Local Produce: [Allophones]

Local Produce: [Allophones]

The Allophones are Barney, Ben, and Tane. Barney and Ben are also siblings. “Allophones” are also a group of sounds that a certain combination of letters can make (linguistics students, please don’t come for me). You could also say an “allophone” is a singular member of the band, the [Allophones], stylised the way they are denoted in the practice of linguistics, as the band’s name reflects the many variations to the Ōtepoti-based band’s structure.


No one member is set to a designated instrument and everyone gets to pitch their original songs. During their live performances, the trio moves between roles as lead vocalist, guitars, bass, keys, and even accordion. "It's useful in terms of our relationships with each other,” says Barney. “It stops an intensive ego-ification…It’s all democratic.” It’s as if their work comes together in thirds, shares Tane: “It’s not one singular songwriter coming in with a full song then the others are just backing. It's pieces that we bring together and all contribute to.” Barney adds, “We’ve got three sounds because there’s three of us writing songs.” They are also joined by a fourth band member on stage, Mr. Bones, a skeleton and repurposed Halloween decoration. “He’s the real frontman, the real face of the band,” says Barney, who used his biological anthropology background to describe him as the skeleton of a male between 30 to 50 years of age.


As siblings, Barney and Ben have been playing music together throughout their lives. The three came to play together at the Waitati Music Festival, where the siblings enlisted Tane to play drums, who they knew from all attending Logan Park High. They have been playing together for over a year, with influences ranging through shoegaze, psychedelic, and classic alt-rock. Tane: “We’re just lucky that they all work together. They mesh together well but also have enough difference when we’re playing live, doing our different songs, it still brings enough variety to keep it fresh.”


The Allophones are currently on tour - a whopping eighteen gigs in just three weeks - promoting their new single ‘Human’. Mr. Bones has joined them throughout, but with a car full of gear, Mr. Bones has been travelling via roof rack. So, if you’ve seen a car with a skeleton strapped to the roof, the Allophones promise it’s not sus. Their new track combines the gritty and psychedelic, with lyrics sung as though they are from a non-human perspective - like an android or alien, according to Barney, and invoking a sense of unity despite our differences: “We’re human, regardless of age, gender or whatever.” The song was released alongside a music video featuring their friends and some fellow local musicians. It’s set in a fancy record label office with the Allophones pitching their song ‘Human’ to the label’s CEO, played by Mr. Bones.


The Allophones will be wrapping up their 'Human' tour in Ōtepoti. Be sure to catch them on Friday, 24 February at The Crown. Their music is available on all the good streaming platforms, and you can keep up with Allophones news on socials (@allophonesnz).

This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2023.
Posted 7:44pm Sunday 26th February 2023 by Jamiema Lorimer .