It started with a big profile on the band’s first decade in Audioculture – the NZ music online archive. Strongly written by Gary Steel with interesting insight into those early line-ups and the records we made. Great to be officially represented in an historical and cultural document among all the heavyweights.
Our major focus in the early part of the year was being asked back to open the annual Tora Tora Tora festival. It was in Easter and we had a good warmup gig at the Southern Cross a week or so beforehand where we played a ninety minute set of most of the songs we had been working on in 2014.
This was me and Les and Malky and I had a new foot gadget delay that was bringing a different type of width to our sound and we played those gigs really well – at the Cross we tried things and stretched out, and at Tora we kept it real in the hot sun, even with the darker material.
At the very end of the festival I got up on stage with Riki Gooch and Will Rickets on drums and Tyson Smith on bass – I just let rip with my voice and my Gretsch and played to the full moon. I met Hannah that night and we talked with what was left of
our voices long into it. A couple of weeks later we met again at the Cross and she joined the Spines.
On every level it is the best thing that could have happened to us. In all that she brings, she takes nothing away from what is at the core of the band and what she brings is priceless – violin and keyboards with a sparkling musicality and personality.
She made her debut with us in July at the Fringe Bar and it just clicked. We had a mid-year reinvention of ourselves; all these new sound elements came into the picture – early Roxy Music, Hawkwind, Desire-period Dylan, The Band and The Incredible String Band – it was like Brian Jones had just joined us.
I did my first solo gig for years in August and it was pretty good. I worked out a simple way to play and chose a lyrical bunch of songs. There was an appreciative group of friends and family there and it was a special night.
We supported Luna at the Moon to a packed house. Hannah hit the ground running with us – she learnt so many songs so quickly and we were suddenly doing these big gigs.
The Fall support to a pumping Bodega crowd – fifty minutes of stomping round on that familiar stage in nerved-wracked bliss.
We had really bonded as a band and as a family as well – Les and Malky giving Hannah and I the platform off which to explore the chords and melodies
All the while, I’d been writing my Ghost stories on Simon’s site and he’d written some positive stuff about us – we got to know each other and so I asked him if he would fill in on drums for a couple of out of town gigs while Malky was swanning around in Vietnam.
In the first week of December my story about Weathered Lines came out in the Café Reader and now Malky’s back we are working on an even broader range of material.
The Spines turn 35 next year and I keep meaning to celebrate these milestones by doing a big gig and inviting previous members back – so that’s part of the plan.
Meanwhile it’s my birthday next week and a few Spines will be there to see off the end of a good year for us in style.
The Ghost of Electricity – War Stories by Jon McLeary is a new initiative at Off The Tracks, a series of stories and reflections from painter, writer and musician Jon McLeary