This month’s VBC residency at the San Francisco Bathhouse is four-year-old, three-piece Wellington outfit Hot Swiss Mistress. Made up of Warner Emery on vocals and guitar, (also in Phoenix Foundation) Rhys Telford on bass and backing vocals (formerly of Paselode) and Ben King on drums.
Salient fired a few quick questions at front man Warner Emery.
Four years is a long time in the local Wellington music scene, what’s your secret to sticking together and do you have future ambitions of anything greater?
“Hot Swiss Mistress is three old friends who are quietly ambitious, but not really. It’s the kind of band that won’t die. It seems like that anyway, like it will just keep ticking over. We really believe in and like the music but we don’t go to any great lengths to try and take over the world like other bands may think is a good plan.”
“It’s so easy to overplay in Wellington though, unless you are not very well known already then you can play as many gigs as you like, and that’s a great way to get good as a band.”
How would you describe the Hot Swiss Mistress Sound? “I think a reasonably accurate way to describe it is a Flying Nun vibe, but slower and darker – it’s kind of like The Cure meets Flying Nun.”
“The dynamics of the songs means they sort of have their own moments, we do have different sonic parts occasionally and they drift off in their own version every time. It’s all arranged, but it does get sonic and they can be long and have a complete different vibe each time we play them.”
What inspires HSM?
“Usually listening to quite passionate music, we inspire each other and anything that has quite a special vibe. I wrote one song after listening to the Dirty Three- and it’s not that I copied them or anything, it was just the vibe that inspired me and the intensity of how they approach the music.”
How do you go about writing your music?
“Most of the time I’m the main songwriter- I write a song and the band will turn it into what ever they turn it into. Like Rhys the bass player’s really good at making up melodic bass lines and arranging, so it tends to be a pretty even arrangement in the end.”
What are some of the highlights over your four years?
“The things that we have enjoyed the most are actually certain gigs which have been quite small. One of our favourites would have been when we were on the floor at the Bathhouse and quite a few people turned up and that just felt really natural for us, it was like a Jools Holland kind of vibe but without the extra bands.”
Where do you think you fit into the Wellington live scene?
“There’s not really anyone doing anything similar. A lot of our tunes are quite slow, and in a bar sort of scene it’s interesting to see how that dynamic works, it’s not really get up and go music.”
What can we expect from you at the VBC nights?
“It will be interesting because we are not an up-tempo sort of band. I think it’s still nice to just sit around and drink and watch a band, you might not be dancing as music but it’s good to just absorb the kind of music it is.”
Check out Hot Swiss Mistress at the San Fran, every Tuesday of October.