Dave Baxter is the founder and creator of Avalanche City, a band we are about to introduce into the Folk Radio UK playlist. Many of you will not be familiar with them in the UK but they have rocketed to fame in New Zealand. Baxter is still the creative core of the band although the flesh around it has grown with the need for a live band. The whole process behind his first album relied on extreme dedication which bordered on monasticism: spending long hours alone in a house to build his music from scratch, from singing scales to recording and then self critique. The results speak for themselves.
He was keen to get his debut album ‘Our New Life Above The Ground‘ out there and felt selling it would not bring him the attention he wanted so he initially offered it for free. The album was an overwhelming success…”I just wanted people to have it,” Baxter explains. “I’d worked so hard making this album and if I’d sold it, it would have only reached a few hundred people. I just cared so much more about people having it, listening to it, sharing it with their friends and hopefully identifying with the songs.”
Taking his band name from the title of a song he’d co-written some years earlier, Baxter played some solo acoustic shows, touring with Bradley Hathaway and The Paper Kites, and then decided to record an album. He’d long believed that the old community halls that dot the New Zealand countryside would make great recording spaces, with their wooden structures, spacious interiors and high ceilings. So he holed up in Kourawhero Hall just of outside Auckland, and with only the cows and the milk trucks as company, he recorded the music for Our New Life Above The Ground within a week.
He captured each instrument, experimenting with different sonic techniques getting it all onto tape. A raw style filled with unique nuances warmed by the scope of the country hall naturally took shape, taking pages from the songbooks of some of the greats – Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Ben Gibbard to name a few. The instinctual and rugged storytelling ability is apparent and strikes more than a chord in the listener through rich narratives and the evocation of impressive imagery.
Fate played a hand in all this…’an executive for a major local New Zealand TV station TV2 heard ‘Love, Love, Love’ playing in a store and decided to use it for the station promos. The song shot to number one on the New Zealand singles chart, becoming the fastest selling debut #1 for a NZ group in the digital era, stamping itself all over the nation’s airwaves and swiftly surpassing platinum status’.
So for those of you have not yet heard Avalanche City, here is their video for Love, Love Love, you’ll hear more of them on the station form next week:
Next week sees them heading to SXSW for a showcase that should hopefully bring them greater coverage across the globe!