Category Archives: Features

Cherie Currie: “Every time I get on stage I realise it is something I was born to do”

cherie currie the runaways

IN welcome news for fans of classic rock, legendary Runaways lead singer Cherie Currie has announced a debut five-stop Australian tour in May.

Having waited nearly forty years for the opportunity to see the iconic ‘Cherry Bomb’ singer in the flesh, Australian audiences should go wild for the rocker who, as a 15 year-old in 1975, joined Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox and Sandy West in forming the influential band.

Under the watchful eye of manager and rock svengali Kim Fowley, The Runaways grabbed headlines with their powerful rock shows and punk-rock jailbait image before imploding in 1979. Currie overcame alcohol and drug dependency before The Runaways found a new audience when a biographical film, inspired by her memoir, was released in 2010, with Dakota Fanning playing Currie.

This will be your first Australian tour. Why has it taken so long?

It’s been so long because I haven’t been in the business, really. I went into acting, got married, had a kid, then became a chainsaw artist. I had always written songs and recorded; a couple are on the new Reverie record as well as the live record that will be available when I come and see you guys in May. I was doing other things, and I think being a chainsaw artist really did fill that void, but every time I get on stage I realise it is something I was born to do. It’s the place I feel most comfortable, believe it or not.

Did you deliberately stay away from music, or just naturally fall into other things?

The thing is, it wasn’t that I stayed away, it just didn’t happen. After my Capitol record I did a lot of writing and worked with some great people, but sometimes it’s just not the time and there’s nothing we can do about it. This happens to be the time for me now, and it’s a good time, because when you get to be 56 years old you really don’t care and just want to enjoy life. You want to be the best you can and you’re not fighting for, or insecure about, anything any more; you’ve grown past that. Plus, you’re not full of yourself, like a lot of people who have a lot of success at a young age and believe all the hype. I’ve been around long enough that I don’t believe any of it [laughs]. I just like really good people who are down-to-earth, because that’s the person I am, and that’s how I am on stage. With maturity comes a better performer.

What do you play in your sets these days?

I want to give the fans what they want. I want them to reminisce. I get to reminisce when I go to see bands I love; it’s disappointing when you don’t hear the songs you love. I’ll be doing Runaways stuff, new things, and a couple of tributes.

How does it feel playing songs you first played as a teenager when the band image was fairly sexualised?

The only sexualised part of the Runaways, really, was ‘Cherry Bomb’, which was me putting on a corset for three minutes [laughs]. Otherwise, we wore jumpsuits and it wasn’t that sexualised. We were much more covered than anything you see today, that’s for sure. I came up with the corset because the band had just come out of the gate and I thought it would be something that would bring attention to the song, and it did. But it’s great to be doing songs that I’ve been doing for forty years; it never gets old for me. Never. I have as much fun doing them as the audience does listening to them.

What was the catalyst for making a new album after so much time?

I made a record in 2009 with Matt Sorum from Guns ‘N’ Roses; he produced a record for me. Unfortunately my management company at the time did not want to put it out, so now I’ve finally negotiated a contract where they’re finally going to put it out within the year. It’s a great record. Billy Corgan wrote a duet that he and I do together. I’ve got Slash and Duff [McKagan], and of course Matt, Brody Dalle and Juliette Lewis. It’s a real fun record. Reverie, which I put out on my own, is the one Kim Fowley approached me on when he was very ill. I wanted to take the opportunity to create some memories with this man, instead of living in this place of all my memories of him came from being a child. They’re not good memories and I feel like I needed to face that and make new memories. So that’s what we did, and I’m very grateful we did that before he passed away.

[Last year, former bassist Jackie Fox (real name Jackie Fuchs) told the Huffington Post of having been raped by Fowley in 1975 after having been given quaaludes by a roadie, with differing accounts of exactly what happened being offered by various bandmates.]

What are your feelings about Fowley now?

I was there. What Jackie claims happened is not what I saw. And again, I did stand up and walk out when I couldn’t seem to stop it or they didn’t seem to want to stop. Regardless, it was a different time when young girls really wanted to be with older men, and I think what Kim Fowley did was deplorable and horrible, and that’s why I wrote about it in my book. While he was alive I faced him on it. But again, it’s forty-something years later and the person is now dead, and she had a very good relationship with Kim up until the time he got sick, and I never understood why she didn’t address it before then, because I gave her ample opportunity. But you know what? People do things in their own time, and I wish her well, like I wish everyone well in this band. I hope only the best for her.

Do you have a relationship with Jackie now, or is that gone?

Not now. Simply because she was well aware of what I witnessed, but for some odd reason – and it’s documented in interviews I did back in the ’80s – she tried to stop me even though I changed the name. She did everything she could to stop my book from coming out in 2010, even though my kidnapping; where I was beaten half to death and brutally raped by a madman, she didn’t care about any of that. She just didn’t want me to tell a story about something I witnessed, even without her name attached. To me, that’s really somebody who’s pretty self-serving. I gave her every opportunity to write it with me, you know? Not only was she aware, but the Huffington Post was very aware of what I had witnessed, as well as two other people who have passed away. There was one other girl who collaborated my story, but they chose not to include that. It had to be this narrative, and I guess that’s the only way that Jackie feels uncomfortable, but you can’t include a 16 year-old of sitting there, doing nothing and watching something that I did not see. I did not see what she claims; that did not happen. If she’s going to do that on national television, she’s doing it for another reason. She’s not doing it to benefit victims of rape. She’s doing something else and using me and Joan [Jett] to blame, and I’m never going to let that slide, I’m sorry. I just can’t tell a lie, and I won’t lie for her. That’s the bottom line. Trust me, it would be so much easier if I just went with her narrative, but the bottom line is I have to be true. I’m sorry Jackie can’t be, but it’s not my problem; I wish her the best, I really do. I know what it’s like to be abused by someone.

Did you feel the movie was a fair and accurate representation of the band, overall?

I really, really wished that Jackie and Lita had been involved. Unfortunately Lita never read the contract. I guess her husband read her the first page of the script and they threw it in the trash. Of course Jackie then went to the Linsons [producers John and Art Linson] demanding four times the amount of money Joan and I were making, and demanding to be a producer, so they just wrote her out. She then said they could use her name but they said no; she did not make a good impression, and that was unfortunate as Joan and I really wanted her to be a part of it. So that meant we didn’t have hers or Lita’s input, and of course we didn’t have Sandy with us any more, so that was really sad. But I think that visually, it’s phenomenal. [Director] Floria Sigismondi captured the seventies in a brilliant way, and of course Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart and Michael Shannon did a superb job, just superb. I mean, who gets to make a movie made about them? I’m just going to say “Job well done, thank you very much” [laughs].

What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?

I’m excited about the live record as I just came out of the studio the day before yesterday after fine-tuning some mixes, and it sounds great. I’m looking forward to the Suzi Quatro film that I wrote a song for; actually, the production company is there in Australia. I have a lot of carvings I have to catch up on, but coming to Australia will be a high point in this gal’s life, I’ll tell you that much. I’m just so happy and blessed to have this opportunity, and I’m very grateful for it.

CHERIE CURRIE PLAYS:

Thursday 26 May 2016
The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD

Friday 27 May 2016
Manning Bar, Camperdown, NSW

Saturday 28 May 2016
Corner Hotel, Richmond, VIC

Tuesday 31 May 2016
The Gov, Hindmarsh, SA

Wednesday 01 June 2016
Rosemount Hotel, Perth, WA

For The AU Review

Andrew Innes of Primal Scream: “When you grow up in Scotland you’re a bit more anti-authority”

primal scream

MUCH like a rectangular container filled with assorted sweet confectionery, the best thing about a new Primal Scream album is you never know what you’re going to get.

Since their mid-eighties formation the Scottish band have dipped their collective toes in jangle-pop, acid house, dub, Stones-influenced rock, krautrock and electronica, all while raising enough hell to kill off many a band of weaker constitution.

As the Scream’s eleventh album Chaosmosis is released this month, guitarist Andrew Innes explains that while the band may have left their hell-raising days behind, they are still as experimental and angry as ever.

“We try to keep moving on and trying new things,” he says. “I always buy new bits of equipment, and that’s how the band evolves. We don’t just sit down and write on the guitar we’ve written songs on for ages. Some of the most mental sounds on [the new album] are things [Northern Irish DJ/composer] David Holmes e-mailed me about. He said I should get this fuzzbox because it’s insane and told me to just buy it and don’t even think about it. What people think are distorted synths are a guitar through this crazy fuzzbox. One of the pluggers of the record said ‘What’s that terrible noise at about two minutes thirty? I think it’s a god-damned synthesiser; can we edit it out?’ I e-mailed back telling him it was one of my finest guitar solos in the last ten years. The sound evolved to be quite electronic, and because we’re using electronic synths, the drums are also quite electronic.”

After a dalliance with Byrds-esque pop the band broke big with 1991’s Screamadelica, a masterpiece of acid house and neo-psychedelia. A long period of success and excess followed, and Innes admits writing songs is much easier these days with the benefit of a clear head.

“I think you get better at your craft,” he says. “ Now, the bit that’s inspiration is hard, but the bit that’s perspiration isn’t as hard. Being more together – I mean, obviously we aren’t as crazy as we were in 1993 – means you know right away what’s good or not. We don’t have that thing where you get up in the morning after working all night and don’t know whether it’s good or not; you know right away. Things are a bit less hectic than they used to be, shall we say.”

A constant in Primal Scream albums over time has been the sense the band has its finger on the political pulse. Chaosmosis is no different, says Innes.

“Songs like ‘Golden Rope’ and ‘When the Blackout Meets the Fallout’ [are political],” he says. “’Autumn in Paradise’ is about devastated towns and communities in Britain. Maybe there’s not as much in-your-face shouting about it as there has been in the past, but it’s more subtle. [The British Conservative government] made that promise about making the north a powerhouse and they don’t give a fuck; they really don’t care. As soon as the Tories got a majority they just got on with doing what they want to do, which is making the world safer for their mates, and making the world better for big business. The weird thing is, in the past the Tories would have at least thrown a bone to the middle classes, but they don’t even give a fuck about them any more. That’s how it’s changed; the doctors are on strike for God’s sake, and [the government] doesn’t care. They care about their pals; the big corporations and that’s it. And the sad thing about it is people in the south of England vote for it. People in the old industrial heartlands in the north don’t vote for it, the Scottish definitely don’t vote for it, the Welsh don’t vote for it, and the Irish don’t vote for it. My friend has a good theory that the English had their revolution too early. It was maybe 100 years too early, and then they wanted their king back. They like being subjects, but when you grow up in Scotland you’re a bit more anti-authority.”

Picking top-drawer collaborators is another skill the bad has mastered. This time around, Haim feature on opener ‘Trippin’ On Your Love’, Rachel Zeffira pops up on ‘Private Wars’, and Sky Ferreira duets on lead single ‘Where the Light Gets In’.

“We met Haim on Jools Holland’s show,” Innes explains. “They are lovely girls and we just clicked and liked them. They’ve got this thing that siblings have, because they’ve been singing together all their lives; they’re just good and know what they’re doing. They brought this sunshine to the record, and it was a great honour for us. They were on tour and only had something like four hours off, and they came round to the studio when they could have been having a rest. Then we had this song that we thought would be a good duet, and Sky’s name came up. Luckily we knew someone who knew her, but we thought she might not know who we were because we’re not that big in America, but she was more than happy. She can really sing and as I was recording I got to listen to just how good she is, just like I did with Robert Plant on the last album.”

The band have no immediate plans for an Australian visit, but that could all change with one phone call, Innes says.

“All we need is one of those Australian promoters,” he says. “I’ve been telling people that next January is free, because you can’t beat leaving [the UK] and heading south, preferably for three weeks [laughs]. If there are any promoters out there, we’re just a call away and we’re ready to work.”

Chaosmosis is out now.

For The Brag

Joe Bonamassa: “Oh it sounded shit, never mind”

joe bonamassa 2016

BLUESFEST Byron Bay is almost upon us and American blues-rock maestro Joe Bonamassa is seeking redemption.

His two exclusive Australian shows at the Easter long weekend event, while hardly requiring a crossroads-like pact with the devil, will provide the hugely talented singer-guitarist with a chance for atonement.

“I played Byron Bay one time; I believe it was 2010,” he says. “I had the shittiest backline and came off the stage thinking I had ruined my entire career in the country of Australia. I thought my guitar sound was just dreadful, but sod’s law meant that I had more people, artists included, coming up to me asking me ‘Man, what were you using up there because it sounded great?’. So I go ‘What fucking show were you watching?’. This year I’m actually shipping my own gear over there, so it gives me a fighting chance; at least me personally. But probably nobody will say anything. ‘Oh it sounded shit, never mind’ [laughs].”

The garrulous and amiable New Yorker’s 12th studio album, Blues of Desperation, will be released just in time for his Australian shows, and represents somewhat of a return to his roots.

“After exploring so many avenues – I was in a hard rock band, I did two years of doing traditional blues, we did The Three Kings tour, the album with Mahalia [Barnes], the stuff I do with Beth Hart – I woke up one day and thought that what I am really good at is blues-rock,” he says. “That’s actually probably what I’m best at, and I should get back to doing what I do best. The album represents that; the urgency to get back to swinging the heavier bat and playing heavier stuff.”

Blues of Desperation sees Bonamassa once again teaming up with producer Kevin Shirley; an arrangement that is unlikely to change any time soon.

“Kevin and I came up with the title based on the song,” Bonamassa says. “It has this weathered kind of feel. It was brought to my attention it was maybe too dark of a title, and for a minute it was changed to Drive, before I finally decided that my life should not become a focus group thinking about who will be turned off by a title. Frankly, it’s not going to sell one more or less copy either way, and I’ve always done things in my career that just felt good, natural and organic. If I saw the record in a store, I would stop and look at it. But if I saw an album called Drive; it’s too vanilla for me. [Kevin and I] have been together for 11 years now. I told him that I think the reason we get on so well together is that everyone sticks to their job; I’m the travelling salesman, Kevin does the records, and Roy [Weisman, manager] runs the business. Kevin is great about putting me into situations that challenge me, and with musicians I would never think of. He has such a great vision of what I’m capable of, even when there is some resistance. I come in with the songs and we hash out the arrangements and we’re pretty much always on the same page. I’ve also learned to appreciate the inspiration of a single take, rather than grind the inspiration out of it, if you know what I mean?”

At only 38, Bonamassa has already been a working musician for 26 years, having opened for B.B. King when he was 12. The idea that a true bluesman never really retires might not apply here, however.

“I reckon I have another 24 years left before I can officially retire after 50 years in,” he laughs. “I’m not a run-of-the-mill blues guy. I tell you, I’m not going to be a lifer. The problem is to do this at a high level and to keep the quality up, it takes a lot of preparation. I’m not one of those cats who just walks on stage and it all just comes out of me. I think there’s more to life; I don’t want to look down the line when I’m too old to pursue something else and think I squandered the opportunity [to do something else]. Not that having a career in music is a bad thing; it’s an honour to do this for a living, but there’s more to life than plugging a Gibson guitar into a Fender amp, you know? There’s a big world out there. I get to travel it, but I never see it. I go to all these great places, and I see the hotel and the gig. I could get up super-early and see some museum but I don’t feel like doing that after singing the night before. I’d like to be a tourist once in a while, you know?”

On top of his abundant playing and writing skills, Bonamassa has been a student of the blues since childhood, starting with the ’60s British blues guitarists who brought the form to the masses.

“It was my original gateway into blues,” he says. “As a kid, to hear blues music that was basically early heavy rock was very appealing to me. As a six or seven year-old, it’s very hard to get the subtleties of Robert Johnson, as you can barely hear it on a record player. Only 20 years after the fact did I realise the true genius of those original masters, and even now I’m discovering them and realising how many of their ideas were, let’s say, borrowed by the British blues-rock scene of the ’60s. My first introduction was the Jeff Beck Group, and that was the gateway. After that it was Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, all the Free stuff – I was enamoured with Paul Kossoff, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore. [Gary Moore album] Still Got The Blues was one of the most pivotal albums in my early teenage years because it taught me I could overplay and people would still like it [laughs].”

While Bonamassa is a big fan of Australia and its music, he admits he lives in a bubble when it comes to what music is most popular here, or anywhere. Luckily his Queenslander girlfriend keeps him informed.

“I have a lot of ties to Australia,” he says. “Mahalia [Barnes] and I were literally just a week ago at Carnegie Hall; she was singing with me. I kind of know what is going on. I’m wilfully ignorant about the pop music scene. I mean, sometimes I’ll run into somebody and my girlfriend knows I have that what-the-fuck look on my face. She’ll be like ‘That’s actually a really popular artist’, and I’ll be like ‘Great! Congratulations’. One guy I love is [blues slide guitarist] Dave Hole, who lives in Perth. He’s one of the best.”

JOE BONAMASSA PLAYS BLUESFEST BYRON BAY SATURDAY MARCH 26 AND MONDAY MARCH 28. BLUES OF DESPERATION IS OUT MARCH 25.

For The Brag

Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks: “We never expected 40 years”

buzzcocks pete shelley

WITH a forty-year career and string of bonafide punk-pop classics under his belt, Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley could be forgiven for wanting to slow down and take stock. In true punk fashion, however, that’s exactly what the 60 year-old is not doing.

The frontman and songwriter of ‘Orgasm Addict’ and ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’ is taking his band on a world tour to celebrate four decades in the business. Just don’t expect the understated and softly-spoken Shelley to do anything but take it all in his stride.

“We’re naming all our shows this year our 40th anniversary shows,” he says. “But it’s something which has snuck up on us really. We never expected 40 years; even 40 minutes would have been stretching it when we started. We started off with small expectations and didn’t know how long we could carry on before someone stopped us. [Punk was] the most un-commercial form of music we could imagine. It was completely the antithesis of what popular or critically-acclaimed music was at the time, and that’s probably why it worked, because it wasn’t the same old, same old. I tend to see how it actually was, to keep myself from slipping into nostalgia. I think nostalgia is for other people, but it does occur to you sometimes; I think ‘Oh, there are quite a lot of good songs we’ve got’.”

The quartet, also including long-serving guitarist Steve Diggle, are bringing their glorious punk-pop anthems to Australia to play Golden Plains Festival and a string of state capital shows. Preparations have begun in earnest.

“We started rehearsals on Wednesday and have a list that is 48 songs long,” Shelley says. “There’s no way we’re going to be able to play all 48 at one gig. We’re trying to get up to speed on enough songs so, during the year, we can chop and change to keep it fresh, instead of having the same 20 songs being played all the time. I think I’ve written about 120-130 songs, or maybe up to 150. Even choosing 48 out of those; there are still lots of ones I’d forgotten I’d written, so I suppose we’ve got an expansive piece of cloth to cut our modest garments on.”

While the vast majority of bands from the original wave of punk are long gone, Buzzcocks have endured line-up changes, break-ups, and the stress of putting together nine studio albums and countless tours. The secret to the band’s longevity is simple, Shelley insists.

“I think the obvious reason is we couldn’t take a hint,” he laughs. “We’re almost like brothers now. I’ve probably spent more time with Steve in the past 40 years than with my own brother. We still disagree on most things, but we agree to disagree. It’s an important step in life to be able to do that [laughs].”

In an interesting twist of fate, the DIY aesthetic of ’70s punk is once again an element of Buzzcocks’ recording, with 2014’s The Way being made with the help of online crowd-funding.

“We went back and made our own album again, so we were right back to the DIY principle,” Shelley says. “It gives you the control and you have a relationship with the people who are buying your records and appreciating it. I’d rather that than getting someone else to sell it to complete strangers. You’re making music for your friends. Making an album can be quite daunting because normally it’s done in complete secrecy and nobody knows you’re doing anything, but with this, it’s a bit more transparent and people’s enthusiasm that you’re doing it is something that gets relayed to you.”

buzzcocks

The chances of Shelley adding to his 150 tracks written isn’t exactly helped by his song-writing style. The suggestion he makes it hard for himself is laughed off in his typically understated manner.

“I’m not actively writing at the moment,” he says. “The way I write songs is, if I have an idea, I give myself the luxury of being able to forget it. When it comes back I’ll think about it some more, then forget it again. I work on the assumption if it’s such a great idea and even I forget it, it’s not all that good an idea [laughs]. I’d rather have things I can remember. When it comes down to record the music is when I crystallise the song.”

As veterans of multiple world tours, Buzzcocks know Australia well, and it’s always a good place for the band to get into tour-mode.

“I remember driving through country roads and avoiding cane toads,” Shelley says. “It’s so much different to the UK; there’s no escaping it. It’s always good to go; the people are friendly and we’ve always had a good time. I remember the first time I was in Adelaide and it was about 40 degrees and was like being in front of a blast furnace. The trip to Australia is the first of the world tour trip. Then it’s the west coast of America, France, Italy and Holland. In the UK we’re doing some festivals; the Isle of Wight Festival is one of them. It’s going to be a full year.”

BUZZCOCKS PLAY:

Thursday, March 10 – The Triffid, Brisbane
Friday, March 11 – The Factory, Sydney
Saturday, March 12 – Golden Plains Festival, Meredith
Sunday, March 13 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Tuedsay, March 22 – The Gov, Adelaide
Wednesday 23 March – Rosemount Hotel, Perth

For The Brag

Steve Earle: “Byron: it might be the best beach town in the world”

steve earle

THERE’S a little corner of northern New South Wales that really floats Steve Earle’s boat, and given his country-rock pedigree, it’s perhaps surprising it’s not Tamworth.

Luckily for music lovers it’s also the location of one of the world’s premier blues and roots festivals: Bluesfest.

“Byron: it might be the best beach town in the world,” Earle says. “It’s my favourite, anyway. I’ve had some really good shows there over the years; the last few years particularly. I had a really good show there with the band on the last tour, and I had a really, really good solo show there on the trip before that. I got to ride back to town with John Paul Jones and Donovan in the same car, you know? I got to interrogate them about all those great records, because Jones played on all those great Donovan records, so that was pretty cool. [Bluesfest is] one of my favourite festivals, period. The other big blues festival I play is in Ottawa, but it doesn’t have that beach.”

The 61 year-old Texan released his sixteenth studio album, the bluesy Terraplane, last year, and is set to appear at the Easter weekend festival with his band The Dukes alongside similarly-billed legends Brian Wilson, Tom Jones and Taj Mahal.

“I don’t know [if I’m a legend]; I’m more of a rumour,” he laughs. “It’s weird. It’s the thirtieth anniversary of Guitar Town this year. We’re going to try to do a few things to commemorate it. The Australian tour is actually the last leg of the cycle we have been on all of 2015; the very last leg of the Terraplane tour. I’ve already recorded the record with Shawn Colvin, and that’s what I’ll be doing next summer. Then I’m going to make another record with The Dukes, which will come out in 2017. I decided I was going to make a blues record [with Terraplane], but it’s a big deal when you’re from Texas; it’s a high bar. So I decided my next record was going to be a country record, whatever that means. Sometimes I think it means what I might have done after Guitar Town if [producer] Jimmy Bowen hadn’t pissed me off, but mainly it’s going to be based on honky-tonk. I’ve been putting aside the country-er things for that.”

Terraplane came into existence just as Earle was going through his seventh divorce, resulting in an album that was not only steeped deeply in the blues, but intensely personal at the same time.

“I don’t know how cathartic [writing] it was,” he says. “At the time, they were the only songs I could write. You know, I’m not writing jingles. I mean, I can write projects; I can write for somebody else, for a television show, or for a movie, and put myself in a certain place. This was a very personal record, because there wasn’t much else I could do. It might be I made a blues record because it was the only type of record I could have made last year.”

Having survived major drug and alcohol problems in the 80s and early 90s, Earle is now able to help others in a similar position, but does admit to being suspicious of why his past addictions are still interesting to people.

“I’m doing this residency at clubs in the States right now,” he says. “I’m doing a song from every record I ever made. There’s only four of those records that I was taking drugs when I made them. So it seems silly to be talking about it now. It’s still a big part of who I am; right now I’m writing a memoir, so I’m right back into that shit again. I have no problem with talking about it if it’s going to help somebody, but I get tired of talking about it with people who I suspect don’t have any other reason for talking about it except the lowest common denominator reasons. That part of it gets on my nerves from time to time.”

When not writing top-notch blues and country songs or warding off questions about his past, Earle is heavily involved in political activism. He is vigorously opposed to the death penalty, has argued in favour of access to abortions for all women, and his most recent work has been both close to home and on a national level.

“I’ve been raising awareness for schools with autism, because I have a son with autism,” he says. “Politics gets personal sometimes. My son gets the best care we can get him, but I have to lawyer up to get it. Luckily, the law says the city has to help me and my neighbours’ tax dollars have to help me. I’m the poorest guy in New York City, I think. Manhattan, anyway. I live here by the skin of my teeth, so I can’t imagine what happens to people who have regular jobs and four or five kids. I’m also very actively supporting Bernie Sanders’ campaign; ‘The Revolution Starts Now’ plays at almost all of Bernie Sanders’ rallies, and I’m very proud of that. I’m a socialist and he is a socialist. Normally if there’s one thing I can do for a political candidate I want to see elected, it is to stay as far the fuck away from them as possible. In the case of Obama I was able to say in the second term that I was a socialist and Obama definitely wasn’t. Hillary [Clinton] is, left to her own devices, almost a Republican. She’s very much a creature of Wall Street. I’m having the luxury of having a viable candidate running right now, and that’s Bernie Sanders.”

Away from the concerns of national politics, time spent in the southern hemisphere will not only allow Earle to rekindle his love for Australian beaches, but also his fondness for our musicians.

“It’s where I met Kasey Chambers,” he says. “I was there with Buddy Miller and my band, and Buddy was also opening our shows. Julie Miller didn’t make the trip, and Kasey, when she was 18 years old, sang with Buddy on that tour. On a bill before that, I saw a great show by The Saints there, although the first time I saw The Saints was at the Cat Club in New York years before, but I saw a great Saints show ten or twelve years ago in Byron. I’ve known Paul Kelly since before I even went to Australia for the first time; I met him in ’86 when he was [in the States]. That’s one of my favourite things about Bluesfest; you get to see a lot of good music, as you get to play twice.”

STEVE EARLE PLAYS BYRON BAY BLUESFEST MARCH 25TH AND 26TH

For Scenestr

Glen Matlock: Tough Cookie

matlock phantom slick

What do you get if you cross a Sex Pistol, David Bowie’s guitarist, and a drumming Stray Cat?

The result is Matlock, Phantom & Slick: a trio of legendary musicians set to serve equal portions of anarchy, glam and rockabilly on their upcoming Australia tour.

The band – Glen Matlock on bass and vocals, Earl Slick on guitar, and Slim Jim Phantom on drums – has been a going concern for around two years, and while former Sex Pistol Matlock is keen to talk about a range of subjects, the band’s live playlist is another matter.

“I’m not going to tell you,” he laughs. “It’s a bit like telling the punchline of a joke too soon. Not that it’s a joke, but you’ve got to have some surprises. But, there are certain songs [to be expected]; if I went to see the sadly-deceased David Bowie and he hadn’t done ‘Heroes’, I’d be going home disappointed. So we all know there are certain songs people expect to hear, and I’m sure you can work out which ones they might be. We do songs from all of our careers. That’s fair enough, innit?”

Refreshingly humble for a co-writer of what is often considered one of the most influential rock albums of all time in Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, Matlock is keener to talk about the future than his illustrious, if short-lived, punk past.

“We’ve actually got an album in the can of mainly my material,” he says. “We did it about a year ago and have been talking to people about getting it out. We went to a studio in Upstate New York with this guy Mario McNulty who engineered the Bowie album before the one that’s just come out. It’s cracking stuff and I’m proud of it. We do a cover version of ‘Montage Terrace (In Blue)’ by Scott Walker, believe it or not, and Jim plays kettle drums on it. You’ll have to hear it to understand where we’re coming from. It’s hard to describe your own music. The record business is quite different now; everybody is chasing the latest 17 year-old they think are going to be the new Beatles, but invariably aren’t.”

A big fan of Australia, Matlock is looking forward to making his fifth appearance Down Under.

“The first [visit] was in the eighties and the America’s Cup was on in Perth,” he says. “I remember when the sailing started in Fremantle, the boats were so far in the distance you couldn’t see anything, so that was a bit of a washout. That was in ’85, I think. I came back with the Pistols in ’96 for four weeks, then I’ve been over playing with Robert Gordon at the Byron Bay Blues Festival. Then I was there about two or three years ago with a guy called Gary Twinn, who had a band called Supernaut. His mum and dad were Ten Pound Poms. Also I have some relations there; my cousin lives in Melbourne and my ex-wife lives in Sydney. All good reasons for coming, and the weather’s a bit better over there.”

Having individually played parts in many historic moments in rock history, Matlock, Slick and Phantom have direct playing connections to both the recently-departed Bowie and Lemmy Kilminster: a possible hint to that live playlist.

“I knew both of them,” Matlock says. “I was fortunate to meet Bowie quite a few times and I got on really well with him. I met him in ’79 and then in New York in the early eighties and he was fantastic; really magnanimous and interested in people. He sought other people’s opinions and listened to what you had to say and took it on board. But he was a laugh as well, you know? Lemmy – I’ve known him for years. He used to knock around with all the punks not long after he’d left Hawkwind and was trying to get Motörhead together. The last time I played in the States with the Pistols at the Whisky a Go Go he came backstage to say hi and everybody had a lot of time for him. We’re just that generation now where people are shuffling off their mortal coil. I suppose they’re the ones who survived all the immediate excess of being rock stars, but it has ultimately taken its toll.”

While all four founding members of the Sex Pistols are very much alive and kicking, hope remains for another reunion tour.

“[There’s nothing] I know of as yet, but never say never,” Matlock says. “It’s the beginning of 40 years of punk this year, but also 40 years of the Sex Pistols, if you want to hang it on something. It’s down to John [Lydon’s] whims quite a bit, but I know my bank manager would be happy.”

Matlock was famously dumped from the Sex Pistols in 1977 in favour of the chronically-untalented Sid Vicious. Claims by manager Malcolm McLaren the reason was “for liking the Beatles” have been repeatedly refuted over the years.

“That was bollocks for a start,” he says. “It was just something McLaren said. I left because John could be really hard work. When you’re 19 going on 20, you don’t always see the wood for the trees. When we reformed in ’96 I felt vindicated, because of all the people in the world they could have asked, they asked me again, so they possibly came round to my way of thinking a little bit more.”

When it is suggested he might not have been given fair dues for his song-writing contributions to the Sex Pistols, Matlock shrugs it off with characteristic humility and humour.

“I think I’ve managed to claw a bit of that back now,” he says. “I think people have [recognised] my contribution to the band. But I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how I used to be in the Sex Pistols; there are lots of things to do in life. The phone always rings with interesting projects and invitations to go and do this, that and the other. The only time I think about the past is when [journalists] ask me about it, you know what I mean? So neh neh neh neh neh [laughs].”

Dubbed the ‘Men of No Shame Tour’, the upcoming run of shows will see the band perform seven times along the east coast, with a pre-show Q&A session giving the audience a chance to verbally prod their hosts.

“I would rather have called it the ‘Tough Cookies Tour’ because that’s what we are,” Matlock says. “[The Q&A] is something the promoter dreamed up, but I’m used to it. I’ve done similar things at the Edinburgh Festival; playing acoustic shows, telling stories and inviting questions. That was during the show, but before the show will be a bit different, because you’re usually worried about where you left your eye-liner, you know? I’m a big boy and I can deal with it.”

For The Beat and The Brag

Luke O’Shea: “I have to walk my talk”

luke o'shea

WITH a sixth album, Caught Up in the Dreaming, set for a January release and a heavy touring schedule locked in, Luke O’Shea is a very busy man indeed.

While many artists in a similar position would be tinkering with songs day and night, O’Shea, however, decided this would be exactly the right time to escape the daily grind and immerse himself in the landscapes and cultures that weave their way through the rich tapestry of his music.

“I just had a really special four months with my wife and three daughters,” he says. “Mainly spending a lot of time up around the Kimberley, Ningaloo and the Coral Coast. It was a chance to steal time; a chance to remember what it’s all about and to spend time with ones I love in this magnificent backyard we have. We’re normally all so flatstick and running around like chooks.”

Like many of the best Australian singer-songwriters, O’Shea focusses on telling stories about the land and people on which the history of the country stands. His songs are at once evocative and revealing, and are influenced by the beauty and defiance of the work of artists and musicians past and present.

“I met up with so many exceptional Australians out there,” he says. “I travel so much around Australia and you do start to acknowledge the really distinct regions we have. I also start to identify the magnificent Australian artists out there, be they poets, painters, authors or songwriters. We are greatly shaped and inspired by our landscapes, and so it was great to meet mates, total strangers and people who struck me as being unique to their geography and their art; people like Warren H. Williams in Alice Springs, Tom Curtain in Katherine, Al Pigram in Broome, and Tim Winton in Exmouth. Everyone’s stories are remarkable, and they’re united in [thinking] just how magnificent this country is. Family and music are first and foremost to me, but as I get to travel around, it makes sense to share the beauty of what you see and the marvellous people you meet; that’s worthy of singing up.”

It’s safe to say it’s been an eventful twelve months for the Sydneysider. After winning three Golden Guitars at the CMMAs in January, he took part in a well-documented protest against the Whitehaven coal mine in north-western New South Wales with his father, Rick. There isn’t a single hint of regret in his voice when he relates the story of his arrest after chaining himself to a water pump.

“It was a pretty crazy time after the success with the Golden Guitars,” he says. “After the action my father and I took, 99% of the feedback was really positive. Most people understood the reasons why I was doing it. The song I won the male vocal for, ‘Sing You Up’, clearly stipulates what side of the fence we stood on when it comes to coal mining and CSG, particularly in our food-producing regions, where they’re putting the water tables at risk. I’ve never not pretended to be totally against that, so people understood my political stance when it comes to protecting our food and water in Australia. With that level of media spotlight after I was thankfully successful at Tamworth this year, it would have been the height of hypocrisy if I had not shone that spotlight on a cause that needs a lot of attention and awareness from the general population. We had to show it was warranted. Also, I have to walk my talk. I can’t have a song about the country without acting upon it. It was the right action, and the fact it was taken on land my father was born made it deeply personal.”

Long-time fans of O’Shea will recognise the theme of appreciating, and drawing inspiration from, the natural environment in his music; a subject he examines further on the new album, most notably with ‘My Country My King’.

“‘Protect food and water for our sons and daughters’ is a line from that,” he says. “I think there’s a growing concern in Australia that our leaders are selling us out. I don’t subscribe to the idea of a monarchy because we like to see in Woman’s Day and Women’s Weekly what outfit [the Queen] is wearing. It has to be far deeper; a real love, respect and vision for Australia. I’m a republican; I want Australia to stand on its own legs and I can’t understand this holding-on to old ways, so my country is my king. I know we’re going to be faced with a change of monarch soon and I can’t think of a better time to bring up the discussion of a republic again in Australia.”

When asked about finding the right level of politicisation in his music, O’Shea lets out a larrikin chuckle.

“Obviously you’re at risk of dividing your audience by having that stance, but what are they going to do, not buy another one of my CDs? They’re going to continue not buying my CDs [laughs].”

It is this clear purpose and sense of striving for a better future that drives much of what O’Shea does, but he is equally connected to the Australia of the past. It is a mixture which adds another level of depth to Caught Up in the Dreaming.

“From travelling across the country, you really feel those song lines and the connection to the place and how powerful it is,” he says. “We are so young, the European settlement on this land, and we’re only starting to understand its power and beauty. There’s good mojo in that, and if we can build that respect up for the land, then perhaps we won’t be so quick to rape and pillage it and send it off overseas. I really want to build that respect for this country, and hopefully it catches on.”

First single ‘I Will Catch You’, written and performed with Amber Lawrence, has been building excitement for the January release. The video for the track features Lawrence and Damien Thomlinson, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan; a fitting choice given the subject matter.

“Amber had just picked up the female artist of the year, and we had both been announced ambassadors for Defence Care, which is an amazing organisation set up to help returned veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. We thought we really should be doing something with it, so we whacked it down and it came out a treat. Thankfully it’s really resonated with a lot of people with its message, which is raising awareness that you’re not alone, whether you’re a farmer who’s having a hard time, a policeman or fireman or someone at any level of service who is experiencing trauma; there are people who can help.”

Despite a raft of awards, accolades and well-received albums fifteen years since his debut, O’Shea isn’t prepared to rest on his laurels or seek safety in familiar territory. Indeed, Caught Up in the Dreaming is set to throw up a few surprises.

“It’s very progressive,” he says. “There are songs that are identifiably where I’ve came from. There might be some songs there that burn a few bridges, but hopefully build a few more. That’s my journey as an artist; I want to keep pushing myself in unique ways that best sing up this land and this people.”

With a new album to promote and plenty of shows on the cards, O’Shea is looking forward to a busy few months, as he explains with another larrikin chuckle.

“It’s been fantastic; being up in Queensland touring and finishing off the mix of the album, the Sydney Country Music Festival, in Melbourne for shows with Damien Howard, then shows in New Zealand. Sometime soon I’ll probably collapse [laughs].”

CAUGHT UP IN THE DREAMING IS OUT JANUARY 2016

For Country Update

High rotation: 2015 in 50 tracks

Taylor Swift 2015
Taylor Swift: completely irrelevant to this article

It has been another tip-top year for tuneage. These are some of the tracks I have enjoyed most.

Bad//Dreems
‘Bogan Pride’
(Ivy League Records)
Where: Adelaide
What: Disenchanted pub-rock from a bunch of Bastards of Young

______________________________________________

Baro
‘Resume’
(Teamtrick)
Where: Melbourne
What: Hip Hop/electronic with a raised middle finger

______________________________________________

Beach House
‘Sparks’
(Subpop)
Where: Baltimore
What: The dreamiest and depressing-est of depressing dream-pop

______________________________________________

Beach Slang
‘I Break Guitars’
(Tiny Engines)
Where: Philadelphia
What: Carefree indie/college-rock drained through the sock of ’90s punk-pop

______________________________________________

Big White
‘You Know I Love You’
(Caroline Australia)
Where: Sydney
What: Angst-y, urgent jangle-rock with a sugary glaze

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Blank Realm
‘River of Longing’
(Bedroom Suck)
Where: Brisbane
What: Layers of lovelorn indie-rock and messy melodies from Queensland’s finest

______________________________________________

Bully
‘Trying’
(StarTime International)
Where: Philadelphia
What: A punk-pop breath of formidable, fresh air with razor sharp lyrics

______________________________________________

Car Seat Headrest
‘Something Soon’
(Matador)
Where: Leesburg
What: Experimental rock from an outsider who has finally found a home

______________________________________________

Cian
‘Extend’
(Entertainment Systems)
Where: Unknown
What: The sound of a ZX Spectrum loading, underwater

______________________________________________

Communions
‘Forget It’s a Dream’
(Tough Love Records)
Where: Copenhagen
What: A band to fill a Stone Roses-shaped hole, if only the Roses hadn’t reformed

______________________________________________

Destroyer
‘Dream Lover’
(Merge)
Where: Vancouver
What: Big sounds and celebratory sax; that moment when you decide you like the party after all

______________________________________________

Dick Diver
‘Tearing the Posters Down’
(Chapter Music)
Where: Melbourne
What: Top-of-the-pile Australian indie-pop

______________________________________________

DIIV
‘Dopamine’
(Captured Tracks)
Where: New York
What: A triumphant return for troubled shoegaze/dream-rock genius, Zachary Cole Smith

______________________________________________

Dorsal Fins
‘Monday Tuesday’
(Gripless Records)
Where: Melbourne
What: ’80s-esque good-time pop from Melbourne’s funnest collective

______________________________________________

Ferla
‘Breakups are Hard for Everybody’
(Independent)
Where: Melbourne
What: Off-kilter oddball does battered and bruised break-up rock

______________________________________________

Flyying Colours
‘Running Late’
(Club AC30)
Where: Melbourne
What: Charge-leading roogaze/psych-rock with a conscience

______________________________________________

Gang of Youths
‘Knuckles White Dry’
(Mosy Recordings)
Where: Sydney
What: All the heart-wrenching misery of a loved one dying from cancer. Happy Christmas!

______________________________________________

GL
‘Number One’
(Plastic World & Midnight Feature)
Where: Melbourne
What: Electronic duo featuring members of the Bamboos; a vehicle for the supremely talented Ella Thompson

______________________________________________

Gold Class
‘Bite Down’
(Spunk Records)
Where: Melbourne
What: Major emerging post-punk talent that caused a big stir in industry circles in 2015

______________________________________________

Guantanamo Baywatch
‘Too Late’
(Suicide Squeeze)
Where: Portland
What: Ramshackle semi-serious soul that charms its way in

______________________________________________

The Internet
‘Just Sayin/I Tried’
(Odd Future)
Where: Los Angeles
What: Impossible-to-Google soul/Hip hop smoothness

______________________________________________

IV League
‘Lit Screen’
(Independent)
Where: Melbourne
What: Heartfelt indie-pop from promising Victorian upstarts

______________________________________________

Jaala
‘Salt Shaker’
(Wondercore Island)
Where: Melbourne
What: There’s magic in a unique voice singing lines like “I was pouring pints for fuckheads” in a rambling, art-pop mash

______________________________________________

Jacco Gardner
‘Find Yourself’
(Excelsior)
Where: Hoorn
What: Neo-baroque psych with shades of Kevin Ayers and the floors of a thousand Dutch coffee shops after dusk

______________________________________________

Kurt Vile
‘Pretty Pimpin’
(Matador)
Where: Philadelphia
What: The cool AF stoner/psych master is as good as ever on new album, b’lieve i’m goin down…

______________________________________________

Mangelwurzel
‘Fishy Fry’
(Independent)
Where: Melbourne
What: Fucking bizarre, unclassifiable brilliance from Jaala vocalist Cosima Jaala’s other band

______________________________________________

Methyl Ethel
‘Twilight Driving’
(Dot Dash/Remote Control)
Where: Perth
What: Scruffy psych-pop with a heavy helping of Australian sunshine

______________________________________________

Mexican Knives
‘Beach Song’
(Independent)
Where: Detroit
What: Loose and laconic garage/indie rock

______________________________________________

Mikael Seifu
‘The Lost Drum Beat’
(RVNG Intl.)
Where: Addis Ababa
What: Ethiopiyawi electronic musician ready to conquer the world in 2016

______________________________________________

Mild High Club
‘Undeniable’
(Stones Throw)
Where: Chicago/Los Angeles
What: Delightfully weird; equal parts Dr. Dog and the Beatles’ circa Magical Mystery Tour

______________________________________________

MUNA
‘Promise’
(Independent)
Where: Los Angeles
What: All the ’80s big-pop influences, but most prominently Cyndi Lauper, with swearing

______________________________________________

The Ocean Party
‘Guesswork’
(Spunk)
Where: Wagga Wagga
What: Sweet-as indie-rock/pop from NSW youngsters

______________________________________________

Palm
‘Ankles’
(Independent)
Where: New York
What: the fuck did I just listen to

______________________________________________

PINS
‘Young Girls’
(Bella Union)
Where: Manchester
What: Young Girls doing it (primo indie-pop) for themselves

______________________________________________

Potty Mouth
‘Cherry Picking’
(Independent)
Where: Northampton, Massachusetts
What: Cool pop-rock

______________________________________________

The Pretty’s
‘Angry Horizon’
(Split-Tape Records)
Where: Vancouver
What: Garage/garbage rock that may need a change of underpants

______________________________________________

PWR BTTM
‘Ugly Cherries’
(Father/Daughter Records)
Where: New York
What: Camped-up cross between The Troggs and Thin Lizzy

______________________________________________

Ratatat
‘Abrasive’
(XL Recordings)
Where: New York
What: Rockatronica à la Daft Punk circa 2001, with better guitars

______________________________________________

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
‘Tender is the Neck’
(Ivy League)
Where: Melbourne
What: Laidback Australian rock for dusty roads and frosty beers

______________________________________________

Ronnie Stone and the Lonely Riders
‘<3 Race. Cold Sweat. Nu Dance. Do It.’
(Independent)
Where: New York
What: Ridiculous retro-futuristic ’80s synth nonsense that’s a heap of fun

______________________________________________

Savages
‘The Answer’
(Matador)
Where: London
What: Brutal post-punk first taste of new album, out January 2016

______________________________________________

Sheer Mag
‘Button Up’
(Katorga Works)
Where: Philadelphia
What: Healthy mix of ’70s classic rock (Thin Lizzy) and punk (X-Ray Spex)

______________________________________________

Shlohmo
‘Buried’
(WEDIDIT)
Where: Los Angeles
What: Ominous-as-fuck electronica will have you checking under the bed

______________________________________________

Sleater-Kinney
‘No Cities to Love’
(Sub Pop)
Where: Portland
What: Gimme a break

______________________________________________

Slonk Donkerson
‘Build Something/Break Even’
(Black Bells)
Where: New York
What: Shit name, great track. Nothing is perfect

______________________________________________

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
‘Multi-Love’
(Jagjaguwar)
Where: Auckland/Portland
What: Psychedelic depression-funk dadwave

______________________________________________

Viet Cong
‘March of Progress’
(Jagjaguwar)
Where: Calgary
What: Cutting industrial noise in the controversially-named Canadians’ trademark style

______________________________________________

Wax Idols
‘Lonely You’
(Suicide Squeeze)
Where: Oakland
What: Triumphant break-up ode performed in late ’80s pop/rock fashion

______________________________________________

Westkust
‘Swirl’
(Run For Cover)
Where: Gothenburg
What: Shoegaze/rock delights for for the indie kid in all of us

______________________________________________

Yung
‘Blanket’
(Mastermind Records)
Where: Aarhus
What: If The Replacements came from Denmark

______________________________________________

Going Swimming: “If you’re having fun, people have fun with you”

going swimming band

Melbourne monster-punk upstarts Going Swimming are on a mission, and it involves a heavy helping of the F word, an excellent debut album and an upcoming national tour. Hold the language warning, though, as singer Nick Leggatt explains exactly what the F makes his band tick.

“If you’re having fun, people have fun with you,” says Leggatt. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We try to play shows that we think are going to be fun, with bands we like; shows we think we would want to go to, not just any old show. And I can’t see us [writing about] any subjects too hard-hitting or anything. One of the guys tracked a demo the other day that was about three-and-a-half minutes and we accused him of writing an epic.”

The quartet have taken three years to release a debut LP, after Leggatt and guitarist Aswin Lakshman spent time in several bands together since meeting at school. Wanting to play music which better reflected the tunes they listened to, they formed Going Swimming with bassist Callan Trewenack and drummer Ben Barclay. The result is the hot-off-the-press Deadtime Stories; a 12-track collection of raucous garage, surf and punk tracks, executed with a healthy dose of piss-taking posturing.

“The four of us have all been a lot more serious bands [with] longer songs [which were] a bit more wanky,” says Leggatt. “We wanted to be in a band that didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We recorded a few tracks as demos and put out a five-track EP in 2013, which we did ourselves. We played as many shows as we could and put out a couple of double A-side singles later that year. We thought it was time to put all our new songs into an album, and thought it wouldn’t take us very long; being a very no-fuss, lo-fi recording. The whole recording process took us a lot longer than we thought. We probably laid down the drums tracks maybe 15 months ago, and between drum tracks and tracking everything ourselves, the tendency is to get a bit lazy. Three of us live together as well, and we thought it would come together quicker than it did, but we got there in the end and we’re stoked to put it out and move on to play the newer stuff. Progressing as a band has felt pretty natural; we’re still enjoying it and having fun.”

Not quite garage and not quite punk, the band might have invented a genre of their own: monster-punk. It’s a fitting description for not only the Goosebumps-inspired album cover and title, but the often-ramshackle way they attack their music.

“When you think of the word punk, I don’t think we fit that bill,” Leggatt says. “And we’ve played with a bunch of garage-punk bands, and sometimes we don’t fit that bill either. So, we’re kind of our own little niche, and I think part of that is my vocals; I yell and do weird stuff. Someone came up with monster-punk and we kind of like it. One review called us ‘piss-taking punk’ and I like that, too. I don’t think we were looking for a theme too much [with the album]. To be honest, the tracks are pretty random and a lot of that is to do with the fact whoever writes the demo, they tend to give it a working title. I like to try to riff on the working title and see if I can keep the working title as the final title. It’s not like I have a big scrapbook of heartfelt lyrics I want to put into song. That’s the fun part of it; just writing fun little ditties.”

A quick glance over the Deadtime Stories tracklist reveals an additional level of humour with some creative and funny song titles.

“‘Yoko, Oh No!’ was a tough one as it’s an instrumental,” Leggatt says. “That song has changed titles a million times. At some stage it was called something like ‘YOLO’, but we decided we can’t have that. ‘Cosmonauts and Crosses’ was a riff on the original title, which was something about being a cosmonaut. The lyrics are a bit messed up and all over the place; we almost wrote it as we recorded and I couldn’t get the lyrics right. We got really drunk one night and I just spat out the verses.”

A national tour is locked in for October and November, so expect to be experiencing the F word on a stage near you.

“It’s that fun vibe,” Leggatt says. “We’re pretty loose on stage. We try not to be loose musically, but sometimes that works its way in. Our songs are short and sharp; we smash them out and pack as many songs as we can into a half-hour set. At the same time, we know what it’s like to be a punter and stand there in the crowd and be a bit bored. You don’t want to see anyone yawning, so we get out there and smash it out. We want to leave them wanting more, so hopefully they’ll come to another show. We love touring; it costs us a lot of money, but it’s like a little fun holiday for us.”

DEADTIME STORIES IS OUT NOW. GOING SWIMMING PLAY:

SUN OCT 18 – FRANKIE’S PIZZA
FRI NOV 13 – THE WORKERS CLUB

For The Brag and Beat

Josh Pyke: Talented Troubadour

josh pyke

FOR a guy promoting his latest album, Josh Pyke isn’t that fussed talking about it.

In fact, he’s happy to discuss anything but. Is this a trait borne from arrogance, or the humility of a man who lets his music do the talking? The smart money is on the latter.

With ARIA award wins, widespread industry acclaim and legions of fans on his side, Pyke could be forgiven for feeling confident about the release of his upcoming album, But For All These Shrinking Hearts. Instead, the Sydneysider is keeping his feet on the ground and aiming – as always – to connect with his fanbase in the most personal way possible.

“For me, the biggest barometer for success is good touring,” he says. “Last year was the strongest touring I had done in my career. It was incredibly gratifying at that point in my career; ten years in and with four albums at that point. To be playing to 3500 people at a sold-out solo show in Melbourne felt incredible. My hope is to play great shows to people who really want to be there. I want my songs to become part of peoples’ lives in some way. The best feedback I get is when people say one of my songs was played at their wedding or when people get tattoos of my lyrics or something like that. I want to write songs that mean something to people.”

The 37 year-old releases his fifth full-length on July 31, but what’s getting him most impassioned right now is the current state of the creative industries.

“I think about this stuff a lot,” he says. “How can people do their best work and earn a living – even a modest one – that will allow them to do it full-time and become an absolute gun at what they do? The creative industries are passion industries, so [they] don’t pay very well, and you’ll often hear the argument that [people in creative industries] are doing what they love, so why should they get paid at all? It’s just a ridiculous argument, because people value creativity. They value it enough to steal it; they just don’t value how it gets made. I kind of understand that as a consumer, but the only way to counter it is to figure out a way to remunerate artists without having much of an impact on general consumers. As much as subscription services aren’t paying artists huge amounts yet, I’m hopeful they will at some point. I like that fact they offer the consumer a great product and the consumer can feel virtuous in knowing they are paying for what they are consuming, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort. But I think as soon as you create the barrier of a payment it makes the consumer not want to do it, and begins the cycle of rhetoric and fucking bullshit like ‘You don’t deserve to get paid,’ ‘You’re doing what you love,’ ‘The labels are the problem,’ and all this stuff. I don’t think it’s really fair that people who aren’t experts in the music industry or being a musician to have such strong opinions on it; it really annoys me, you know? I don’t have really strong opinions on how to be an accountant or a teacher. I think they are really important jobs and I don’t begrudge those people getting paid for what they do because they’re experts at something I can’t do. But you don’t see that in the creative arts, because everybody has an opinion because it’s a subjective thing.”

So what about the small business of that new album? Surely Pyke has something to say about it.

“I feel good,” he says. “I love the record and I feel very proud it and the development it is from my previous stuff. It’s always scary at the same time; basically inviting people to judge it. But I’m super-proud of it and that’s as much assurance as I can have about it.”

But For All These Shrinking Hearts is a heavily thematic story of Pyke’s life over the last couple of years, with many lyrically-rich stories for fans to pick apart.

“I hadn’t given it a lot of thought up until I started being asked about it in interviews,” he says. “I kind of realised that the theme is the idea of there being a line in your life that you have to draw. You either cross over it and it’s a brave thing to do, or it’s a brave thing to not cross over it. How those choices manifest themselves in your life; that seems to be a theme which pops up in a few of the songs. There have been a lot of things that I don’t want to talk about which have inspired a lot of the songs. There was a particular point where there was something affecting my life and I had to decide to deal or not deal with it, and on reflection it’s come up a lot.”

It may have a cover adorned with a picture of Charles Redheffer, the American inventor who claimed to have invented a perpetual motion machine in 1812, but it’s an album heavy with symbolism relevant to today.

“I was looking for a tattoo idea and I liked the idea of an image of something that doesn’t stop,” Pyke says. “When I get tattoos I want them to remind me of something that’s important to me; I thought it was a good thing to [depict] the idea of not stopping and keeping moving forward. Then when I started researching it and I found out there was no such thing as a perpetual motion machine, it was definitely less appealing but it made me think more about that. When I found the story about Redheffer pulling a swifty over everyone I thought of this image of an old man cranking the wheel while eating a sandwich, and I thought it was a good metaphor for what I see is the state of the world; forging ahead without thinking of the future. Politicians aren’t thinking of sustainable ways of living, and I don’t just mean environmentally, but culturally as well. They’ll just win elections and do things that get them across the line now. It also made me think about creativity and my relationship about creativity, and how creativity begets other creativity; it never stops. I don’t know where my songs end up.”

Having worked with a wide range of Australian musicians, it was only natural that Pyke sought to collaborate on But For All These Shrinking Hearts. Dustin Tebbutt was the first to get the call.

“Dustin is a friend of mine anyway,” Pyke says. “Right towards the end of when I’m making a record, I get to a point when I feel like I’ve done the bulk of the work. I had about 15 songs which I was very happy with, but I think it’s good at that point to step outside your comfort zone and see if you can do any magical last-minute thing when you’re not under pressure. I didn’t know Marcus [Azon], but I was in a café close to my house and I heard this song and thought I would love to write with someone with those sensibilities. I asked the lady at the café and she said it was Jinja Safari. I called up my manager and asked if he could hook me up with a co-write and he said ‘Oh, we just started managing those guys.’ He came over and we wrote a couple of songs, one of which didn’t make it onto the album. It was really comfortable and inspired; I felt that we had a really creative synergy.”

Laughing in the face of the rule warning of working with children and animals, Pyke hired his son to add vocals to the end of ‘Hollering Hearts’.

“He’s four and a half now,” he says. “I had the final mix of the song and thought I just needed something more chant-y at the end. He sang it into my phone and I e-mailed it down to John [Castle, producer]; he put it into the mix and you can definitely hear it in there. It’s a nice moment.”

But For All These Shrinking Hearts is out July 31.

For Scenestr

Alex Wilson of sleepmakeswaves: “We’ve always been inspired by punk-rock”

sleepmakeswaves

HAVING a love of maps and map-making might not be the most rock ‘n’ roll thing to admit to, but Sydney’s sleepmakeswaves aren’t your average rock band.

The instrumental post-rock quartet have just released their new album, Love of Cartography, which will take their live performances to a new level, says bassist Alex Wilson.

“The whole album title came from a discussion that me and our guitarist Otto [Wicks-Green] were having about how we really love maps,” he says. “We wrote a couple of songs on acoustic guitars and we were trying to come up with some sort of mid-western indie-rock meets Kurt Vile kind of side-project called Love of Cartography, and it never eventuated. When we were actually trying to come up with names for this record, it just kind of stuck, and it’s this whole metaphor of map-making as a touring band, but also being at a time of your life where you’re making maps for the rest of your time on this earth as well. It’s got a bit of mystery and hopefully people can take something away from it in an individual way as well.”

It’s been three years since the band’s debut album, and in that time they’ve racked up eight Australian tours, three European tours, a US tour and an appearance at SWSW; experiences which affected the making of Love of Cartography, Wilson says.

“One of the things was we realised was that a lot of what matters to us these days is our live performances. We started getting this idea that we wanted to reflect the energy and importance that we placed onto the live show, and there was a conscious effort to balance that new-found obsession with the live performance and making a record in the studio. I don’t think we would have been brought to that place or developed the capability to do that record had we not spent so much time playing our old songs on the road and finding out what about them worked live and what was more a studio kind of thing. It’s interesting for an instrumental post-rock band, because so much of the power of the music comes out of that sternum-rattling volume we can get out of a big PA. I like to think we got closer this time that we did before.”

Turning to their fans for help to make the album is an approach that could have gone either way, but luckily a crowd-funding campaign paid off – and then some.

“It all comes down to the economics of being in a band at our level,” Wilson says. “We’re not trying to put the boot into any fans at all, but the realistic thing is that people don’t pay as much money for your music as they used to, but they’re still demanding the same level of quality. We thought long and hard about it, and decided on balance that it would be possible to run a campaign in an honest and authentic way, and deliver extra quality and that step up people want. It was an interesting process for us because we always came out of a DIY scene and had done everything up to that point off our own backs, so it was a bit of a change to the way we saw ourselves as a band. On the plus side, there was the amount of support and goodwill we got; we asked for $25,000 and I was on the edge of my seat thinking ‘what if this is a total failure and absolutely bombs?’ So, to actually overshoot that and wind up with $30,000 to spend alongside what we were putting in ourselves, it was an amazing, gratifying experience that blew us away. But it’s that Spiderman thing: with great power comes great responsibility.”

So, how have four guys with no vocalist managed to engage with so many audiences around the world?

“What we’ve tried to do is create a physical vibe between the four of us on-stage,” Wilson says. “I think we’ve always been inspired by punk-rock in that way; the sort of bands that were really big influences on me and Jonathan [Khor, guitar] were old post-hardcore bands like Alexisonfire and At The Drive-In. Even though they had vocalists, the lyrics were never so much the point. It was more about the energy of four young men trying to leave a bucket of sweat on the stage and hopefully break a few things in the process.”

The band are currently in the middle of the Australian leg of their tour, with one eye on a homecoming show to rap up the jaunt.

“We’re really looking forward to finishing up the tour on August 16th at Manning Bar,” Wilson says. “We’ve had a lot of good times there before and it’ll be really great. We want to try to get back to Europe later in the year and do some shows. This is the first time we’re doing a serious, worldwide, coordinated album release, so from my perspective it’s all new territory. I’m just waiting to see what happens.”

SLEEPMAKESWAVES PLAY MANNING BAR AUG 16. LOVE OF CARTOGRAPHY IS OUT NOW.

For The Brag

Courtney Barnett: “I don’t feel like I’m some sort of amazing superhero or anything”

courtney barnett

MUSICIAN interviews are often challenging affairs, ranging from something like getting blood out of a stone to verbally wrestling a Herculean ego.

Chatting with Courtney Barnett, however, is a laid-back joy from start to finish, such is the singer-songwriter’s honest and down-to-earth nature. This is especially refreshing given the Melburnian has had two massive years since her debut EP was released in 2012, including a North American tour and an appearance on The Tonight Show.

“I have a little moment every now and then, and think how far from this time two years ago my life has changed,” she says. “I try to go away a lot as well, to be myself and collect my thoughts. Playing huge festivals like Glastonbury has been pretty surreal, as has doing TV shows and shit like that – it’s kind of weird and out of my normal world. Even travelling overseas is a big deal for me. I’d never travelled before, I could never afford it; not even for a holiday. But it’s fun; it doesn’t just feel like work. Obviously it is part work, part fun, but it’s pretty cool. We get to experience a bit of the local stuff – I try to go to galleries and go to parks and stuff like that.”

Being labelled a saviour of Australian indie music by certain sections of the music press isn’t something Barnett is keen to take seriously.

“I think there are plenty of great Australian musicians,” she says. “It’s nice when people say stuff like that about me, but there are so many other great bands and great songwriters. I don’t at any point think I’m some weird saviour for Australian music. I’ve got great friends and people who help me and don’t treat me any different and shit like that. I feel like that my feet are on the ground; I don’t feel like I’m some sort of amazing superhero or anything; that’s kind of ridiculous. Coming from here, where everything is smaller, I’ve realised how much I’ve loved being home since I’ve been here.”

An upcoming national tour starting at the tail end of September will mark the first headline shows for Barnett and her band in Australia, but don’t expect her to be getting complacent just because it’s home turf.

“We’ve always been supporting someone else or doing festivals or something, so it’s kind of exciting to finally be able to do that,” she says. “But I treat every show exactly the same – it’s about the music, not who you’re playing to. I feel lucky to go onto any stage and have people listen to my music. It’s actually kind of more nerve-wracking playing to a home crowd or playing to friends and people who know you – I find that way more nerve-wracking than playing to complete strangers. It’ll probably be a really stressful tour [laughs].”

A recent crowd-funding experiment in support of Barnett’s own Milk! Records label lead to the target being reached in double-quick time.

“I was so blown away by that,” she says. “I’ve never done one of those Pozible things, so wasn’t sure if it would work or what, but I was blown away by the support. I never thought that Milk! records would grow into this real community-driven project, and I’ve witnessed so many of the same people buying stuff when we release stuff and coming to the shows and supporting each band that we pick up along the way. It’s become this beautiful little community family thing, so I was pretty moved when it happened straight away, so it was very cool. We were in a position where we had already recorded our songs as we had money from a Christmas show we did last year, but then we needed the money to do the pressing. We had already created the actual thing, so there was less pressure with creation, and it was more like a pre-order – we just didn’t have enough money to print vinyl.”

A record company that existed for a long time only on paper, Milk! has become one of the hottest names in Australian indie music right now.

“I started it just for my own release,” Barnett says. “Just so my CD looked more professional, so more people would listen to it and more people would review it. Nobody took much notice at first and it took a while, then we started helping other musicians and friends and other people started joining in. When we had the Christmas party last year and sold out the Tote, I realised we’d opened up a little door for a community of people who liked the same bands – it was a very special moment.”

With two critically-acclaimed EPs under her belt, now is the time for the long-awaited debut album.

“It’s all recorded and pretty much finished,” she says. “We’re going to release it early next year. I’m just drawing a whole bunch of pictures for the artwork and stuff. I’m really proud of it; I really challenged myself, tried different things and pushed myself to step out of my comfort song-writing zone and lyric-wise. I’m really happy with it; I feel that it’s the next logical step from the last bunch of songs I wrote. We’ve been playing a bunch of the songs on tour, but we want to save a bunch for the actual release.”

COURTNEY BARNETT PLAYS THE CORNER OCT 2, 3 & 4.

For Beat

Andrew Strong: “Touring with the Rolling Stones was one of the highlights”

andrew strong

HE may be best known for being the singer in Ireland’s hardest-working semi-fictional soul band, but Andrew Strong has a voice that can belt out the blues with the best of them.

Thrust into the spotlight at the tender age of 16 when The Commitments movie made him an international star, Dubliner Strong has enjoyed a long and varied career in music. His upcoming headlining slot at Blues on Broadbeach on May 24 will see the 41 year-old return to his roots and the songs that made him famous, but with a healthy dollop of blues ladled on top.

“It’s predominantly a Commitments show,” he says. “Probably 70 percent Commitments. I do some Jimi Hendrix, some Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, some Spencer Davis songs. I went out to Australia about two years ago with this kind of show and it was very popular, so we’ll go out, put on the suits and sing all the Commitments stuff.”

After distancing himself from the Commitments’ music in the years following the 1991 release of the movie, Strong was reunited with the band for their 20-year reunion.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t done this kind of show in 20 years,” he says. “Prior to this I’d been doing my own stuff. Basically what happened was when [the Commitments] got together to do the reunion a couple of years back, there was a strong void there for me to go out and do this kind of show. I enjoyed it, but I thought it’s not the sort of thing I’m going to keep doing, but there are people out there who really wanted to see this kind of show and me sing these songs. So, this will be effectively my last of this kind of show in Australia. This will be my third tour in Australia; I’ve played probably 40 shows doing this ‘Andrew Strong – The Commitments’ show, so when I come back it’ll be more kind of Andrew Strong-themed.”

Strong’s powerful voice and electric live performances have earned him tour slots with Elton John and Lenny Kravitz, as well as an invitation to perform at the Princess of Norway’s wedding.

“There are a lot of things [in my career] I’m very proud of,” he says. “Touring with the Rolling Stones was one of the highlights. It was great to go out on the road for eight shows with them, then come back home and get a call a week later to go out and do a couple more shows; that was a great buzz and a great experience. After I did the movie, for some reason I got a lot of respect from singers across the board. I look at the movie; I did it when I was 16. To be a part of something that, 20 years later, is still kind of relevant is an achievement.”

Strong’s soul and blues credentials were cemented even further when he was asked to perform with the Blues Brothers Band in the nineties; something which came about in a less-than-direct fashion.

“I know Ringo Starr’s kids,” Strong says. “I met them through the guy who wrote the screenplay for The Commitments. Their mother was married to the guy who owned all the Hard Rock Cafes; he sold those and bought all these Houses of Blues. Basically, the Blues Brothers Band were opening all these venues and they asked me would I come over and sing at it, and I thought it would be great. I got the opportunity to sing with Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper and all those guys; we played in L.A. and Boston. It was great, man. It was great to play with those guys. I remember Steve Cropper came up to me in Boston and said ‘Hey man, I was so happy you recorded my songs, because I needed the money.’”

With two Commitments albums, four solo albums and a greatest hits collection under his belt, Strong is looking towards his next release.

“A lot has gone on in my life over the last year or so; I had a son and moved into a new home,” he says. “This year, I really want to focus on new material for a new album. Hopefully by the end of the year or the beginning of next year I’ll have a new record out. When I come back from Australia, I’ll been doing some shows around Europe; some festivals and stuff like that. I also have a side project band, The Bone Yard Boys; we’ve been working together for about eight years, and I’d like to put an album out. I’d be a happy camper if I could come back Down Under and do an Andrew Strong tour next year.”

ANDREW STRONG PLAYS BLUES ON BROADBEACH, MAY 24.

For Scenestr

Drake: Force of Nature

drake

HE MAY HAVE started from the bottom, but Aubrey Drake Graham is very much on top of the world right now.

Rapping is the 28 year-old’s bread and butter, but with fingers in the metaphorical pies of acting, business, clothing, management, production and sports, the multi-award-winner could never be accused of being a one-trick pony.

The focus, however, will be very much on the Toronto native’s musical skills when he performs for the first time on Australian soil, headlining Future Music Festival and completing a run of sideshows. Drake tops a bill featuring Swedish EDM superstar Avicii, English electronic stalwarts and 2013 headliners The Prodigy, rap-ravers Die Antwoord, Grammy Award-winning DJ Afrojack, as well as local favourites Hilltop Hoods, in what is another stellar line-up put together by the festival.

Future Music Festival director Brett Robinson told news.com.au of the organisers’ joy about securing the rapper in a less competitive marketplace following the demise of the Big Day Out.

“Scoring Drake for the festival is a big jawdropper,” he said.

“We have been able to focus on presenting the festival we really want with less competition in the marketplace and not being pressured about who is going to get what act.”

“And that has been very good for the budget too with ticket prices going down.”

An appearance at Brisbane Entertainment Centre two days before the Queensland leg of the festival is set to serve as a warm-up, with support coming from friend and frequent collaborator 2 Chainz, who is also booked to appear at the festival. The fact that promoters have confidence enough to book a slot at the 13,000 capacity venue when a festival appearance is already locked in says everything you need to know about the Canadian’s popularity in Australia.

Rising quickly from an acting stint on the small screen in Degrassi: The Next Generation to holding the record for the most number ones on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop chart, Drake is a genuine phenomenon, with 36 million Facebook followers in tow and close to a billion YouTube views to boast about. But how has an artist who didn’t even release an album in 2014 managed to remain at the forefront of Hip hop and R&B culture? The answer likely lies in the diversity of his output; from becoming rap’s hottest co-sign and second biggest touring star (after Jay Z), hosting Saturday Night Live and the ESPYs, to allegedly getting his wood on in Nicki Minaj’s Internet-breaking ‘Anaconda’ video.

Great things continued to happen for him despite a misguided swipe at Rolling Stone for pulling his front cover at the last minute in order to pay respect to the life of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He also claimed quotes he supposedly didn’t say about Kanye West made it into the feature, which the magazine belatedly published.

“I’m disgusted with that. RIP to Phillip Seymour Hoffman. All respect due. But the press is evil,” he Tweeted, before adding “I’m done doing interviews for magazines. I just want to give my music to the people. That’s the only way my message gets across accurately.” Rucking with the music press has been the downfall of many an artist, but Drake has managed to ride the critical storm and come out the other end smiling.

Not happy with only taking verbal potshots at the media, he has been involved in so many beefs with other rappers that there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to them. Perhaps most prominent was his diss trade-off with rap mainstay Pusha T, in which the two traded lyrical and online blows before Chris Brown became the new target after an alleged incident in a nightclub.

As well as having his share of first-world problems, Drake hasn’t always had a life of glam and glory. Writing about the origins of his single ‘Started From The Bottom’ on his label’s blog, he said “I feel sometimes that people don’t have enough information about my beginnings and therefore they make up a life story for me that isn’t consistent with actual events. My family and my second family (consisting of the best friends anybody could ever have) all struggled and worked extremely hard to make all this happen. I did not buy my way into this spot and it was the furthest thing from easy to achieve.”

It’s perhaps unsurprising then, with such a willingness to roll up his sleeves and put in the hard yards, that Drake is so heavily involved in a number of successful enterprises outside of music. As global ambassador and member of the executive committee of his hometown basketball team the Toronto Raptors, he is subtly and successfully merging his love of sport and music. His record label October’s Very Own (OVO), which he founded with longtime friends Noah ‘40’ Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib in 2012, is home to a small roster of North American rapping talent, with ILoveMakonnen, PartyNextDoor and Majid Jordan being standouts. Building the OVO brand into a multi-faceted business which includes a clothing range and the OVOFEST festival – the latest of which featured Outkast and the man himself – Drake has proven himself to be equally adept at raking in the dollars via non-musical methods as he has done via rapping.

As far back as 2009 he was writing the lyrics “I want the money/Money and the cars/Cars and the clothes/The hoes, I suppose,” for his song ‘Successful’. Fast forward six years and he’s got all of these things and more in the palm of his hand. Now it’s Australia’s turn to feel the force of Aubrey Graham.

DRAKE PLAYS BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, BOONDALL, MARCH 5 AND FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL, DOOMBEN RACECOURSE, MARCH 7.

For Scenestr

David Gray: “You have to leave everybody behind in spectacular fashion”

David Gray

His upcoming Australian visit has been a long time coming, so David Gray plans to grab the opportunity with both hands.

The 46 year-old Englishman is set to appear at Bluesfest at Byron Bay, as well as complete a run of theatre shows, but even after 25 years in the business the indie-rock veteran doesn’t take anything for granted.

“I love all the shows,” he says. “They’re all special. I’m more at home in an intimate setting, because so many of my songs tend that way, but I also have expansive songs, so I can deal with the outdoor situations. I’ve been doing it a long time, and I can sense that it’s finite these days. The commitment to make a record and tour around the world is one thing; it doesn’t come from an endlessly-replenishing well. You sort of have to leave everybody behind in spectacular fashion, friends and family and whatever. It’s a big commitment and I just treasure every opportunity. The last time I was at Bluesfest it was just a spectacular gig; everything just came together that night. There was a euphoria in the air that swept us away. If it’s anywhere even close to that this time we’re going to have a great gig.”

Gray last passed our way in 2009, so he’s keen to introduce Australian audiences to his new band.

“It’s great that we’re coming back to do a really meaningful tour this time, with what is a really wonderful incarnation of the band,” he says. “It features seven people singing, and in order to give voice to this new music, that is what I deemed necessary. As much as it is a financial and organisational nightmare, it’s quite something when it all cranks up and everybody starts singing away. It feels important that we come down and do something; it’s been too long.”

His 1998 breakthrough White Ladder has sold seven million copies and counting, and while much of that album still features in his show, Gray has a new approach to wowing crowds.

“When my voice is in the centre and the mass harmonies are happening in four parts, I sing my solo but everyone else’s is doubled in some way,” he says. “It gives it this big sound; like a bank of vocals. It’s special to be singing together and is a holy thing, I think; it’s as close to the bone as it gets in terms of the spirituality of music. To sing together is a really wonderful thing. That’s very much at the core of the show, and through the filter of this new band I’ve passed the older songs, particularly the ones where the big backing vocals can play a part; songs like ‘My Oh My’ and ‘Silver Lining’. Every time I have a band and go out, I try to re-jig the songs. I don’t just leave them as they are and drag them out of the cupboard, but I try to do something new with them.”

With a tenth studio album, Mutineers, released in 2014, Gray has a strong body of work to choose from and a wealth of experience in festivals and intimate shows.

“Big outdoor shows are different,” he says. “For an audience who might not be as familiar with my new record as they are with a lot of the older stuff, I’ll have to play a slightly different hand. I’ll just have to choose my moments and get my point home with the new music and a slightly different strategy. Also, you’re time-restricted. The current set is just over two hours, so it’ll feel really short to us. I’ll just have to make sure it’s peppered with the goodies from the new music, yet hits the right buttons in the right places. It’s a science when you play to lots of people outside; you can be dealing with the weather and all sorts of crazy stuff. A festival crowd aggregates out with different levels of interest; people are there to see you who perhaps aren’t such avid fans as those who came to see you in a theatre somewhere.”

A man who has been as successful as Gray could be forgiven for taking an extended holiday, but that’s not on the cards for the singer-songwriter.

“We have [single] ‘Snow in Vegas’ coming out in America, so if that hits it would mean more offers from promoters,” he says. “It could change the year if it does well. I’m intending to do some solo shows around Europe, and then there will be some festivals. I’ll be writing some new songs and maybe record a bit of an album; there are still several dozen songs from the Mutineers period waiting to be captured officially, so that’s about as far as I’ve got.”

David Gray tour dates:

State Theatre, Sydney – April 1&2
Bluesfest Byron Bay – April 4
Palais Theatre, Melbourne – April 5

Mutineers (Good Soldier Songs) is out now.

For mX