Over the last seven years Dunedin student band Albion Place has gone from a group of high school kids busking on the street they named themselves after, to tearing up Spotify, playing major festivals and performing a successful international tour.
Their chill, shirtless-with-a-beer-on-Castle-Street vibe is part of a recent renaissance for the Dunedin Sound, driven by the rise of Six60 and the wave of Scarfie indie-reggae-rock bands hoping to replicate their success.
Micah Davis-Rae (vocals, guitar), Hugh Fulton (keyboard, vocals), Tom Kelk (bass) and Jack Ferguson (drums) have known each other since high school. After a year or so of busking, Albion Place officially formed in 2011 for the Smokefree Rockquest, and quickly became the go-to local band for school formals and prizegivings.
“There’s definitely been a very distinct development of our sound,” said lead singer Micah, who lists The Beatles as his greatest influence. “Having had a lineup change means there’s always different influences in the band. With the new album [Mascuzzi Jacuzzi] people have asked us what were we going for, but we weren’t really going for anything; we just jumped in a room and what you hear on the record is what came out of those few sessions – it’s very natural.”
Right out of school, they uploaded the single I Will Not Forget to Spotify. Micah admits he “barely knew what Spotify was” at the time, and didn’t really have any expectations. A year and a half later he got a Snapchat from a mate telling him the song had blown up, reaching over 1 million listens on the streaming platform. “I don’t know how it happened eh, but it’s amazing,” he said.
That online explosion was enough to fund an Australian tour, which the band snuck into an already packed summer schedule, including a full NZ tour and a “gnarly” performance at Rhythm and Alps. “It was sick. It’s really crazy because we’d never played any shows outside of New Zealand before, but then we’re turning up to little towns we’d never even heard of and having people singing the words to our songs.”
For now, the band is all back in Dunedin and living together for the first time. Some of them have finished their degrees, while a couple are still chipping away. Once that’s out of the way? “We’ll see where we go from there. Who knows?”