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 three 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 Switzerland, they’ve seen more than their share of stages, street corners and bars 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.
Thrillingly the rolling, rambling, spirit raising atmospheres they project in their live shows have endeared them to the hearts of many. It’s obvious they care about the audience as much as the songs.
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 ʻThe Harbour Unionʼ, 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.
2012 saw the release of ‘Hope and Wire’ their most realized record yet. A bold double album that reached Gold Status, climbed to #2 in the NZ charts, debuted at #1 on the NZ iTunes chart and most importantly endeared itself into the hearts of the bands loyal following. All of this was done on the hint of smell of an oily rag, no marketing budget, no videos, no funding, just the band translating the goodwill they have received into something tangible. Their song ‘State Houses by the River’ became one of APRA’s best five songs of the year and fought it out for the silver scroll songwriting award, on of the rare times a song of social commentary has found itself in such a position in NZ. The Song ‘Hope and Wire’ became the inspiration for Gaylene Preston’s primetime six part TV drama series about the Christchurch earthquake ‘Hope and Wire’ and the band found themselves not only providing the soundtrack but also starring in the show.
So far 2014 has seen the band complete one lap of the country two trips to Australia as well as a eight week tour of Europe. Very few bands would’ve sustained that amount of touring just before releasing a record, yet in classic eastern style, three weeks from landing home from Europe The Eastern began prepping the release of their fourth record; ‘The Territory’. Released in October it hit the NZ charts in the number 2 position and so far spent 5 weeks in the top 10, became the number 1 country album on the NZ iTunes charts. It’s picking up reviews that are making the band blush and swell with pride in equal measure. With terms such as “Triumph” and “National treasure” flying about ‘The Territory’ appears destined to hold the strongest place in The Eastern’s canon with No Depression calling it “One of the meatiest albums of the year, from any band, from any country!”.
The Eastern are taking it all in stride as they tour NZ this summer, still playing their hearts out, still thrilled at the adventure and still keeping the hope machine running.
“One of the best modern roots bands”
- 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 listenable…"
- NZ Musician Magazine
-Q magazine (UK)
“NZ’s toughest minded songwriter”
-Barry Saunders (The Warratahs)