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Darren Watson Courts Controversy with New Song

31 July 2014

Darren Watson Courts Controversy with New Song

On Monday 4th August Wellington songwriter and guitarist Darren Watson will release his most politicised work to date.

'Planet Key' is a new song with lyrics that come straight from Watson's strong views about New Zealand's current Prime Minister.

“I tried to imagine I was John Key, and what he'd say if he was actually being honest with the public, and himself.” Watson explains. “So it's all sung in the first person and deals with his much vaunted state house background and education, with seemingly no political ambitions or even admitted positions on important events of the time, to Wall Street ticket clipper and ultimately to being elected PM.”

“All the half-truths, PR spin, focus-group driven stances, and seeming lack of a moral or ethical … and how despite all that some people in NZ seem to absolutely adore Key, despite the mask slipping a bit lately. It astounds me frankly, so I felt I had to say something. I expect mainstream radio will ignore it but if it helps convince one person to vote to change the governement I'll be happy.”

Apart from assistance on drums from Darren Mathiassen (Shapeshifter, Iva Lamkum) all the instruments and vocals were performed by Darren Watson at Lamington Studios. It was mixed by Andrew Downes & mastered by Mike Gibson at Munki Studios. The video was created by Jeremy Jones of Propeller Motion.
'Planet Key' will be available for download from Monday August 4 on iTunes.

This single is a separate release from Watson's long awaited, and less overtly political, new album 'Introducing Darren Watson' which is due to be released in October.

Darren Watson was the leader of Chicago Smoke Shop, a band who had a string of commercial successes in the late '80s and early '90s. He has also won The International Songwriting Competition (Blues) in 2008, and he's been a finalist at the NZ Music awards on numerous occasions, most recently for Best Roots Album of 2002 for his album King Size.

Find out more at

Darren Watson Background and Reviews
Watson gained national fame in the 80s as the fresh-faced , young front-man and guitarslinger for Smoke Shop. The band made two charting albums, had several radio hits, opened for international blues legends like Koko Taylor, Robert Cray, George Thorogood, & The Fabulous Thunderbirds. They toured tirelessly earning Watson a place alongside the likes of Midge Marsden, Hammond Gamble and Rick Bryant as one of New Zealand's best bluesmen.

Since leaving Smoke Shop in the early 90's he has cemented his reputation as the country's most original, contemporary blues voice, with three albums of world-class blues music: 2002's Tui-nominated King Size, 2005's South Pacific Soul, and 2010's internationally acclaimed Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy.

During this time Darren also fulfilled a life-long ambition working alongside one of his childhood R&B heroes, touring extensively as sideman for Midge Marsden and, more recently performing as side-man to Chicago blues harmonica legend Billy Boy Arnold. He's also opened for New Orleans funkster Dr. John, Doug McLeod, Joe Cocker, Keb Mo, and nu-soul exponent Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, as well as appearing at WOMAD.

Watson gained international recognition in 2008 when he won the blues section of the International Songwriting Competition as judged by John Mayall, James Cotton, and Tom Waits.

Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy, Darren Watson’s most recent album, received glowing reviews worldwide. The album was singled out by Blues Revue USA as “beautiful”.

UK-based roots music journalist Garth Cartwright was so impressed with a solo Darren Watson solo acoustic show he stumbled into one wet and windy Wellington night that he dedicated half a chapter of his latest book Sweet As to the experience of seeing him perform.

“That someone in New Zealand plays Mississippi country blues with such eloquence makes me feel glad all over. “ Garth Cartwright (The Guardian, The Sunday Times)

"Stunning emotion. Darren Watson is outstanding! " Crossroads Magazine (France)

“Darren Watson plays the blues with skill and conviction that's more than impressive. It's scary.” (Rip It Up)

“Song-writing as sharp as a spear...” Grant Smithies (Sunday Star Times)


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