Into The East ‘s Liv McBride and Graeme Woller started with a covers group in Invercargill that all fell apart on one under-rehearsed night in front of an angry crowd. Taking their guitars and voices they moved onto the street outside the club looking for redemption. “We pretty much got booed out of the place, so the two of us went busking to see if the crowds piling out of venues were more receptive, and that’s how it all started.”
The results were more or less instant. A musical bond (and Into The East) had been formed.
“Without drums, bass line or other harmonies, we rehearsed and re-wrote songs to showcase our material,” says Woller.
They describe their debut album, ‘Fight from The Inside’, as an extension of their live performances. The band enlisted percussionist Dan Harrison to flesh their sound. He was given only one instruction – “no hi-hat” – which soon became a big part of Into The East’s sound.
“We’ve plucked elements of his input on the album for live performances,” McBride tells me.
Also central to the sound of Into The East are harmonies. The natural combination of their voices and the duo’s knack for interesting rhythmic and percussive elements creates a melodically vibrant environment for their songs to exist.
Recorded at Radio Southland and Little Fire Studios, the album is sonically subdued in the best possible way. The songs are central to its success but the subtle colouring provided by the addition of bass guitar, percussion, keys and other less tangible elements blend seamlessly, quietly reinforcing the essence of each song.
“When you’ve got an idea for a melody or a guitar riff or a beat or you just need to get a story off your chest – no two songs are written the same way. We wrote and rewrote and tweaked and scratched things until we were happy. It’s that time investment and respect for each other’s ideas that gives you the best work you can do,” Woller explains.
‘Fight From The Inside’ is a strong debut. Its long and sometimes quirky gestation has informed its sound making it on one hand something of an enigma when you try and get inside how is was actually done. On the other you can just shut your eyes and listen for a very rewarding experience. Think Fairport Convention taking Neil Young’s acoustic vision apart and building something new with the bones of Sheryl Crow.
Life with children and family and work commitments can derail the best laid plans. On top of that, negotiating the difficult path of being from the deep south, Into The East’s music is a victory of will against long odds.