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From jungle to jungle

New Zealand duo's music goes international

Published: April 11, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.


Do you know who New Zealand’s most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo is? I don’t either. But I do know who the fourth most popular duo is- a fabulous band by the name of Flight of the Conchords (FOTC).

From Wellington, New Zealand, Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement started FOTC while they were roommates in college, using the band as a way to hone in on their guitar skills.

The band’s interesting name comes from a dream in which a V formation of Gibson flying Vs resembled a gaggle of Concorde airplanes, thus being a flight of the conchords.

After a slow start, the band began hitting the international circuit by the early 2000s. By 2005, the group was the subject of a six-part BBC Radio 2 series, with a feel similar to that of Tenacious D or Spinal Tap. In the same year, FOTC landed a spot on the HBO comedy series One Night Stand.

In 2007, FOTC stepped up their game and premiered their show The Flight of the Conchords on HBO. The show’s premise is that FOTC has arrived in New York City to make it big in the United States. With an inept, awkward manager Murray (Rhys Darby), a self-proclaimed “player” friend Dave (Arj Barker), and a married, yet still hoping, obsessed fan (Kristen Schaal) as their only contacts in the city, the life of Clement and McKenzie is never boring.

In each episode is at least one or two of the band’s hilarious hits. They do a phenomenal job of weaving the music into the story line, so the music only adds to the show and never distracts from it. The DVD of the first season was released in late November of last year and is an excellent addition to any FOTC fan’s collection.

The band is truly amazing. Their songs run the gamut of genres from rap (by none other than the Hiphopopotamus (whose lyrics are bottomless) and the Rhymeoceros), to funky songs like”Business Time,” to a fantastic song about robots taking over the world (where, in the future, they say “affirmative” instead of “yes”).

I’m not the only one who appreciates FOTC’s brilliance. In 2007, Clement and McKenzie were named the 2007 Wellingtonians of the Year. Both Time magazine and Entertainment Weekly put the show in one of the top 10 of 2007. And in February, the band’s The Distant Future received a Grammy for Best Comedy Album.

Whether you decide to listen to their music or watch their HBO show, check these guys out. They’re amazingly talented and absolutely hilarious. Albeit, Flight of the Conchords probably isn’t for everyone, I still suggest you listen/watch them before making a final decision. They are seriously that good.