NZ press articles 2007

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26.03.07 - Conchords sign up Kiwis for US show

By Tom Cardy - The Dominion Post | Monday, 26 March 2007

Wellington is again making its presence felt in American television, with two more capital talents working on a comedy show for HBO, the giant cable channel that has 30 million subscribers. The 12-part half-hour show Flight of the Conchords, starring Wellington folk music parody duo Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, is in the middle of shooting in New York, where it is set.

Clement, speaking from New York, said Wellington director Taika Waititi – nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for his short film Two Cars, One Night – would direct a couple of episodes. They would include one Waititi has also written, and an episode by Wellington screenwriter Duncan Sarkies, best known for hit Kiwi feature Scarfies.

"It's New Zealanders all over the place. They (HBO) trust us a lot, they are letting us have a go and there's never been too much trouble with us getting people."

London-based Kiwi comedian Rhys Darby also has a part, but the support cast are American. Most episodes were being directed by James Bobin, best known for Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen's Da Ali G Show.

HBO, which created hit shows Sex and the City and The Sopranos, will begin airing Flight of the Conchords in June on Sundays at 10.30pm. It is not known when it will air in New Zealand.

Clement said they had been working 12-hour days during the week on the show and recording the music at weekends. Four of the 12 episodes had been shot. "It was -15 degrees celsius when we were filming outside. It was freezing. We're both exhausted all the time. It's so hard, but it's fairly fun."

The pair are recording an album in the United States to tie in with the show. Clement also stars in Kiwi comedy film Eagle vs Shark, directed by Waititi and shot in Wellington. It will be released in the US on June 1. Taken from Stuff

17.10.06 - So this is what all the fuss is about

View a full size scan of this article Thanks Linda :)

The TV3 documentary Flight of the Conchords: A Texan Odyssey is a rare and exciting chance for New Zealand viewers to see our most successful comedy duo do their thing on the world stage.

In March 2006, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement aka Flight of the Conchords embarked on a revealing and hilarious odyssey into the political and musical heart of the United States of America. The result is a very amusing comedy documentary jam-packed with the Conchords’ classic hit songs.

With a Gibson Group documentary crew in tow, they travelled from Wellington, New Zealand to Austin, Texas to launch their folk parody act upon one of the toughest music industry events in the world: the South By SouthWest music showcase.

Superstars Morrissey, Neil Young, Peaches, Lyle Lovett and Kinky Friedman appear alongside New Zealanders Coco Solid, The Brunettes and Flight of the Conchords themselves in this enlightening look at what it takes to break into the ruthless American music market.

In their first experience as documentarians, McKenzie and Clement meet famous folk and political candidates, real cowboys and regular musicians, as well as their own management and fans. Important questions are asked. Is it better to be called a band, or a duo? Can one good rock show change the world? Can a comedy act break through onto the ruthless music circuit? Has anybody in America heard of any bands from New Zealand? Is stage-diving a good idea? The answers can be shocking.

In its 20 years of existence, SXSW has become widely regarded as the most important showcase of contemporary music in the world. Held every March in the state capital of Texas, approximately 1500 bands line up to tout their wares to record labels, managers, tour promoters, festival bookers and venue owners.

Flight of the Conchords had a greater head-start than most when they hit the ground in Austin this year: they already had a record contract (with Sub Pop – the legendary US indie label that signed Nirvana); management (the guy behind Good Charlotte and My Morning Jacket); a legal team (who also represent the South Park lads), and a personal invitation from SXSW head honcho, Roland Swenson (who saw them on HBO and loved them). Yet this still wasn’t enough to guarantee them decent sound at their gigs, fancy accommodation close to town, or cool bodyguards like Morrissey has to protect them from their fans. Things could go wrong – and they did.

Flight of the Conchords: A Texan Odyssey features live performances of the Flight of the Conchords hits “Business Time”, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room”, “Boom, She’s So Hot!”, “Think About It, Think, Think About It” and Coco Solid’s hit single “Denim & Leather”.

Taken from Gibson Group

Happy blokes eh ;)

15.10.06 - Conchords article in the NZ Sunday Herald today.

The Conchords have landed

Sunday October 15, 2006 - By Scott Kara

There's a woman in America with a photo of Jemaine Clement's lips in her wallet.

The picture of Clement, who with Bret McKenzie are the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, shares pride of place alongside snapshots of her two daughters.

While the Conchords are not hugely popular in the United States, they do attract a few hardcore fans like her.

And now they are making a 12-part show for American network HBO their popularity is set to soar. More on that TV series later.

But first, the pair have made a documentary, Flight Of The Conchords - A Texan Odyssey, about their time at the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas, this year.

It's in this documentary we meet Jemaine-obsessed Deidra. "We stay in touch with her. She's cool," says McKenzie.

We also meet Lisa who is very keen to get to get to know McKenzie better. "I think I'm in heaven because I'm standing next to you," she says, looking adoringly into his eyes.

"Yeah, I'm not quite sure what to say," says McKenzie.

Some fans travelled for days to see them perform in Austin. "We haven't had actual stalkers, but they're just keen and eager fans who are excited to meet us, which we don't have a problem with.

"I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. We don't walk the streets of America being chased by adoring women throwing their underwear at us."

The idea for the documentary was suggested by producer Gemma Gracewood who had been to the festival a number of times.

SXSW is one of the biggest music industry festivals in the world and the place to be if you want to be the next big thing.

The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and Norah Jones were discovered there.

"You hear the festival being talked about in industry circles and between bands, but I don't think many people have even heard of it," says McKenzie.

"It's not a public festival, but it's important and a lot of Kiwi bands [including the Datsuns and the Mint Chicks] have been to it and I think it's cool for New Zealand to see what's going on over there. Plus, what we were also keen on doing, was showing New Zealand a snapshot of what we are up to overseas."

He says the show ended up being a "documentary, mockumentary, travel show".

"It doesn't quite know what it is," he laughs.

"The thing about Austin is that it's the alternative capital of Texas, so it's open-minded, arts-based, big student town, big music town and not reflective of the conservative, redneck Texas at all."

In typical Conchords' style A Texan Odyssey is cheeky, dry and sprinkled with songs like Business Time and The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.

On their journey they meet Kinky Friedman, the country singer and author who's running for the Texas governorship; they interview themselves about themselves; attend key note speeches by Neil Young and Morrissey (who waves at them); and talk to ordinary Americans about New Zealand.

"In America they honestly don't know anything about New Zealand. They've heard of Lord of the Rings but sometimes they mistake it for Harry Potter," says McKenzie, who has a cult internet fanbase after playing an extra in The Fellowship of the Ring.

He has a number of websites dedicated to his "elvish good looks" and fans named him "Figwit".

The Americans may not know where New Zealand is but McKenzie says they love the slow dry Kiwi humour, which bodes well for their 12-part television series.

"It's incredible," says McKenzie in disbelief. They started writing the show last week and this week head to Los Angeles for two months to work on the script with co-writers from Britain and the US.

Then, early next year, they will film the 12 half-hour episodes which will screen next year.

The show is about the Conchords living in New York and trying to make it as a band.

"I think Jemaine described it as the Monkees meets Curb Your Enthusiasm.

"I've described it as Tenacious D meets Crocodile Dundee. It'll be an alternative sitcom and we incorporate the music into it."

Because of the show they have had to put off other commitments.

McKenzie had to quit his band the Black Seeds this year. "I was bummed because the album [Into the Dojo] goes number one and I had to quit the band," he says.

The breakthrough into America took about two years. Last year HBO ran a special half-hour Conchords show but this time round the network committed fully.

"This is the big jump. It doesn't mean we're going to be millionaires ... yet.

"The way American TV works is the big money comes from the major networks, and HBO is more like an independent record company, it's like the alternative network.

"So it's not like a big money-making venture. But we'll certainly make more money than if we had made it in New Zealand.

"Profile wise," he says, "it means we will probably be recognised in the street maybe once or twice."

And no doubt there will be a few more photos of Flight of the Conchords turning up in the wallets of eccentric American fans.

From the NZ Herald on Sunday

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