It’s not always inevitable that children follow in their parents’ footsteps, but in Mareea’s case it was. They were hot footsteps to follow in, too. Paterson’s father is Kim Paterson, one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent jazz musicians. Mareea’s forays into music started at a very early age, picking up drums from the age of two before moving onto classical music (violin, flute and piano) at seven. Kim was a member of BLERTA and Mareea was drafted in to play flute. It would be fairly safe to say that no other musician in this country got their first taste of touring with Bruno Lawrence when they were 12 years old.
Mareea’s first bands developed at high school where she took up the drum stool with Nexus. Following Nexus came Tadpole – yes, that Tadpole – formed with friends Taisia Huckle (guitar) and Cath Deeney (vocals) at North Shore’s Carmel College. Unable to find a bass player, Mareea duly switched and the rest is, as they say, history. The vacant drummer’s stool was filled firstly by Greg Baker and then by one of Kim’s students, Dean Lawton.
Following tours with Shihad and a slot at Big Day Out 1995, Mareea opted out when a clash of musical styles within the band emerged. She headed to ASA art school in Auckland with plans to complete a Bachelor of Visual Arts, majoring in photography. However, this was interrupted in 1997 to pursue a Bachelor of Music Performance at Wellington’s famed Conservatorium.
Following a brief stint in the three-piece band Parka, Mareea moved back to Auckland. Her association with High St stalwarts such as Manuel Bundy and Mark de Clive-Lowe led to an audition at York Street Recording Studios with Delta. The band (Simon Sampson, Mark Pollard, Andrew Buckton) were on the cusp of releasing their first single through Universal, and from 1999 through to 2001 Delta plied their trade, supporting the likes of ZZ Top and Buckcherry before parting ways.
Mareea was headhunted by Tim Finn for his ‘Feeding The Gods’ album.
In and around the dissolution, Mareea was headhunted by Tim Finn for his Feeding The Gods album (recorded with famed American producer Jay Joyce in 2000, at Helen Young Studios, Auckland). Finn toured the album extensively throughout New Zealand and Australia, the band given their own moniker: The Dirty Creatures (Matt Eccles on drums, with changing guitarists Iain Greenstreet, Tim Skedden and Neil Watson). Mareea departed after the natural life-cycle of the album, although she would find her way back to the Tim Finn band for European tours between 2005 and 2008. A hook-up through Tim’s manager also saw Paterson playing with Australian Alex Lloyd on promotional tours to New Zealand in 01/02.
With a cemented reputation as a go-to bass player, Paterson was drafted by Sony to help with Brooke Fraser, a young singer-songwriter they’d just signed. To help their ingénue work up new material Sony called in a dream team of local players: Paterson, drummer Paul Russell, keyboardist Mark Vanilau and Eye TV’s guitarist-composer Sean Sturm. Much of this pre-production work became the basis for Fraser’s debut, seven-times platinum album What To Do With Daylight?. Paterson’s musical stylings can be heard on the final recordings although Paterson herself was not able to take part in that session due to being offshore. Fraser and Paterson would later reunite when Paterson joined Fraser for a rendition of ‘Something In The Water’ with a supergroup the latter formed for the 2011 NZ Music Awards.
With session duties in New Zealand on hold, Mareea found herself driven to achieve more as a bass player, and in 2002, she upped sticks and moved to LA with the relatively simple goal of getting into a successful band in the world’s biggest music market. “It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to achieve there,” she says. Another of Kim Paterson’s former students, Greg Johnson, was one of the few contacts Mareea had in the City of Angels, and it was Johnson who not only provided somewhere for Mareea to couch-surf but her first break. A friend of a friend of Johnson’s knew that Louise Post of alt-rock outfit Veruca Salt was looking for a new bassist and hooked the pair up.
Post and Paterson met up for a coffee, and clicked instantly. The bond and loyalty that Paterson felt towards Post meant making some unenviable line calls on musicians asking for Paterson’s bass skills. Among the wooing suitors were Slash recruiting for Velvet Revolver, Courtney Love’s Hole, and Australia’s about-to-become-massive Jet. However, Paterson followed her gut and was soon on a plane to Australia to tour Veruca Salt’s Officially Dead EP in 2002, followed by a return visit to play and support Coldplay at Splendour in the Grass in 2003.
In between this, a lack of a work visa meant Paterson was taking trips back to New Zealand every three months, returning to the US to play more and more gigs with the band. Paterson had also stopped dossing at Greg Johnson’s place, and instead moved in with Post where the pair wrote together towards a new Veruca Salt album.
Veruca Salt are one of those bands whose success was hard to see from this end of the pre-social media world. The band were indie darlings turned major label stars-in waiting: the Bob Rock-produced Eight Arms To Hold You (1997) might have been the Next Big Thing had the band’s original line-up not dissolved in acrimony a year later. Their sole foray to New Zealand in October 1997 ensured a little fanbase here, but in the US they toured relentlessly, and built a legion of diehard fans. Their marketability in the US extended to things such as a cosmetic line featuring Paterson’s own lipstick shade.
Paterson describes her drinking and drug-taking during this period, mixed with a relentless tour schedule, as fairly damaging to her health: she was putting away a litre of scotch every night and pot was prevalent on the tour. “Photos of me kissing Louise onstage were appearing in newspapers and I had no recollection of it happening.”
To take the insanity up a notch, and with Veruca Salt on a break after touring Australia, Paterson hooked up with a new boyfriend who convinced her that shacking up with him in Australia was a good idea. Had Google Maps existed back then, Paterson might have had got an early warning alert, but unfortunately the shit didn’t hit the fan until she arrived in Western Australia. And not even Perth … the boyfriend lived in a caravan in the middle of the Outback.
However, opportunities still occurred, Paterson being briefly employed by Perth band End of Fashion for their Rough Diamonds EP, which she recorded with them in Melbourne. After a year of living in the wilds of Australia, Paterson finally made her escape and found her back to New Zealand in 2004, and back to touring with Tim Finn, as well as living with Jordan Luck and playing on the latter’s solo single ‘Here They Come, There They Go’. Paul McLaney also hired Paterson for his Gramsci album Like Stray Voltage.
Paterson headed back to Los Angeles once more to hook up with Veruca Salt.
Among all this, Paterson finally stepped from stage left to centre stage with the birth of Friends From Sweden, a nom-de-rock for songs she had been writing herself. She confides that being in the spotlight was not her natural place at the time, and although the Friends project was well-received, Paterson swiftly shelved it and returned to the more comfortable environment of supporting player.
In 2005, the call from Post came in again and Paterson headed back to LA once more to hook up with Veruca Salt. Of course, it wouldn’t be LA without a few surreal moments thrown in. While playing at the legendary, but now defunct, Key Club in West Hollywood, Paterson was tapped on the shoulder, turning around to see the diminutive frame of PJ Harvey who had sought her out to fangirl Paterson’s playing chops.
Veruca Salt also toured with Juliette Lewis and The Licks, with the Natural Born Killers star taking a shine to Paterson: “She pulled me aside to pick my brain about how to survive and succeed as a working musician on the world circuit. I remembering thinking to myself, what strange upside down world am I living in that Juliette Lewis, one of my favourite actors since childhood, is asking me for advice?”
That moment occurred during a “short” tour that Veruca Salt had lined up – just 42 states in two months. "You'd be up for 18, 19-hour drives every night, sleeping on the bus,” she told the NZ Herald in 2006. “It was a luxury to shower every four days. We did 14 shows in a row once and I ended up in Detroit Hospital with exhaustion.” The schedule ultimately took its toll on Paterson who had recently started suffering from anxiety and panic attacks on tour, and confesses that she was “emotionally and physically drained”. She returned to New Zealand to recuperate.
Cue those diehard fans who perceived Paterson’s self-imposed departure from the band as something akin to Yoko splitting up The Beatles. Things got ugly with what we now euphemistically call “trolling”. Over the following years, traces of her time in the band would all but disappear from the internet entirely. Paterson says that Post was unaware of the fan-fuelled hate campaigns of the time, but simple miscommunication between the pair then led to a breakdown of friendship.
The relationship between them has now been fully restored. Had Paterson remained in LA, the prospect of playing with Post in a side project would be well on the cards (Veruca Salt’s original lineup relationships have likewise been restored, with that incarnation of the band back on the road). However, the images, live video footage, interviews and other online ephemera from this period are gone, with only Paterson’s own snaps and home video footage surviving.
In 2006 Paterson headed over to Europe to join Tim Finn for another tour. At the tour’s completion she jumped across to Dave Dobbyn to perform in Europe, Australia and New Zealand on the Available Light tour, before the Finnphone went off again for yet another tour of Europe and Australia (Imaginary Kingdom Tour 2006), ultimately playing with him throughout 2007 and 2008.
During 2007, Paterson was also hired by Universal to work with yet another rising female star, Gin Wigmore. Paterson joined drummer Wayne Bell, pianist Simen Aanerud and guitarist Brett Adams to demo material for Wigmore’s first album, as well as recording the debut single ‘Hallelujah’ with her.
By 2013 a decade-and-a-half’s relentless touring finally saw paterson call time-out.
Also in 2007, Paterson was drafted into the house band for Pop’s Ultimate Star, commuting to Wellington every weekend for two months to record episodes. (The show concept pitted former Pop Idol winners against each other. The winner was TrueBliss’s Joe Cotton). Paterson later completed one season in the music production team of NZ’s Got Talent (2008) and two seasons in the house band of Stars In Their Eyes (2008, 2009). Clearly not busy enough, Paterson also took up bass duties throughout 2008 for Jimmy Christmas’ post-D4 rock band, Luger Boa. In 2012 Paterson played in the “super-lady-group”, AnikaBoh&Hollie (Anika Moa, Boh Runga, Hollie Smith), but by the end of 2013 the toll of a decade-and-a-half’s worth of relentless touring finally saw one of our hardest working bassists call time-out.
With an enforced layoff and time spent in other artistic pursuits, Paterson has slowly found her way back to music. She contributed bass to Julia Deans’s acclaimed album We Light Fire, also shooting the cover photography. The pair have known each other since 1997 In Wellington when Deans was with Celtic rock band Banshee Reel and Paterson was playing in Parka with Deans’s boyfriend Davey Fitzsimmons. Paterson is currently working up new songs with her producer-drummer husband Andrew Maclaren (stellar*) and Tom Bailey under the moniker Tokyo-Niche.