NewTracks New Artist: Sit Down In Front

NewTracks New Artist: Sit Down In Front

Sit Down In Front hail from Gisborne and beat Alien Weaponry to being one of the youngest acts in NZ rock right now – a different sort of rock, admittedly, but also great to listen to with the volume on high. They self-produced their first album in a garage when all aged 14 or younger, but for their latest output they accepted some help from renowned producer Greg Haver and travelled to Roundhead in Auckland. The resulting single, Rain, convinced NZ On Air Music to feature the young four-piece on their NewTracks compilation this May.

Who’s got the mic right now, and what instrument do you play?

I’m Cory Newman, lead vocalist . 

What school or other music training has been important to you?

I still go to Campion College (Year 11) here in Gisborne. Mrs Holmes, my first school music teacher, got me into singing in a band and my current music teacher, Mr Seaton, has been supporting me heaps. Also, Ricky Boyd from the Gisborne Band School has been helping me out.

What other projects might we already know you from?

We did our first album last year called ‘Red Light Runner’. The song Run Away Chair got a few spins, so some people may have heard it.

What’s the background story of how Sit Down In Front came to be?

SDIF is built on childhood mates and family friends. It all started one afternoon in my garage when Jackson Clarke [guitarist] and Rikki Noble [drummer] turned up to jam. It didn’t take long until I found Roman Benson [bass] and the rest is history in the making! Now as a four-piece we still practice in the same garage it all started in, and are entertaining audiences across the country.

What does the band name mean?

I’m the lead singer and I use a wheelchair (I have cerebral palsy), so I sit down in front. It also refers to that saying, “Sit down in front”, as in, “…I want to see the band”.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting?

Haven’t been going this music thing for long as we are still pretty young, but we just started as a few mates messing around in the shed jamming. It wasn’t until I went camping one holiday and the camp shop ran out of cream for our dessert. While we were eating it, someone said as a joke, “How mean would it be to have cream,” and a few days later I had penned the words to our first song!

I took it to band practice and the rest of the boys came up with the music and it all started rolling from there. I kept turning up with lyrics and different arrangements and the boys kept coming up with new riffs until we had enough for an album. We keep it pretty simple by writing about everyday stuff, and as long as we keep it hard, fast and catchy it seems to work.

What makes Rain stand out for you as a single?

It’s hard, fast and catchy! It’s simple, but at the same time sounds full with a good bit of body. A bit of old school punk rock with a touch of new school to bring it into our generation. When we play it live people seem to love it.

What is the story behind Rain?

I was at school one day and it was pouring down, which isn’t too good when you’re in a wheelchair. I started messing around with some lyrics at school that afternoon and within a few practices, we had a song that we liked.

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

Love Jack’s guitar solo and the middle 8 with Roman’s kick-ass bass.

Who did you produce the single with and where? Got a fun story about the making-of?

We wrote the song as a band in our normal process then our producer Greg Haver rehearsed us a bit before we hit the studio. The recording process was amazing as we had never worked with a producer before (we’d self-produced our first album at age 14). We recorded at Roundhead, which for a bunch of 15-year-olds (actually Roman our bass player is only 13) was mind-blowing!

The whole process was a massive learning curve, but so cool. We were still buzzing after 12 hours of recording. To get to record on the Studio A soundboard was so cool. That thing has so much history. The whole team (Scott Seabright and Emily Wheatcroft-Snape – sound engineers) made it such a cool experience and helped get what we think is a pretty good song.

In one sentence, what do you want listeners to take away from this song.

Don’t judge a book by the cover, just because you’re sitting down doesn’t mean you can’t rock hard. Plus, that they really like it and push ‘repeat’.

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

Ask people. We also play them live and can get a good gauge off a crowd. Our producer also had a push towards this single.

Can you tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

Dead Favours Lost On You

Villainy Dreams

Curlys JewelsAbsentee

Have you had any previous NZ On Air applications turned down? Got any advice for others out there?

It’s all pretty new to us. We applied for funding to record the Rain single but weren’t successful. Once it was recorded we re-submitted it for NewTracks and were selected. Just keep trying, if not successful the first time keep writing good songs and putting them in.

Was there any criterion you struggled with in the application? 

It’s all pretty straight forward I think. Our manager (my dad) fills in all the forms.

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

Love the Musician’s Map podcasts, it’s got heaps of great info/stories. Mousai has some really good gig reviews and Hamilton Underground press uncovers some good underground gigs/bands. always has a finger on the pulse also. The Volume Collective – In the Fridge series is also wicked.

How can we find you on social media?

Instagram – @sitdowninfrontband

Any last words?

The NZ music industry has been super supportive of us as a young band. Being only 15 years old there are a few that have helped us and given us a chance to play with them. Darryl Monteith from Smash Palace in Gisborne has been awesome and given us a heap of support and opportunities to play. We wouldn’t be here without his help. Plus he supplies us with a kick-ass venue to play at.