It’s business time


Bret McKenzie’s really looking forward to playing music that’s not all about jokes.

It might seem a bit at odds with what Kiwis know and love him for, given he’s one half of our ‘fourth most popular folk duo’.

But before the Flight of the Conchords star was performing classics like Ladies of the World, Inner City Pressure, and Too Many Dicks, his background was as a serious musician.

“It’s refreshing,” he says of writing songs that aren’t for films or comedy.

“I really love the music side of it.

“I grew up playing in bands, it’s where I come from.”

He’s chatting to Mountain Scene ahead of a tour of the country with a host of fellow Kiwi musicians – collectively known as Congress of Animals.

New Zealand hasn’t had a super-group in a while, but Congress of Animals might be it.

The line-up’s impressive, to say the least.

As well as McKenzie, there’s also Fly My Pretties’ Age Pryor and Justin Firefly, Wellington Ukulele Orchestra’s Nigel Collins, and Trinity Roots’ Ben Lemi.

The idea for Congress of Animals started brewing in Wellington, where the musos would get together and help each other record songs, McKenzie says.

“Then we thought it’d be fun to do a tour of the country.

“Everyone’s a great singer/songwriter in their own right.”

They’re playing two shows at Queenstown’s Sherwood, where they’ll help each other play their tunes.

“Everyone’s doing a handful of songs each.”

It’s been a big year for McKenzie, with an acclaimed Conchords HBO special and an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s late-night show.

It follows massive success in Hollywood, including an Oscar win for Best Original Song for his work on The Muppets movie and multiple Grammy and Emmy nominations for his Conchords work with Jemaine Clement.

But he’s amping to get back to grassroots and hit the road in Aotearoa.

“I can’t wait, I genuinely love being in NZ,” he says.

“I spend a lot of time in America, all my work is in LA, and when you work somewhere like that you appreciate how awesome NZ is.”

He’s also keen to test out some of his music on the crowd, saying a big part of song development is to play in front of a live audience.

“It should be really fun.”

To catch the Strange Caravan tour head to Sherwood, next Saturday, November 17, and Sunday, November 18, 9pm, $35