Payola (New Zealand band)

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This article is about a band. For the legal term, see Payola.
Sophia Tupuola.jpg
Sophia Tupuola, Payola's lead singer
Background information
Origin Auckland, New Zealand
Genres folk, rock, soul
Years active 2005-present
Labels Independent
Members Lee Catlin
Solomon Cole
Sophia Tupuola
Simon McDowell
Past members Timothy William
Adrian Bergman
Nick Wood

Payola are a six-piece folk/rock/soul band from Auckland, New Zealand.

The band have been described as a combination of Motown meets AC/DC/The Chambers Brothers meets Funkadelic/Led Zeppelin meets Solomon Burke with Primal Scream supporting.[citation needed] In addition, their musical influences include Tom Waits, The Staple Singers, Neil Young and Sly Stone.

The group's first release was the album Gone To Ground in 2005. Lead vocalist Solomon Cole had exited his prior band, Auckland based Rootskonductor, to release a solo album through Wellington label Jayrem Records. The album was to be titled "PAYOLA".

Cole enlisted the help of drummer and childhood friend Adrian Bergman and jazz keyboardist Timothy William, a musician introduced through Rootskonductor manager Stephen O'hoy. UK bassist Lee Catlin (formerly of Orange Can) joined shortly after, having responded to an advert posted on the internet. He, in turn, introduced the band to Manchester percussionist Nick Wood to complement the recordings. Rehearsals took place in Mamaku, a remote suburb of Rotorua. The group of players proceeded to form a "band" as the focus of the solo record shifted. The original name of the record was adopted as the band moniker.

The band used the backing vocal services of NZ Idol finalist Indira Moala for initial recordings. However, due to a fees dispute, Moala subsequently and unsuccessfully threatened to sue the band. The dispute was settled amicably and the band recruited Sophia Tupuola to complete the recordings and finish the album.

Gone to Ground[edit]

Recordings for the Gone to Ground album took place live at York Street Studios over the course of one day to minimise the need for later overdubs. This style of recording was specifically chosen to convey Cole's adoration for the return album of Solomon Burke produced by Joe Henry. Cole contacted Henry's manager to recruit him as producer for Payola's second album. Due to differences in schedules, the collaboration never happened.

Gone to Ground was released in May 2005. The first pressing quickly sold out as the band toured New Zealand and made a number of TV and music festival appearances. The album made appearances on Australia's Triple J, Canadian radio and US college radio. Their second single "Every Little Step" was included in the Californian independent film Dead in Love.

Creative differences in 2006 saw a change in musical direction: the departure of keyboardist Timothy William and a parting from Jayrem Records.

Dirt and Stars[edit]

The influence of Catlin's input on Cole's writing shifted the band's direction away from the predominant influences of roots and raw soul of the first album to encompass a wider range of rock, country, funk, blues and soul. Influences included Led Zeppelin, Funkadelic, Parliament and Sly and The Family Stone. The band took on a sonically heavier approach with emphasis on guitar, bass and drums. Catlin assumed keyboard duties alongside bass and production for the album; this cemented the key writing partnership for the band.

In 2007 Payola released an independent E.P. titled Dirt and Stars. It was the first on their own fledgling label Vanguard Recordings (named after the street Cole lived on while recording the songs). The E.P. was recorded and put together in Catlin's home studio with source sounds recorded in a host of unusual settings from churches to native bush. Dirt and Stars was voted in the top 20 releases for 2007 by New Zealand's premier music download site Amplifier. The lead single "Oscillator" received airplay on student and commercial radio networks. The accompanying video, directed by filmmaker Marc Swadel, made the rounds of New Zealand music television. The recording represented a collision of influences brought about by the growing friendship of Catlin and Solomon and an earnest desire to stand apart from the current throng of alt/rock bubblegum youth acts they thought were saturating the New Zealand music landscape. This led them into a partnership with Jonathan Hughes and This Years Model under the flagship of Mana Music Publishing.

Through this association, the title track "Dirt and Stars" and second single "Scorsese" was to be included in series 4 (episode 5, 7 and 9) of New Zealand drama Outrageous Fortune which was to be aired late 2008 in NZ, Australia and the United States.


Musical differences between the band and original drummer Adrian Bergman led to Bergman's exit in early 2008.

In April 2008 Payola won the Jim Beam sponsored Rock FM New Zealand-wide band search competition. The prize was the opening slot at the Vodofone Homegrown Festival held on 26 April 2008 at the waterfront in Wellington, New Zealand.[1][2] Other bands playing at the event included Shihad, The Mint Chicks and Opshop.

They completed the People Will Prevail Tour in October 2008 and Summer of Sin Tour 2009. They were heading into the studio to record their second full-length album Black Swan, scheduled to be released in 2009. The band decided to part ways with original percussionist Nick Wood due to commitment issues. They streamlined to a four piece for the new album.[citation needed]


During the recording of the band's second album, Free Up Forever, the decision was made by Solomon Cole to disband Payola. A statement on the band's Myspace page advises songwriters Cole and Catlin are to form a band with new drummer Ben Teevale: 'These Automatic Changers'.

Band members[edit]

Current members[edit]

  • Lee Catlin (Bass/Keys)
  • Solomon Cole (Vocals/Guitar)
  • Simon McDowell (Drums)
  • Ben Teevale (Drums)

Former members[edit]

  • Timothy William (Keys)
  • Adrian Bergman (Drums)
  • Nick Wood (Percussion)
  • Sophia Tupuola (Vocals)



Date of Release Title Label Chart Certification Catalog Number
2005 Gone to Ground Jayrem Records cdjay395
2007 Dirt and Stars Independent


Year Single Album Country Charted Certification
2005 "So Unless it's Over" Gone To Ground New Zealand - -
2005 "Every Little Step" Gone to Ground New Zealand - -
2007 "Oscillator" Dirt and Stars New Zealand - -
2008 "Scorsese" Dirt and Stars New Zealand - -


External links[edit]