Prozac Pop from New Zealand. Eight-legged creatures need not apply

Photography by Mic Wernej

Prozac Pop from New Zealand. Eight-legged creatures need not apply

“We’re not here to fuck spiders,” says Tim van Dammen, drummer and noticeable leader of New Zealand’s Collapsing Cities.

It might just be the most profound answer that we’ve ever been given. Or perhaps just the most well executed while having a tongue firmly in its cheek. The question, like it matters, is ‘how important is it to you that you’re successful in England?’ and it’s been asked because, seemingly, it’s extremely important.

Having outgrown their native country – releasing a debut album and playing every venue worth a visit countless times – Collapsing Cities have descended on Britain for an indefinite stint, courtesy of a “flexible return” as guitarist James smirks. Currently, the quartet are scattered around London, sofa surfing at friends’.

“I grew up on Britpop, like Blur was my favourite band, so for me the UK has always been the goal,” says singing guitarist Steve, victorious of Collapsing Cities’ new home. Where the band de-camped to was a toss-up y’see, between Australia, where Tim knows a host of beneficial friends, and Blighty, where Steve’s love for guitar music was born.

Since arriving, the four have felt like they’ve “played more gigs in four weeks than in a year back home”, and the accelerated musical culture of London seems to be agreeing with them, and the anglo-centric guitar pop they play.

Tim calls their sound “Prozac Pop”, although, along with the denial of knobbing arachnids, sheds no more light on his answer than that. It’s not because he’s being awkward, it’s just a daft question that music hacks feel obliged to throw in. So we try to sum up the bouncing indie that Collapsing Cities produce ourselves. It’s Morrissey’s wry, lyrical sense of humour through the likes of recent Way Out West single ‘Fear Of Opening My Mouth’ (thanks to its a capella sing-a-long section of “If I’m still a telemarketer next year I think I’ll end my life”), the baggy groove of Happy Mondays on ‘Elixir Airways’ and even a cosmic Bowie at double speed as their live set-closing ‘Seriously’ jangles into view.

“Dude, that’s awesome!” grins Steve, prompting Tim to add, “I know, God, let’s hold onto this for a moment or two.” But when you do the maths of what makes up Collapsing Cities it’s not too surprising that they sound like they do. Steve’s voiced penchant for Britpop you know about, while James and bassist Stephen were both bred on Pavement, Flying Nunn and Wire, which leaves Tim’s vital love for Midnight Juggernauts; a constant obsession – says the drummer, “Once I’d seen them in Australia I loved them so much that I spent all of my savings touring them through New Zealand, and I was like, ‘This is the shit! My next band is going to be like this!'” The result is Prozac Pop – indie to get you out of bed in the morning, and onto the dancefloor.


Originally published in issue 2 (vol. 2) of Loud And Quiet. August 2008

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