Gig of the Week: Give us your wine, women and rum

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Dunedin pirate-rockers the Scurvy Dogs are all fired up for Queenstown – but gutted they can’t bring their trusty cannon.

The crackpot crew likes nothing better than to give their fans a blast of smoke from a big gun during gigs.
But Dux de Lux isn’t big enough for them to use their full arsenal of special effects when they hit the venue tomorrow night.

“The cannon going off is always a bit of a highlight,” says guitarist Cap’n Shag.

“But unfortunately there’s hardly enough room for the band on the stage at the Dux, never mind smoke machines and the likes.

“There will still be plenty of pirate-type things going on though and we’ll be handing out gold doubloons [coins] to people at the show.”

The Scurvy Dogs first set sail with their pirate-rock sound in 2004 and claim their influences are “treasure, wine, women and rum” – but “not necessarily in that order”.

As well as the Cap’n, the group also features Dirty Crab Jack on bass, drummer Knockin’ Boots Cutler, Gangrene on tambourine and vocalist First Mate Maccarrr.

They’ve so far released three albums and built a solid live following throughout the South Island.

“We combine what we consider the best elements of folk, rock, sea shanty and The Wiggles in an explosion of fiery, tuneful noise,” insists the Cap’n – aka Dunedin-based primary school teacher Iain Johnstone.

“Basically, we like to think we’ve put the argh in rock.”

Founding Scurvy Dog member Johnstone, who’s originally from Scotland, has a longstanding interest in all-things seagoing.

In his spare time he happens to be a member of the Royal New Zealand Navy Volunteer Reserve and takes part in exercises all over the country.

“I get to drive ships, sort ropes and shoot guns and things,” he says

“It’s great fun and a lot of the other sailors have become fans of the band.

“The whole idea for playing pirate-rock came to me when I was drinking in a naval bar with some mates and we got up on the stage for a jam session.

“The first song I wrote was about pirates and it all kind of just took off from there.”

The Scurvy Dogs promise “the usual mayhem and nonsense” at their gig in Queenstown tomorrow night before heading back into the recording studio to start their fourth album Rum, Lies and Cannon Fire.