Q&A: Don McGlashan

Legendary Kiwi band The Mutton Birds will reunite for a country-wide summer tour. Don McGlashan tells What’s Hot New Zealand excitement is building and so is the set list.

You’ve described reforming as being like putting on an old coat you haven’t worn for a while – how’s the fit? Good so far. We won’t actually start rehearsing till Alan the bass player arrives from the UK but people are already suggesting songs for the set list and ideas are flying back and forth. Excitement is building!

Do any of you actually like muttonbird, or tītī? If yes, what’s your favourite way to eat it? Not sure about the other guys, but I do like muttonbird, either triple-boiled, roasted, then served on fresh white bread with some watercress; or (much less time-consuming) ordered as a delicious entree at Fleur’s, Moeraki.

Will the playlist be all Mutton Birds or will there be some of your solo material as well? There are more than enough Mutton Birds songs I reckon. That’s 10 years of writing and recording, and it’ll be great to delve into it all with the benefit of hindsight. I think that apart from the well-known ones that we’ll definitely play, we’ll find some seldom-played ones that deserve an outing.

Any new treatments for the old classics? Bound to be!

It seems many of your Kiwi fans came to love The Mutton Birds while in London on their OE – what are your best memories of that time? So many: fish and chips in Arbroath, Scotland, before the Dundee gig; Colin and Philip from Radiohead turning up to our set at the Borderline on Tottenham Court Road; having to go and have beer and mussels in Calais for one day every few months to freshen up our UK work visas; finding the Topp Twins waiting in the rain outside our show at the Shepherds Bush Empire, and seeing the happy looks on their faces when we hustled them to the front of the queue…

What are you bingewatching at the moment? The strange, anarchic British TV show Flowers. Hilarious, frightening and brilliant.

Any new Kiwi artists that have caught your attention? There are so many Kiwis making fantastic music right now. I’m loving Tiny Ruins’ latest album, and Marlon Williams and Emily Fairlight. The list goes on.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “If someone who looks like a much older version of you sidles up to you in a dark alley, and it seems as if they’re about to give you advice, run for it.”

What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday afternoon? If I’m in Christchurch and it’s a nice day, walking around to Boulder Bay from Taylor’s Mistake. (Who was Taylor? What did he do wrong? Did someone ever point it out to him, or was everyone too polite?)

After this tour, what is on the cards for the rest of 2020? I’ll be hard at work on my next solo album. I’m hoping to release that in the second half of the year.

January 24, 2020 – Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin
January 25, 2020 – Great Kiwi Beer Festival, North Hagley Park, Christchurch
February 5, 2020 – Cold Chisel Blood Moon Tour, Wharepai Domain, Tauranga
February 6, 2020 – San Fran, Wellington
February 7, 2020 – San Fran, Wellington
February 8, 2020 – The Cabana, Napier

February 15, 2020 – North West Wine, Beer & Food Festival 2020, The Hunting Lodge Winery & Restaurant, Napier Auckland