Yay for Australian tour dates!
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An interview with Bret
Kiwis take flight around AustraliaSource
JACQUI BAHR, The West Australian
April 10, 2012, 11:43 am
Last time Bret McKenzie was in Perth, he was playing rock-reggae with his old band the Black Seeds. They came minus a saxophone player, who'd been jailed in Brisbane the night before for tackling a bouncer after being cut off from a closing bar.
"That's my only Perth story. I don't know that much about Perth," says McKenzie, who'll return to WA in July for Flight of the Conchords' live national tour.
"I think a lot of Kiwis go (to WA) to work in gold mines. We've got some gold mining songs we might try out.
"Maybe in-between the shows we can do some gold mining."
But it doesn't look like McKenzie is in need of a windfall. As he gets set to tour the country as one half of the cult Kiwi musical comedy duo, he is an international star. Surprisingly, this will be the popular New Zealand double act's first Australian headline tour in their 15-year career.
McKenzie, along with partner in crime Jemaine Clement, shot to international fame on the back of their acclaimed self-titled New York-set comedy TV series. First shown on groundbreaking American pay-TV network HBO in 2007, Flight of the Conchords earned them 10 Emmy nominations before finishing up after two seasons in 2009.
Since then, McKenzie has taken out an Oscar for the song Man or Muppet from The Muppets movie, which was named best original song at this year's Academy Awards. Unsurprisingly, he's pretty hot property in Hollywood right now.
"I've got a lot of work. Winning an Oscar is very good for working in Hollywood," he says without giving any details away. "I've always just done the things that I'm into so I'll just keep working on that but it's going to be easier to do it. We'll see what happens."
Recently, both McKenzie and Clement have pursued solo careers on the big screen. Clement has a role in Men in Black III, set for release this year. The Muppets director James Bobin, who co-created the Conchords TV series, asked McKenzie to come on board as music supervisor for the film. McKenzie wrote four of the original songs on the soundtrack. Funnily enough, Man or Muppet beat fellow Oscar-nominated track Real In Rio from the animated film Rio, which featured Clement.
McKenzie has roles in three feature films coming out this year. He stars alongside Australian comedian Hamish Blake in the Kiwi black comedy Two Little Boys and plays an elf in fellow Wellingtonian Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. He also has a role in the film adaptation of English romantic novel, Austenland.
"I play a love interest in a rom-com so I do a lot of on-screen kissing," he says of Austenland. "I'm now a professional on-screen kisser."
Taking these roles into account, one would assume McKenzie is about to tread the well-worn path of many a famous comedian and make a career out of acting in films.
"Nothing's guaranteed but I'm going to keep trying," he laughs. "I definitely will be involved in films, whether I'm acting or writing or doing music for them. I'll just do a bit of everything. I kind of enjoy all parts of it."
So with Hollywood biting at both their heels, it's with a certain wistfulness that McKenzie and Clement cross the ditch to return to their roots on stage as the Conchords.
"Reliving old times is kind of why we enjoy touring. We started off touring," he says.
"I just love the way you can try ideas out each night and it doesn't matter, whereas for TV and film there's a lot of pressure that you have to get everything right."
The live shows will feature the duo's famous songs and on-stage banter. Dressed in signature daggy jumpers and joined by a guest cello player, they'll pick up multiple instruments, including the ukulele, toy piano, keytar and a 1987 Casio electric guitar.
"There's a lot more improvising between songs so it's literally like a Simon and Garfunkel concert. We're sitting there singing our songs and then chatting in-between," McKenzie says.
"It will involve us singing a lot of our old songs and possibly a few new ones depending on how we go over the next few months writing them."
Flight of the Conchords perform at Challenge Stadium on July 18. Tickets go on sale April 17 through Ticketmaster.