The jangly Flying Nun pop of Sneaky Feelings is back after three decades.
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We’re putting the band back together” may be one of the most popular – and fraught – decisions for ageing popsters for whom life out of the spotlight hasn’t really cut it.
Whereas the likes of Blur, Fleetwood Mac and the Police have patched things up and hit the road, there have been other reunions that have fractured: we’re looking at you, Jason Orange and Tony Hadley.
So when word got out that 80s Dunedin sounders Sneaky Feelings had booked a show in Hamilton for August 30 to coincide with a new album, ProgressJunction, and a spot at The Others Way festival on September 1 in Auckland, it seemed like a good idea to discover what the catalyst had been for a reunion after almost 30 years.
The answer, according to Matthew Bannister, who has carried on his music alongside a career as a lecturer at Waikato Institute of Technology and occasional author, is simply that they found themselves all back living in the same country.
And what’s more, guitarist David
Pine not only returned from being New Zealand’s High Commissioner in Malaysia to live in Christchurch but also decided to build a recording studio in his new home.
“When David said he wasn’t going to move anytime soon, we had the opportunity to get together again, and his recording studio gave us an ideal place to rehearse undisturbed,” Bannister says.
Having originally gone their separate ways in 1989 for the same reason of geography – “We all went to Auckland with dreams of possibly conquering the world and then [drummer] Martin Durrant got a job with the Government in Wellington and it became progressively harder to maintain the band” – it seems only right that practicality has brought the band back together.
Sneaky Feelings cemented their poppy, jangly Flying Nun sound with a $300 video of their 1985 single Husband House, in which they hung out in classic Dunedin locations before ending with “Out now on Flying Nun” written in the sand on a cold, windy beach. “We’re not particularly visual people, so we thought, we live in Dunedin, we’re a Dunedin band, people wanted to see images of Dunedin, so we should have a Dunedin backdrop,” Bannister says.
Everything about the reunion is just as pragmatic. The album is shared out equally between the four members, with three tracks each. Bassist John Kelcher was an archivist at the Nga Taonga sound archives and he was able to “borrow some old radio promos to blur between the tracks”. And having made an album and then realising they may have to tour it, the band have “fleshed out” the team with keyboards, thanks to one of Bannister’s Wintec colleagues, Nick Braae, who wrote his PhD thesis on Queen.
After 10 days of rehearsals, they’ve got their “chops back and are feeling more confident” about playing live once again – mixing a bit of the old with some of the new.
The band have “fleshed out” the team with keyboards, thanks to Nick Braae, who wrote his PhD thesis on Queen.
Sneaky Feelings, circa 1983: mixing the old with the new.