New Zealand rock outfit System Corporation released their debut single ‘Dismal Universal Hiss’ well ahead of their debut album ‘Fiction Dept.’, slated for release in late 2017.
System Corporation began in 2011, based on a conversation between Phil Somervell (The Datsuns) and their long standing engineer Scott Newth about swapping demos. The two were sharing a flat in Stockholm while The Datsuns were working on their fifth album ‘Death Rattle Boogie’.
Scott began work on producing the demos, cutting them up, rearranging them, and adding vocals. They became a trio when they enlisted fellow Datsuns’ bandmate Ben Cole (also from The Joint Chiefs) on drums, and then evolved into a five-piece when Scott started working on his own demos for the project, finally enlisting his brothers and bandmates Andrew and Kent Newth (Rumpus Room) to help flesh them out. However, the original trio ended up collaborating on a number of new songs, giving System Corporation two distinct songwriting avenues.
While most of the band’s production work happens in Hamilton, they hail from Thames (Phil), Hamilton (Andrew, Scott and Kent) and Wellington (Ben). The members cite numerous influences, including The Rolling Stones, John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees), Ty Segall, Sonic Youth, The Clash and The Stone Roses, and New Zealand’s The Subliminals. Scott Newth takes particular inspiration from both music that is “beautifully calculated” and, at the opposite end of that, “beautifully uncontrolled”.
The name System Corporation is a vague translation of Systembolaget, a government-owned and operated liquor store chain in Sweden. What is more interesting than the fact that both the project and its name were born in Sweden is that, through Systembolaget, the government is able to effectively control alcohol sales and identify problem areas in order to divert profits back into social services. System Corporation is an ironically corporate name for an organization promoting such a socialist ethos.
The band’s debut single ‘Dismal Universal Hiss’ could easily have been written about the rise of Trump or Brexit. But it wasn’t – it was written at the time of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the rise of the so-called 99%, mass protests, and rallying against a broken system that creates ill-gotten wealth and sucks it into a vacuum unattainable by the mere masses.
“The song is about the futility of the situation we are in. That even when you vote for change, when you vote in a non-politician like Trump or John Key in NZ, you end up getting more of the same, or in these cases, things get a lot worse for the poorer end of society,” explains Scott Newth. “It also has hints of hope that, one day, real change might happen, while touching on the futility of protest movements like Occupy Wall St, that in the end, changed very little.”