Across the (Electric) Universe

Electric Universe.

Once again I find myself writing to you from limbo, from a level that may be different by the time you read this...

Which means that whatever plans I had to write about upcoming shows just became a non-starter since I made a new year's resolution to avoid writing about things that might not happen.

But I do get the feeling that everyone is just a little more on edge this time. It feels like everything might get worse before it gets better. Hell's teeth, I hope not. Just in case, in lieu of a few well-chosen future events, this week we'll look at a couple of new Tauranga releases.

First of all, flicking back to last week, I had wondered whether the headline “Grant Haua Conquers Europe” wasn't possibly a little overenthusiastic, but subsequent events seem to be backing it up, with Grant's new CD, Awa Blues, being named Rolling Stone France's Album Of The Week and hitting the top spot on the German blues charts. I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more about it...

Also making waves though largely on-line is Electric Universe which strikes me as something of a heavy metal collective, what with having eight members. Actually, strike that. Despite some branding I'm not really convinced they're even a heavy metal band. Maybe a classic rock collective.

Electric Universe (with a slightly different line-up) released a self-titled album a couple of years back but things have really moved ahead recently since they hooked up with Australian record company Melodic Rock Records (MR Records) and were written about in Oz metal magazine Heavy.


Their first single, Time, was released last month and has garnered astonishing figures on-line. The video has apparently been watched over 120 thousand times on Facebook, the song has been streamed ten thousand times on Spotify, and it's had fifteen thousand views on YouTube.

Those are truly breathtaking numbers; I have no idea whether they're real. I have no clue about the reach of a heavy metal record label – perhaps all their releases garner those sorts of numbers. It is an immensely popular genre worldwide. But I also realise how easy it is to inflate such statistics with a little money and knowledge. Who knows?

Now Electric Universe are moving swiftly, with an album promised at the end of May and a new single and video already out. Continuing with the “time” theme, this one is called Right On Time (the album is going to be called Timeless) and comes with a ninth member, a remote collaboration with one of their fellow guitarists from MR Records.

The featured musician is Australian David Hinds, who played in high-powered glam rock band Rabbit, which was fronted by original AC/DC singer Dave Evans. He has also done time with Dragon and the Bounty Hunters Band and is considered one of the most influential blues rock guitarists in Australia.


The rest of Electric Universe are an interesting bunch, fronted by Shane Davies, head man at Soundtree Productions, the studio in Whakamarama where he has produced a massive amount of music in all sorts of styles and contributed to many a band's music.

Then there's bass player Patrick Hawkins who has been on the scene for decades, playing with Black Rose and dozens of bands since. Looking like a rock star is guitarist Baz Mantis who you might also find at Bay City Musicworks; his partner Marilyn Collins-Smith, recently rechristened Mazi Starr, shares backing vocal duties with Patrick's daughter Jana Rose Hawkins.

Pretty much a real rock star is the other guitarist Michael “Mutt” Furness who in 2016 was recruited as rhythm guitarist for Phil (AC/DC) Rudd’s band and subsequently played during their 2017 Back On The Beat European Tour.

But wait, there's more... the two newest members are Nigel Masters, moonlighting from blues 'n' roots band Kokomo to play Hammond organ and look cheerful, and drummer Matt Baxter.

Nigel has had a busy week. Not only is Electric Universe's new single on Spotify, YouTube and the band's Facebook page but his main outfit Kokomo also just released a new single, Highway 29 Blues. You can find it in all those same places...

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