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Skyscraper Stan


Thu 3 Sep 2015, 8:00pm

Where: The Old Stone Butter Factory, 8 Butter Factory Lane, Whangarei

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: Butter Factory

Our tallest country crooner Skyscraper Stan returns home

Skyscraper Stan has spent the last six years strumming up a storm in Melbourne and train-jumping across America, but this weekend he's returning to his hometown to celebrate the release of his debut album. He talks to Lydia Jenkin

The Kiwi, who's been basing himself in Melbourne, was properly hooked around the age of 16 when he realised what power a guitar had in his social circles.

"I remember taking a guitar to a party when I was 16, and I could butcher my way through a few songs, and to be honest, it was kind of the attention I got from girls when I started playing that made me think 'I'm gonna keep doing this!'

"But country music and American music was always really appealing because it's technically easy, and makes it easy to collaborate with other people - it captured me in that way, with the sense of community you get from it."

He was nicknamed Skyscraper Stan, for his tall and lanky stature, by fellow bar staff at the Wine Cellar in Auckland when he began working there in his late teens, and the name stuck when he started performing a few self-penned songs in between sets from other acts. It stuck further still when he moved to Melbourne in 2009 to try his hand in a bigger pond, and it was well and truly set in stone by the time he headed off to the United States in search of adventure.

"I wanted to do the pilgrimage and see all the places where my musical heroes had come from, and maybe learn to play some of that Cajun music and stuff like that.

"And I threw my back into it, you know, when you're travelling, it's not real life, you're invincible. Particularly when you're a 22 or 23 year old guy, you feel bulletproof, it feels like it's not real life, so no matter what you do you'll be fine. So I was train hopping, and sleeping under bridges and all that sort of thing, just because firstly, I ran out of money, but secondly, I'm also a hopeless romantic, and it felt very romantic" he laughs.

You'd think those experiences would all be great fodder for writing songs, but Woodhouse discovered it felt a little ingenuous for him.

"I found you can get sweet sentiment out of that, but then I realised there's a bit of a problem with Australasians writing songs about America and American dreams and American ideals, because it's not a world we really know. I was a tourist really while I was there. So I tend to focus my lyricism around things that I'm experiencing here in Australia. I feel like even inward looking songs, personal songs, shouldn't always be referencing lonesome roads and trains. I like honesty in music."

He's heading back to New Zealand this week for his first round of official shows as Skyscraper Stan since he left the country in 2009, and it'll be a special occasion because he's just released his debut album Last Year's Tune with his band mates (who are called The Commission Flats).

"They're all songs that I've written over the last year or so, living in Melbourne, so there's a lot of songs about people that I've met around Melbourne, and songs about my own experience being useless with women and things like that - I think that's quite a common theme.

"It actually doesn't have much of a country bent to it - well it's still very much rooted in that southern American kind of feel, but it's a lot more rock n roll really. We put a lot of sweat into it, along with a fair few tears and a little bit of blood, and I'd say it's the thing I'm proudest of in my life so far."

Lydia Jenkin - is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

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