A month of new music

Saurian are releasing a new single, supporting it with a series of gigs. Photo: Supplied
Saurian are releasing a new single, supporting it with a series of gigs. Photo: Supplied
It’s approaching that happy time of year again — New Zealand Music Month — which always starts on May 1.

New Zealand Music Week, as it was then, started in 1997 and was such a great success it morphed into New Zealand Music Month four years later.

Now, firmly entrenched as part of our cultural landscape, the month of May has gone from a period of encouraging radio to play more local tunes, to a celebration of home-grown talent across the length and breadth of the country.

Don’t forget New Zealand Music T-Shirt Day, which takes place on Friday, May 3.

This initiative raises funds for MusicHelps — the charity that provides support to the most vulnerable in our communities by backing projects that use the power of music to help and heal. This includes music therapy sessions, music in respite and palliative care, music education for the at-risk and rehabilitation programmes, to name a few.


Saurian is a popular local hard rock band playing original music. Their new single Down at the Crown, to be released on May 3, is the second song to be released from their upcoming EP. It’s a tune celebrating our legendary venue, the Crown Hotel, which has been the cornerstone of the Dunedin music scene for decades. The song also aims to highlight many people’s fears that a new residential development in Dunedin’s CBD threatens its future. Like so many other musicians, frontman Karl Brinsdon got into music at a very young age.

"I grew up listening to my parent’s CD collection and by the age of 3 I already knew I wanted to play guitar. I loved musicians like Justin Hawkins (The Darkness), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and Pelle Almqvist (The Hives). My younger brother, Luke, grew up with the same love of music and he plays drums and bass guitar. I started busking when I was still in primary school and I started my first band when I was 10."

The cover art for Saurian’s new single.
The cover art for Saurian’s new single.
Karl first started singing backing vocals in his high school but then shifted to lead vocals when he couldn’t find anyone else to fill the role.

"I’ve been in a number of bands playing different styles from soft to alternative rock but I can’t fight the fact I’m a born rocker. Saurian is definitely a hard rocking band which comes close to being metal."

The band’s current lineup is Karl (lead guitar, lead vocals), Logan Wichman (bass), Josh Tuiavii (drums) and Kat Haque (rhythm guitar) — who is filling in for Cameron Ellis while he’s away in Europe.

They’re a great live act but Saurian is also committed to recording. In 2020 they released a full-length album called Brooding and they’ve also released an EP of acoustic versions of some of the songs from the album. There is also a live EP recorded at The Crown.

To celebrate the release of their latest single, Down at the Crown, Saurian have shows lined up at The Crown, May 4, the Darkroom, in Christchurch, May 18, Tillerman’s, in Invercargill, June 7, and Rhyme x Reason, in Wanaka, June 15.

I had a sneaky listen to the single, which has a great cover by local cartoonist, Austin Milne. The track itself is a raucous guitar-driven homage to the best venue in town with shades of The Darkness. I can’t wait to see their front man, Justin Hawkins, boogying down to it on Justin Hawkins Rides Again — his regular video-blog on YouTube.

The gig

Saurian plays The Crown on May 4.


Matt Joe Gow is a rising star in the alt-country scene on both sides of the Tasman. In fact he’s just been nominated for Best Country Artist at the Aotearoa Music Awards in May.

Matt was born in Auckland but, after travelling the world, he moved to Melbourne, where he was drawn into its vibrant music scene. I am going to call him a local though because he moved to Dunedin when he was just 11 after barely surviving Upper Hutt and he went to Otago Boys’ High School, where he reportedly spent most of his time hiding in the music room. Local music legend, Rob Murphy, helped Matt record some of his early demo tracks and now plays bass in Matt’s band.

"I love coming home to Dunedin, the culture of live music is embedded in the fabric of Dunedin and I feel fortunate to often have local musicians at my shows, some of them from the Flying Nun bands who I admired growing up," he says.

In 2009 Matt released his debut record, The Messenger, produced by multi-Aria award-winner, Nash Chambers, but it was his 2018 album, Break, Rattle and Roll, an ambitious self-produced Americana-style record that would go on to win the Music Victoria Awards for Best Country Album and solidify his place on the Australian alt-country music scene. On the local front he also won the Mataura Licensing Trust’s Song-writing Award last year for his song, Whirlwind.

His next local gig is at Moons, a venue on Princes St on May 25, where he’ll be playing with Kerryn Fields (and local Bevan Gardiner on double bass), as part of a national tour to celebrate the release of their combined album, I Remember You, which Matt also produced.

The gig

Matt Joe Gow plays Moons, with Kerryn Fields to celebrate new album, I Remember You, May 25