by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Lizard Prom

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Lizard Prom

Hawke’s Bay four-piece Tyley Burkin, Glen Pettitt, Zoe Bower and Liv Strawbridge have been intertwined through various musical projects for a while, eventually combining their skills in Lizard Prom which released an EP in late 2019. Their delightfully dark rock tune Valencia featured on NZ On Air Musics NewTracks compilation this August. 

What are your full names, where are you from and what instruments do you each play?

Kia ora! Lizard Prom are Tyley Burkin (she/her) with vocals and guitar, Glen Pettitt (he/him) on guitars, Liv Strawbridge (they/them) at the drums and Zoe Bower (she/her) on bass.

Was any high school or other music training especially important?

Not particularly, in fact, we all seem to have high school music horror stories as opposed to any positive experiences.

Any other projects that we might know you from?

Liv and Tyley previously played in Diamond Dead together. Liv has probably been the most active over the years, also playing with Roadeater and currently Dos-Ovni as well.

What’s the background story of how Lizard Prom came to be? 

The band started with Glen and Tyley as Queens Of Beauty School, an atmospheric guitar/vocals two-piece. After a couple of gigs as a two-piece they decided to move in the direction of a more full band sound, and Liv joined very early after that. It just seemed like a natural progression, with Tyley and Liv’s history of playing together for many years in Diamond Dead. The Lizard Prom name change came when Zoe joined the band, completing the line up.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

The songs we wrote originally were very simple and straightforward as we were learning to write the sort of songs we wanted to be writing. Over time, they have become more intricate in their composition, relative to the beginning, but the whole time they’ve been more of a vehicle for atmosphere rather than trying to relay a specific message. Glen and Tyley each write individually of each other, with those songs then coming to the band to take their final shape. This creates a bit of variation in the style of each track, but with the full band finishing the songs a common thread in the vibe brings them together.

How and when did you come up with the Lizard Prom name?

The name of the band has no real meaning. It’s just two words together that we enjoy the sound of. We don’t like to overthink things…

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date? 

Finally getting to play Loserpalooza in 2022 after about three years of trying through various lockdown levels, was a highlight. It was a great festival to be a part of and for a really good cause (Lifeline). We found the scene in Tauranga really friendly and welcoming.

What makes Valencia stand out for you as a single?

It’s more upbeat and the vocals kick in a lot faster than many of our other tracks.

What’s the story behind Valencia?

Musically, the song has been in existence for about 10 years in various forms that Glen would work on. The single came from the most recent demo Glen had recorded of the track. Lyrically, it was inspired by Mark Fisher’s Ghosts of My Life, and intermeshed with some more personal themes.

Tyley returned from a solo weekend away and when shown the demo of Valencia’s instrumentation, the lyrics were added and this was then taken to the rest of the band where we workshopped it together over a few rehearsals.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Probably what we refer to as the anti-chorus. The more atmospheric part of the song where the momentum is halted and things get a little dreamier.

Who did you record/produce the song with and where?

We recorded this track, and the forthcoming EP with Troy Kelly at The Armoury in Wellington. Troy also mixed and mastered the EP.

Pretty much the whole recording and release was fraught with delay. We got Covid and had to postpone our initial recording session, then various life events over the following months meant the band and EP took a backseat in terms of priorities. We’d all become a bit burnt out on the idea of the release by the time we finally came to it, which is why there is no video as yet. Rather than wait until we had things 100% ready, we just needed it gone from our to-do list!

What would you like listeners to take away from the song?

We just hope people enjoy listening to it.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

We usually outsource. We hand the tracks to some trusted friends and family, with varying taste, and we take their feedback to decide. It can be hard for us to listen to tracks objectively when we’ve been so heavily involved in making them.

Who else is in your team?

At this time, our team is just the band.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

We plan to release another single in the coming months, followed by our third EP. Keep an eye out for Liv’s other project, Dos-Ovni, they are releasing a couple of singles over the next few months too. We don’t have a video for Valencia yet, but hopefully will release one soon. When we do videos, the team is just the band. We have a very DIY approach.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

  • Swallow the Rat: Terra Nullius
  • Dos-Ovni: Same Sun
  • Threat.Meet.Protocol: The Witch Trials

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others?

We had submitted two singles prior to this one, Betty Goes to Hell and Lullaby. Neither were selected for NewTracks. We really thought about what genre we identified the band with in this application. We’re not sure if that played a part, it really does just seem hit-and-miss. You never really know what will make anyone, especially a panel of strangers, engage more positively with a track. Our main advice would really be just keep applying.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Half of the band have no answer for this, and the other half have too many to name. Tyley follows or is subscribed to a few NZ blogs/newsletters including Sounds Good on Substack, The Hahko Express,, and this one right here, of course haha. Glen listens to the 60 Songs That Explain the 90’s podcast. They both watch a lot of YouTube channels: Adam Neely, Ben Jordan, The Needle Drop etc.