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Home And Away

2 August 2012 | 2:22 pm | Nic Toupee

"We are crazy people."

“We are crazy people,” laughs Haz Beats with mischievous delight. “We all like laughing, really: we're friends that are clowns all the time.”  Beats, who also goes by the name Goonie Hodges — which may be about as legit as Haz Beats — is explaining, but certainly not justifying, the kind of controversial stunts and onstage behaviour which has certainly not hurt in making Home Brew famous.  In fact, they got to number one on the New Zealand Top 40 charts, which their self titled indie-release album achieved in May. 

The band's jolly japery and hyperactive hi-jinks include drink-driving in their clips (Police Stop Seven), getting on the wrong side of Auckland University with some over-enthusiastic postering (as you can see in their clip for Carpe Diem) and general blatant honesty about drugs and drinking — plenty of drugs and drinking. Unfazed by the repercussions, Beats sees it as just merry prankery. “We're the kind of the same people, we like to laugh - everything is fun to us.”

That's not to say they don't court a bit of sensational coverage. Beats is not ashamed to announce proudly “shock promo is the best kind of promo.” It's more beer-bongs on stage than biting the heads off bats, but Home Brew have managed to make a name for themselves and their off-stage, or at least non-musical, performances.

Beats steps in to defend the band's reputation: he explains that the band are equally focussed on getting drunk and getting the audience on side. “When we're up on stage, with everyone screaming your name, grabbing you, it's a whole different scene; the crowd expect us to be drunk, and we are drunk... or most of the time we're drunk. We try capture the audience right from the first. That way people get involved with the show. Say if we bring a beer-bong on stage or something like that,  they're amping. We get them involved from the get-go.”

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As anyone who has watched a magic show knows, it can't all be about one trick. You've got to have the rabbit-out-of-hat AND the woman-sawn-in-half, and preferably the sword cupboard as well. Drag their hyper-comedic curtain aside, and Beats believes you' see the real secret of their success — their down-to-earth, unpretentious lyrics and crafty beats.“What we deliver on stage is raw, honest hip hop,” he says, suddenly more earnest.  “And every show is different - we usually just freestyle the whole thing.”

While you will no doubt hear tracks from all of their five releases thus far, it's also odds-on that you'll hear something that Beats cooked up in the tour van before the show.

“We play some new and old stuff, and maybe some unreleased stuff. I brought my gear with me on tour, and we're writing all the time.  We know people want to hear the old stuff but we're going to cut it up with some stuff off the new album and some brand new stuff as well.”

Watching the band, it's obvious Home Brew are a group of total extroverts — happy to play up to a crowd, to be filmed in highly dodgy activities, and to be watched generally just fucking around in a bored-suburban-low-attention-span Cartman kind of way.  Beats says it's a mixture of a natural affinity for performing, and learning from some humiliating mistakes along the way.

“Right from the start, we were doing gigs all the time - we thrashed Auckland,” he remembers. “We got sick of it, so we stopped and instead we got online and asked our fans what they wanted us to do.  Then we started getting couches or beer bongs or whatever up on stage. I never knew i was going to be doing this five or 10 years ago, but it came naturally for us. But every show is different, and we're always learning how to be a better band. We're real tight now because we've made our fuckups in the past.”