The Prophet Hens fulfilling destiny

The Prophet Hens (from left) Penelope Esplin, Robin Cederman, Karl Bray and Darren Stedman. Photo by Jenny Ross.
The Prophet Hens (from left) Penelope Esplin, Robin Cederman, Karl Bray and Darren Stedman. Photo by Jenny Ross.
Relative newcomers on the Dunedin music scene, The Prophet Hens perform on the new stage at Chick's Hotel tonight.

The melodic jangle-pop foursome who cite seminal Dunedin acts The Bats and The Chills as prime influences, first performed in the city in mid-January fronted by guitarist/vocalist Karl Bray, and joined by Penelope Esplin, guitarist John White (The Blueness, Mestar) and drummer Sefton Holmes.

"I had quite a few little songs I noodled away on for years by myself, mainly from influences like The Bats, The Chills, old REM and the like," Bray says of the band's beginnings.

"Then John White came to live with me for a few months in 2011 and he was really keen to start playing them with me, so he pretty much badgered me into a band. His tunes sounded along the same lines, so it was just jangle-pop destiny. I really wanted female backing vocals and that great organ sound, so Penelope was a perfect fit."

Following a line-up change the group now includes Darren Stedman, drummer of another seminal Dunedin act, the Verlaines, and multi-instrumentalist Robin Cederman. The acquisition of Stedman, according to Bray, was something of a windfall.

"Darren remembers it as me whining to him at the Albar that our previous drummer had quit, and I was all 'What am I gonna do now?'.

"He had heard us play and offered his services ... I guess I hadn't even considered asking such an accomplished drummer, I was a bit gobsmacked if I'm honest, I wasn't expecting that at all."

The group has recently recorded an EP, and is currently in talks with Ian Henderson's Fishrider Records about a potential future release.

"We're pretty proud of what we've managed to get down," Bray said. "Ian's label really has the right ethos for our band.

We're probably nearly double the average age of some other Dunedin bands, so for us it's really about getting something out there, a small tour and just having fun as opposed to fame and fortune. Not that we'd say no to that, I imagine."

Tono and The Finance Company. Photo supplied.
Tono and The Finance Company. Photo supplied.
Anthonie Tonnon, the man at the front of Tono and the Finance Company, will play an intimate solo show at Inch Bar tonight.

Returning home from Auckland to film a video for the Finance Company, Tonnon will celebrate the wrap in filming with two sets between 7pm and 9pm.

The show will also mark Tonnon's first performance under his given name as a solo entity, as he debuts new songs taking him in a new direction away from his material as "Tono".

Tono and the Finance Company released their debut album Up Here For Dancing to critical acclaim in March this year.


See it

The Prophet Hens play with Nannystate and Astro Children at Chick's Hotel, 9pm, tonight, $5 on the door.

A bus will leave from Countdown at 8.30pm, the uni library at 8.35pm, and return to town after the show.

Anthonie Tonnon plays at Inch Bar (8 Bank St, Northeast Valley), 7pm-9pm tonight, free entry.