Are you in the UK already? because weren’t you supposed to be playing at Boardmasters?
Yeah, no I’m in the UK already mate. Disappointed that Boardmasters. It was a bit of a shame, that one was called off.
What are you going to do this weekend now you’ve got a free weekend in the UK?
Yeah, look I just had a jam yesterday with the UK band that I’ve picked up over here and so just getting ready with those guys. My wife and my little daughter are over here as well so…
We were planning on heading off to Croatia for a few weeks and then come back to do the run of shows in September. We were always having a bit of a holiday anyway, but yeah, it’s a shame that the show’s canceled, but yeah sounded like a bad forecast and we’re all pretty disappointed. Actually some of the guys who are playing for me are from Robbie Williams’ band, so it’s great, top players. I’ve always come over with my aussie band but it’s interesting the first time I’ve played with the UK guys, so it’s yeah, really enjoying.
Did you say you were going to Croatia after this weekend? It seems to be everyone I’ve spoken to recently seems to be either in Croatia or Montenegro this August, it seems to be the place to be.
Yeah it seems like it’s a pretty popular place at the moment, so I mean, it looks amazing too doesn’t it?
Oh absolutely, yeah. I mean a very stark contrast. I mean you’re very lucky to live in a beautiful place too so, but very different.
Yeah I live in Byron Bay so yeah it’s pretty amazing there as well, so can’t complain. The bay is just stunning, but I mean there’s so many nice parts in Byron really. It’s getting pretty popular now of course, lots of people are living there. I moved there in 2005 so I’ve had a fairly good run maybe, before it got too busy but, you know, my wife, she was born in the area so, she’s had a lifetime of seeing what it was like before it was too busy.
Yeah, that’s the trouble with these nice spots isn’t it, I mean, a bit like Croatia really, I think. You’ve probably caught it at the right time, I think in the next five years it’s going to become, you know, like any other sort of Mediterranean hot spot and be overcrowded, and yeah, and busy so…
I hear you’re bit of a surfer as well, what sort of spots do you head to, have you managed to get any surfing in while you’re here? Did you make it down to Cornwall or not?
No, no actually, in a way we’re lucky that we didn’t book to come down there so… No, I would prefer my stuff as it is mate, no chance of surfing, I mean if trying to get down and have a surf, I’ve just got my wife with me and bub, so we’re just trying to have a holiday with them as well, and you know, get round and hang out, because my little girl, she’s only 18 months at the moment, so she’s having a sleep, so we’re just kind of working around that so to speak.
What can you tell us about your most recent album, Camacho? Is that pronounced correctly?
It’s a pretty different sound from what you’ve done previously. What brought that on and what was the influence?
I was starting to get into beats on this a little bit more, listening to bands like The Roots. Slap drum sounds and you know, kind of got my influence with that, and I wanted to get away from previous ways of putting down albums. In all the previous albums I’ve had, I’ve been in the studio, we’ve had the whole band come in and you play it together as a band, so you kind of get the… you know there’s a… just got that band feel you know, where this time like a loop. We put a loop under a song and the song floats on top of a loop. These songs, kind of have a lot more groove to them, with those beats and loops, so that was kind of the whole idea of doing that, and I just worked with a few different producers and just a couple of musicians here and there. I’ll get players to come in but I never got in the studio with the full band again, so it was kind of nice to do something really different like that.
I’m actually, I’m in the studio recording, well Sunni, she’s recording stuff now, so I’m actually just starting to mix it, we’ve just mixed the first three tracks, so a local guy from England here Charlie Holmes, young fella who’s an up and coming mixer, and he’s been doing some great stuff yeah, so. He works under a guy who you might know, Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, Big mixer in the UK he does like, you know, Florence and The Machine, and did Ed Sheeran and all that…
It’s a very different composition and production process, how did you find that, you know, using loops and sequencing, rather than a live band?
I loved it. It was really good, when I first started working round a few things I just had GarageBand, so I’d just get a few little loops and… Funny, I’d sometimes I’d write a song, and then I’d see what loop would fit on that song, and then I’d just loop it, or what beat fit on the song and just loop that beat, and it seemed to work really well.
I mean there’s a song on there called, Only One, Maybe it’s the first song off the album, I can’t even remember, but it was one of the first songs that I wrote and the first song I started using this beat, and I put it in there, I said like well I think this is really cool, and the beat doesn’t change because I was always used to having a verse beat, a verse groove you know, a chorus groove and a bridge, but you also have this different feel through the whole song. Where with this, it was just like one, the groove, the beat doesn’t change. It’s just a song that flows from top to bottom it makes you work harder to try and write big choruses, a little bit better, or more sing-a-long, or bigger or whatever you know, so it flows. The songs flowed on top of the beat. It was great.
I’ve really enjoyed the track “Home”, I thought that it’s got just a really nice crisp production. It’s sort of… seems to just sort of stand out as far as a little more, depth to the bass and just some really nice percussion going on that it…
That’s really even going further away from the old stuff that I used to do with the band, That was really just myself and Jon Hume, It’s the first time I got to co-write, and that Jon co-wrote that and kind of helped put that one together. So it was the first time that it was a bit more even, produced than other songs again, and you know, which is good you know. It was funny, even in Australia, well the guys kept saying this is the single, this is the single… I hadn’t heard it as the single and I wasn’t trying this song, because I wasn’t sort of as keen on it straight away, then… Now I listen to it and it’s a huge song, it’s a great song you know.
Yeah, no definitely, it’s a proper foot stomper. Well hindsight is brilliant isn’t it.
Yeah, yeah definitely, 20/20 vision and all that.
I mean it’s definitely not got the same sort of feel as some of your previous albums, I mean, it hasn’t got that sort of angsty or perhaps melancholy, sort of feel going on, it feels much more uplifting and brighter, is that reflection on perhaps personal, emotional places that you might be in now as opposed to where you were?
Yeah I do, I tend to write it down, you know, the situations where I’ve been in my life you know, so that determines where you’re at, what’s going to come out and life has been good so… and I wanted to get away and I wanted to write songs that werehappier and not so melancholy, because I get sick of seeing that after a while, you know, been doing this for 15 years now, so you want the recordings to change. So these songs are all about having fun. My publisher, I’m with Sony/ATV. The head of Sony/ATV said, you know, I think it’s your best lyrical content yet, and it was interesting to do that, so not, you know, it’s not the deep and dark stuff but it’s still my sound, It’s actually challenging, more challenging to write a positive song.
Yeah, I think people emotionally, they connect more to the negative songs they make because they tend to resonate with parts of their lives, so to get that connection with a happy connotation is yeah, much more difficult.
Yeah that’s right. So that’s a… no, it’s a nice knowing thing, you know like how we… we’re connected lyrically actually, so I was really happy with that, what I wrote in that one, that’s you know, that for example, but it seems like probably the most complete song, from a singer-songwriter perspective, on the album anyway.
Absolutely, well I mean, I think that you know, the general consensus is it resonates really highly with people that are enjoying it and you know, enjoy your previous work. A lot of time when artists will transition into a slightly different style, they loose their identity, or go off on a wierd one. I don’t think you’ve lost your feel, it’s not like you’ve had a mid-life crisis and gone off on some sort of experimental electronica tangent…
Growing a ponytail and buying a motobike! No, the other interesting thing about this album too is I never thought that I would get fans saying, actually I think I prefer this album… as this is my favorite album, compared to Feeler. Majority of people like this is what Feeler, this is what you do. Feeler’s you, that’s the best one you’ve done and, after this, when Camacho came out, you know we actually had a lot of people saying, this is your best, best part of your work, and that’s great. I think the next stuff, that I’m doing now, the people that are hearing it. Not many people have heard it but they’re saying this is the best stuff coming out, so it will probably be interesting now what’s going to happen, but I’m super happy with the new stuff. It sounds a little bit different again!
It’s really good to keep innovating and you know, I think it keeps your mind fresh as well. As a composer and as a musician you know, you’ve had a really successful innings and you know to sort of veer away from the blueprint that made you successful is quite a challenge. A lot of people struggle to do that and I think to be continuing to evolve is really admirable. I felt that it was a really strong album and enjoyed lots of it.
I hear you sort of moving into wellness and health, and perhaps commercially doing some things around Byron Bay, that are quite interesting and that, can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, a friend of mine, Benny Owen who is an old drummer friend of mine, he used to be like 120kg and he’s now like 80, mid-80 to 90kgs. He’s lost a lot of weight, you know, he’s got super fit, from what he was. I couldn’t believe that he’s lost so much weight. He’s now a fitness trainer and He and I started this thing up a little while ago called Music and Movement, we host it at the Elements Resort.
We can pick different resorts, we’ve only done one, we did it at Elements which is a really nice resort in Byron, and we did that, people come along and they basically get to a gig with me on the beach, a little intimate show, on the beach and they get to do training sessions as well with Benny. There’s yoga, Benny does the talk on diet so it’s all kind of about health and wellbeing, and doing the training as well and music, so they’re getting experience of all those things. The people that came, we weren’t sure what they’d want, would they just sit at the bar or the pool and just drink and not join in the sessions, and then not come to the gig. We didn’t know what we were going to get you know but, everyone got into it. Everyone absolutely loved it, they couldn’t get enough of it, so it was fantastic. I’ve just been dead busy, the last time, I just haven’t had time to put another one on, so we’re trying to sort that out again, to get it to happen.
No, I mean it definitely seems to be an emergence and I think, you know, whilst millennials get a lot of stick, they’re does seem to be this more healthy, more aware lifestyle that they’re choosing. I mean even in music as well, like there’s… I think it’s called Wilderness Festival, which is a UK festival which mixes yoga and wellness activities, and music. Yeah, no, and just seems to be making a really big success of itself, so there definitely does seem to be a new, new world. I think it was probably our generation that just, used to like drink to oblivion and party hard as well.
Yeah, that’s what I remember.
They don’t seem to have the same agenda in life, which you know, is a good thing for sure! Yeah, it has changed a bit for sure, but look I think that, you know a lot of people are into that, and I do the same thing, you just… We’re only taking limited numbers to come and do that with us. I’ve also got lots of mates in the industry of course, you heard of Wolfmother?
Andrew Stockdale, he was in Byron as well so he came and did a little surprise gig, so we had, you know sort of, did my set and then, I hadn’t finished, I said that you know, just got a little surprise, I’ve got a friend I’ll just pop and see, jumped up and did a couple of songs and the people were just blown away. We’ve just got to try and get another one happen now that’s all.
You and what seems to be every Australian artist that I speak to, have just relentless tours, I mean, I don’t know anyone in the industry that works as hard as a Aussie band or artist.
Yeah, we do, you know.
You guys are just hardcore when you go out on the road. I mean, of course there’s the thrill of it and the, you know, the financial benefits as well but you know, you have to love that sort of lifestyle to go out and do it so relentlessly. I mean, do you find that as enjoyable now? Do you find it as appealing, obviously with a young family, that obviously has lots of implications to you know, where you want to be in the world, but do you still enjoy that?
Personally, yeah look I love to tour. I mean all the other stuff, the travel and all that stuff round, it’s not so enjoyable, but you know, that’s just part of it. We do do a lot of shows in Australia and to come overseas, that’s where it hurts you because it’s… it’s a long way.
It’s brutal isn’t it.
I think in the last 12 months, this is my third trip over here now. My primary fanbase is a home, and I’m signed to Sony Australia, but Sony is international so my music gets released outside Australia. I played Brixton Academy, it’s always been a good fan base over here. We would play shows, and there would be more English than there was Australians, so it was good but I just stopped touring because, back then, before Spotify and internet streaming, you couldn’t hear the music. So if I released something, people didn’t always get it, you couldn’t hear it, you couldn’t watch it, any videos, all that stuff. So it’s been pretty interesting work you know, so I just stopped touring and then took quite a few years off, and then it’s funny now, that I’m coming back and I’m starting this over, I feel like I’m kind of starting off again.
With a new fan base and a new audience that’s sort of enabled through the, through the modern music distribution. I mean it’s a really challenging one, I mean I don’t know what your feelings are on Spotify and streaming?
It’s great that I can get music to the world!
It’s a very interesting time to be a musician as well, I mean I speak to a lot of musicians that are completely independent and don’t need a label, because they’ve got the YouTube audience, and they’ve got the route to market through Spotify, you know, and they can do it. Its got its challenges you know, there’s certain costs of getting on playlists on Spotify, and things like that which they struggle to fund sometimes but most of the time they’re able to be self-sufficient, so it’s definitely got a place. It definitely needs to get back. What we don’t want to end up is losing all of these amazing independent artists and just having, you know Spotify full of, you know the… the shit that just gets pumped out.
Tell me about it, I know mate. Does that just mean that you know, there’s more stupid people in the world that listen to that dance crap, I don’t know that it is but…
Well, I mean, only looking at what goes as trends on social media and crap like Love Island, that seems to be one of the most popular shows over in the UK at the moment, is it, I mean that to me is the sort of barometer of where we’re at!
You get a huge opportunity to travel as part of your job, and I know so many artists say this, that they you know, they travel all around the world but all they see is hotel rooms and clubs, and venues. Do you get the opportunity to travel? I mean obviously you’ve enjoyed the trip over here, you know with performing and collaborating with artists over here, do you get the opportunity to travel independently and actually enjoy places?
Yeah sometimes when I get to a place, I will try and get more motivated to go and see what I can see. Some people just like to spend time in the hotel and just laze around not do anything, but I like getting out and checking the place out, and going doing something, seeing something because it’s more interesting. Or sometimes at the end of a tour, I might take a few days off and do something as well. I definitely like to get out and do something, and not just sit around.
No definitely. I mean, anywhere that’s stood out for you that you’ve particularly enjoyed going to in the world? Anywhere that you’d want to go back to that you’d perhaps go…
Russia was a pretty interesting place, that was very different. Japan is also a really cool place as well. The people out there are amazing too. I think anywhere that’s different to your own, you know, I mean, England’s pretty similar to Australia in many ways. I was playing this show in Russia, I played this festival in Russia and it was all the band playing with me, I didn’t know, they were all singing in Russian, but it’s all like that soft 80s rock! I kind of thought, I’ll just come in and start with an acoustic song on my own you know, and do something different. I came in and started this acoustic song, it’s a song called Opportunity, which is a big hit back in Australia. I played that, and people kind of, you know like when a dog looks at you and tilts its head to the side, like going hmm? I kind of got that look for a while. They were polite and then, you know, and then the band came in, started playing and they got it, got into it a bit more, but it was just quite funny seeing the audience turn, then we played a song called Better Days, which was a big hit, and they played that on the radio over there, so suddenly, you know, people looking at me like I don’t know who this guy is, and then they played, I played Better Days, and they all just sang along word for word in this Russian accent, and I was like wow. Amazing experience you know?
You’ve had a really successful career, you’ve you know, you’re living the dream really! What’s still on the list? What’s on the, I suppose the musical list and what’s on your personal list? What still do you want to tick off that, that list?
Well, next year I think, you know, kind of keep the career going in Australia and even, and try and build things up again over here and… My son has just been asked to come over and apply for Tottenham Academy. He’s 15, he’s coming over next year, so just sort of thought about maybe coming over, just trying to get things built up again here, so I can do some shows and spend a bit of time here and home again so that you know, because he’ll be over here. At 16 to 19, they bring them over and then it’s up to them where they go from there then.
Absolutely, how do you feel about that because you’re a rugby man yourself aren’t you?
Yeah, I’ve got into football quite a bit now, because it’s been such a big part of both my boys lives.
We really look forward to seeing more of you in the UK in the not so distant future. In the short term fans can come and see you play in Manchester on the 10th, Cardiff on the 11th, Southampton on the 13th and at Dingwalls in London on the 14th.
Thanks for talking to TNT today, enjoy the rest of your unscheduled weekend off, and enjoy Croatia.
Good stuff. Thanks mate.