The Kaje talks cracking the UK to BONJAH

Glenn Mossop, Regan Lethbridge, Dave Morgan and Dan Chisholm are newcomers in the eyes of many a Brit, but truth be told the Melbourne based New Zealanders first formed BONJAH back at school and have been regulars on the liver circuit ever since. Having received overwhelming praise and numerous award nominations for their roots filled 2009 debut album “Until Dawn”, the boys cemented their place in the heart of their home terrain with latest release “Go Go Chaos” and are now taking their chances on the UK market… As longstanding BONJAH fans, The Kaje  jumped at the chance to chat with Regan about their hopes for their brief trip…

“Go Go Chaos” is album number 2, but for many Brits it serves as an introduction to BONJAH… Can you give us a little back story to BONJAH to begin with…

Moz, Dave & I were friends that shared a love of music, learnt how to play music together and started jamming together in school for fun. Then we moved way down to Dunedin in the South Island in NZ went to uni & met Dan, our drummer, and the rest is history! We moved to Melbourne in late 2006 with a dream of living off our music and started playing anywhere we could. Over 600 shows later, many tours, festivals we are still together and the vibe is better than ever. It’s a brotherly like bond I think.

And now a little about the album..

The record was written over 6 months, produced by acclaimed Melbourne producer Steve Schram and recorded at Sing Sing Studios. We are really proud of it, the songs stand up well and it’s a big step forward from “Until Dawn” (our first record). It turned out to be a little mellow but still has some up moments. We are on our final tour of Australia for the year at the moment promoting it, we are already thinking and writing album number 3. After the London shows we are locking ourselves away and creating something really unique, up and special.

How do you feel about “Go Go Chaos” acting as your hello card in the UK?

It’s cool, I mean we aren’t doing a big promo blitz for the album or pushing it super hard. We are doing the shows as we want to test the waters and play to people who have been wanting us to make the trip for ages. But yeah I am proud of the record and the little buzz it has created. When you’re an independent band word of mouth is your best marketing tool as you have such a limited budget for promotion. We just can’t wait to come over and play, explore the city and meet some industry crew.

If you had to pick one song, from your entire back catalogue, to act as an introduction-which would it be and why?

That’s a tough question, I personally would pick something mellow and a deep lyrical content like “Rise & Fall” or “To Dust”…. Our vocalist writes such incredible lyrics and melodies it’s hard to choose. Often songs written quickly are the best. I would say bring back the fire and the white line. Both of those songs seem to strike a chord with people when we play it live. I’m also biased as I wrote the music for those songs. It’s kinda like asking who your favourite child is! There all unique in their own way, it really feels what mood in.

“Go Go Chaos” was really well received on home turf-do you feel extra pressure to succeed overseas?

Not at all, we want to be successful in UK and Europe. We know it takes time to build. It’s music though, it’s fun and if you lose site of that it all turns to shit pretty quick! We always take our shows and music seriously and perform to the best we can, we can’t wait to see how we are received. It’s quite an exciting time. We have toured Japan and NZ before but never gone as far as the UK.

With everyone from Kimbra to The Jezabels fairing well on a global scale, what qualities do you bring to the table that makes you stand out from other Antipodean acts?

We have a live show that is super tight but it still changes every night. A singer that sounds like no-one else and makes what ever room we are playing in feel good! We just love to play music together and hopefully that resonates with the UK audience.

How have your goals changed as your name has grown?

We are the types of people who when we reach a certain point or do something really cool instead of sitting back and enjoying it, we just say “what’s next”. It’s that sort of thing. Always moving forward. You can always do something bigger, get better at your instrument and basically give anything a go.

What are you most looking forward to about the UK visit?

Just meeting people, checking out nice places to eat, the bars, soaking up as much of the city as poss. I really want to do the Beatles tour too, I really am a tourist! It would be cool to meet the Queen I guess.

What expectations do you have of your UK audience?

Hopefully they sing along to our tunes and let loose. I’d imagine that it would be much the same as here in Australia.

The trip is only a brief one-can we expect a full scale UK tour any time soon?

Yes, we are writing and recording our third record after the UK trip and we will be back next year for a couple of months to do an extensive tour of UK and Europe and officially release the album there. It’s a really exciting time for the band on a creative level and the possibilities of where we can tour. We will see you soon.

BONJAH play London venues Nambucca on June 15th & Underbelly on June 16th

Interview by Jeremy Williams

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