Interview by Kris Griffiths
PHASE9 chats to The D4 frontman Jimmy Christmas before their gig at Camden’s Electric Ballroom.
Did you have any idea that you’d get this kind of fantastic reception in the UK?
Not at all. We had no expectations of what was gonna happen. All we’d been told was that somebody was interested in putting out our record out here and putting us on tour, which we were very pleased about but as far as headlining gigs at the Electric Ballroom in such a short space of time, we had no idea at all. It’s just got to the point where we’re being asked to play places like this and we’re like, “fuck yeah!”. I hope it lasts.
The boring but necessary influence question – what bands influenced you from New Zealand and Australia and what bands from the UK?
From New Zealand, bands from the 60s and 70s like The Blue Stars and The Scavengers, but directly influential to us when we were starting out were all the local bands we were playing with at the time. There were a lot of cool bands from Australia like Radio Birdman, but we weren’t really influenced so much by the bands themselves as much as the bands that influenced them from the New York and UK scene – all the obvious ones.
Is there any particular gig you remember witnessing that really cemented your resolve to follow the rock ‘n’ roll road?
I remember seeing The Buzzcocks back home when I was 16 and as I was really into the English punk rock scene it was such a thrill to see a band I loved so much come to New Zealand. That live show in particular was so awesome it totally convinced me to do what we’re doing now.
What was the first record you ever bought?
With my own money it was Twisted Sister’s STAY HUNGRY.
And the last?
DISTORTIONS by The Litter.
Do you have any rare or valuable records in your collection?
Well all my records are valuable to me, some more than others, but as for market value I have no idea how much they’re worth. Dion’s got the hugest record collection in the band so you wanna ask him that.
What would you say is different about today’s new breed of rock ‘n’ roll bands?
With the real rock ‘n’ roll bands around at the moment there’s a distinct lack of egos in the way things operate because everyone comes from that same DIY ethic and are a lot more approachable. Everyone’s been playing rock ‘n’ roll when it wasn’t popular and they’ll continue to play it when it ceases to be, so you’re not really getting that rock star attitude at the moment, which is a good thing or a bad thing depending which way you look at it.
What are your views on The Datsuns and The Vines?
The Datsuns are our brothers because we’ve known them for so long and it’s good to see what they’re achieving at the moment but I don’t actually know much about The Vines. I’ve heard the singles, which were really cool, but haven’t got their record or seen them live.
Do you see yourselves in competition with either of them?
Us and The Datsuns are two very different bands who play in very different styles but we share the same love of good rock ‘n’ roll music so I don’t feel any competitiveness between us. We love playing with them because it raises the standards. Any band that, just by watching them makes you really wanna play your guitar, to me is an inspiration and nothing else.
You’ve a lot of highs so far in your relatively short career. Have their been any low points?
There’s been a couple of Spinal Tap moments but you get better at handling them. We played a festival in New Zealand and there was a power cut after the opening chord but we just carried on playing without amplification and just waited for the power to kick back in, which was pretty funny.
I heard about a nasty incident involving Dion and a pint glass.
Yeah, he jumped off an amp and landed on a pint glass which was really bloody cos it went through the heel of his foot. We just finished the song then rushed him away to the emergency people, leaving a lovely pool of blood on the stage.
Are there any festivals or new material planned for the rest of the year?
We’re playing two new songs tonight that no one would have heard in England yet and there’s a whole bunch of new material we’ll soon be recording and hopefully releasing by the end of the year. We’ll be touring America two or three times this year, and Japan, so I don’t know about any British festivals I’m afraid.
What’s been your most rock ‘n’ roll moment in Britain so far?
(Laughs) Well we’ve had a great time over here but for a month we had to live at the top of a tower block in Hendon complete with rickety old lift. It was the night before the England .v. Brazil World Cup match and we’d just driven all the way back to London from Scotland after playing a gig there that night. I wanted to watch the game at 7am so we decided to stay up but we had three hours to kill. Someone had seen some poppies growing down the road so, er, we decided to go and pick some poppies. After stealing every single one from the patch they were growing in we ran back to the flat with them all and didn’t actually do anything with them – what a waste of time – but when we went out the next morning there was a long, thick trail of poppy leaves running from our front door to the lift, into the lift, out of the lift, through the lobby, into the main square, down the road to the exact spot they were stolen from. The crime of the century.
If there are any Hendon residents reading this who are still angered by the mindless plundering of their poppy patch, it was The D4, and I have their address. They won’t be back for a good while though. In the meantime their debut album 6TWENTY, hailed in some quarters as tighter than Godzilla’s speedos, is available from all good record shops.