Roadrunner's latest signing is Avalanche City, the one-man project of New Zealander Dave Baxter (that's him in the hat), whose four-song Love Love Love EP is available digitally now (click here to get it on iTunes). We caught up with him on a short US tour opening for Fun. to find out how the project got started, the mechanics of playing every instrument on his records, and why people should come to New Zealand (or not).
Where does the name Avalanche City come from?
It’s actually just a song I wrote with a friend of mine years ago for an album we did together. I just liked the name and I’ve held onto it for a long time, wanting to use it for a project but haven’t until now.
How long have you been performing under this name?
Two and a half years now, which is a long time.
I understand you used to be in a hardcore band?
Yeah, I used to be in hardcore and metal bands for about eight years before Avalanche City. The first one was called One Must Fall and that was like a metal band, chaotic metal like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan and stuff. I started that in high school. And after that I was in a band The Chase that was more punk, like Comeback Kid or Stretch Armstrong.
What caused you to transition to this style of music?
I’ve always listened to lots of different styles of music, and I decided I just wanted to have a fun musical project. They’re really fun to play live, hardcore and metal, the live shows have so much energy, but I wanted to do something slightly more musical with no boundaries or anything like that. 'Cause in bands, everything has to be okayed by the bandmembers, and huge conversations will take place over little details of the songs. I wanted my own project that I could take in whatever direction I wanted.
How many instruments do you play on the EP?
I play all of them – bass, drums, guitar, banjo, viola. That one I don’t play very well, but there's a little bit of it tucked in there. Also accordion, organ, keys, stuff like that.
Was it a matter of just learning enough to play the parts for the record, or do you actually play multiple instruments?
I can play pieces of instruments. I’m by no means a master of keys or a master of drums or anything like that. For this record I wanted to play the drums in an unconventional way, so I didn’t mic up a drum kit, I’d just use a floor tom, or just a snare. So from that perspective it was really fun and I didn’t have to be a master of the drums or anything.
Mike Patton says about solo recording, "Punch it in till you get it right. Nobody's watching."
Yeah, exactly. And I'm not as concerned about precision as he probably is. I kind of like things a little out of sync, it gives it character.
Are you going to continue recording this way, playing all the instruments, or do you think you’ll bring other players in going forward?
Well, I did the EP which I recorded as well, and I’ve just recorded a brand new song that I played myself. One of my passions is doing it all myself and really having a hands-on, DIY approach. I really get a kick out of doing it that way.
What’s the biggest misconception about New Zealand that you secretly wish was true?
That maybe Lord of the Rings is a documentary about New Zealand history.
Is the phrase “more sheep than people” an accurate description?
[laughs] Yeah, but the sheep population is declining, which is a little bit alarming.
Why should people come to New Zealand?
Because it is the greatest place on Earth. It’s beautiful, the scenery is incredible and it’s fun. And it’s a completely different part of the world, from there you can go to the islands and stuff. It’s great.
So New Zealand isn't one of those countries where natives wish outsiders would just stay home?
[laughs] There’s absolutely no reason why they should stay away. New Zealand is great. I think everyone should come and visit.
Avalanche City's Love Love Love EP is available now; click here to get it on iTunes!