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Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie Plans Debut Solo Album

‘Songs Without Jokes’ is due Aug. 26 from Sub Pop

Having already won a best original song Academy Award for his work with The Muppets, Flight of the Conchords co-founder Bret McKenzie continues stretching beyond his beloved duo’s comedy-driven folk rock on his debut solo album, Songs Without Jokes, which is out on August 26 via Sub Pop.

The project was produced by longtime Flight of the Conchords collaborator Mickey Petralia and is led by the throwback music hall sounds of first single “A Little Tune,” the video for which finds a tuxedo-clad McKenzie rehearsing for, and then awkwardly fleeing, a gig at the last remaining Victorian theatre in his home country of New Zealand.


“Post-Conchords, I’d been working on songs for the Muppets films, and during a session, I had the thought that it would be fun someday to work on some songs that weren’t for someone else — that don’t have to tell a story or be funny or continue the narrative plot, checking all the boxes for the character in the movie,” says McKenzie, who was inspired by the character-rich songwriting of artists such as Steely Dan, Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson. “I thought it’d be fun to do a record like that — something different.”

The album features contributions from a host of notable musicians, including drummer Joey Waronker (R.E.M., Beck), bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Carole King) and guitarist Dean Parks (Steely Dan, Aaron Neville), as well as trombonist Ronell Johnson, saxophonist Clint Madegen and trumpet player Branden Lewis from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

McKenzie will support Songs Without Jokes on an extensive tour backed by a seven-piece band, beginning September 2 in Nelson, New Zealand. North American dates run through November 20, ending in Atlanta.

McKenzie is also at work on the music for a film adaptation of the classic 1977 TV special Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, which, like The Muppets, was created by the late Jim Henson. As for Flight Of The Conchords, the group has been inactive since its 2018 HBO special Live in London, which was released as an album the following year by Sub Pop.

Bret McKenzie 2022 tour dates:

Sept. 2: Nelson, N.Z. (Trafalger Centre)
Sept. 3: Christchurch, N.Z. (Town Hall)
Sept. 4: Dunedin, N.Z. (Town Hall)
Sept. 5: Invercargill, N.Z. (Civic Theatre)
Sept. 8: Wellington, N.Z. (Opera House)
Sept. 12: Whanganui, N.Z. (Royal Whanganui Opera House)
Sept. 13: Hastings, N.Z. (Opera House)
Sept. 14: Auckland (Town Hall)
Sept. 22: Birmingham, U.K. (Town Hall)
Sept. 23: Leeds, U.K. (O2 Academy)
Sept. 26: London (Eventim Apollo)
Sept. 29: Nottingham, U.J. (Royal Concert Hall)
Oct. 1: Portsmouth, U.K. (Guildhall)
Oct. 3: Cardiff, U.K. (St. David’s Hall)
Oct. 4: Edinburgh, U.K. (Academy)
Oct. 5: Newcastle, U.K. (O2 City Hall)
Oct. 7: Manchester, U.K. (O2 Apollo)
Oct. 9: Dublin (National Stadium)
Oct. 14; Burlington, Vt. (Higher Ground)
Oct. 15: Boston (Berklee Performance Center)
Oct. 17: Philadelphia (Fillmore)
Oct. 19: Brooklyn, N.Y. (Music Hall of Williamsburg)
Oct. 20: Port Chester, N.Y. (Capitol Theatre)
Oct. 22: New York (Webster Hall)
Oct. 24: Montreal (Corona Theatre)
Oct. 25: Toronto (Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
Oct. 26: Detroit (Royal Oak Theatre)
Oct. 28: Chicago (Vic Theatre)
Oct. 29: Milwaukee (Pabst Theatre)
Oct. 30: Minneapolis (Fitzgerald Theatre)
Nov. 2: Denver (Ogden Theatre)
Nov. 3: Salt Lake City (Eccles Theatre)
Nov. 6: Seattle (Moore Theatre)
Nov. 7: Vancouver (Vogue Theatre)
Nov. 8: San Francisco (Fillmore)
Nov. 11: Los Angeles (Theatre at Ace Hotel)
Nov. 12: El Cajon, Calif. (Magnolia)
Nov. 13: Phoenix (Orpheum Theatre)
Nov. 15: Dallas (Factory Studio)
Nov. 16: Austin (Paramount Theatre)
Nov. 17: Houston (Warehouse Live)
Nov. 19: Nashville (James K. Polk Theatre)
Nov. 20: Atlanta (The Eastern)