After years of hard slogging in and around Christchurch Von Voin Strum are no longer strangers to big stages, their CV including supports for international greats Slash and INXS. The band were one of the stand-out newcomers featured on CHART’s ‘Love Christchurch’ compilation, released in 2011 to raise funds after the earthquakes. Their energetic 2012 debut EP ‘Shiver Roses’ resulted in two singles being picked up by rock radio both here and across the ditch. As guitarist and founding member Sam Noster tells Sammy Jay Dawson, the four-piece are getting ready to release a second EP, with a nationwide tour and maybe an overseas stint on the cards.
Talking with guitarist Sam Noster about the band he and Matt Smith formed in 2009, it’s easy to see their focus is set on the band’s future, not the past five years.
“We’ve always treated Von Voin Strum as a passion, not a hobby. Sure, any band faces hurdles, but at the end of the day it’s still all about making the kind of music that got us into playing in the first place. That’s our number one priority.
Von Voin Strum’s love of rock’n’roll, laden with electric groove riffs and Bonham-esque power drumming, echoes many of classic rock’s most revered acts, although it’s their own unique blend of these that has won them their legions of loyal fans. Frontman Matt’s soulful blues howl is reminiscent of the golden age of rock’n’roll vocalists.
After being crowned the winners of a couple of local band competitions, the Christchurch five-piece signed to Famous Music, releasing their debut EP ‘Shiver Roses’ in 2012. With singles Shiver Roses and Power & Filth finding regular rotation on The Rock, Hauraki and various Christchurch radio stations, it wasn’t long before they found themselves creating music videos, opening for Slash, INXS and playing alongside fellow Cantabrians, The Feelers and Opshop.
“2012 and 2013 were fantastic years for us,” Sam says. “We achieved a lot through perseverance. Like anything in life, there’s always the odd hiccup along the way, but we didn’t let it stop us.”
A re-shuffling of personnel that saw Von Voin Strum downsizing to a four-piece created somewhat of a stand-still period, but allowed Noster and Smith the opportunity to find new band members and refocus on the band’s songwriting. New drummer, former-Ahori Buzz member Henare Kaa, created only more movement with his vast industry knowledge, and bass player Daniel Hitchens also brought a more energetic edge to their live performances.
Von Voin Strum parted ways with Famous Music midway through 2014, as Marc Royal (ex-manager/Famous Music head) relates.
“Taking on some new responsibilities in my life I reluctantly parted company with VVS and had to put the label on hold. I think Christchurch has produced some exceptional rock bands over the years and now that our music scene is finally gathering some momentum again post-quake, I have no doubt bands like Von Voin Strum are poised to make a real impact.”
The music scene of the Garden City is rapidly picking up pace as well, assisted by the recent opening of new venues and recording facilities, alongside a wave of new exciting rock acts. The band are gearing up to release their long anticipated sophomore EP, with latest single Trouble I’m In clogging up the local charts. While The Wagon and Mother draw comparisons to the likes of Soundgarden, tracks such as Deception show the band’s diversity with a more soft/delicate rock style. Pretty much everything was recorded last year at Revolver Studios, with some final touches, extra vocals and overdubs being finished off as we speak at Christchurch’s Orange Studios.
“We’ve always tried to make sure the songs have a groove, says Sam. “I’d much rather they have that than be your run of the mill, heavy ‘noisy’ riffs. Early on I was inspired by the likes of Jimmy Page. He knows how to make big riffs from just a couple of notes, and even though he’s a fantastic lead player, it’s that groove and feel that gives him his genius-like qualities.”
“Queens Of The Stone Age’s Joshua Homme is another one of my biggest influences in terms of the guitar playing, melody and pure groove-rock. Matty’s very much into the singer/songwriter rock style such as Neil Young, and the likes of Jim Morrison are a big inspiration to his writing and stage presence.”
So what advice does he have for younger bands with the luxury of hindsight?
“Any music you release, you want to make it sound as professional and ear-catching as possible. There’s no point half-arsing four songs when you can focus on making one really epic track, especially if you’re forking out big coin.
“I guess my advice to younger bands is to not let problems seem bigger than they are. If things happen, treat it as a learning curve, don’t take it personally. Learn to take responsibility for what you want as musicians, rather than being told what to do. Hurdles will happen no matter what career you’re in, it’s just a part of the journey.