The Eastern are a string band that roars like a punk band, that swings like a gospel band, that drinks like a country band, that works like a bar band, that hopes like folk singers, and sings love songs like union songs, and writes union songs like love songs, and wants to slow dance and stand on tables, all at the same time. Whether roaring as their big six piece string band or swinging the loud lonesome sound as a two piece and averaging over 200 shows a year, The Eastern can hold it down in all settings for all comers.
Constantly on tour the eastern have played in every nook and corner of the good isles of New Zealand, and have broken strings and dented floors in parts beyond. From Papanui to Portland, Shirley to Sydney they’ve seen more than their share of barrooms and street corners, but treat any opportunity to hold it down and play as a gift and one they’d be fools to waste. They play like they mean it, like its all they know how do…because they do and it is.
They’ve toured with Steve Earle (twice), the Old Crow Medicine Show (twice) and the Lilʼ Band of Gold as well as opening for everyone from Fleetwood Mac to the Jayhawks to Jimmy Barnes to Justin Townes Earle as well as Jim White, Victoria Williams and Vic Chestnut.
Over the past six years having delivered up three albums (‘The Eastern, ‘Arrows’ and ‘Hope & Wire’), three e.p.’s and near on 1000 shows, The Eastern have garnered a reputation as NZ’s hardest working band. They gather converts and friends wherever they or their records land.
They make friendships and family wherever their songs and stories ring out. The trust they’ve built between themselves and the folks who come and hear them is something they’re rightly proud of and they remain thrilled and amazed it’s that relationship that has been able to keep their wheels on the road and their bellies fed, not least the fact that as the years pass the threat of their former day jobs coming back to capture them fades back into the ether.
Due to start recording their third album in February 2011 plans were waylaid by the Christchurch earthquake, instead they gathered up friends and singers alike in their home town of Lyttelton (Christchurch’s port) and began work on the charity record ‘The Harbour Union’, the album debuted in the top 20 of the NZ Chart, was nominated for New Zealand country music album of the year and has proved to be a wonderful vehicle through which The Eastern and their friends can trade music for donations to the Christchurch earthquake fund.
Last march saw the release across New Zealand and Australia of their third and most realised record yet ‘Hope and Wire’… a double album rolling out at a single album price its loaded with stories, heart and harmony as well as the grand barroom philosophizing and old time fury the band are known for. Hope and Wire debuted at number 11 on the national charts and maintained a top ten position in the NZ artist charts for the two months following as well as gathering incredible reviews across NZ and beyond. The song ‘State Houses By The River’ from Hope and Wire became a final five nominee in the APRA Silver Scroll NZ song of the year award and the albums title song became the inspiration for Gaylene Preston’s new six part television drama series ‘Hope and Wire’ due for screening in NZ late 2013. ‘Hope and Wire’ was nominated for country album of the year as well as the song being nominated for country song of the year, not bad for a band of chancers and misfits. Marking their reputation as a fierce live act The Eastern spent nearly 15 months on tour around NZ and Australia, playing every city and near on every town between, between 2012 and the first half of 2013 and are now locked up at home in Port Lyttelton waiting out the winter working on album four and hankering for spring and another year on the road.
“…you can smell the whiskey and dust on
every song…true to the spirits of Bob Dylan,
Springsteen, Patti smith and Townes van
– Sunday Star Times
- Rip it Up
“the first New Zealand band in a long time to
do things the good old-fashioned way.”
- Dominion Post
“The Eastern are possessed of a sound which
is heartfelt, authentic and infinitely
- NZ Musician Magazine