Sweet and sour – behind the scenes with power pop band Pipsy

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New Zealand-born Melbourne-based power pop band Pipsy deliver their sometimes angsty lyrics with a spoonful of sugar

On the Record got off track with Paul Pouwels -Trumpour, the man behind power pop band Pipsy, talking about his nostalgia for the 90s, his curious link to Arnold Schwarzeneggar and of course the inspiration behind their latest album Strung Out.

Paul grew up in a small place called Otatara, about 10 minutes out of Invercargill, New Zealand and spent a lot of his youth listening, like most kids, to music his parents liked.

“My parents are actually really cool. My friends would come over to hang out with me and stick around to hang out with my mum,” he laughs.

“I tried to do the classic punk rock rebellion when I was 13. I decided I was going to listen to System of a Down. The next day my parents bought two insanely weird Korn and Slipknot posters and put them up in my room.

“We always had great music playing around the house. Kind of this medley of heavier rock and pop. I guess that’s what I ended up doing with my music. I don’t like it being all heavy. I quite like delivering a spoonful of sugar type thing.”

His interest in music expanded whilst studying journalism in Dunedin. Initially attracted to music journalism, he found he felt equally at home in the music department and completed a thesis on the culture of recording in the Dunedin music scene.

Unlike his previous album Users, which was Paul’s own song-writing project, Strung Out is a more collaborative effort.

The album is a high energy yet self-reflective collection of songs written between 2016 and 2019 featuring Paul on vocals accompanied by friends Shane Hellyer and Dan Hoffman. 

“I really love [working with others],” he says. “ I’m more collaborative in nature. When you’re in a room by yourself it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal because you don’t have anyone to talk to. You can also think something is better than it is or be overly critical of yourself.”

Many of the songs on Strung Out deal with the experience of culture shock, which Paul grappled with when he first made the move from Dunedin to Melbourne.

“Melbourne can be very insular but once you break into a certain scene you start feeling part of it. Some of the songs were written during the same period as Users. You forget how good it is to be supported by a community like Dunedin so when I first came over I was quite lost. I think a lot of the songs are a reflection of that. That idea of being a little bit disconnected from your home.”

The album also features his brother Cam who lives in Australia as well and is an advertising director.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the ad campaign for realestate.com.au which did some ads famously with Arnold Schwarzeneggar? That came about because Cam can do a very good Arnie impression so they rang Arnie up and asked how much it would cost to have him in the ads and he came over to Australia. We are an odd family.”

As a teenager, Paul grew up mostly listening to UK and American bands but got hooked on New Zealand music when he first encountered Split Endz and later The Mint Chicks.

“[The song] ‘Scared To Go Outside,’ [featured on Users] sounds very like The Mint Chicks and is a tribute to my obsession with 90s rock. Weezer and The Mint Chicks are the two bands that influenced me the most.”

This nostalgia for the 90s is most obvious in the song ‘93’ which is written about a time both in his life and in music history Paul remembers fondly.

“We’ve gone through this post-modern detached phase creatively where we are enjoying things ironically. That’s a big part of our culture at the moment. I’m probably sincere to a fault and I tend to look back at the past and idealise it a little bit.

“[The song is] also about my obsession with the year ‘93’ because everything great happened around that time. It’s all of those complicated feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality that I naturally had.”

Strung Out is available to listen to now on all good music streaming sites. Follow @pipsymusic on Facebook for show details and news about their upcoming album set to be released at the end of the year.





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