3 Sep 2016

Cut Off Your Hands - Happy As Can Be

From RNZ Music, 2:05 pm on 3 September 2016
Nick Johnston, happy as

Nick Johnston, happy as Photo: Yadana Saw

This year’s Others Way Festival closing act honours go to Cut Off Your Hands, who left fans hanging after their second 2008 album, Honour. Their appearance at the sprawling K’rd musical showcase was due to diligent and sustained persistence by the festival organisers, explains Nick Johnston, chief songwriter and singer of the band once known as Shaky Hands. The band had been approached several time before.

“Josh sent us a last minute email, 'I just wanted to check again'...and Ben [Howe] said “What if you play the album You and I back to back”

That option was enough to convince the band that actually never broke up to come back out of necessary hibernation

“We were playing 200 shows a year and all the traveling in among that around America,  Europe, Australia, Asia and UK - it was tiring,  just so tiring with the same four guys. It's kind of like working out a second marriage.”

The associated touring, hard-living London lifestyle saw some of the band start to crave what was happening back on home soil.  I speak with Nick in the architecturally assertive staff canteen of Jasmax Architects, where he’s starting out in the Secondary School refit team. Meanwhile drummer, Brent Harris has completed his law degree; bassist Phil Hadfield and guitarist Jonathan Lee are still musically active with outfits She’s So Rad and Bespin respectively. Yet it seems a long way away from recording in [Scottish cult musician] Edwyn Collin’s studio and being teased by Collins about ripping off Orange Juice’s riffs.

For Nick, the memories of his music are palpable, getting back on stage “it’s a little bit like smelling a perfume that you haven’t worn for a while, or that an ex-partner used to wear.”

So, what was it like to get back into the rehearsals for The Others Way?

“We hadn’t played any of the songs in about four years, but our drummer Brent just counted us in and we all started playing. We were all surprised how easy it all came back. It was buzzy.”

You can listen to highlights of the performance here:

Music details

Artist: Cut Off Your Hands
Songs: Happy as Can Be, Turn Cold
Composer: Johnston, Cut Off Your Hands
Album: You and I
Label: I am Sound