Their recordings are deliberately captured on a four-track (cassette that is), and subsequently released on a determinedly indie record label called Melted Ice Cream, which drummer and producer Brian Feary also runs. Hailing from the UK, Luke Towart started recording as Wurld Series on his own after settling in Christchurch. His grandly-named solo vehicle since grown into a four-piece that echoes trail-blazing ‘90s Dunedin alt-pop act The 3Ds. The Wurld Series pair talked with Mike Tweed to discuss their band’s own history and plans for the future.
What began as a pet project for Christchurch songwriter Luke Towart has over time morphed into the fully-fledged indie rock outfit known as Wurld Series. One constant, alongside Towart, has been drummer Brian Feary who has produced the vast majority of their releases to date. First heralded with the ‘Lunch Songs’ EP back in 2012, Towart remains the principle songwriter within Wurld Series. The band’s first full-length album, ‘Air Goofy’, was released in 2017, followed shortly by 2018’s fantastically titled ‘Stately and Befrothed’ EP.
Now with the help of guitarist / vocalist Adam Hattaway and his sister, latest addition Emma Hattaway on bass, it seems Towart’s short, sharp tunes are being moulded into much lengthier songs. He chuckles when asked to describe the writing process.
“Most of my songs are usually about 30 seconds long. Then we play them as a band and I realise they sound a bit stupid! So, we work on the ideas a bit more as a unit, and luckily they always end up much better!”
Despite the stripped back sound, as producer Feary is keen to stress the importance of the recording methods employed.
“I see lo-fi as an aesthetic as opposed to an excuse. I’ve been slowly ramping up the technical skill and ambition as I go along. That being said, I definitely don’t want to make radio rock! I’m not really a fan of that super slick production at all. The recordings are consciously done on a four-track, and it’s instantly pleasing to get a warm and punchy sound from one of those. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve now, but it’s all a gradual learning process.”
Artists from both NZ and abroad have played their part in influencing Wurld Series’ sound. Towart points out that often it’s a band’s approach to making music that strikes home to him the most.
“If there’s any NZ band that informs Wurld Series it would be The 3Ds. We are similar to them in a way, with two or three songwriters and sharing lead vocals duties a lot. U.S. bands like Built To Spill are also a big influence on me, especially the way they can take pop sensibilities and spiral off into instrumental proggy passages. That’s something I’d like to explore a bit more. At the end of the day, I just think of Wurld Series as guitar music. I’m interested in pop structures, but guitar worship will always be there!”
As well as handling drumming and production duties for Wurld Series, Feary also runs Christchurch tape specialist record label Melted Ice Cream. A recently released compilation, ‘Sickest Smashes From The Arson City’, features the band’s stand-alone single Grey Men, alongside songs from various other local independent artists. He’s thrilled with how it’s been received.
“I took over Melted Ice Cream at the start of 2017. This was kind of the sequel to the first ‘Super Smashes’ comp that was released five or so years ago. I recorded a bunch of Christchurch bands who hadn’t really released anything, so it seemed like a great thing to have all these tunes on one album. It sold well and is still selling, and I’m super happy with it.”
The DIY approach to making and releasing music is something Towart feels is a necessity in Aotearoa.
“I think in terms of attitude and approach we share a lot in common with a whole bunch of Kiwi bands. It’s good to be doing everything ourselves, but the reality is there aren’t too many other options. Resources are so limited for a band like us in NZ that it’s the only way. I guess we could go down a more funding-based path, but with an outfit like ours, it’s just as easy to make our own videos and things. I just want to make really good songs, and hopefully, people will respond to them.”
Organising shows with like-minded artists is another thing the band takes upon themselves. Towart says he loves putting on gigs and pulling a line up together.
“Even down to the poster art, it’s super fun! We played a show recently in Auckland with two amazing bands called Water and The Naenae Express. I feel a real kinship with them and their approach to songwriting, so sharing a bill was great.”
Early 2019 sees the release of hook-filled new single Nap Gate. Clocking in at almost four minutes, it’s a marked departure from the 90-second songs the band has become known for. A taster track for a second full album due later in the year, this latest cut could well be a sign of things to come. Towart is keen for Wurld Series to continue exploring the possibilities of longer compositions.
“Playing more as a band and jamming together means the songs will inevitably get fleshed out a bit more. I’m keen to experiment with a bunch of different instruments and maybe add some new, trippy sounds into the whole thing. Even when the recording quality gets better I’ll still be playing through a beaten-up old guitar amp though! We generally sound a bit muddy and a bit noisy and I don’t think that’s going to change.”