“Formed as a solo project in 2009 by songwriter Hollie Fullbrook, the band now includes bassist Cass Basil and drummer Alexander Freer. While continuing to be based in New Zealand, Tiny Ruins has spent much of the past three years touring throughout Australia, the UK, Ireland, Europe and the USA, touring with and opening for bands such as Beach House, Joanna Newsom, Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, Sonny & the Sunsets, The Handsome Family, Calexico and most recently Neil Finn.”
The New Zealand band’s latest album, “Tiny Ruins” was released last month. I want to thank principal songwriter Hollie Fulbrook (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
It was the “Triple J Hottest 100 1998” compilation. Triple J are an alternative Australian radio station that do this every year. I guess I was 13 or 14 at the time, which is pretty late to be buying your first CD… stand outs for me at the time were Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’, The Whitlams ‘Buy Now, Pay Later (Charlie No.2)’, Jeff Buckley ‘Everyone Here Wants You’, Smashing Pumpkins ‘Perfect’, Green Day ‘Time of Your Life’ and Massive Attack ‘Teardrop’.
Your last album bought?
Guy Clark’s “My Favourite Picture of You”. It was weird, I was thinking about the title track, which I’d heard at a small house show we’d done in Napier, New Zealand. I was wandering around some record shops in Perth, Australia while we were on tour, and suddenly that album was staring out at me, so I had to get it.
Favorite album of all time?
I think it would have to be “Songs of Leonard Cohen”. That was the first album my Mother ever bought, when she was 12, and when I was around the same age, she brought it out quite ceremoniously & talked about her memories of those songs. It is still very precious to me. The corners are all furry and it’s been played so many times its super soft and crackly. I was lucky to grow up with parents who cared a lot about music and who had a pretty great collection of records.
Least favorite/most disappointing album?
You know I really can’t think of a collection of songs that I’m totally against. I’ll usually find something somewhere. A lot of stuff does leave me cold, but I can’t think of anything that’s lodged itself in my brain as being especially awful.
First concert attended?
The Big Day Out – a renowned all-day music festival in Auckland, New Zealand. It was in 2000, and I was 14. I vividly remember getting the train to the big sports ground with three of my friends. I remember seeing The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Blink 182, The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx. We were such youngsters, so wide-eyed and self-conscious, trying to crowd surf and yelling out at these bands who felt so huge and heroic.
Kirrin J Callinan at The King’s Arms in Auckland, a couple of months back. I’d seen him play at this awesome little music festival, Camp a Low Hum a couple of weeks prior, and he had stunned me – he was standing in torrential rain with only the bottom half of a charro suit on, singing these crazy dark songs. I had to see him again, and it was great the second time too.
Favorite concert ever?
Oh man, this is a really tricky one because there are so many great ones – Cat Power at the Paramount, a small theatre in Wellington in 2005, Bill Callahan & Joanna Newsom in a small venue in Wellington in early 2007, The Clean more recently, at Camp a Low Hum 2014, Bob Dylan, the second time I saw him play in 2011, Lucinda Williams at the Auckland Town Hall in 2012, Wilco at a festival in England in 2012 called No Direction Home… any of those would be scrabbling about at the top.
Least favorite concert?
Over the years, some of my own have been pretty terrible in terms of the audience just not showing up. One time I played in a small town called Woolongong in Australia, and the only two audience members were the most bizarre characters who didn’t acknowledge each other. One, a big tall guy who reminded me of Lenny from Mice & Men stood up the front and crooned along with me thoughout my set. The other, a woman in long bustling skirt, did an African whistle call in between every song and danced enthusiastically (with hands twirling) in the otherwise empty bar. The bartender handed out tequila shots. Aaron from Spunk, my label, got up and sang Big Star covers, and the other band, Bear Hug, came off-stage and took over the entire room, playing one of the most raucous sets I’ve ever seen. The other opening band, this twee country couple, were pashing in the corner. It was a travesty but pretty fun at the same time.
Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team who everyone is crazy about, so says my friend Randy here. Primanti Brothers’ almost famous’ sandwich? I have never visited the city. Hopefully we will be playing there sometime soon.
Thanks, Hollie. I can see the Steelers being world famous but it ALWAYS surprises me how far the Primanti Brothers influence extends.