Like the filmmaker of a very similar name, Thom Burton is a bit of a genius. Guitarist, frontman, producer – his name has for years been synonymous with edgy music, highly regarded by his peers. Along with Glen Johnson, he formed Yokel Ono while living in Hamilton back in 2000, followed by Wilberforces, and most recently the mostly solo endeavour Moppy. His latest project is SoccerPractise, an Auckland-based synthie Indie electronica quartet. His team mates are guitarist Leo Horgan and Kim Newall, along with bi-lingual vocalist Geneva Alexander-Marsters – of Shortland St and Auckland radio station 95BFM’s Morning Glory renown. On a Friday at the end of November, the band released their self-titled debut.
SoccerPractise has proven to Burton’s project to enjoy the highest critical acclaim, and one could say, success, leading to the band’s performance at the 2016 Silver Scroll Award ceremony in honour of Hall Of Fame inductee Moana Maniapoto. Sidelined with a raging orange segment habit, NZM asked him five questions about SoccerPractise.
Actually, the album took about a year to record and another year to release. We’d been threatening it for a while there so it would be a stretch to describe it as spontaneous! But it feels great to have the album out, nonetheless.
Initially, the sound was born really out of the stuff I was making as Moppy, although I was really interested in creating more urgency and momentum with the sound. For example, I was really into what Ron Gallipoli was doing – taking post-punk vibes/feelings to electronic/hip hop instruments. But then I wanted to keep exploring dirty, hissy ethereal sounds as well. And I wanted to bring guitar sounds back in, but not so much as dominant feature. I still wouldn’t quite say it’s commercial though – and I want to keep exploring and pushing things as far as I can.
Geneva and I had worked together on a few tracks that appear on the first two Moppy albums, and some others that we never released. I came back from a stint overseas at the end of 2014 and we wrote Windfall almost straight away. Leo [Horgan, guitarist] and I had been messing around with some material for a while too. Kim and I had been jamming together for ages, back even from the time Yokel Ono was around. Getting those three together was important to me because they were all individually bringing something really unique to what I was doing solo. Getting them all at once turned out to be a very good thing!
All the beats/keys/samples are me. All the vocals are Geneva and all the guitars are Leo. Kim creates all things visual. I generally write stuff and take it to the band – we then refine and rewrite and abandon and re-create and do all things that bands do from there.
The most important piece of gear is Geneva’s voice. She’s making beats as well, some of which will feature on the second album we have already begun recording.
Our Friend Fiona Campbell [Vivian Girls/ Coolies/ Guardian Singles] put us in touch with her. Sarah has some amazing credentials and had just started a new studio. Sarah was awesome to work with, really understanding in helping us get what we wanted and she’s a really great communicator.
My fave moment on the album is on Cold Hard Surfaces. It’s like a very tense lullaby that sort of floats over a nightmare. The feeling that it’s going to fall apart is the same mechanism that drives it. Kind’a like life sometimes I guess.