Interview Published in the Australian Times on April 22, 2009.
Your long awaited debut album is due to hit the shelves in April. Tell us more about it?
Recording the album was a really special process. My label at quite short notice decided that we needed to do the album and so it was quite a rush to finish up the songs and find a place to record.
We wanted to steer clear of a big studio to save money and just have a space we could let it all hang out a little. Low pressure – high inspiration. They mentioned a place they used to stay as kids – an old Victorian hunting lodge in Northamptonshire.
I made a call to the owner and told her that I’d look to book the place for a week to do some writing. It was kind of true – but the mental image she may have had of us sitting around with acoustic guitars was a bit pared back from the reality.
We drove up with three cars jammed packed full of recording gear and instruments.
The place was beautiful – in the middle of nowhere, secluded, old, cool, chilled. We scoped it out – there were about ten rooms so we figured out where we should setup the main studio hub and then we setup the drum kit in the stairwell, and guitars, bass, organ and so on in different rooms.
It enabled us all to have a little space to make noise but also to play off each other. Each day we’d wake up really early, have a coffee and then start talking about the songs we’d work on that day.
It was an amazing week – we really captured the heart and soul of the songs. It was pretty exhausting and I sang myself to a standstill relying on the numbing powers of fiery ginger beer to keep my voice going through the week. We got all ten tracks down and only had some extra “icing on the cake” stuff to overdub when we got home.
It came together beautifully – it sounds amazing, at times tender and at other times quite huge, and the songs really tell a story about the journey I’ve been on for the past few years. I’ve invested a lot of heart in it – as have so many people that have made their own heartfelt contributions to it.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
I really like The Sun – it’s a bit of a departure from the more acoustic stuff I’ve done in the past. I also drifted away from doing a narrative style song – it’s a very simple, repetitive lyric and the emotion is carried by the instrumentation and arrangement. It’s a real “put your headphones on and soak it up” type song.
How do you go about writing your lyrics?
I generally get an angle on a song– a turn of phrase or a chord change I think has something in it. Once I think I have something good on the go I stick with it and try and roll with the inspiration.
I’m not one for jotting notes down and coming back to it. I’m too impatient. I don’t write all the time – I generally have patches where I am really productive and get a lot of material together.
Who are the bands/people that inspire you?
Anyone that plays from the heart and delivers their music with passion. I love Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Ray Lamontagne – people that are serious about the crafting of their songs but then get up and sing them like they still mean it.
Where is your favourite place to perform in London?
The Bedford in Balham. Lovely atmosphere, an appreciative crowd, friendly staff. A real treat.
Do you find the London music scene is hotter than the Aussie scene?
I’m not really sure as I’ve really only performed in London. I’ve lived in London for a long time and it was here that I really found my feet (or voice) musically. I’ve seen some knockout performers playing around London at random little open mics. There’s an amazing wealth of talent here. But then I think the Australian roots scene is probably the most exciting in the world – there’s some fantastic artists emerging. The best part of the London scene for me has been that I’m a long way from home and I’ve had a chance to really figure myself out. I’ve been able to bust out of my shell and rediscover what I’m about.
Who is your champ of the year?
Bon Iver. His album For Emma, Forever Ago was superb.
Chump of the year?
So what are your goals for the future?
Keep making music and enjoying life with my little family. I’d like the album to find its way into the iPods and hearts of people that will appreciate it – and to get out and play some great shows. I am less about world domination and more about the slow burn of doing stuff I love and seeing where it heads.
Readers will be surprised to learn that…
The only main meal I eat each day is dinner and I like sleeping in my jeans
Nothing tastes better than…Kraft Peanut Butter (Smooth)
I wasn’t a particularly good…Rugby League player – actually I wasn’t one at all.
People ask me what it is like to…Live the dream
My worst habit is…Being a smart arse to folks at my shows. I can’t help myself.