Old Images release, and announcing Rail Land - a tour celebrating passenger rail in Aotearoa

It is our pleasure to present Old Images - a song and music video that, in the process of making, took on a life of its own, consumed my focus, and led our team to a radical, perhaps insane concept. It’s called Rail Land, and it’s a tour of Aotearoa that takes you out of your city centre, via some of the world’s most beautiful, and miraculous passenger rail lines.

Directed by Julian Vares. Styling and assisting by Karlya Smith, Research by Anthonie Tonnon. Thanks to NZ on Air, the Dunedin City Council, Dunedin Railways, Kiwirail, and Toitu. Suit and shoes courtesy of Barkers and R.M Williams.

I think it’s important to say at the outset - the song has nothing to do with railways. It touches on the long shadow of the 20th Century, and childhood in the Cold War, but really, it’s a love song.

However, an invitation to film a music video in my home city, Ōtepoti, led us to a new story, one I felt compelled to tell - the story of the last suburban train network in the South Island. The more I learned about it, the more it consumed me, until eventually, I decided I couldn’t stop there.

Rail Land 2018

Tickets and itineraries here

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Rail Land is a tour where every show is designed so that the audience, as well as the performer, can travel to and from the show by affordable and extraordinary passenger rail.

In the long twilight of the summer holidays, Rail Land will travel on all of the rail networks that still offer public transport in Aotearoa, and also recreate a public transport journey for one night in Te Waipounamu. With the help of sponsor Dunedin Railways, we are chartering a train from Dunedin Station to a show at the Waitati Hall.

Our railways are miraculous, poetic, and mysterious things. They are gifts from the past to the future, and if they didn’t exist now, they would be impossible to build from scratch. Each has a story, and this tour will tell a little of each one.

We have more to say on this, and in the coming weeks we’ll be updating the new Rail Land section of this website with more. For now, we’re opening the section with itineraries for each show, and a little context.

About Old Images

Engineered and produced by Jonathan Pearce and Anthonie Tonnon. Strings performed by Charmian Keay, Nick Dow, Nathan Pinkney and Kathleen Tomacruz. Strings arranged by Matthew Bodman. Bass by David Flyger. Acoustic drums by Tristan Deck. Additional vocals by Nadia Reid. Mastered by Tom Healey.

Old Images started as a lyric over guitar and a simple drum machine beat. For a while, it was hard to find a human dynamic to counteract the drum machine. While I was away, Jonathan found this dynamic in jazz drummer Tristan Deck, who he invited to improvise over the song, with David Flyger adding a sparing bass line against it. Backstage before a show in London, Nadia hummed a subtle line, and months later, we recorded it in Auckland, just before she flew away on yet another tour.

But it needed something more.

I’m excited about how different these songs are to anything we’ve done previously: Two Free Hands was our first song without guitars - this is the first with a string section. This appeared like a gift, thanks to work of Matthew Bodman, an arranger who knows my music as well as anyone, and the wonderful quartet led by Charmian Keay.

While I have buried my head in synths and drum machines for the last couple of years, I haven’t let go of my 1968 Yamaha semi-hollowbody guitar. In my live show, this amortal instrument provides a really essential organic counterpoint to the Synthstrom Deluge, and it will play a big part in the coming album.  

About This Website

We started this site in 2017 to release the song and Extended Player, Two Free Hands, which you can still find at the store and stream below, along with other releases and merchandise.

We aim to make the site, and my mailing list out most important portals of communication. Joining the mailing list, or coming here means you don't need to use social media to know when i'm performing or releasing music.