My name is Kaine Harington, and I am the sole instrumentalist of the post-rock band American French Fries based in Dunedin, New Zealand. My latest album Bigger Things To Worry About wears its influences on its sleeves. Quite literally, the major influencing factors behind the album and its long-winded production is displayed clearly on the record sleeve. The image is of myself and my daughter (3 weeks old at the time) cuddled together and falling asleep. The longer I sit with the album as a finished product, the more I realize her influence is far greater than just a cutesy cover image. Every single track was shaped by the huge impact she has made on my life.
Listen to the album while reading the text.
My first record (made under the American French Fries moniker), 2014’s Don’t Make Plans or Plan To Break Them was made after my first experience of traveling as an adult – driving from Vancouver to San Francisco with three friends. It was also made when I was newly falling in love and between leaving one city and arriving in a new one. It was recorded in a sleepy New Zealand beach town while living in solitude.
Listening back, this all seemed to have an incredible influence on the music. The songs all have driving rhythms (built for road trips), the songs begin and end as they please, much like the landscape changes as you driving and I think the summer and hope for the future leaves as a mostly positive impact on the music. The solitude added the wistful, nostalgic tone.
My second record Somehow Belong sounds very different, because it was born from such different circumstances. I was living and working in a small rural town in the central North Island of New Zealand – Living in a cottage on the corner of a working farm, looking out over kilometers of rural land out towards the mountains. This record took on a real western (at least in the Ennio Morricone sense) music sound as my drive to work each day was through this picturesque rolling country. That, and you can hear the electric fence clicking in some of the guitar parts.
Bigger Things To Worry About.
My latest record Bigger Things To Worry About shows its influences in some very practical ways. It is my first musical release since becoming a father, which explains why it’s the first record to break from my previously well-established one-release-per-year schedule. It is also heavily colored by parenthood and my newly obtained worries; Am I doing this right? How can I balance everything? What happens if something happens to me? Can I support my family financially? Am I setting a good example?…
The more I explore it now, the more I see the role parenthood played in making this record what it is.
The opening track of the record begins (and continues) with a sample of my daughter’s heartbeat, recorded on my phone at her 12-week midwife visit. This was obviously one of the most important and special moments of my life. I wanted to capture the nervous, excited, wonderous energy I felt in that moment and what better way to try and capture those feelings than to play along to a section of that sample with a toy Casio keyboard.
Leaving Things Behind
This track was first concocted on a laptop with headphones while my daughter and fiancé slept upstairs. This explains why there are no guitars on this song; I didn’t want to wake anybody; sleep was particularly precious at this time. The huge distorted bass and drums were added months later, but either way, this song sounds like nighttime to me.
This song is a tribute to my late gran. She passed away a couple of months before my daughter was born and I played a solo guitar arrangement of this track at her funeral. I did a lot of reflecting around this time, and it’s still a bit hard to process, but I’m glad that that small chapter of my life is captured for the record. Whenever I would stay with my Gran and Grandpa growing up, I would sleep on a fold-out bed in the entranceway.
Apologies In Advance
The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to this being the first track in my discography to feature vocals, but the entire concept is parenthood. I wanted to write an anthem for battling through a day at work while being completely exhausted from not sleeping. The vocals sound sleepy and distant; the guitars sound like a headache, and the bass and drums feel like the adrenalin pushing you through the day.
This was the last track to get finished because it took me months to find time to be able to record loud guitars. This is a song I developed over months and months of stolen little moments, fleshed out 30 seconds at a time.
Regions and Colours
Made under very similar circumstances to Leaving things Behind. This track was a late-night headphone jammer while the girls were asleep — serious lonely night time vibes.
Tired. Sleepy. Winter. Late nights. Cold. Rain. That is all I hear in this track. This was one of the last tracks I wrote in my “studio” before we turned it into a nursery to welcome our daughter home to.
Learning To Sleep
Our daughter struggled with sleep for a long time. It was especially hard on my fiancé who spent many a sleepless night with our daughter comforting her to sleep. A nurse or some other advisor once mentioned the fact that babies are still learning how to sleep, and my mind was completely blown. It was one of the hundreds of times that my assumptions and thinking have been completely shattered by becoming a parent. This track is as gentle as the footsteps I would make around the house while my daughter slept.
It’s Not Nothing
I wanted to end the record on a big major chord because the journey has been monumental and ultimately positive. This track started as software instruments, but I replaced them with the Casio, again, I wanted it to be childlike.
The recording of the album itself took place in tiny fragments, months apart, as the realities of the Bigger Things (parenthood, moving city, changing job) took over my life. My silly little hobby of pumping music out into obscurity took its new place at the bottom of my priority list. While it took a lot longer, I persisted because being an active musician defines me as a human, and who I want my daughter to see. Will I ever tour this record? I’m sure I’ve got bigger things to worry about.
Bigger Things To Worry About is available at americanfrenchfries.bandcamp.com as a pay-what-you-wish download. It can also be streamed on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, etc.
American French Fries, Category: Artist, Albums: Bigger Things To Worry About, Somehow Belong, Don’t Make Plans or Plan to Break Them, Singles: Escape to This, Off the Map, Super Cuter, Top Tracks: Apologies In Advance, Heart Beat, Leaving Things Behind, Entrance Way, Dirge, Biography: American French Fries is a (pretty much) instrumental band from Dunedin, New Zealand., Monthly Listeners: 113, Where People Listen: Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga, Dunedin, London