WHAT THE MEDIA ARE SAYING
CAIRO KNIFE FIGHT STRIKE BACK
Though New Zealand’s Cairo Knife Fight is only comprised of two men, between the tom-tom attack of drummer/lead vocalist/bass synth man Nick Gaffaney and the blood-drenched axe work of guitarist and loop pedal genius Aaron Tokona this duo deliver a tidal wave of complete sound that is both hallucinatory and imbued with an intense sense of urgency.
In a recent interview, Gaffaney likened what they do to guerrilla warfare, turning their weakness into strengths in all respects. We could not agree more. And the proof is in the riff-churned pudding. In this case, their new four-track EP Cairo Knife Fight II. The record is a massive, chest thumping, and blood curdling experience with razor sharp precision.
This is well-practiced recklessness at it’s best, and Cairo Knife Fight know just how far to push it before reigning in the assault. We suspect though at some point it’s all going to go horribly wrong and some sort of mega-apocalyptic scenario involving power chords and drums will be unleashed. Prepare yourself now…this is one Fight you can’t escape from.
FOO FIGHTERS AT WESTERN SPRINGS
The Foo Fighters played to 50,000 people at Western Springs on Tuesday. Christchurch duo Cairo Knife Fight, comprising Aaron Tokona and Nick Gaffaney, were one of their support acts. Guitarist Aaron Tokona shares his Foo Fighters diary with Vicki Anderson.
Monday, 7pm: We’re on the plane to go to Auckland and I see Richie McCaw hobbling down the aisle. He’s got the broken toe buzz. I said to Nick ”the Captain’s on the plane”. Dave Grohl, whatever, Richie’s mean. He sat down and the safety video started up. It’s always so cheesy. Richie was sitting a couple of seats behind us. We were sitting directly in front of a couple of other players, I think one was Sam Whitelock. Nick and I were trying not to eavesdrop but you couldn’t help it really. One of them says to the other: ”Did you go to the wedding mate?” and the other one said ”No way, mate.” Then they had a big conversation about the Rugby World Cup. Nick was in rugby heaven.
We got to Auckland. I stayed at a mate’s place across the road from Western Springs. I stayed up late watching him play PlayStation 3, before I knew it, it was 4am.
Tuesday, 9am: We had a meeting with our new Australia/New Zealand managers, Tom Larkin (Shihad) and Dan Hennessy, who used to manage Weta back in the day so that’s taking things full circle. I thought you’d notice the Tom Larkin thing. Tom manages four bands in Australia.
10.30am: Started driving all around Auckland, picking up our gear.
12.30pm: Arrive at Western Springs. Promoter was a bit grumpy because we were supposed to be there at 12 noon and we were a bit late. It’s that hurry up and wait buzz. We put our gear down and waited around for two hours. We’ve played a few shows with Dave Grohl associated projects this year so we know his crew a bit. The Foo Fighters lighting guy came over and gave us a hug and we caught up a bit with their tour manager. Then we went to catering for a feed, that was the best part of the whole gig. What food? Mean chicken, mean salads, it was all f…ing mean.
2pm. The Foos turned up for their soundcheck and did a pretty solid one.
3.30pm: We went on and did our soundcheck and then went back to catering.
5.30pm: It was the most surreal part of the night, we went on stage to do our set, it was early so I guess there were around 20,000 people there at that point. We were on the side of stage five minutes before we were due to go on. After the soundcheck we’d covered our gear in plastic so it didn’t get wet. Tom Larkin said ”so are you ready to go?” and we were so he started taking the plastic off the drumkit. I turned to Nick and said ”The guy from Shihad is getting your drumkit ready for you.” All the kids in the crowd saw Tom and started chanting ”Shihad, Shihad”. We played our gig, it was a 20 minute set. The audience was cool, they supported us and that was choice.
6ish: Packed our gear up and went back to catering because they were serving dinner. I’ve been on a few tours with big American acts and backstage there’s a rock ‘n’ roll line you don’t walk over but the Foos aren’t like that. There wasn’t the usual tense buzz. It was all open plan and everyone was just walking around. That seems to be the kind of vibe the Foo Fighters have around them.
7pm: Some guy who makes aluminium guitars came up and I tried his guitar, it was pretty cool. We were on the side of the stage watching Tenacious D play and Dave Grohl slips in behind us to watch too. The guy selling the aluminium guitars wanted me to introduce him to Dave. I wasn’t going to do that and the guy looked at me like ”What do you mean you don’t know him?’ Tenacious D was awesome.
8.20pm: Right to the minute, the Foos went on stage and played a good gig. They did 2x 45 minute sets and started having all these jam sessions in the middle of songs, so probably half of their set was Van Halen riffs. When they finished we were hanging about backstage having a few drinks. It was pretty mellow and everyone was chilled out. I thought it was pretty cool. I mean there are big bands, huge bands and massive bands and the Foo Fighters are one group at the top of the rock ‘n’ roll mountain. I liked their attitude.
Jack Black was wandering around in jandals. He came over and said ”awesome dude, loved it”. He was a good guy, a complete and utter gooba. Nick took the picture of us together. Jack Black was like ”let me see that, do it again, you need to put the flash on”.
After the gig it was just like going to a party with a bunch of strangers except the strangers were famous rock stars.
I always thought it was bogus, but I found out the Foo Fighters pick their own support acts so I didn’t go and hand them our EPs or anything. We’ve done a few gigs with Them Crooked Vultures and the Foo Fighters before.
12.30pm: Left the venue and there were smiles all around, the promoters all seemed happy and like it had been a successful gig. Michael Gudinski seemed to have a skip in his step. I went back to my mate’s place and watched him play PlayStation 3 till 4am again.
Wednesday, 7am: Got a taxi to the airport and came home, my wife picked me up from the airport. I got home and just fell into bed. Rock star buzz.
BLOG LOVE FROM THE USA
In this day and age of uninispired band names, let us all witness and pay great homage to New Zealand’s Cairo Knife Fight. The duo, comprised of drummer/lead vocalist Nick Gaffaney and Aaron Tokona on guitar, is likely to put a smile on the face of fans of Foo Fighters, QOTSA and Biffy Clyro, and will be set loose on an otherwise unsuspecting world at SXSW 2012. That’s an little event you might be interested in checking out methinks, but until then, try to find shelter in the groove of The Origin Of Slaves, a pimpslap of a single, cherrypicked from the band’s II EP.
MORE IMAGES BLOG REVEW CMJ 2011
Slice and dice, baby, slice and dice. It’s time for the long shadow of The White Stripes to step aside for two new kids on the block. Cairo Knife Fight have chosen an appropriate name. Wielding the sharpest knife in the souk, they’ve carved themselves a musical niche only dreamed of by lesser mortals.
As happens more often than not in countries like New Zealand where the musical scene is genuinely tiny, drummer/lead vocalist Nick Gaffeney and guitarist/loop head Aaron Tokona jammed together one extremely drunken night in a Wellington bar. And much like many bastard children who were spawned in such circumstances, Cairo Knife Fight came into the world kicking and screaming. And they still are.
Looking like a refugee from some kind of serious acid trip, Tokona wears a headband that he could have found back in the 1970’s and Gaffaney sports a Zapata moustache than any 70’s rocker would have been proud of. But their sound is not from the 1970’s.
Well, not the ’70′s that spring to mind from that sartorial perspective. If we had to use that decade for musical reference points, I would suggest some bastard child of the Stooges and Neu! with a serious side of Zeppelin. Not when they were bloated parodies of rock n roll but when they were stomping their opposition into the ground with a glee the Pistols could only dream about.
But those reference points don’t even come close to describing the sheer ferocity this duo create with their wall of sound. They could almost be accused of being a prog rock band if they didn’t have that brutal guitar sound drilling its way into your head. There are very few times in my life I’ve felt sonically bludgeoned into smiling and dancing at the same time.
They recorded their second EP at Roundhead studio’s in Auckland using a Neve desk that had been custom built for The Who. Grace by Jeff Buckley and Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf were both recorded on this old piece of machinery (by todays digital standards). Serious standards have been set by this history and Cairo Knife Fight hold their own in this company.
Like every other band they have obviously been hunting for something original to create. In this instance, they’ve succeeded with blood sweat and tears. Cairo Knife Fight bring fresh kill to the table. And you can smell the blood on their breath.
Cairo Knife Fight will blow the cobwebs from your brain. They are playing one more CMJ show in NYC at midnight tonight at Local 269, 269 East Houston St. I will be there. If you are in NYC, I suggest you join me.
NZ HERALD REVIEW
“This four-track EP by multi-instrumentalist Nick Gaffaney and former Weta frontman Aaron Tokona invokes the sound of instruments that are about to fall apart – but you can be sure they never will.
It’s brilliantly unhinged, hallucinatory, and riff-fired music. Opener The Violence of Action – with its mantra “No one gives a damn” – has the most monumental, chest-beating riff to come out of Kiwi rock in years; hammering single The Origin of Slaves recalls Weta’s Calling On and while The Opiate of the Living offers a chance for a breather it’s still a heavy, agitating beast.
These songs will leave you feeling like a rock ‘n’ roll animal, also a little bemused about how two people can conjure up such a powerful and relentless racket – and you may even feel inspired to start wearing a psychedelic rock & roll headband a la Tokona”.
‘TIME OUT’ FEATURE STORY
“CKF II is not only a step-up in intensity, but also another step along the road of feeling comfortable bringing CKF’s blistering and hallucinatory sound to life. Because it’s a tricky art, with Tokona mangling all manner of riffs and loops, and Gaffaney singing, playing drums, and synth bass all at the same time”.
“Cairo Knife Fight are getting ready for just that – a musical attack”.
UNDER THE RADAR REVIEW 8.2/10
“Cairo Knife Fight appear to be on a mission and ‘II’ is just another clue about what that mission is”.
“The new tracks certainly show a progression in sound, with the duo managing to pull off both slow-burning eight minute tracks that gradually build to a wild intensity, and four minute songs that knock you down from the get-go”.
NZ MUSICIAN FEATURE
“A suitable analogy for the sort of thing Nick Gaffaney routinely executes on stage with Cairo Knife Fight, might go something like this….imagine driving a manual car at high speed through the streets of Delhi, while juggling an ice cube, a stiletto and a hamster with your left hand, reciting the alphabet backwards and filling out an IQ test while your passenger yells last-second directions in your ear”.
“Each track has firm, thundering foundation while the falsetto vocal of Gaffaney balances a hint of calm amidst the blistering amalgam of sound”.
13TH FLOOR BLOG
“If you like your heavy rock served up with some sexy on the side, this is the band for you”.