Mako Road On Their Much Anticipated Debut Album ‘Stranger Days’

Kiwi indie-rock four-piece MAKO ROAD have released their long-awaited and much-anticipated debut album along with their latest single and video Anywhere You’d Like To Go. Currently a band in demand, the festival favourites are taking their Stranger Days album on a sold out Australian tour in March 2022, which sold out in just 90 minutes, and New Zealand tour dates selling fast. The album includes hit singles Surfing On Mars, Helicopter, Don’t Keep Me Waiting and the latest single Stranger Days, all of which have been riding waves of popularity across sales, radio and streaming charts. Mako Road have fast become one of New Zealand’s favourite bands and the new album Stranger Days cements the band’s reputation as the most exciting independent act on the horizon. Connor McErlich from the band answers some questions about the album for Hi Fi Way.

Congratulations on the album, how challenging has the last eighteen months or so have been on the band in terms of getting the album done?
The album was an experience! We look at it like a rite of passage for any band. Initially we weren’t aware of how difficult it would be. We had heaps of ideas floating about for months but we weren’t able to turn anything into a cohesive piece of work. After COVID initially hit we took a break and came back with fresh eyes. We were able to whack out the album over the course of a couple weeks and were in the studio the following two weeks. Time pressure works!

How hard was it narrowing it down to eight songs?
When we sat down to really dig into the album, we went through all our demos and picked out our best, but we also made sure they all fit together. There were a few ideas left out for later works. There also one that made it to the studio but didn’t quite get it to a point we were ready to release. Its on the ole back burner though.

Sonically, how would you describe Stranger Days?
We definitely tried to lean harder into a more edgy and psychedelic sound, while also trying to retain some of the upbeat stuff we are known for. We like to think of it as a step in the right direction towards music we want to write. But that’ll be the kind of thing that’s always changing.

What was the biggest lesson learnt in the studio you wouldn’t repeat again?
You got to have a really well thought out idea of what you want your end product to sound like. During our first experience going into the studio way back when, we were grossly underprepared. We weren’t very happy with the result. And it’s the same experience for a lot of bands who try studios for the first time. And it’s expensive. So putting in as much work as possible into your music, from being tight to nailing tone, it has all got to be sussed before you head in so you don’t waste your money.

Did COVID force you to work any differently?
It forced us to take a break from it all. We were putting ourselves under a lot of pressure about an album and things weren’t going our way. Then when COVID hit we decided to take a step back and then try again when life returned to some kind of normal in NZ. And it worked out for us in the end!

What did you think when you played the final mix back for the first time?
Haha bruh ’ummmmmm yeah she’ll be right’. We had this endless back and forth about the mixes that stretched aaaggggeees. It’s one of those things you can really overthink!

Is it hard to listen to your album like a fan would without thinking what you could tweak or change?
Absolutely. After the jamming, the writing, the tweaking, the recording and then checking the mix, you can be so checked out of the song. And remembering that the time between the album being done and actual release can stretch a year with all the surrounding work that needs doing. By the time it comes out you’ve kind of moved on almost!

Which artists/bands would you consider to be some of the biggest influences in shaping the album?
Oof always a toughie this one. We don’t tend to look at what our influences are for a particular piece of work, at least not consciously. Its more of a thing where each of us individually have influences that shape our musicianship and it comes out in that way. We definitely have collective favourites though like Fat Freddys Drop, Black Keys, Khurangbin etc.

How much are looking forward to getting the green light to be able to tour and play shows?
Haha that’s a triggering question. We just had to cancel our NZ tour midway through cause of a nationwide lockdown. Super gutting. This kind of stuff is a massive spanner for the industry. All the effort into planning kind of goes down the drain. Then everyone is scrambling to reschedule with the uncertainty about how long we must wait till we can go full capacity, or the possibility of another lockdown. But NZ has been pretty lucky. Can’t imagine how Australia have been handling it.

What’s next for Mako Road?
Summer baby! Out ‘n about. Maybe new tunes. Who knows, it’s a world of possibilities. Limited possibilities in terms of getting overseas though rip.

Interview By Rob Lyon

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