Self-described as a melting pot of reggae, hip-hop, rock and funk, Dunedin band Summer Thieves are definitely one to watch in the NZ music scene. We had a chat with bassist Adam Spencer and guitarist-come-vocalist Jake Barton to get the inside info on how they’ve made it to where they are today.
Nexus: You guys are the name behind some seriously sick NZ music. Who would you say are your biggest inspirations?
Everything and anything. Musically we’re all into different music but come together and influence each other’s listening. Keeping it local, we’ve been pretty lucky to play and work with some of our biggest inspirations. The likes of Katchafire, Kora, Tiki, L.A.B, Sticky Fingers, etc.
Nexus: The name Summer Thieves begs some questions – how did you come up with it?
Hahaha, half stole it? It was used by a couple us for one show with an old group. Coming up with band names is tough so when we were starting up we just thought screw it, let’s use that, who’s gonna call us up on it...
Nexus: Your latest single All I Want is a bloody great tune. What’s the story behind it?
All I Want is basically about being on your own journey (whatever that may be) and just not giving up. It’s also about taking time to reflect and enjoy the small moments (in between the stress of making dreams come true) like something as simple as a beautiful day at the beach.
Nexus: It seems dirty Dunners is producing some great musicians, yourselves included! Is there something in the water down there, or does the youthful nature of the city just bring talent to the surface?
It is ae, always has done. I don’t know what it is honestly. Being so cold you’re stuck inside with nothing to do and being cooped up you wanna get out and let loose in the weekend. It’s such a compact space of students, playing parties and gigs makes it pretty easy to get out and play a lot. Practice playing live and seeing how the music goes down with crowds.
Nexus: Your debut album Warped came out in 2017, congratulations! How did it feel to be able to release your own record?
Thanks! Seems like a long time ago now but it’s still feels pretty rad seeing it out there in the world. We worked hard for a long time on it and we’re proud of what we put together.
Nexus: You’ve performed alongside some pretty big names from the music scene; what’s been the career highlight so far?
Jake: The career highlight changes constantly. Here are a few that stand out for me. Go back 6 years opening for Katchafire in Dunedin at the venue Sammy’s and at the time that was by far the most surreal thing. They were our idols. Then getting the opening slot for Macklemore for his debut NZ show. We had to prove we can do a hip hop show so we recorded a version of Another One Bites the Dust with our old mate Max Dad E. We finished and sent the track off at 7 am and got a call a few hours later saying we got the gig. That was a cool moment. Now all the shows are highlights cause we’re selling our shows out and playing our own tunes.
Nexus: Tiki Taane is a bit of a legend in New Zealand, what has it been like to work with him?
Working with Tiki was a pretty special moment for us at the time. He’s been a mentor to us and a really good friend. We all looked up to him as young musicians and to have someone like that believe in what you’re doing and call me (Jake) up and say “you ready for an album? I’m keen to record you guys!” That recording process went on for quite a while. I think the album took about 2 and a half years. We were young and fresh. Our sound and our vision changed which made the process take a bit longer… But that turned out to be a good thing because we kinda found ourselves in the process and where we wanted to go with our sound for the album.
Nexus: Besides music and the band, what’s life like for the boys of Summer Thieves?
Pretty usual. Surfing, working away, finding ways to keep busy and sane! Living in Ak’s been a good change from Dunners. Summer Thieves family life? Our day to day? Each doing our own thing. Jake’s usually out surfing while Johnny drinks craft beer and Adam burns his thumb out on dating apps.
Nexus: We’re in full swing of our second uni semester here at Waikato; do you have any advice for students that might be lackin’ in the motivation department?
Throw on some good music, put your head down, go for a run. If all that fails, get a pint?
Nexus: Your song Coast Roads is a stellar summer tune, but what are your recommendations for a killer winter playlist?
Put some smooth RnB on, light the fire, let the mood take you. D’angelo, Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Curtis Mayfield on and on.
Nexus: Finally, what’s the best shit town in NZ?
A wee spot south of our home town Dunedin; Milton - “The town of opportunities”.