That New Zealand trio Opposite Sex called their new album Hamlet should come as little surprise. Dunedin, their hometown, is surrounded by drama both geographically and culturally. Lying at the foot of New Zealand, the furtherest city in the world from London, Dunedin is also home to iconic music labels Flying Nun and Expressway, and has a rich tradition of music and art.
On Hamlet, Tim Player, Lucy Hunter, Reggie Norris have created an ode to the drama and ideology of a city that has produced bands of the qualiyt of The Clean, The Chills, and the Dead C. Released on Dull Tools, the Brooklyn label co-run by Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts, Hamlet mixes punk, Kiwi pop and straight up avant-garde weirdness.
On “Oh Ivy” Lucy, who has worked as a restaurant pianist, slips from gentle and soothing coos to shrieks and wails. It’s both cathartic and desperate. No wonder Alistair Galbraith and the Dead C count among Opposite Sex’s fans. Opposite Sex are taking their sounds to the US for a tour that includes stops at Gonerfest and Cropped Out.
Noisey: There seems to be a Cramps vibe on the song. Is it coincidence that it’s named “Oh Ivy”?
Lucy Hunter: It’s not a coincidence! I love the Cramps. I wrote this as an apology song to my friend, but then thought it would be funny to make it sound psychotic, so I changed her name to Ivy. I thought Poison Ivy wouldn't mind a creepy song being named after her. I'm offering things no one would actually want, like my skin and stuff.
How did you end up on Dull Tools? Did Andrew see you play during a Parquet Courts NZ visit?
That's exactly what happened. At the end of our set we all fell down like we were dying. He said it reminded him of Hamlet, where everyone dies at the end, and it was so spooky cause we were calling the new album Hamlet. We didn't want a record label but this one looked cool.
Just as any young band playing loud guitars in Seattle is going to get Sub Pop references, play weird and odd music in Dunedin and people are going to start mentioning Xpressway. Have you all been fans of that label before starting the band?
The Terminals are my favorite New Zealand band! Tim and Reg love all the Xpressway lot, especially Alistair Galbraith and This Kind of Punishment. I'm not as into the old Dunedin scene as the guys are but I don't think you can live here without being influenced by them. Tim was a fan when we started playing together, but I didn't know much Dunedin music until I moved here five years ago.
You’ve worked as a restaurant pianist. What are highs and lows of playing piano while people eat penne?
I did it for two years, five nights a week, three or four hours a night. I was pretty out of my depth most of the time. I'm not a great pianist and it was hard work. It felt like sitting in an exam every day. I couldn't eat before I played because I felt like I was going to spew over the keyboard for the entire evening. It was weird how differently people treated me from when I was a waitress to when I was a pianist. They thought I was more interesting, even though sitting at home practicing the piano is actually very boring to talk about. I got tired of dressing up every night. But it was a fantastic job. Sometimes people would gather round me and sing along to Elton John or something. Baby-boomer music. Muscle memory amazes me - I could sit there and watch my hands playing like they were doing it on their own.
‘Hamlet’ is out Aug 12 via Dull Tools. Pre-order it here.
Opposite Sex US tour 2016:
Sep 22 - Detroit at UFO Factory
Sep 24 - Louisville at Cropped Out
Sep 26 - Chicago at the Empty Bottle
Sep 28 - Nashville at DRKMTTR
Sep 30 - Memphis at Goner Fest
Oct 2 - New York City at Alphaville