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NewTracks New Artist: Pull Down The Sun

NewTracks New Artist: Pull Down The Sun

Pull Down The Sun are a metal band from Whanganui who describe their sound as atmospheric and groove-heavy music, shaped and inspired by the curious history and scenic nature of Aotearoa. They released their debut album, ‘Of Valleys and Mountains’, in late 2020, and the title track features as part of NZ On Air Music’s NewTracks compilation this June. Guitarist Koert Wegman talked about the song, band and album with NZM. 

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Kia ora,
Ko Koert tōku ingoa. Ko Wegman tōku whānau. Nō Whanganui ahau. Ko Whanganui te awa. Ko Ruapehu te maunga.

My name is Koert Wegman and I play guitar and sing for Pull Down The Sun, alongside Jason Healey, who also plays guitar, and Stefan Bourke who plays drums.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I had a cheap guitar at home that I would tinker on, but music class in college and high school was the starting point for me personally. I used to get in a bit of trouble in most other classes, but having that safe place to learn and create with great teachers that were patient and knowledgeable really helped shape who I am.

Any other previous projects we might know you from?

I was previously in Pariah, a death metal band from Whanganui. I was the main songwriter, played guitar and sang backing vocals. We released an EP ‘Humanageddon’ in 2008 and an album ‘Mass’ in 2012.

What’s the background of how Pull Down The Sun came to be? 

Pull Down the Sun really came about because my taste in music was changing and the riffs I had for Pariah weren’t heavy enough for the other members. I reached out to some of my best friends who shared the same hunger for this style of music and formed the first lineup. A few members came and went but we have now solidified our lineup with Jason, Stefan and myself.

As a massive fan of concept albums, It was also the perfect platform to share legends, stories and myths about our whakapapa that have been passed down through generations. Pull Down The Sun originally started off as a song title, based on how Maui slowed down the sun, but then became the perfect name to release songs written about our area, history and culture.

How has your songwriting evolved to now?

As the majority of the first demos for this band were written and handed out for other members to learn, our songwriting process now is more of a combined effort with everyone contributing and fleshing everything out.

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

We have been very lucky to support some excellent artists from Aotearoa and abroad, but for me personally, our recent headline tour of NZ in support of our album was the biggest accomplishment and highlight to date. Being able to bring together a wide variety of artists and share them with our fans to create amazing dynamics all within one show was very fulfilling.

What makes Of Valleys And Mountains stand out as a single?

In terms of “hard rock” and “heavy metal”, we felt this is probably the most accessible of our heavier songs. It is very influence-driven, but encapsulates a lot of what we are about, how we structure our songs and has a neat melody and hook. It’s a great taste of what is on the album, without giving it all away.

What is the story behind Of Valleys and Mountains?

We are very inspired by the area we live in and how lucky we are to have so much on offer. So on the surface it’s a fitting tribute to our Awa, Maunga and Moana. Aside from the running concept throughout the album this song is also about the highs, lows and getting back up again to move forward after falling down countless times.

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

For me the words, “Our trees won’t die, these roots have grown inside,” hits home and ties the whole song together lyrically.

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

We renovated our jam space into a studio and tracked all the parts there ourselves, which allowed for us to really take our time, try every option and flesh out as much as possible. (And to also freak out neighbours and passerby’s with my yelling and screaming with absolutely no context!)

We then enlisted Zorran Mendonsa to work his wizardry on the mix and later Forrester Savell to master, both of whom make the perfect combo in our eyes.

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

If anything, we would love the listener to take away a sense of pride for where they are from, and their roots. If you keep those roots, no matter how many times you get chopped down, there’s always a way to move forward and grow.

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

As this song was our first ever release and subsequent single off our album, we really had no knowledge other than what we felt as a band would best describe our sound while not giving everything away straight off the bat.

Who else is in your team?

We are very DIY in the sense that we do most things in-house. From producing and tracking all of our own songs to releasing and self-distributing, as well as staying on top of our publicity and social media platforms.

Our manager Emma [Healey] is Jason’s wife, so there is always a family feeling and benefit within the team, as well as our other partners support and help at shows.

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

We have put the word out to some fellow musicians, friends, family and fans for their input and are planning to release some remixed and altered versions of the songs from our album with their help. We have already received some amazing remixes and can not wait to share these with the world.

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

As I count all of Aotearoa as ‘local’, I would pick these songs alongside ours 

ClaemusHedonist
DrxnesThe Machine
ElidiWitches Brew

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

We have applied for NZOA a few times but understandably we weren’t in the position we are in now with a full product to push. Professionalism and persistence within reason is the ultimate key. This time we found the whole process to be reasonably easy, and we encourage all artists and bands in Aotearoa to give it a shot to get your art out there.

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

We are big fans and massive supporters of both muzic.net.nz and NZ Musician magazine. They are both very supportive of underground artists and they help shine a light on all the hidden gems here in Aotearoa.

We would just like to thank everyone who has been supporting us on this journey so far.

From purchasing our vinyl, CDs & merch, streaming our music, coming to our shows and the constant messages telling us how much our music means to you. We love and appreciate every single one of you and it makes creating our art so fun and worth it.