A new documentary delves into the psyches of Home Brew’s enigmatic leaders Haz Huavi and Tom Scott.
“It’s about fucking time,” says DJ Sir-Vere when asked about Run It Back, Home Brew’s second album. There were 11 years between Home Brew’s self-titled 2012 debut album and 2023’s Run It Back, and local hip-hop fans rightly wanted to know the reasoning behind the decade-long gap. A new documentary has the answer. The two-part Run It Back film documents Home Brew’s rise, hiatus and rebirth, a story primarily told first-hand by lyrical wizard Tom Scott and beat maestro Haz Huavi.
Run It Back starts with a frank kōrero from local musicians and athletes about how Home Brew’s music honestly captures New Zealand culture like nothing else. Who else is sampling David Lange, Don Brash, Helen Clark, Jenny Shipley, Jim Bolger, John Key, Phil Goff and Robert Muldoon like Home Brew did on ‘Listen To Us’? “Here was a guy speaking in our slang about things that we were going through,” explained former Tall Black Lindsay Tait. The legendary local baller’s point is backed up by Scott’s lyrics, like: “Had you staring at the All Blacks cheering. Distracting you from the oil spills and poor tax. Dignity? Can’t afford that on minimum wage. Shit is insane when rent is half of my pay,” or “See in my country the suicide rates as high as a junkie. And it’s funny cause we’re the ones who invented the bungie.”
Just as their music honestly represents our society, the documentary portrays Aotearoa authentically. What other movies have shots of vivid graffiti dicks and Bluebird chips, browsing Savemart New Lynn’s shelves for a Wellington Phoenix jersey, Karangahape Road flash mobs, or public debauchery like drinking beers at the bus stop? One fantastic scene features Huavi and Scott at JB Hi-Fi Queen Street. Seen through a grainy 2012 camera lens, they cause havoc promoting their debut album, until security kicks them out.
Alongside its comedic scenes, the film gives fans an honest and satisfying answer to why Run It Back took 11 years to come out. Sombre conversations reveal how the pressures of fame, plus the associated drinking and drugs, made them sick of each other and their music. Eventually, Huavi and Scott felt like Home Brew’s tunes didn’t sincerely represent them – Scott likens it to being embarrassed by baby photos at your 21st – leading to their temporary breakup. Scott started cringing over Home Brew’s perceived jock/lad persona, the opposite of the nerdy perspective that Avondale’s master musician wanted to share.
But Run It Back isn’t a sad story, as it also captures Home Brew reconnecting to produce their second album, which would become the documentary’s namesake. “A friend of mine said if you don’t cringe at your past, then you’re not growing, and that one hit me,” explains Scott. Between 2012’s Home Brew and 2023’s Run It Back, both he and Huavi have matured significantly. “I’m still a fuckup, but I’m a nice grown fuckup,” Huavi jokes. During Home Brew’s hiatus, Huavi and Scott still made music, including the songs Friends and Rent 2 High, two of the best songs from Scott’s latest moniker, Avantdale Bowling Club. The pair are musical soulmates after all, explains Scott. Over the years, they compiled 70 demos that didn’t fit either of their many personas except for Home Brew – and these demos formed the foundation for Run It Back.
I don’t understand why this documentary is split into two parts. Combined, it runs for 67 minutes, which is very watchable as one consistent movie. The film also doesn’t include much input from the broader Home Brew crew, many of whom grace the Run It Back album cover, who would have interesting anecdotes to add. And if you’re looking for a musical documentary featuring special live performances of your favourite songs, this isn’t the film for you. Although the movie includes several iconic Home Brew tunes in its soundtrack, they’re all just background music and not one-off live takes.
For fans, it is very insightful to hear what led to Home Brew’s hiatus straight from the horse’s mouth. At Rhythm and Vines in 2019 I saw Home Brew perform in front of the jock/lad crowd that Scott came to despise, and it was obvious how unenthused he and Huavi were at that point. That performance differed starkly from Scott’s performance with Avantdale Bowling Club at Auckland Town Hall in 2022, where he was in his element – laughing, smiling, smoking joints on stage and providing attendees with a spiritual and political sermon. By the end of the documentary, it was beautiful to see Scott bring back the energy that has recently made ABC so great, and which initially catapulted Home Brew to fame. The fun the crew were having in the studio while recording Drinking In The Morning was particularly contagious – especially given that they were dead sober.
Home Brew’s journey throughout Run It Back is nothing short of inspirational. Huavi and Scott went from cocky upstarts more interested in partying than producing albums to undeniable New Zealand music royalty, who now wait until after the show to have a beer. The film ends with Scott dead sober at the Run It Back release show at the Powerstation, a symbol of his growth when you compare it to his first paid gig (before which he went on an acid trip that included an I Love Ugly clothes bonfire). Run It Back is a must-watch film for fans keen to get a behind-the-scenes look into the psyches of Huavi and Scott, as well as front row seats to Home Brew’s rise, hiatus and triumphant rebirth.