Moses Mackay/Amitai Pati/Pene Pati
Sole Mio (or Sol3 Mio as it is stylised) had the biggest selling album in New Zealand in 2013 – they backed that up with concerts that showcased down-to-earth personalities and homegrown humour. They quickly became – seemingly out of nowhere – a phenomenon. So now, just in time for Christmas this year, we have the band’s story in book-form, credited to the two Pati brothers and their cousin Moses Mackay – this easy-read is in the oral-biography style – a series of stories from the three band members – with interview-style quotes from family members and record company people in support.
The problem with this sort of book is that there’s really not that much of a story to tell.
Sol3 Mio manage to get across their pedigree – that they trained, studied hard, developed a passion for opera through first having a passion for singing. And we get the humble roots story – almost ad nauseum, since that’s a huge selling point. I’m not disputing the background here, I’m not even a fan of the band’s music but I enjoyed this book in the spirit of a light read. The problem with focussing on the rags-to-riches style of backgrounder behind “overnight” success is that the celebration becomes about that – rather than the music.
So good on them, sure. But the first two thirds of this 200-pager are dedicated to stories of the boys growing up singing together as the family that plays together stays together and then a few stories around the natural comedians enjoying baffling classical purists and breaking down stereotypes by turning up in jandals and t-shirts to sing opera.
After the band’s success – currently just an album and a series of shows, and I’m not trying to set them up for a fall but let’s see some actual longevity first, right? – we are left with stories about how they’re pleased to have an X-box on tour with them to help kill the time.
That is about all you can expect from this once you unpack the hype of it being a Samoan success story. And of course it is that – a great Kiwi battler/underdog tale. Well, that’s how it’s presented. I’m not about to rain on their parade. Well done to them. There are one or two stories here that even raise a wee smile just to hear them, that unique brand of Kiwi irreverence.
But don’t mistake this for anything other than it is – part of the product. Rolled out along with a concert DVD for the Christmas crowd. The PR guff even says that – doesn’t even try to hide it.
This nicely packaged looks-the-part/seems-like-the-real-deal book is perfectly suited to meet the image and appeal of the group. Fans can now say they know all there is – and by this skim-read there’s not a whole lot to really know.
Still I wish them well.