August 23, 2007
Billed as the “fourth most popular folk parody duo in New Zealand”, Flight of the Conchords has become a new obsession of mine. The band recently moved to New York to try to infiltrate the American music scene with little or no success, but I’m sure more people will come around to Bret and Jemaine’s musical and comedic brilliance.
The band was unavailable for interview, but I was able to talk to their manager, Murray Hewitt, and he had some very interesting things to say. Read below and download a couple FOTC tracks at the end.
What type of items do you discuss at band meetings?
First and foremost it’s about attendance. Who’s here and who isn’t. Then we get onto gripping subjects like haircuts and uniforms. I try to stay clear of any talk of upcoming gigs when ever possible. But on the odd occasion gigs do come in… But mostly it’s about our look and our fanbase and the fact that we’re still alive in New York.
What has been the most exciting tour experience for you thus far?
The warm up tour for the Central Park gig in Newark. That was one hell of a rock n roll ride. Thanks to Jemaine and his rock antics. Man that guy is out of control. My car ended up in the pool. Leather suits… smashed speakers and a TV out the window. Let’s just say Jemaine is banned from going anywhere near mixed nuts from now on!
What interested you in becoming a band manager?
I always had an interest in managing. I’d managed a rugby team back in New Zealand. When the boys came into my office that first time moaning about the loss of their passports i could see they had the A factor. I really knew they would be big stars. I could tell they were into music because they were carrying guitar cases. They looked lost and needed direction. I was the obvious choice. Now it’s my destiny.
As well as being a band manager, you work at the New Zealand consulate. What do you do there?
I pass the time quite well as i’m waiting for band meetings. I write in my leather bound band folder the schedule for up coming meetings. I deal with passport issues on a daily basis but i send most of my work through to Greg as he seems to know what he’s doing. I do hold a lot of power though. One of my main jobs is to have final approval on all tourism poster slogans. I’ve even come up with a few of them myself. ‘New Zealand Rocks’ is one of mine.
How do you manage the fan base for an international act like Flight of the Conchords?
That’s easy. We only have one fan. Her name is Mel. She is in constant contact with me. We even have meetings now and again so i can update her on the full conchords goings on.
What are some of your hobbies?
My hobbies include walking my dog Toby. I go on interesting walks, sometimes with the guys but usually on my own and i take notes and do sketches of interesting things like buildings, band rotundas and bridges. I also like to have a bet on the horse races and i enjoy sailing. I don’t do this often though as i don’t have a boat.
Being from New Zealand, how have you adapted to the New York culture?
I find i fit in very well. I walk the walk and talk the talk so to speak. But despite this i still get a lot of ridicule. I think that must be a cool New York thing to do though. I think i might be in the cool set.
I’ve been told that you have strict rules about band members having girlfriends. Why is that?
Its just not good for the fan base. If the fans know the band members have girlfriends then they will know they are not available. If the guys in the band are not available then the girls will seek men who are. You see being in a band isn’t so much about the music. It’s more about the look and the availability for sex. That’s what band groupies want. Lots of sex. Ofcourse they’ll never get it. But its that thought that it could happen. Threesomes, twosomes and even onesomes. The whole works.
I heard that you also invest in real estate. How’s that going for you?
Murray Hewitt Productions and Flight of the Conchords are the proud owners of three Stars purchased from Intergallactic real estate. My star is called Murrayland. Bret’s is called Planet Bret and Jemaines was called Planet Jemaine. I say was, because unfortunately his planet supernova’d 4 million years ago. I’ve already told Jemaine that he should live on Planet Bret anyway when we all move up to our planets in ten years time. Having both Bret and Jemaine on the same planet is more sensible anyway. It will make it much better for their rehearsing. I will probably remaine on Murrayland as i’ll be pretty heavily involved in Planet meetings organising how my land ought to be utalised.
What’s the biggest challenge in working with Flight of The Conchords?
Getting them a paid gig. closely followed by putting up with Brets wayward comments and one or another of us always trying to quit the band.
On the web:
Thanks to Rhys Darby for doing this interview with me!