2 Aug 2019
Dominic Hoey is an author, playwright and poet based in Tāmaki Makaurau. His debut novel, Iceland was a New Zealand bestseller and was long-listed for the 2018 Ockham Book Award.
Auckland band, The Mutes From Mars have clocked up a long list of achievements over the last decade, performing around the country. You may have seen them in a television appearance or heard them on radio. What makes them even more impressive is that this group of talented musicians happen to have a range of social and learning disabilities. We spoke to Alice Kendall from A Supported Life, an organisation that supports adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, about the band's upcoming show at Zeal and their plans to take their music to the world.
The Mutes From Mars came together 10 years ago when a Supported Life tutor, Sam Benge worked with them on a drama production. Alice explains how Sam was providing the music and soundtrack for the show “When a parent of one of the drummers and the General Manager of A Supported Life, realised the musical talents of a number of those being supported by the organisation” Sam now sings and plays guitar in the group and acts as a band leader. As well as Sam the band is comprised of two drummers, Jared Barrington and Gabe Ashby, lead singer Miranda Mills, bass player Joosten Friendlander, conga player Jonathon Gill and Lisa Hannam on lead guitar and vocals.
Alice describes the band sounds as “Rock and pop with a combination of original compositions and covers from the 60’s and 70’s” It’s a combination that obviously works with the band headlining the Interact Festival in both 2015 and 2016, playing the Rock’n Roll Whangamata Beach Hop and jamming with New Zealand musical icon Don McGlashan.
The band see their music as a way to change people's perceptions of those with learning and social disabilities, although as Alice points out the music comes first “the focus is really to foot it with their muso peers and all they seek is equality, respect and a fair go. When they are on stage, their social and learning disabilities evaporate”
The Mutes from Mars playing live.
Show coming up
The band already have two EP’s under their belt ‘Just Us’ in 2013 and their follow up in 2017, ‘Martion Fuhtre’. After they recently received funding to produce three songs to be released as a live concert video, the band booked a free gig at Zeal in Henderson. Alice said the show is not only to record the songs but also a chance to “get the audience involved and participating in the filming whilst getting an evening of excellent entertainment"
The video will be used to promote the band and help them get more shows around the country and overseas. One of the big goals of the band is to head over to Australia in 2020 to perform.
“The Fringe Arts Festival in Melbourne and to play some gigs with Rudely Interrupted, a mixed ability rock band they have gigged with here in New Zealand on two occasions”