Top Shows

Contact ONE News

Catching up with The Wellington Ukulele Orchestra

By's Darren Bevan

Published: 12:44PM Thursday April 01, 2010

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra's heading back out on tour again - just six months after they last hit the road in support of their Dreaming EP. (See what we made of their  live performance here - and read a review of their Dreaming EP here).'s Darren Bevan caught up with the band ahead of their latest live shows.
So you're back out on the road again - you guys clearly enjoy the touring?
Not really. It's just that Andy lost a t-shirt during our last tour, so we are retracing our steps to find it. We thought we might as well play some gigs at the same time.

What can we expect from the show this time?
The real question is what can we expect from the show? Our audiences always surprise us. With Mexican waves, conga lines, cartwheels, head spins, parsnip juggling, tears, laughter, tears of laughter...

Each show is clearly an experience - what's the secret to your success of clicking with the audience?
We treat each show like a first date - not presuming too much, wearing our best duds, and making a point not to order the spaghetti.

Last tour you had Bret McKenzie back in the fold - do you have any plans this time for a special guest? If so, what can you tell us about them?
As a fully-fledged member of the band, we don't think of Bret as a guest, though he's certainly very special.
We do have guests lined up along the way. But most often, guests pop up on the day, like the amazing young guy, Marco, whom we met in Dunedin on our last tour. And the cut-out giraffe we found in the Martinborough Town Hall. And Karl from Supergroove. He came to interview us just before a gig once, so we decided to see if 'You Freak Me' could be done via the ukulele. Turns out it could. Sort of.

Who's the happiest member of the band out on tour - and who's the grumpiest?
With twelve people in the band we are fortunate to experience the whole spectrum of human emotion, the most common of which is "hangry", which is when you are angry because you are hungry. Consequently, we stop often for pies.

What's been the best touring experience you've had - ever?
Just when you think you've had the best experience, another one comes along to blow it out of the water. Cheesy, but true. 

You always make sure you go from the very north to the very south - is there anywhere you've not played yet that you would like to?
The West Coast. Hokianga. The Coromandel Peninsula. Manukau City. Mum's house. Hamilton. And overseas.

Why do you think the ukulele is still so popular?
You just have to look at it and you have the answer. It's little, light, portable, uncomplicated, unimposing, a bit hokey, a bit silly, and capable of making a great many people smile.

What will be the highlight of this tour?
Bek Coogan would like to say "Playing in my hometown. Palmy, here I come!"

On all the stops you've been on over the years, who's given you the best reception?
Megan and Francis's wedding reception was a really good one. They fed us very well and we only had to play one song. This will be their first tour as a married couple!

Complete this sentence - You should come and see the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra live because....
one day we will be dead. And you will be dead. And you might have missed a chance to enjoy one of life's outrageous pleasures. However, we expect that heaven will have ukuleles. But why wait until then?

You can catch The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra live in Mangawhai on April 9th, Auckland on April 10th, Raglan on April 11th, Gisborne on 14th, Hastings on 15th April, Palmerston North on 16th April, Martinborough on 17th April, Lyttleton on 20 and 21st April, Oamaru on 22nd April, Dunedin on 23rd April and finally Wanaka on 24th April.