Dream Run

15 May 2012 | 1:21 pm | Michael Smith

It began with a passion for The Triffids and for The Morning Night it’s led to a Ricky Maymi-produced debut album. The band’s Adrian Hoffman tells Michael Smith the story.

In 2008, the Sydney Festival included a tribute to the legacy of The Triffids and in Perth, a passionate young fan, 16 and still at school, desperately wanted to see it.

“I flew over to Sydney with my parents,” singer, guitarist and songwriter with The Morning Night, Adrian Hoffman remembers. “On the last night we met the band, 'cause they hung out in the bar and everything, so we started a little bit of a relationship there. I actually emailed one of the guys that played with them, [guitarist] James Paterson, who actually co-wrote some songs with [late Triffids frontman] David McComb and just said, 'Look, I really loved it'. He was kind of intrigued in me 'cause I was pretty young and said, 'Do you play in a band?' And I sent him some stuff and he loved it and got onto [Triffids pedal steel player] Graham Lee and said, 'We should get this guy to sing for us in Perth'.”

And that's how Hoffman became the youngest singer to sing in a Triffids tribute concert, at the 2009 Perth International Arts Festival. Meanwhile, he'd recorded an EP, Decide What You Want, with his band The Morning Night. It was on that show that he met Brian Jonestown Massacre's Ricky Maymi, who has since produced the band's debut album, Otis.

“He was playing guitar – he played drums in one song as well – but the idea was already suggested before we actually met by James Paterson. He heard our EP, really dug it and knew Ricky through working with The Triffids and knew he was getting into production and put it forward, which sounded great to us 'cause, you know, we're pretty new to everything and needed some direction and a guy who knows what he's doing is pretty handy!

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“It was great to have a new influence and it opened up a whole new world to us. I mean, Ricky's range of music tastes is just massive, so we got exposed to things we wouldn't have heard of this early on in our musical education. We might have taken a few to get through everything, but we kind of got a fast-tracking after we met him.”

There was a bonus, too, in that Maymi had been recording with Steve Kilbey of the church in their project under the pseudonym David Neil, The Wilderness Years. Kilbey was also a featured singer at that Triffids tribute.

“The church are a massive influence,” Hoffman admits. “I was fortunate enough as well to meet Steve at the Triffids thing and we became friends as well and when Ricky and Steve toured the David Neil album, I got to play bass for them and we did a little CD as well. That was another selling point wanting to work with Ricky. Steve Kilbey is like a god to us.”

The album is very much a “guitar” album, all churning guitars in a very '80s shoegaze-y kind of way. “Ricky Maymi kind of exposed us to that. He really brought that to the album, which was cool and we loved it and wanted to do more and more of it,” Hoffman admits with a laugh. “So that was definitely his influence and we've embedded it into our style now.”

It's obvious, however, that the primary influence on The Morning Night is that shimmering guitar pop of the '80s created by The Triffids, the church and The Go-Betweens. “I guess it's the uniqueness of it,” Hoffmann explains the appeal. “Even though it's old, it sounds so fresh to me. It's nothing like anything I've heard before – it had emotion and rawness and realness to me.”