Formed in 2006, Collapsing Cities delivered chaotic, danceable guitar pop with an attitude that only creatives in their early 20s could muster. Their catchy, ramshackle melodies and deadpan, observational lyrics are underpinned with subtle cynicism; the energy of a Friday night driven by the mentality of a Saturday hangover.
Recorded at various locations across Auckland, the aptly titled Collapsing Cities EP was released on 12 May 2007. The release included five originals and one remix of the song ‘Elixir Always’ by the North Shore Pony Club. Dunedin engineer Dale Cotton mastered the final cut.
Their live shows caught the attention of Paul McKessar and Campbell Smith from CRS Music Management, who helped with the release and distribution of their debut album, Elixir Always, recorded over a short three-day stint at van Dammen’s parents’ place in Hamilton.
Dale Cotton tracked everything live, mastered it, and the album was completed at the end of October, 2007. On 16 November, Collapsing Cities won the Breakthrough Artist of 2007 at the bNet NZ Music Awards. That summer they also played Big Day Out 2008.
CRS used contacts in the UK to help the band secure a spot on London-based SuperVision Management, who looked after acts including Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Crystal Castles and White Lies, and ‘Fear of Opening My Mouth’ started getting played on BBC Radio 1.
At the end of April, the band flew to London and embarked on a series of support slots and tours to rival even the most seasoned band: opening for Metronomy, Late of the Pier and the Black Kids and playing Reading and Leeds, The Great Escape, Lovebox, Dot-to-Dot and Stag and Dagger festivals. MUSIC.
The British music press took notice. NME listed them as one of the 10 hopes of the future of music, while the Guardianhailed them as New Band of the Week:
The band returned to New Zealand at the end of 2008, intending to write their second album quickly and head back overseas. Once home though, they found themselves seeking a little bit of normality after a whirlwind period in the UK.
The band continued to perform live, playing Rhythm and Vines 2008/2009, opening for the Arctic Monkeys’ Big Day Out sideshow tour in early 2009, and for The Pixies at Vector Arena in 2010.
With funding from NZ On Air, Strangers Again was released on Pastel Pistol three years later on 13 July 2012. The NZ Herald rated it four out of five stars and Under the Radar rated it eight out of 10, both noting the thematic maturities and sonic densities throughout the release.
The band toured throughout New Zealand later that year, and Strangers Again was nominated for the Taite Music Prize in 2013. Despite the encouraging return, Collapsing Cities slowly faded away and the members turned to other life directions.
Written by James Manning for Audioculture.
Listen to their music here -