Part inspiration, part perspiration


One-man band Stretch describes his music as somewhere between Highway 61 Revisited and State Highway 2.

The Hawke’s Bay singer-songwriter brings his foot-stomping folk rock debut solo album Bury All Horses to Queenstown’s The Sherwood this weekend.

And as his line name-checking Bob Dylan’s classic album suggests, it betrays a life chock-full of musical influences from the United States and also the United Kingdom.

“I grew up in rural New Zealand back when there were jukeboxes in the pubs,” he says.

“You didn’t get a say what was put on obviously; you just listened to what the men listened to.

“Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and soul music, a lot of soul music actually, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam Cooke — and my dad was a big fan of that stuff.

“Then again, The Beatles were the biggest thing; the pure melody in their songs was the thing that spun my head around and stayed with me.”

Stretch — first name Anthony — hails from a musical family. His dad’s heritage is Maori, while his mum’s Irish.

“There were records and acoustic guitars strewn about the place.”

But it’s taken him 20 years to make the leap as a solo artist.

He’s fronted several indie-rock bands, including The Septembers, Hawkes and Doves, while working a day job in Auckland.

Then a few years back he picked up his guitar, harmonica, kick drum and tambourine and hit the road full-time.

“I’ve refined back down to the essentials.

“If it can stand up with a voice, song, and what I can do on an acoustic guitar, then I know it’s a strong piece of music.

“You can make things sound great with an ensemble and I love that power of numbers but again, perversely, love the challenge of doing the hardest version, which is solo. It feels right.”

He’s toured the country extensively ever since — killing three cars in the process and crowd-funding $7000 to record the album with top producer Wayne Bell.

It’s a life that’s part inspiration, part perspiration.

“You wear many hats and become a cottage industry of one, a self-sustaining little business — PR, social media, bookings, logistics, being a roadie and an artist.

“But it’s a challenge I’m up for.”

The Sherwood’s the final gig of his album tour before he returns to Hawke’s Bay to shoot a video for upcoming single Less Rock More Roll and then a summer Australia tour and festivals.

He’ll likely play all the tracks from Bury All Horses, a few covers, and some new and old material.

“There’s a couple of songs that didn’t sit in the album but work in the context of a live gig so I really love getting those out.”

He also plays a mean cover of Big Star’s Thirteen.

Stretch plays The Sherwood this Saturday, 8pm. Tickets $10