Fatherhood keeps 'Conchords' stars busy
4:00AM Thursday Nov 05, 2009
By Jacqueline Smith
Bret and Jemaine have less time for horsing around now they've both got young children. Photo / Supplied
Bret McKenzie isn't expecting to take a call from his homeland. His American record company has had him on the phone to journalists from as far as Finland before TimeOut rings through. Apparently the new album I Told You I Was Freaky is a hit over there.
"That's quite a surprise to me," McKenzie says. He doesn't know a lot about the Finnish music scene but has heard they are more into metal.
"I think in between their death metal songs they are dropping a little bit of, yeah, Too Many Dicks on The Dancefloor," he says referring to the faux disco number on the new album.
I Told You I Was Freaky entered the New Zealand charts at number seven last week - McKenzie says it's exciting to see how well it's doing.
This second album - or third if you count the 2007 Grammy-winning Distant Future EP which pre-dated last year's self-titled long-player - was put together in a year, while the duo's first album took five or six years.
He is taking interview calls to promote it from his home in Wellington, which is a hectic place to be at the moment. He and his wife Hannah have a three-month old baby girl. Her name is Vita - Italian for life.
Jemaine Clement and Miranda Manasiadis have a son called Sophocles - it's Greek for something else - who is almost one year old.
So while the spotlight has been on his Conchords co-stars - Clement with his Emmy nomination and films and Rhys Darby with his swathe of television appearances-slash-product endorsements - McKenzie has also been seriously busy since arriving home in May.
"Yeah, I've been kind of figuring out fatherhood for the past few months," he says.
How is he finding it?
"Um, I've got a lot of room to improve. It seems like it's quite a long-term commitment."
And no, it wasn't awkward when the other half of the duo was singled out for an Emmy nomination for best comedy performance. McKenzie says he thought it was awesome that Clement was picked. In fact, he hoped that Clement wouldn't make it to the ceremony so he could go and accept it and confuse everyone. Everyone seems to get the pair confused anyway, he says.
It seems a sizeable chunk of America is still crazy about the show, with the Washington Post recently running an article charting ways to dress like a Kiwi musician who is trying to make it in New York.
The Flight of the Conchords' tour around the US in April and May was an indication of just how popular they have become outside New Zealand, packing out the likes of Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Constitution Hall in Washington and New York's Radio City Hall.
"It was overwhelming. Really, really ecstatic audiences and some really crazy moments - like some slightly Beatles moments with people chasing the bus."
If they can find time, McKenzie hopes Flight of the Conchords can do a New Zealand tour, and bring over comedians Arj Barker, Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman who play Dave, Mel and Eugene in the series.
He says he would love to play in New Zealand's opera houses, like the Civic in Auckland and the Hawkes Bay Opera House in Hastings where he played with the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra last month.
That's all well and good. But what the fans really want to know is whether the Conchords will be delivering a third series.
HBO co-president Richard Plepler seemed keen when he spoke to a press tour in July.
McKenzie says he won't know until the end of the month. He, Clement and director James Bobin still have to hold a meeting about it.
"We haven't decided to do it, and if we do it will take a while because we need to write a lot of material," he explains.
How long are we talking?
For a series?
"That's for one episode. So to do a season of say six episodes, would take 60 years."
"We could be getting very old."
McKenzie's imagination flickers. The show would be about two guys living in a retirement village, he says. Bret and Jemaine will still live in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but it won't be such a hipster scene. "It will be more of a retirement-type world. More like Waikanae."
But seriously, he is pretty sure Vita and Hannah will travel with him if he decides to go back to America to film. Vita's good at travelling, he says - she flew over for the Emmys.
"She was amazing - she was handing out the lollies and everything and she can't even hold anything yet." He can't help himself.
So would he give Vita a role if there was a third series?
"No. It wouldn't be a "my two dads" situation."
Guess we'll just have to sit tight then.
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Congratulations, Bret and Hannah!