Mermaidens say 'friendship' behind Taite Music prize nomination

Psychedelic rockers Mermaidens have turned their long-time friendship into one of New Zealand's most critically acclaimed bands.

The Wellington trio's new album Perfect Body has got them in the running for the country's biggest independent music award, the Taite Music Prize, on Tuesday - which they say was a complete surprise.

"I found out 'cause people started messaging me saying 'congratulations!'" says drummer Abe Hollingsworth.

"I just saw it on my Facebook feed," says guitarist and vocalist Gussie Larkin.

Mermaidens started out as three friends deciding to form a band - six years on and that friendship is what keeps them grounded.

"We know each other so well, it's easy to get angry and fight. You know when you love someone you're mean to them?" says Hollingsworth.

Their first album Undergrowth was full of songs they'd written over those years - so for their second they wanted something more cohesive.

"This album was written as an album, I guess. It's got this sonic world, all the songs work together, all the lyrics have similar themes," says Larkin.

"I think with our song-writing, it was about growing up, to put it simply. Ideas around maturing, and just thinking more clearly about ourselves," says bassist and vocalist Lily West.

Perfect Body is their first album with legendary Kiwi record label Flying Nun.

"We've got worldwide distribution with Flying Nun. There's hardly any labels across Australasia that have worldwide distro, so it's pretty awesome," says Larkin.

Flying Nun has four of the eight Taite nominees on their roster. In addition to Mermaidens, there's Aldous Harding, Fazerdaze, and Grayson Gilmour (Kane Strang, Nadia Reed, TEEKS, and The Bads round off the shortlist).

"The list is amazing this year, I feel like that's the highest praise, is being put with that group of people, those amazing talents," says West.

And they earned a handpicked slot to support Lorde last year in the spiritual home of Flying Nun - Dunedin.

"Gussie messaged us and was like, 'Guys, pick up the phone, Lorde's calling!' And we were like, 'Excuse me? Haha, great joke!' But [it] turned out it was real," says Hollingsworth.

And after touring Australia for the first time last year they've caught the travel bug.

"In Wellington you just so often are playing to the same crowd, which is really nice 'cause it's really familiar. But it was really cool to get over there and play to some people who had never heard us before," says Larkin.

But before another tour, they'll be chipping away at some new songs in the studio first.


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