Sonic Kicks: Damien Binder

Perth-based New Zealand songwriter Damien Binder has just released his fifth solo album Bright Side. It’s a widescreen indie pop-rock vista populated by sparkling guitar lines, the warm glow of synths and Binder’s astute take on the world around him.

Damien first came to fame in the late 80s and through the 90s on the alternative rock scene in Auckland, NZ, as frontman for the band Second Child, who supported Nirvana at their sole Aotearoa show.

Damien kindly joined us to take a swing at the Sonic Kicks Q&A. Read on to find out about the songs and albums that shaped his musical life.

Bright Side is out now digitally via Bandcamp and streaming services.

The first album I bought:

Elvis Presley – Elvis’ Golden Records Volume 1. I was obsessed with Elvis from the age of 8 onwards.  There was a record shop just around the road from where we lived in Auckland at the time and I think I got it from there. It’s all killer early stuff. 

An album that soundtracked a relationship:

The War On Drugs – Lost in a Dream. Not so much one relationship but a friendship. It was a record that was shared by my wife Nicole and I on our road trips to The Central & South Coast of NSW, where we’d have quick getaway at times.  I was introduced to the band by good friends with whom we used to share a lot of good times in Sydney. The album was synonymous with nights we’d spend together with wine and beautiful food, usually at their place in Bondi.

An album that inspired me to form a band:

I felt like I could maybe write and perform my own music when I got into a lot of good English punk/new wave stuff – The Clash, Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks etc. I remember seeing this (now famous) picture of Paul Simonon of The Clash with all the notes written out on the fretboard of his bass so he knew where to put his fingers and I thought well, he’s learning on the job – why can’t I?

An album that reminds me of my high school years:

It was all about The Smiths – I had all of their albums.  The Queen is Dead was a standout. I think it was a sensitive time, haha!

An album I’d love to hear live and played in full:

Soundgarden – Superunknown.  That would’ve been great with the band at their peak or Hejira when Joni played with all those jazz guys like Jaco Pastorious and Larry Carlton.

My favourite album cover art:

Iggy Pop – Lust For Life. It always makes me smile – he’s just so joyful.  Blue by Joni Mitchell – The cover really evokes the meditative nature of the music and vice versa.

A guilty pleasure album I own but only reluctantly admit I have:

50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin. When it came out I’d put this on before going out for a big night- His whole manifesto and outlook is the opposite to mine… still. It was my gangsta phase, haha!

The last album I bought:

 Mark Moldre – Nambucca Fables

A recent album I want to buy:

I’ll get anything new from Bryan Estepa, Gray Sanders or Ari Davis.  Currently I’ve been listening to Gaz Coombs‘s (ex Supergrass) new album Turn the Car Around


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