Ex-Salmonella Dub musician enjoys real life in the Wakatipu

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Conan Wilcox has few regrets about packing in travelling the world with a chart-topping band to enjoy the quiet life in Queenstown.

For 14 years he blew saxophone with New Zealand favourites Salmonella Dub before quitting for more time with his family.

While with the group, he notched up two No 1 albums and blitzed his way around Europe on numerous live tours.

Wilcox left Salmonella Dub following a 2007 New Year’s Eve gig in Christchurch and now runs a painting and decorating business in the resort called Inside Job with wife Sara.

“The last tour I did with Salmonella Dub was in Europe and let’s just say it had its ups and downs,” he explains.
“It was quite intense and difficult. For me, it felt like it had all come to a natural end.

“I also had a young daughter and it wasn’t ideal to be spending too much time buggering about on the other side of the world, so when we got back home I decided it was time to leave the band.”

Wilcox says he’d also watched Salmonella Dub frontman/songwriter Tiki Taane quit for a solo career and “on the creativity side, it was kind of finished for me”.

“People think I must miss all the excitement and I do have the odd occasion when I wonder if I should be running about out on the road in France or somewhere,” he says.

“But I have to remember that although I’ve done all that and really enjoyed it, I’ve moved on.

“Our daughter Ivy is now four and we’re expecting a new baby in February so I have plenty to keep me occupied.”

Wilcox, 37, is originally from Christchurch. He fell for Queenstown when he fell for Sara – after a Salmonella Dub gig here in late 2003.

“Sara was working in hospitality at Subculture where we were playing and we just clicked,” he says. “She ended up coming on the rest of our South Island tour with me and that was that.

“Not long afterwards, I packed up everything and moved to Queenstown where Sara had been living for about seven years. I’ve been here since.”

Wilcox reveals that shifting to the resort was pivotal to him winning a longstanding battle with depression.

“It’s believed that one in five New Zealanders have suffered from depression,” he says. “But the sad thing is, half of those who have it won’t seek any treatment.

“I was diagnosed many years ago and I suppose I’ve been managing it for most of my life.

“The best thing to do is to go and get professional help and to talk about it. The professionals help you find the tools within yourself to help yourself.

“Moving to Queenstown has definitely been good for me because I found those tools here, for sure, and I feel very positive.”

Wilcox continues: “As well as there being some really helpful and understanding people here, being out in the light and getting plenty of exercise is important too.

“Instead of having a boring run around a square in Christchurch, here I just drive out of town for five minutes and can be somewhere fantastic with this ancient, primal bush feeling around me.

“It’s a great place to run and there’s a different sport you can do here every day of the week.”

Although he has no plans to return to the big stage, Wilcox will dust down his trusty sax for a series of jam sessions and gigs with friends at Dux de Lux over summer.

“I’m getting back into my music a bit more and there are a lot of very creative players to hook up with in Queenstown. I did the same thing last year and I’m looking forward to doing it again.”