Auckland, New Zealand is home to Tiny Ruins, a group which originally formed as a solo project in 2009 by songwriter Hollie Fullbrook. The band now includes bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer. Together, the trio released Tiny Ruins’ second album Brightly Painted One this month and will be setting out on a US/CAN tour this summer, playing Toronto’s The Garrison on August 4th. Read our new interview with the band, as we spoke about Neil Young, album titles, international tours, and people fainting.
AMBY: Hello Tiny Ruins, welcome to the site. Please introduce yourselves to our readers!
Tiny Ruins: Hi, I’m Hollie from the band tiny ruins. We are from New Zealand & have been playing together for about three years. It started out as my own solo project, but as time passed, I played more & more with Cass & Al, especially the new songs which always felt like they needed a rhythm section.
AMBY: How would you describe each member of the band in one word?
Tiny Ruins: Hollie = guitar Cass = bass Alex = drums
AMBY: You recently released your sophomore record Brightly Painted One this month. What was the experience like recording the album?
Tiny Ruins: We recorded it in our hometown of Auckland, at the infamous Lab Studios – an underground warren of passageways & little rooms. After an initial two weeks tracking the majority of the songs, we spent another four months or so down there, in between stints of touring, layering and chipping away and mixing. We recorded it with our friend Thomas Healy, and flatmates & friends also learned their talents to the album in the form of brass, pedal steel & strings. It was an all round good experience for us. It was quite intense. We would head down the stone steps out of the sunlight each morning & emerge at night. We often recorded in semi-darkness, and quite a few of the songs we recorded live in quite a small space. With this album there was more electric guitar & layering of delays and effects than on my first album.
AMBY: Who were your biggest influences or inspirations on the LP?
Tiny Ruins: I listened to quite a bit of Neil Young (After The Gold Rush & Harvest Moon), Van Morrison’s astral weeks, a bunch of Bill Callahan/Smog Records, and Cass McComb’s Wit’s End while touring in between recording this one. So all of that may have helped influence the sort of sound I was after – something quite rich but still spontaneous and natural. & again, listening kinda more to the rhythm section side of things.
AMBY: What’s the significance behind the title Brightly Painted One?
Tiny Ruins: The title is from the opening lines of one of the songs, ‘She’ll Be Coming ‘Round’. It took me a while to decide on a title. Once I decided, it also helped conjure up the album artwork.
AMBY: The release will be followed by national and international tours in late 2014. What do you look forward to most regarding these?
Tiny Ruins: I’m looking forward to touring in Canada & the USA with Cass & Alex. It will be a real adventure for us. I’ve only been able to take them to Australia so far, and have only played in New York City & Los Angeles myself. So we are really excited about heading thataways. We’ve never been to Canada. I hear it’s like New Zealand in quite a few ways (we both have big older brothers looking down on us). I’m looking forward to playing the Calgary folk festival in July. We also get to play in Iceland towards the end of the year, which will be amazing for so many reasons…the guysers, the aurora borealis, the place where Bjork is from & all the rest of it!
AMBY: What’s the funniest thing to happen to the band while at a show?
Tiny Ruins: Cass & I had a guy faint on us once in Wellington. He was right in front of us & we had to stop the whole show & wait for him to be revived. We were worried! But he was okay. We never found out what the reason was – whether he was just overwhelmed by us or our music, ha, or whether he’d had too much to drink.
AMBY: Which Tiny Ruins lyric is your personal favorite?
Tiny Ruins: ‘We’re lumps of molasses singing out our asses’
AMBY: Who have you been listening to lately?
Tiny Ruins: Neil Finn, because I’m opening for him & playing cello in his band on their tour of the UK and Europe. Great fun powerful pop songs. I am currently on a train speeding towards a show in Norwich, & I officially join the big tour bus tomorrow. Who else though? Machine Translations’ new album ‘The Bright Door’ is beautiful.
AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about Tiny Ruins that nobody knows yet?
Tiny Ruins: I have had other jobs. I’ve worked as a lifeguard in upstate New York, in a chocolate shop, in a bowling alley, a cafe, a restaurant, a paper deliverer, a bar, looking after kids in southern Italy, as an after school homework club assistant in west Auckland, as a casual librarian’s assistant, as an office admin person, a guitar teacher, a copywriter etc. bills bills bills!
Thank you Tiny Ruins, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout