Far from ruination


Don’t let the name fool you — Tiny Ruins is far from in a state of dilapidation.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The Kiwi band is going from strength-to-strength, standing tall in the underground scene, bolted up by an army of loyal fans.

Known for their confessional and intimate song-writing, and delicate folk sounds, Tiny Ruins’ third studio album, Olympic Girls, released at the start of the year, is different to their typical style.

Some music reviewers have dubbed the critically-lauded album as psychedelic.

Hollie Fullbrook, the songwriting force behind Tiny Ruins, isn’t convinced that’s the right label, instead describing it as “bolder’’ than their original songs with influences from the 60s and 70s, without being “too nostalgic”.

Having just come back from a month-long tour doing the European festival circuit, Tiny Ruins is celebrating the success of the album on home soil with a 12-date tour around the country.

Joining Fullbrook is the band’s electric guitar player and producer Tom Healy, Cass Basil on the bass, and Joe McCallum (who’s standing in for Alexander Freer) on the drums.

On what people can expect from their live gigs, she says: “For us, the new album feels like a natural evolution, but for people who haven’t seen us play live yet, they might be like ‘Wow that’s a different sound.’’’

In a treat for their fans of softer songcraft, Fullbrook is releasing a solo acoustic recording of the album, which is appropriately titled Olympic Girls Solo, at the end of the month.

“The solo version is really stripped back and a return to minimalistic,’’ she says.

However, what does remain is the songwriter’s natural gift for telling sentimental stories.

She identifies as a classic songwriter in the sense her lyrics are autobiographical, and inspired by real people and places, but that doesn’t mean she finds it easy to completely open up.

“I have a hard time being super-confessional, and I tend to hide behind lots of layers within my songs.’’

Perhaps it’s simply because of her bashful nature.

Despite penning songs and poems from a young age, Fullbrook originally completed a law degree in Wellington, and expected to go into policy writing as a way to earn a living.

In her uni days, it took plenty of consistent pestering by her housemates before she would pull out the guitar and play at parties.

“They were like ‘Why the hell aren’t you doing anything with these songs?’’’

In about 2007, she played at her first open-mic night at the Cavern Club in Wellington.

“Then things started falling into place and all of a sudden you’re not going to be a lawyer and you have a huge student loan for no reason,’’ she says with a laugh.

Proving big things can come from taking tiny steps.

– Miranda Cook

Tiny Ruins hits the stage at the Sherwood, on September 13, at 9pm. Tickets are $35 and can be bought at eventfinda.co.nz