You can’t blame the rest of the country for not being familiar with Wellington three-piece Terror Of The Deep as they haven’t played their self-proclaimed ‘electronic folk’ outside the capital very often. One EP and two albums in, a third is now in its final stages of completion, this time a concept album about space. Well-loved by fellow musicians, music geeks and everyone who has ever seen them live, curiously most interest in the band and airplay comes from overseas, including BBC6 and US college radio stations, as drummer William Daymond tells Hannah Brewer.
It’s not often Terror Of The Deep get interviewed by New Zealanders – they’re more accustomed to the attention from American and Australian media, but with the release of their new album just around the corner, they are hoping more Kiwi ears will be listening out this time.
One of NZ music’s more hidden gems, Terror Of The Deep has been around since 2008 and in this line up since 2010. The band’s three core members are Oliver Dixon (guitars/vocals), Taipua Adams (bass/vocals) and William Daymond on drums. William tells me they also have a ‘rotating fourth member’ with Tom Watson adding keys when he can.
Despite playing shows up and down the country with the likes of The Phoenix Foundation, they haven’t yet attracted much of a following here.
“We get unquestionably more attention from labels, media and fans from overseas… it’s awesome but it’s weird,” William confirms. “It allows us to keep changing our style though and we like that, he continues – seeing the positives. “We like to keep things fun and interesting. We just play what we want. We started kind of poppy, then went psych, now we’re doing prog and almost garage stuff.”
Their new album ‘Space Epic’ proves no exception to this notion of musical freedom.
“We wanted to do a concept album – like they did in the ‘70s. It’s a bit different and it’s probably not that cool right now, but it’s something that we wanted to do.”
And they’ve made it cool. Although the songs are big – including the seven-minute long epic Saturn – they are memorable, crafted around melodic guitar parts and vocal hooks, and layered with lush synth sounds and mellotron samples. Singing lyrics lined with space imagery and emotions of being lost in the atmosphere, Oliver’s vocals sound rich and effortless, his voice appropriately gliding above the music. Guitar and drum parts emulate those of classic rock – combined with the flavours of folk and synth elements, their music is unique and exciting, the songs are dynamic and adventurous.
They were the last ever band to record at Fred’s in Wellington. The building on Frederick St was home to many of the capital’s creative projects and albums, but was yellow stickered earlier this year, deemed unsafe in an earthquake. ‘Space Epic’ was recorded there over a weekend by the talented Dan Beban from Orchestra of Spheres.
“We went in on the Friday night and by Sunday we had all the live recordings and overdubs.”
That might sound like the band rushed things but the record begs to differ.
“We got to road test all the songs playing them live on tour when we opened for The Phoenix Foundation. It meant we were playing them all the time and got really tight as a band, so we went into the studio knowing exactly what we were doing,” William explains.
Bassist Taipua Adams was responsible the final mixes. Friend Matt Bullimore, who is ex-Christchurch’s Steffan Van Soest Hit Machine, now in US band Legs in Oakland, California (they seem to have friends everywhere), usually masters their songs – at mates’ rates.
Night People in Iowa and Hideotic Records in Melbourne have been instrumental in distributing TOTD’s albums overseas. Through this, the band’s last record ‘Death of Giddeon’ was picked up by Steve Burhans of Selection Records, who organised for it to be pressed to vinyl and released in the U.S.
“We’d love to do a tour of the U.S. – that’s where people are into the music and we’d love to just play everyday,” says William.
The band has received consistently glowing reviews from overseas blogs and media, yet no record or distribution companies have come on board with them here. I’m not sure anyone really knows why, though it doesn’t get the band down at all.
“We’ve had some comparisons to the ‘80s Flying Nun sounds – maybe New Zealanders find that a bit more cliché than the rest of the world. It wasn’t intended and we’re trying to move away from that now.”
It’s clear William and the rest of his band are committed to making music for the love of it. Playing live is their passion, they’re good at it too. All things going to plan, ‘Space Epic’, is set for an October release. Hopefully this time attention will come from closer to home, Terror Of The Deep and their music deserve it.