Something Stupid is a name synonymous with Whangarei’s music scene, so it came as a surprise to most people who knew of them when they suddenly dropped off the map early last year.

Now the group are back, having renamed themselves Gridlock and armed with their debut album And You Are?, ready to take Whangarei – and New Zealand – by storm. The obvious question, of course: why the name change?

“It was a hard decision to make,” explains lead vocalist Yimmy, “and we weren’t sure whether it was the right thing. But we discussed this years ago, when we first started – we had agreed that if we ever decided to go in that direction, writing everything ourselves, that we would have it as a completely separate entity, if you like.”

Formed in 1997, the aim of the group was always to move into original music, despite remaining on the covers circuit for over 8 years. But even though it has been a long time coming, the group is undoubtedly doing the right thing at exactly the right time.

“On a personal level, yeah, it’s definitely what I want to be doing,” says Yimmy. “[The groups] got a great cheeky, quirky feel about it, so I’m really enjoying it. And the cheekiness comes through with the music; it kind of goes hand in hand. Sometimes the lyrics might be quite dark, but the music’s quite happy, so it gives it that blend. Or it could be the other way round, where the music is a little dark but the lyrics might be seen in a light-hearted way.”

And You Are? is a collection of 10 songs, at times reminiscent of The Police, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers or 80s ska, but totally unique in its own right and unlike anything you might be expecting from any Whangarei band. While it is a little more quirky than most pop music, its not a stretch to imagine any of the groups tracks on contemporary radio. Surprisingly, it’s all capped off by a brilliant cover of the 80s Mi-Sex classic “Computer Games”.

“We take an influence from a lot of 80s bands and also some earlier 90s bands, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, definitely,” Yimmy explains. “It’s a blend of those 2 eras if you like.”

Needless to say, it’s gone beyond Yimmy’s expectations.

“It’s exceeding that!” he laughs. “I’m rapt. I didn’t think it would be as good as it is, put it that way. [And You Are? has] definitely got the flavour we want, but we didn’t realise it was going to be as big as it is; the sound is quite big.”

Being a small market band, the project was entirely funded by the members of the group, using money earned in the final few months of covers gigs, as well as investment from the members themselves.

Producing an album that way can be a long and arduous process.

“It’s been 7 months,” says Yimmy, almost sounding relieved that the recording process is finished. “Its been done in blocks, not so much every week, but in surges. Its been broken up into about 3 sections over that 7 month period where we just go hard out, then we have a break, then go hard out again on another section.”

Being together within the group for 10 years has also helped.

“It does now,” says Yimmy, “because everybody’s got a job to do, so they just go out and do it.”

Of course, the work is far from over – with plans to tour the north before expanding into the rest of the country, 2007 is set to be the groups busiest year together yet.

“It’s great that this phase is coming to an end,” Yimmy explains with a sigh, “but it’s the beginning of another phase now.”

With the album launch taking place in mid-May, the group are understandably nervous, but Yimmy is confident that they will have the Whangarei audience behind them.

“We’re expecting a huge reception,” says Yimmy bluntly. “We’ve got a following from 8 years of Something Stupid around the local circuit and people know we’ve made this transition. It should just flow on from there.” The launch party for Gridlock’s debut album And You Are? is being held at Pirates Bar on May 19th – tickets are $20 and available at Wards Musicworks on Cameron St, and Music Mayhem on Grant St, Kamo. And You Are? is available at Musicor.