Making art from tragedy

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It’s pretty much the ultimate rock star love story.

Back in 2013, Alison Turner was in the crowd at Auckland venue Wine Cellar, listening to a band.

She thought one of the band members was ”captivating’’, and decided to approach him after the gig and tell him so.

Six years later, Alison and now-hubby Brendan Turner are touring their debut album.

They spoke to Mountain Scene during a rough ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton during their album release tour, which they’re bringing to Queenstown tomorrow night.

Talking to the pair, it’s clear they love being on the road.
“It’s what we live for, it’s what we do it for, we love it,’’ Brendan says.

“We love driving long distances to play folk music for very few people and very little money.’’

The album, Ghost of a Friend, was released on March 29 and has scored positive reviews.

They describe their sounds as authentic, ‘70s folk-rock, citing Neil Young, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and Gillian Welch among their favourite artists and inspiration.

“It was a quick conception and long gestation,’’ Brendan quips, saying the album was recorded back in 2016.
While their music has a rocky, ‘70s vibe, Alison says the songs on the album were inspired by something “quite traumatic’’.

That was the death of a good friend and band-mate in 2014. They holed up in a “shonky villa’’ in Taumarunui, speaking only to each other and a stray cat, where they started working on the album.

“After tragedy, there’s really only one thing you can write about,’’ Brendan says.

“We had very little money, but plenty of time to sit on the deck, watch the sun going down, drink, smoke, and write music,’’ Alison adds.

“There’s honesty in imperfection. Songs stripped to the bone and performed live with nothing to hide behind. Two voices, one guitar. That’s it.”

While the album came out of something dark, Alison says the pair “aren’t dark people’’.

“It’s pretty energetic, we want people to have a good time.’’

To catch Brendan and Alison Turner, head to Sherwood, tomorrow, 7.30pm, $20