Reuniting with Flight of the Conchords

Ahead of their new concert special, Flight of the Conchords: Live in London, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement talk songwriting, touring and how they keep their friendship alive. Hint: it involves not murdering each other.


HBO: How would you describe your band?

Bret: There’s two of us in the band.

Jemaine: It’s a two-person band.

Bret: So it’s a lot of duets. Guitars, bass, piano singing, flute, a little bit of flute.

Jemaine: Xylophone. It sounds like there are eight people but it’s all done by us.

Bret: Any two of those instruments at the same time.

HBO: How long does it take to write a new song?

Bret: Takes us quite a long time. We’ve got some newish songs for the special.

Jemaine: It’s not that it takes us a long time, it’s more that we don’t play very often.

Bret: Yeah, we get together once or twice a year, maybe.

Jemaine: We sometimes see each other for pizza or for our kids’ playdates, but that’s on a personal level. As a band, less often.

Bret: The fastest one probably took about 6 years. It’s not that long if we condense the time of actually working on them. Probably about a few days.

HBO: What’s the secret to staying friends?

Jemaine: Don’t stab each other. Once you’ve gone over that line, it’s hard to come back. So if you’re in a band…

Bret: Don’t murder the other people in your band. That’s the longevity trick.

HBO: How is this show different from previous tours?

Bret: This is the first time we’ve filmed one of our concerts. We did a small live special a long time ago, but since then we’ve toured and developed a bigger live show with lighting and more instruments and a small orchestra.

HBO: What inspires your writing?

Bret: We’ve done quite a few songs now so it’s a matter of trying to write something we haven’t written. That’s why they’re getting quite weird. There’s a medieval one, that’s territory we haven’t covered before.

HBO: Do you still get nervous?

Bret: As long as we’ve done some practice it’s quite fun. It’s when we haven’t practiced and we try a song we don’t know it can be quite stressful, because they go quite badly.

Jemaine: But even they can be fun in a small audience.

Bret: The audience likes it more than we do.

Jemaine: That’s always their favorite bit. When we mess up.

Bret: But we’re actually trying to get it right. You’ll see if you watch the special we still make quite a lot of mistakes. We’re going to cut all those out.