English singer-songwriter Stuart O’Connor doesn’t mind having to rough it on his latest tour of New Zealand.
The funky folk and psychedelic performer hits Queenstown on Friday on his fourth NZ visit, which is jam-packed with gigs. It needs to be – how, or if, he gets paid is “a little bit potluck”.
“You might get something for [a show] or you might just get a place to stay and some food,” O’Connor says.
He has a simple philosophy: “I just play everywhere I want to go.”
O’Connor has clocked up over a thousand shows in the past four and a half years and still has a long list of gigs to play on a nine-month trip that takes in Japan, NZ, Australia and then Japan again on his way home – if funds permit.
“It’s been a real crazy four years to be honest. I’ve just been kind of perpetually living on the road,” the self-proclaimed “hobo, bum or just rambling hippy” says.
Since the 30-year-old is constantly on a budget, waking up on a random couch isn’t an uncommon occurrence.
O’Connor’s “hired” a van for free off a Southlander in exchange for making it roadworthy to use as his roving
home, but he doesn’t snooze there much.
“I normally expect to just sleep in a vehicle but often you just end up getting housed,” O’Connor says.
“It’s kind of a lot better to have access to a shower and that sort of thing.”
At an Invercargill show last week O’Connor put a “shout-out” to see if anyone had a sofa for him to crash on – and he ended up staying with a local guy for a week.
“It kind of often works out like that,” he says.
The tour’s named Good Times With Evil after the latest of his three albums released in September but O’Connor says he won’t be playing many songs off it.
He has a backing band while recording, but when on tour, he’s a one-man-band with an acoustic guitar and “a whole heap of sound pedals”.
Three UK recording labels – “not from a big ass label or anything” – have wanted to sign O’Connor, but didn’t offer enough for him to compromise what he does.
“Truth be told, I still feel heaps better about being independent – I wouldn’t be in NZ if I wasn’t.”
O’Connor admits “it’s quite turbulent at times”, but adds: “I’m just so happy when I’m on the road – as long as everything’s going fine and my van remains working.”