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DSC_0935_2 photo: clive pigottOne-half of Wellington’s fam­ous Yeabs­ley twins, Dan, didn’t start play­ing music until he was 17. It was his broth­er, Chris­toph­er, who had the great idea for them to learn to play a music­al instru­ment. Fail­ing to find les­sons for his first love, the double bass, in the loc­al news­pa­per, he saw an ad for sax­o­phone les­sons and jumped at the chance. Drop­ping out of uni­ver­sity, where he stud­ied three dif­fer­ent kinds of math­em­at­ics, eco­nom­ics and com­puter sci­ence, he pur­sued his pas­sion for music and nev­er looked back. Now a mem­ber of the Wel­ling­ton Inter­na­tion­al Ukulele Orches­tra (WIUO), Dan took some time out to relax with a cof­fee, and speak to Fish­Head at one of his favour­ite New­town cafés, Baobab.

If it has been a long day play­ing music and I’m in need of a drink I’ll be… Some­where with live music and good beer, so The Rogue and Vag­a­bond, or Havana, or the Laun­dry Bar.

The next day if I’m in need of a hearty feed and a cup of great cof­fee I’ll be at… Prob­ably Mum and Dad’s. Is that accept­able? Mum makes the best food and my broth­er bought them a fancy fil­ter­ing cof­fee machine, the one with the glass sort of vase thing (That’ll be a Chemex, Ed.), so that’s where I’d be!

For a slice of cul­ture, I’d head to… The Museum of Wel­ling­ton City and Sea. It’s my favour­ite museum in Wel­ling­ton by far, and I like how you get a real sense of how Wel­ling­ton has changed. Also the build­ing is beau­ti­ful. If you go upstairs, they have got the old port coun­cil cham­bers — it’s amaz­ing!My favour­ite Wel­ling­ton land­mark would have to be… The Henry Moore sculp­ture in the Botan­ic Gar­dens. Or there used to be an old sculp­ture in front of the BNZ build­ing. It was like a wire-mesh boulder hanging off the ground, and my uncle wel­ded that, so that was my favourite.

My Sundays con­sist of… Some­times play­ing music, and then I go to Mum and Dad’s for some veget­ables — well, a Sunday meal. 

I think Wellington’s best-kept secret is… Otari-Wilton’s Bush, because I don’t think many people know about it and it’s really big — it goes on for miles. There are heaps of beau­ti­ful spots, streams and pic­nic grounds. There’s also a place if you walk for about an hour called Flax Clear­ing, and it’s just this big hill­side and all it has got is these enorm­ous flax bushes on it. It’s really cool!

I am most ashamed to have nev­er vis­ited… The Museum Hotel — nev­er been there! I’ve also nev­er been to a show at the St James. I’ve played in the foy­er a couple of times but I’ve nev­er been to a show there, so that’s pretty stink!

My favour­ite place to play music is… For the people, Rogue and Vag­a­bond is great, but acous­tic­ally the best place to play is The Black Spar­row. We used to do a gig with a real piano, double bass and drums, and it was great because I wouldn’t have to bring an amp or any­thing, just play.

My most loved instru­ment has to be… At the moment def­in­itely the tuba. I’ve only got one, but I think I need anoth­er! It’s this 1960s tuba. Usu­ally, the bowl sticks up — like the Sal­va­tion Army ones — but mine looks like a peri­scope and it goes out the front, so it looks really cool! I’ve also got all the sax­o­phones, apart from the silly ones. So I learnt sax­o­phone, cla­ri­net, flute (I’m ter­rible at both of those), and then when I turned 30 I thought, I’m a grown-up now, I can do what I want.

My most mem­or­able exper­i­ence being in the music industry is… Def­in­itely play­ing behind John Rowles. We did a gig at the Auck­land Town Hall. This was with a band called The Utes, we were the house band and we got to play two songs with John Rowles. He had named a lot of his songs after his sis­ters — one was his big hit ‘Cheryl Moana Mar­ie’, so we played that. Actu­ally, there was one sis­ter that didn’t get a song named after her — that’s a bit stink! Any­way, play­ing behind John Rowles was one of the most ter­ri­fy­ing exper­i­ences of my life. It was great.

The biggest high­light of being a part of the WIUO has been… Prob­ably two high­lights. The first was when we were just start­ing out. We used to rehearse on Wed­nes­day morn­ings at 8am at Deluxe, and that was so excit­ing because I had just star­ted play­ing the bass, and just play­ing was excit­ing. Then last year we went to Edin­burgh for the Fringe fest­iv­al and that was really excit­ing too — play­ing a month in Edin­burgh and real­ising it wasn’t just Kiwis who liked it!

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