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Q & A: Tiny Ruins

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on July 1, 2014

New Zealand’s Tiny Ruins have just released their second album Brightly Painted One, and are touring Australia for the next two weeks, bringing their beautiful and haunting folk music to our shores.

Having received widespread acclaim and attention from local and international music critics and radio stations, what began as a solo project in 2009 has grown into something much, much more.

Singer and founding member Hollie Fullbrook  will be joined on tour by bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer. They have opened for the likes of Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty and more, both in their native country and throughout the world.

We asked Hollie some questions to get to know her a little better…

1. Where does the name come from? Why did you decide to have a stage name rather than just be “Hollie Fullbrook”?

I wanted a name that wasn’t my own when I started out…a bunch of reasons I guess. Nerves, but also wanting it to be able to become something – a band, a project – bigger than myself on my own at that time. I was reading about ruins and a song by Tiny Bradshaw came on.

2. How did growing up in New Zealand influence your music?

It’s quite an isolating place, so there’s a freedom in that somehow, and you can kind of nurture your work, or at least, let it sort of naturally grow, without too much crazy competition or massive industry around you.

 3. How you get started in music?

I wrote a bit of music for theatre productions before starting tiny ruins & recording a bunch of demos. They got picked up pretty quickly by Spunk records, which set me on this path I guess. I played the cello growing up, so that was my ‘training’ in the formal sense, while guitar, singing & writing I did for fun from my early teens.

4. What’s your favourite song and why?

Picture in a Frame ‘by Tom Waits. Pure simplicity, beautiful resonant recording, heartbreaking lyrics.

(ed. note: this is one of my favourite songs ever too. Give it a listen here)

5. How did you decide which countries you wanted to include in your tour?

We are really at the mercy of our booking agents! But there are certain towns you always want to play in; also fans sometimes writing to ask us to swing by will often lead us to include them on a tour stint if it’s practical.

6. Which bands or artists would be your main influences?

Probably stuff from when I was a kid – Beatles, 60s & 70s folk, Irish music, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen…& then the sorta stuff I was really into as a teenager – country blues, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Nick Drake, etc….i was always drawn to ‘song’ songs – ones that told stories and invited you in.

7. What would your dream collaboration be like – who would you choose and why?

Not sure. Haven’t really thought of collaborating with anyone famous other than maybe Joey from Calexico because he suggested it.

8. What’s your favourite part of working on an album?

I like it when you get to the stage where you have all the main tracking down and you’re excited about it and it’s still fresh and you get to think about how to add or detract things to really push it up to the next level…the time before you get doubtful or jaded from over-listening! There are always ups and downs. Seeing & holding the vinyl test pressing for the first time is always special too.

9. How is your current tour different to the tour you went on last year?

Different material to an extent, plus we have Alex our drummer along for the whole ride! We are embarking on five months of touring Aus/USA/Canada/Europe so it’s the beginning of quite an adventure for us this time ’round.

10. What have been some of the highlights of the tour so far?

Playing our Crystal Palace show in our hometown. Playing the Barrytown hall on the South Island.

11. How did you come to meet Alex and Cass and get them on board the Tiny Ruins wagon?

Very old friends who I began playing with regularly on the release of my first album three years ago.

12. What kind of subjects do you enjoy writing songs about?

There’s nothing I wouldn’t enjoy writing about.

Tiny Ruins Australian tour dates:

Tue 01 Jul : Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane (supported by Shining Bird and Aldous Harding)
Wed 02 Jul: Newtown Social Club, Sydney (supported by Shining Bird and Aldous Harding)
Thu 03 Jul: Anita’s, Wollongong (supported by Shining Bird)
Fri 04 Jul: Goodgod Small Club, Sydney (supported by Shining Bird and Aldous Harding)
Sat 05 Jul: Mojos Bar, Perth (supported by Shining Bird)
Sun 06 Jul: Jive Bar, Adelaide (supported by Shining Bird)
Tue 08 Jul: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (supported by Shining Bird and Aldous Harding)

Questions by Billie-Jean Bullard

Posted in Music

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