DARTZ Proclaims: “It’s A Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One”

  • DARTZ Proclaims: “It’s A Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One”
DARTZ Proclaims: “It’s A Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One”

DARTZ Proclaims: “It’s A Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One”

A date that will loom large over lagerdom for aeons to come, as New Zealand’s premier pub rockers DARTZ have unleashed their sophomore album Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One upon the masses. Beers will quiver in fear across the nation, and meanwhile Aotearoa’s album hall of fame gains its first entry of the 2020s in the form of an unassuming new rock classic that wears its small town roots with pride, loves its mates, and isn’t afraid to throw hands on its way to enjoying a jug of Lion Red at the local.

Danz. Crispy. Rollyz. Clark Mathews. To some out-of-the-loop heathens these words may mean nothing, but to those most discerning and in-the-know enjoyers of good music they may as well be the text of the Holy Bible itself, for they are the names of the members of DARTZ. The four-piece crew formed in 2019, initially only coming together for one show supporting The Chats that vocalist Danz shit-talked his way into, and the rest, as the many biographers and music award presenters will no doubt soon say, is history.

Decamping to their home base of Newtown, Wellington after the success of debut album The Band From Wellington, New Zealand, the DARTZ boys returned to their tried and true method of diligent songcrafting: get on the beers, wait until someone says something funny, and write it down. With the weight of a NZ album chart #1 for TBFWNZ on their shoulders, the pressure was on: bassist and CEO Clark Mathews constantly stressed to the group the importance of reaching new heights with catchier hooks, more impressive instrumentation, and finding a larger audience beyond Wellington, all while heeding Six60’s mantra to never forget your roots. For a less authentic, charming and good-natured group of boys, this might have presented a daunting challenge, but the vivacious DARTZ took to it like knives to a stove.

As if songs were Speights and their songwriting hivemind was the taps of a Southland pub, rock anthems immediately began to flow from the DARTZ boys: a gig weekend in Dunedin where guitarist Crispy decided not to rent a car and proceeded to book accommodation on top of a hill spurned the catchphrase “Earn The Thirst”. One energetic rock instrumental later, ‘Earn The Thirst’ became the song that kicks off the Dangerous Day album, a firm fan favourite initially released in August 2023 and toured across NZ and Australia. The “sports-rock” anthem sees DARTZ preaching body positivity, sharing fitness tips and managing to rail against Uber on their way to a powerful conclusion that “beers come second, body comes first”.

Cut to London, England: Yusuf Islam, the man known on stage as Cat Stevens, wakes up in a cold sweat, unsure what could have brought this on: little does he know that four New Zealand boys have just unequivocally bested ‘Father and Son’ with two definitive new treatises on the subject, Dangerous Day’s second single ‘Learning to Drive With Dad’, and 1980s-styled rocker ‘Gender Reveal Burnout’ (a song title gifted to DARTZ by musical hero Don McGlashan during a famed Dominion Road dumpling dinner). The small-town-raised and mulleted second-rowers of the DDTBACO scrum stand tall above the competition, essays on paternity with new perspectives never yet committed to lyric – the hard-drinking title character in ‘Learning To Drive With Dad’ is drawn from a very specific yet relatable New Zealand reality, while the proud nod of a stepdad in ‘Gender Reveal Burnout’ might even be the emotional centrepoint of DARTZ’s entire album.

As Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One came together, it quickly became apparent to the DARTZ boys that the album was narratively ‘set’ in the rural Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions of New Zealand, where Danz and drummer Rollyz were raised and their families live to this day. Music videos for ‘Earn The Thirst’ and ‘Learning To Drive With Dad’ were filmed in Danz’s twin jewel hometowns of Paeroa and Te Aroha, kicking off DARTZ’s second album cycle by showcasing the boys’ love for the small towns that define their history and proved a constant source of lyrical inspiration for the album’s material: live favourite ‘Bush Weed‘ tells a classically Te Aroha tale of an entrepreneurial uncle using his employment as a Department of Conservation park ranger to run a profitable side hustle, while ‘Get In On The Groundfloor’ is rooted in the Facebook status updates of former Paeroa College schoolmates who have found themselves on the pyramid-shaped path to fortune and want you to consider the opportunity.

Returning to these regions older and wiser for DARTZ gigs in the picturesque surf towns of Waikato’s Raglan and Bay of Plenty’s Mount Maunganui, the boys quickly found another issue that needed addressing via song: the previously humble and quiet beaches frequented by hard-working folks in need of a cool-off had fallen victim to a parade of beautiful bleach-blonde suntanners that looked upon DARTZ’s beach antics with disgust, meanwhile the main streets were packed with Heineken-swilling property developers and not a humble Lion Brown in sight. “Good place to be blonde” remarked Rollyz, and ‘Paradise’ came about soon after, with riffwriter Mathews crafting a melodic slice of heaven in chords that beautifully thread the needle between Skegss-ian beach rock and the Dobbynesque Kiwiana that informed Aotearoa’s shared musical upbringing.

A sequel of sorts to DARTZ’s debut single and iconically Wellington student anthem ‘40 Riddiford Street’, ‘Flat Inspection’ sees Danz take on New Zealand’s greed crisis without fear of legal repercussion thanks to the hard-working DARTZ Legal team, with a narrative hook inspired by Wellington author Murdoch Stephens’ modern literary classic dedicated to renters’ revenge, the novel ‘Rat King Landlord’. Meanwhile in ‘Mr. X’, the band takes on the thorny topic of name suppression for men who use their power to harm others in areas like universities and the local music scene.

Title track ‘Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One’ came together in its raw form just days before recording: a demo titled ‘Working Man’s Anthem’ was quickly rewritten with a thundering bass line and some of Danz’s finest lyrics yet, lamenting the struggles of hard-working individuals in areas like traffic management and retail alongside a chantable refrain in the form of a common five-o’clock catchphrase: “it’s a dangerous day to be a cold one / it’s a dangerous day to be a beer.” Realising that they had nothing more than a stone-cold rock hit on their hands gave the DARTZ boys the confidence they needed heading into the studio, and an absolutely killer, soon-to-be-iconic album title to boot.

Heading into Wellington’s Surgery Studio with producer James Goldsmith (previously known for his work on DARTZ’s ‘Dominion Road (Dumpling House)’ as well as records with Wellington favourites Beastwars and Mermaidens), the DARTZ boys knew they needed to work hard and put to tape the most definitive and cohesive version of ‘the DARTZ sound’ thus far. This saw the band take a far more studious approach to their time in the studio than previous efforts: whether cajoling a quickly assembled choir of preschoolers into chanting “learning to drive with dad” on repeat, debating what ‘weed sound’ might best fit a two-second stop in ‘Bush Weed’, or dialling in the appropriate Van Halen-aping guitar tone for the double solo section in ‘Gender Reveal Burnout’ (the first half Unchained/Panama, the second a reverbed-out Hagar era tribute), the four boys were seldom seen away from the console over their time at The Surgery, with producer Goldsmith working tirelessly to redirect their cans of Lion Brown to less expensive surfaces.

“The four DARTZ boys are nothing but the most consummate professionals when it comes to the studio” says Goldsmith. “A lot of acts come in to record and you’ll have a Ricky Bigshot in the band, ego inflated to the max and power tripping all over the place to the detriment of their own songs. But with DARTZ, it’s nothing like that: these boys know nothing but the deepest, most caring and passionate love for each other, balanced with a disciplined and focussed dedication to their craft. It’s the most wholesome and beautiful thing in the world in my opinion – I wish that more people could see that tender side of them”.

And you will – Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One finishes with ‘Golden Hour’, an ode to the band’s friendship and the thousands of hours spent together both in Wellington and on the road by these four best of friends. Perhaps the most pure pop song that DARTZ has ever put to tape, its jangly chords and charming lyrical refrains hide a strong and forceful statement: that DARTZ will never give up their singular shared goal of writing multiple songs worthy of landing on New Zealand’s next two-CD ICompilation – ditties that will be sung on acoustic guitars at shed parties for centuries to come, putting DARTZ’s names on a level with the respected and revered New Zealand rockers ever – Toogood, Dobbyn, Grindlay, Daverne, Cato – to name but a few.

Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One is an album that doesn’t just invite award and acclaim – it demands it. DARTZ’s often-repeated goal of being named the “best band in Aotearoa” seems less an aspiration and more a certainty at this point, because an album with the non-stop fist-pumping rock and chantable, nay, croonable, nay, unrelentingly bellowable choruses of Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One doesn’t come around as often as you might think. The only question that remains is the speed at which those giving out the gold will catch onto this new musical phenomena, and whether they will keep pace with the velocity at which DARTZ continues to win fans not only around the country, but around the globe, with further international touring opportunities beckoning the DARTZ boys overseas in 2024.
DARTZ perform a hometown show to celebrate the album’s release at Wellington’s San Fran on Friday, 1 March, before taking Dangerous Day To Be A Cold One on the road across Aotearoa, hitting the South Island hard with the band’s first shows ever in Nelson and Blenheim!

Fri 1 March – San Fran, Wellington
Thurs 11 April – Boathouse, Nelson
Fri 12 April – Waterfront Bar, Blenheim
Sat 13 April – Mussel Inn, Golden Bay
Thurs 18 April – The Crown, Dunedin
Fri 19 April – Wunderbar, Christchurch
Sat 20 April – Last Place, Hamilton
Sat 26 April – Whammy, Auckland

Tickets on-sale from smokedartz.com

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