were so lovely and hospitable… they really took care of us. They were really good at recording and producing, so it went really well for us.”
The band began writing the six-track EP early in 2015, recording it last June. Thematically, it is a mix of personal, and impersonal.
“I think there’s a cross-over. We like to write with characters, and interesting ideas that might not have anything to do with us personally, then other songs we write are very personal,” Williams explains.
The title reflects themes on the EP.
“We liked the idea of the feminine and the masculine,” Williams continues. “The EP explores themes, a little bit of drugs, and love, and we felt it kind of ties the themes together.”
Maple Syrup have a national tour, taking in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Palmerston North in March and April, before aiming to head back into the studio to record an album.
As Williams laughs, We’ve got a lot of material – we don’t want to forget it!”