Kiwi legends Dragon are bringing their hits to New Zealand for the Great Kiwi Beer Festival, which has a well-earned reputation for being the country’s largest outdoor beer festival. OG and bassist Todd Hunter reflects on the highs and lows of a life in the service of the rock gods.
What is the current lineup in the band? Mark Williams plays guitar and sings as only he can. Pete Drummond plays drums impeccably, plays keyboards, sings harmonies, wrangles Ableton loops and filters all at the same time. Bruce Reid is our Canadian guitar slinger. The sounds he can wrench from his Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar are neither country nor gentle.
You seem to be enjoying being back in front of an audience again? We love playing and to that end we play every weekend of the year bar a few for family things. Our total focus is on being a working band.
It must be a wonderful feeling being drowned out by the audience on anthems like ‘April Sun in Cuba’. It certainly is. We couldn’t do it without songs like ‘April Sun’, ‘Rain’, ‘Are You Old Enough’, ‘Still In Love’, ‘Young Years’ etc.
Is Dragon like Phar Lap and pavlova – Australians have claimed you as their own? We are our own little League of Nations – one Aussie, two Kiwis and one Canadian – so the ‘ours and theirs’ thing has died down a bit.
Must be a million stories you can tell – what’s been your best and worst experience on tour or in concert? The best experience is yet to come and the worst experience is long forgotten.
Any new Kiwi artists that have caught your attention? Love the fact that Alien Weaponry sing in Māori.
Tell us about your first gig as Dragon? It was at the Great Ngaruawahia Rock Festival in 1973, New Zealand’s first big festival. We were crap.
Do you feel the ghosts of your brother Marc and keyboardist Paul Hewson on stage with you? Yes, when there is a huge crowd singing it feels like Marc and Paul are there and that they live on through their songs.
After this tour, what do you have planned for the rest of 2020? Work every weekend till the end of June.
Any plans to return to the recording studio? Yes, we are working on new songs for a new album.
What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Fly to Sydney from wherever we are, see the kids and their kids, then drive down the coast to our country place and pick up sticks etc.
What’s your go-to spot in Christchurch? Walk till I’m lost and find a coffee. I’ve always loved Christchurch ever since the band used to play here in 1973.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Keep writing songs and remember that music is not life itself.
What is one thing that you hope audiences take away from your performances? The fact that our songs are going around in their heads.
Great Kiwi Beer Festival, Hagley Park, Christchurch, January 25, 2020
Great Kiwi Beer Festival, Claudelands Events Centre, Hamilton, March 7, 2020