April 8, 2009 / 4:11 PM / 10 years ago

Kiwi band Strike march to their own drum

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - For New Zealand drumming group Strike, glass pipes, metal plates and trucks are all instruments to create a harmonious cacophony that they hope will inspire others to take up percussion.

The “hyperactive kids,” as they describe themselves, combine traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments with anything from dance movements to classical music, for sounds inspired by Indonesian gamelan and Japanese taiko drums.

The band, in Singapore to play as part of a New Zealand festival, attribute their diversity to the island country’s multi-cultural fabric and a strong culture of collaboration, where they say ideas are shared among artists.

“One thing about New Zealand in general is that it draws inspirations from different areas of the world. We have had people come from all over, bringing their influences with them,” founding member and manager Murray Hickman told Reuters.

New Zealand’s population is mostly of European descent, with the indigenous Maori being the largest minority. But government projections show New Zealand will have greater ethnic diversity in future.

Strike met at university in Wellington, when they were mostly playing chamber music, and now are a group of eight looking to invent new instruments to thump. A recent concert used the “sonic power” of water, fire, earth and Bedford trucks.

The band is trying to educate people about percussion by conducting workshops for students, both in New Zealand and around Asia.

“Percussion wasn’t really exposed and not big in New Zealand, so a lot of kids in high school didn’t think it was a cool instrument,” group member Leni Sulusi said.

Strike believes the appeal of music is recession-proof, citing its recent performance at a festival in South Korea that it said attracted thousands of people a day despite the financial crisis.

“Even more so in some ways — people turn toward music and arts in recessions. Music is essentially something everyone can do, and it’s free,” said Hickman.

“If you can afford a Playstation 3, you probably can still afford to get a pair of chopsticks and play on pots and pans at home.”

Editing by Neil Chatterjee

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