Jim Wisp is (left to right): Matt on bass, Elinor on cello, James
vocals/guitar/keys, Hedda on violin and David on drums.
The story of Jim Wisp
Once upon a time, David McGurk and James Mason played drums and sax
together in The Aviators. One weekend back in December 2010 in an old
Masonic Lodge in Island Bay, they recorded the drum and guitar tracks to
some songs James had been fiddling with that went on to become Jim
Wisp's debut album Momentum.
A few years later, there was a very significant chat between James and a
fabulous lawyer lady at a Scottish Ceilidh dance that resulted in Hedda
Oosterhoff and James meeting up. After a few jams, they got all excited
about the possibilities and got David back on board to play the songs
from Momentum live. Hedda played her violin through two octave
pedals for the bass lines, David swapped between drums and tabla and
James played guitar, keys and vocals. This trio was the core for Jim
Wisp's current sound, with a huge range of dynamics, textures and
flavours coming from just three people.
David went travelling around Asia on a bicycle for a couple of years, so
during that time Kelly Ballard and Chris Beernink joined the band on
drums and double bass. When Chris left the band, Elinor Millar joined on
cello (you guessed it, playing through octave pedals for bass lines).
James also spent a lot of hours learning how to wind his own guitar
pickups, so he could play octave pedal bass lines with his thumb when he
played guitar. Just before Kelly left to roam the world, James and him
recorded drums, guitars and keys madly for two days at the Blue Barn.
Everyone was very excited when Matthew Landreth joined the band, playing
actual bass with no octave pedals. Now the string players are free to
play soaring melodies. James has less gadgets taped to his guitar and is
generally more relaxed. David returned from his adventures and now Jim
Wisp are working on turning the Blue Barn recordings into fully fledged
tunes for an upcoming EP that might- just might- knock your socks off.
James dabbles in many different things and is an 'ideas man'. He
sings and plays keys and guitar in the band and is notorious for
building very dodgy prototype music gear involving a lot of tape. He
studied composition at NZSM and is responsible for most of the weird
and complicated bits in the songs.
Elinor's real name is Cellinor. She hasn't written a bio yet. From
memory, her most defining moment was when she fought 16 evil
flautists armed with nothing more than her Cello bow and a piece of
Matt sings bass and plays bass. He was originally based in the
deeep South. He works in the film industry and buys stuff for making
Hedda has played the Violin in numerous groups and orchestras in New
Zealand and overseas. During daylight hours she works in interior
acoustics and non-structural structural design. She is also
responsible for making sure there are some bits in some of the songs
that aren't weird or complicated.
David McGurk has been drumming for 20 years. He has played with
several Wellington acts including popular Eastern European dance
orchestra The Balkanistas (now Balkany), heavy-handed prog bands
Mangle and Gruff and Planet Hunter, and funk legends The Aviators. He
has also been involved in various musical escapades in Malaysia and
Thailand. David spends his days as a mature student of public
relations at Massey Wellington. He funds life by repairing brass and
woodwind instruments at Vanguard Orchestral.
Photography by Abbie Dorrington from Big
Mark & Co