10 Jan 1998

Musical Chairs - Andrew Brough

From Musical Chairs, 2:05 pm on 10 January 1998

*Much loved Bike and Straitjacket Fits guitarist and songwriter Andrew Brough died in Dunedin on 4 February 2020. In this 1998 interview he talks about leaving the Straitjacket Fits, forming Bike and the album Take In The Sun.

Following his departure from Dunedin-based band Straitjacket Fits, Andrew Brough ventures out on his own, releasing his new album Take in the Sun under the name Bike. Andrew Brough talks about his career to date, and we play some of his music.

The founding member and songwriter of Bike, Andrew Brough grew up through the indie guitar scene of Dunedin.

His first group outing was with student band The Blue Meanies. Later he was in The Orange and in 1986 he joined the Straitjacket Fits, providing a vital counterpoint to co-singer/songwriter/guitarist Shayne Carter, and helping to make that band one of New Zealand's most promising musical exports at the time.

A black and white portrait of the band Straitjacket Fits.

Straitjacket Fits. Clockwise from top left: Shayne Carter, John Collie, David Wood, Andrew Brough. Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library / Tony Mott

Brough's writing style leaned towards a lighter, more sublime sound, utilizing his trademark angelic voice, and charming reverb guitar. Some of the Straitjacket Fits most melodic and hauntingly beautiful pop songs, including 'Sparkle That Shines', 'Down in Splendour' and 'Such A Daze' were Brough compositions. His lush sound was the perfect foil to Shayne Carter's more choppy, percussive style, although Carter was firmly in the driving seat as the Straitjacket Fits became increasingly dark and rocky.

Despite an increasing international profile and successful tours to Australia, Europe and America, after five years with the Straitjacket Fits, Andrew Brough left the band citing artistic differences.

"I was allotted two or three songs on an album which just wasn't enough. It was basically unsaid, you know, that I wouldn't be contributing more than 25[%]. It was just this underlying sort of factor, tension almost, that no more was required."

After a couple of years hiatus in Dunedin Brough moved back to Auckland and set about forming a band to showcase his songs.

"Most of the song writing was handled by someone else in Straitjacket Fits, and there wasn't a pressure to write music. And I thought the only way I'm gonna get pressure to write music is to be in charge of a band where I have to write music, and with that pressure you will come up with results, both in terms of quality and quantity."

The band, named after the Pink Floyd song 'Bike', debuted in Auckland towards the end of 1995.

"It's a sort of a nursery rhyme ditty written by Syd Barrett formerly of Pink Floyd. It's a loopy little song and I thought well, Bike might not be the greatest name in the world but it is a fairly memorable name that once told, not forgotten. And so yeah it did originate from that song."

Bike first appeared performing a track on Flying Nun's tribute album ABBAsalutely where they played 'My Love, My Life'. The band's first proper release was a four-track EP 'Save My Life'.

Bike's debut album Take In The Sun was released late 1997.

"The fact that most of the songs were demoed to death in the proceeding couple of years, meant that going into the studio, I had it fairly well worked out what it was going to sound like in the end, just through a lot of four-track demoing. There was no experimental work done in the studio, it was all basically worked out because when you go to studio it's very expensive and it'd be nice to think that you could go in and waste some days being creative and experimenting, but the reality is that you can't afford to. So I was pretty adamant about having it all worked out before I went in, virtually down to the song order."

No caption

Photo: album cover - Flying Nun

[The song] "Old and Blue' I thought came out very well, because it's just it's a bit different from the rest. It's more into the rock territory and I do like to think that I, with five years with the Straitjacket Fits that I have a bit of a rock background and I'm still applying it to the music. Particularly with performance, you know, get a bit of a rock factor happening, a bit of energy so it's just not slick pop. A song like that is indicative of the rock thing that I like."

"When you go overseas and play to alien audiences who have no idea who you are, the inhibitions come down quite a bit. And you can do whatever you want on stage. But you know, I always found in New Zealand that I was pretty static at the Straitjacket Fits gigs and I feel that with Bike that it's important to make an effort to put a bit of performance and you know, get a bit animated on stage because people, as well as the audio thing, they want to be visually impressed as well."

Music details for Musical Chairs featuring Andrew Brough

'Take in the Sun' - Bike, Take in the Sun

'Done' - SJF,

'In Spite of it All' – SJF,

'Bike' – Pink Floyd,

'My Love My Life' – Bike (Abbasalutely),

'Save My Life' – Bike ('Save My Life' EP)

'Old and Blue' – Bike (Take in the Sun LP),

'Tears were Blue' – Bike (Take in the Sun LP),

'Circus Kids' – Bike (Take in the Sun LP),

'Keeping You In Mind' - Bike (Take in the Sun LP),

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes