Category: interview

Interview: Riley Catherall

image003.jpgRiley Catherall has already appeared on this site because of his outstanding singles, ‘Watered Down Man’ and ‘Robin’. He’s an emerging artist who is already a very well-developed musician and songwriter – when we spoke recently I asked about his long musical history and about his introduction to country music. Riley is appearing at the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival – dates after the interview.

You started playing guitar at the age of four – did your parents encourage you to start, or was it your own decision?

Dad taught himself guitar. Some of my earliest memories involve him playing guitar for me. Mum was a piano teacher. So I think there was a combination of influences there. Much like a lot of kids get thrown into guitar lessons – and myself being a teacher as well – you see kids who get guitar lessons where their parents have sort of forced them into it, and once they get a little bit of independence they stop doing it. But I was hooked on it enough to continue it. There was definitely good encouragement there with my family, which was fantastic.

Was there a reason why you weren’t put on a piano?

Not really. Because I was the first child I think Dad was super stoked to have a son – ‘This one’s mine, we’re gonna do guitar’ [laughs]. My younger sister plays piano. Maybe Mum got her turn [laughs].

Did you enjoy playing guitar as a child or were there times when you thought, I don’t want to do this – I want to go outside!

From a young age I’d go into show and tell at school and sing a song. I was that kid [laughs]. I always had this entertaining mindset. I went through the stage of learning classical guitar – that’s how I started. Then you discover rock ’n’ roll – you want to be a rock star – and Mum’s getting really worried because I’m playing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ in my bedroom at eleven years of age. I’m always inspired by new things, with the change of the seasons, so it’s good that [guitar] is such a vast thing that you can be introduced to new things. Nothing really gets stale; nothing really gets repeated. There’s just so many different versions of it.

Can you remember which songs you used to play for show and tell?

I used to play a lot of bush ballads. ‘Tenterfield Saddler’, ‘Redback on the Toilet Seat’. There was a couple of Australian Classics CDs that we’d have in the car on repeat that I’d then go into school and sing. My nana loved Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ so I used to go in and sing all thirty verses of that [laughs].

Continue reading “Interview: Riley Catherall”

The Wolfe Brothers headline at The Albert Hotel during TCMF 2019

unnamedThere’s a fair bit of coverage of Tasmanian band the Wolfe Brothers on this site, and there’s a reason for that: they’re great. Complete professionals who put on amazing live shows and continue to evolve because they want to make the best music they can. It is always a pleasure to interview them, and this time I chatted Tom Wolfe about their headline show at The Albert on 23 January during the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival, and about yet another big year during 2018.

 

It’s been yet another year of underachievement for the Wolfe Brothers: five Golden Guitar nominations, an ARIA nomination and national tours. When are you guys going to start putting in some work?

That’s a great question! One of the things we’ve been really good at is a great work ethic and I don’t know whether that comes from our parents but we’ve always kept gigging, kept working, kept writing … and it’s really cool. It’s really nice to see all this hard work starting to pay off a bit, with these nominations – especially at the ARIAs, it was so nice to be there and be a part of that. It was really gratifying. It felt like we were doing the right things.

 

The ARIA nominations in that country music category were a good representation of Australian country music. I was really pleased to see Fanny Lumsden in there with you guys and the others.

Absolutely. One of my favourite country music albums of the year has been Fanny’s album [Real Class Act]. It’s a fantastic album. But you’re right: we’ve really grown in Australian country music and we’re now recognising that diversity is the key. And the key is also picking each other up instead of putting other people down. That’s how we really feel, and I feel like we’ve had a lot of support this year, so that’s been really, really nice.

 
Continue reading “The Wolfe Brothers headline at The Albert Hotel during TCMF 2019”

Paul Costa to headline two TCMF 2019 shows

PC Promo copy.jpgMultiple Golden Guitar Award nominee Paul Costa is always a crowd favourite at the Tamworth Country Music Festival – so much so that for the next festival, in January 2019, he’s playing two headlining shows. Paul Costa and Friends will be at the Capitol Theatre on 19 and 26 January, I spoke to Paul recently about those shows and about his latest single, ‘Road Train’.

 

What is special about the Tamworth Country Music Festival?

It’s one of the biggest country music festivals in the world and we’re so lucky to have it here, accessible to us. For me, it’s helped my career a hell of a lot, building up a fan base. You’ve got country music fans coming from all over Australia. I started as a young fella playing in the street then progressed to my own shows, and now I’ve got two shows at the Capitol Theatre next year, so it’s been a continual ride. I guess I’d have to the festival a big salute for helping me get where I am.

 

Everyone who has visited the festival knows that there’s a lot of talent on Peel Street, and the performers aren’t just playing one show – they’re there day after day.

It is amazing you get caught up in the excitement and the atmosphere. I’ve always said that the atmosphere is electric. There are people who want to hear music, and sometimes they dance along to your music. But it can be fairly taxing [laughs].

 

Also, you’re outside and it’s a very warm time of year.

Definitely. But with the atmosphere your adrenaline starts pumping and you do it. When you’ve got the fans there who want to hear what you do, as a performer you find a way to do it.

 

The audience is never as close again as when they’re watching you on Peel Street. So many great artists, like you, start on Peel Street and I guess you learn so much about how to connect with an audience when they’re right in front of you like that.

It’s a great research and development thing [laughs]. Honing your skills as an artist. A lot of artists – Troy Cassar-Daley, Felicity Urquhart, Keith Urban – played on the street in Tamworth. Just to hold an audience is an art in itself, so without even thinking you do pick up those skills as you go along and they stick with you and become part of your style.

 

As you said, you’re playing at the Capitol Theatre and you have two shows, and I’ve noticed that you’ve spaced them really well so there’s one on each of the weekends, therefore capturing people who aren’t necessarily there the whole time.

Yes, that was the plan [laughs]. We normally spend the whole ten days there doing interviews and all the rest of it and that was always the build-up to the show. For the last seven years I’ve had my Capitol Theatre show on the last Saturday. And a lot of people I speak to say, ‘We’re only here for the first weekend’ or ‘We’re only here till Tuesday’. So we thought let’s try a show on the first Saturday, get everyone who wants to come on the first weekend as well as the last weekend, and we’ll see how we go. It seems to be shifting from where it used to be a build-up [towards the last weekend]. Because of school holidays I think the festival’s moved slightly later and holidays cut out towards the end of the festival now, so you get a lot of people who seem to be going just for the first weekend. So this is the first year doing two and we’ll let you know how it goes at the end [laughs].

 

Beccy Cole’s done both Fridays for a long time.

I think Adam Harvey’s another one who’s played two shows for as long as I can remember.

 

The show is Paul Costa and friends – can you reveal who the friends are yet?PC-Tam2019-A3-PREVIEW-002.jpg

Some of them are surprises and some of them want to be surprises. I can tell you that Ben Ransom – who opened the show for me last year – is going to be back opening the show on the last Saturday. He does a great job – he’s a great artist in his own right, doing very well on radio channels and that type of thing, so I’m happy to have him on board. But we like to keep the surprise guests a surprise otherwise it wouldn’t be a surprise [laughs]. In the past I’ve had Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds, Graeme Connors, James Blundell sang a couple of songs with me last year. So we always get some great artists and friends of mine.

 

It’s one of the really special elements of Tamworth that you have all these artists in the one place but also part of the country music industry is that you’re all so willing to collaborate and perform with each other. It makes it so special for the audience.

It does. It’s a funny thing – someone’s doing a show, but as soon as another artist comes up and joins them, the whole atmosphere lifts and the cameras come out. People want to capture that special little moment and that interaction. It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect but just the way two, or three, artists interact makes it a little bit different and a little bit special.

 

Because you are there for the whole festival, and I know you’ll be doing media and other things because it does get very busy for the performers, is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing or doing?

I’m always there for the opening concert – I always like that. It’s a great to kick off the festival. I just like getting around. We haven’t filled our calendar yet for where we’re playing, so once that’s locked in I’ll check out what else is available. But I love to see as much music as I can. The Pickers’ Night is always a big, big plus. I love Lee Kernaghan and James Blundell, Amber Lawrence and Aleyce Simmonds – all people I know but I’m also fans of their music and how talented they are. I’ll see as many shows as I can.

 

You’ve also released a new single off the album, and that is ‘Road Train’, which is named after a person you met. After you met him and he told you his name and a bit of his story, did you make notes straightaway, thinking you might write a song?

When he stuck his hand out and said, ‘G’day, they call me Road Train’, I said back to him – without even saying hello yet – ‘Wow, that’s a great idea for a song’ [laughs]. He looked at me funny and then we shook hands. I got his phone number, and the idea stuck with me because you know when something will work. I got together with Drew McAlister, because I always figured it would be a contemporary rock song, and who better to write something like that with than Drew? While we were writing it we rang Road Train and started talking about his story. He was just a character. Some of the things he said, as they came out of his mouth we were writing them down. There’s a line about hauling cattle that’s precisely how he said it. He grew up on a farm but that wasn’t the life for him, he wanted life on the road. The album’s been out for a while but it’s one of those songs that almost every reviewer and a lot of fans mention as their favourite. So I thought if we were going to release another single, heading up to Tamworth, that would be a good one.

 

After I met Road Train, I was invited back to the same event, the Gattan Festival, twelve months later. I’d written the song and we played the song. Road Train was there and so was all of his family. And given that it was a song about trucks at a truck show, you couldn’t really go wrong. He loved it and the reaction was great, so that made it really special – and that’s even before we made the album. So Road Train was pretty happy.

 

When you have a song you know your audiences love, do you put it in the main set list or are you tempted to keep it for an encore? Keep them waiting for it.

It all depends. You always like to have a couple up your sleeve, and given that it’s a kickarse song, I always like to finish the set with high energy. It leaves people feeling pretty good.

 

The idea for this song stayed with you for a while. Before you write songs do you let ideas sit in your head and see which of them stay?

When I come up with the idea the challenge is writing it down. Even if I’m driving somewhere and I come up with an idea – a feel for it, or a melody – I’ll record that on my phone so I’ve got it for reference down the track. Plenty of times that’s happened. And once you’ve got it down and you go back to it, that will turn into a song.

 

Earlier in the year you were a nominee at the CMC Awards. How important has CMC become for artists and country music in general?

Very important. It’s one of our main outlets to get our film clips out so people can see them. Especially now they have the awards – it was a big thrill to be named as a finalist in the Male Artist category. There were some massive names in there, and some massive names missed out on it, so I felt very fortunate to be part of that, be invited and do the red carpet. Not to mention the CMC Rocks show – if you’re reading this, Tim Daley, I wouldn’t mind being on that show! [Laughs] Any time you like! It’s an international showcase at the highest level. So CMC is a big part of our industry now.

 

Obviously Tamworth is sorted, but after that, what are you up to in 2019?

Starting to work on new music at the moment. I was actually speaking to my producer, Matt Fell, only yesterday to let him know that we’ve started the process. It will be a little while before we head to the studio – the best work you can do is make sure you have your songs right and up to standard. I’m really getting that itch now to start to produce new music and get it out there.

 

There will be some touring. We’ve got a Rail and Sail holiday happening shortly through Tamworth Travel and they’re keen to do more, so hosting holidays might be part of it later on next year.

 

Look at all the places country music takes you – it’s wonderful.

It’s incredible, really. It’s taken me all over Australia and different parts of the world. I just came back from a three-week tour of New Zealand, and that was magnificent. We did eleven shows over three weekends, North and South Islands. I’m very fortunate.

 

 

Paul Costa’s latest album is Whisper in the Crowd.

Apple Music | iTunes | Sanity | Spotify

 

TAMWORTH COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL SHOWS

Saturday 19 January 2019, 10 a.m.

Capitol Theatre, Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

 

Saturday 26 January 11 a.m.

Capitol Theatre, Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

 

paulcosta.com.au

Interview: Brooke Lambert

image003.jpg

Queensland-based singer-songwriter Brooke Lambert has recently released the single ‘I Don’t Wanna Hate You’, after an EP last year and ahead of a new release in 2019. As I found when I spoke to her, she is passionate about country music, constantly creative and diversely talented. Brooke will appearing at the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival – dates below, after the interview.

You live on the Gold Coast and I’ve noticed that a few country music artists are moving there – there are a few on the Central Coast of New South Wales as well, but you come from the Central Coast originally and you’ve moved to Queensland.

I was born in Gosford but my mum and dad were driving up, literally moving from Sydney to the Gold Coast, so I didn’t have a choice. She pretty much popped me out on the way up. But in terms of everyone else, I know with Queensland and the Gold Coast, especially with the Groundwater Festival being so successful, country music is getting really big in Queensland now, which is why I think everyone’s heading up here. And, let’s face it, it’s a great place to live!

Are you finding that more venues are opening? Or are the venues that are there friendly to country music?

More in Brisbane, I’d say, than the Gold Coast. Everywhere I play people are pretty open, but I think in terms of a Saturday night out, people on the Gold Coast don’t really want to hear country music [laughs].

Groundwater seems to get bigger and bigger every year.

I think there are a lot of country music fans on the Gold Coast and there’s nowhere for them to go and see it, so when that festival’s here, because it’s a once-a-year thing, everyone really comes together.

I’ll now backtrack to when you were growing up – what did you grow up listening to and what had the most impact on you?

We got the Country Music Channel on Foxtel when I was a kid, and I always wanted to be on that channel. I don’t know what it was but country music, I just love it. I remember ‘I Hope You Dance’ by Leann Womack – I used to watch that video over and over again, so that was a huge influence. I listened to a lot of Keith Urban and Adam Brand, the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain – I just love it.

Continue reading “Interview: Brooke Lambert”

Interview: Fanny Lumsden

Fanny Lumsden_RMDC Promo-2[1].jpgOver the past few years there has emerged a singular artist in Australian country music, and her name is Fanny Lumsden. Fanny is a singer-songwriter from New South Wales but she’s also a connector of communities across our wide brown land, a conjurer of audiences in small outback towns and a multi-armed goddess holding her guitar in one hand, a record label in another, a microphone, a baby, award nominations, a production company and a multitude of other things. That is not to say that other artists aren’t doing this – Catherine Britt springs immediately to mind – but there’s only one Fanny Lumsden. As an observer and a fan, it is always fascinating to watch her work. And, as Fanny makes it clear in this interview, it’s not just her behind it all – but that doesn’t make her any less inspiring or interesting. That’s quite apart from the fact that she writes some of the best songs you’ll ever hear, available on her two albums Small Town Big Shot and Real Class Act. We spoke on the occasion of the release of her latest single, ‘Real Men Don’t Cry (War on Pride)’, and the extraordinary video that accompanies it, which you can watch below.

You are such an intrepid artist, you seemed to be on a plane to the US within a fortnight of having a baby – so how was your first tour with a plus one?

Well, it was way more complicated than I’d originally anticipated. I was a bit naïve, I think, and I’d booked all this stuff in before I had him, and then I thought, This is so hard![laughs]

I remember seeing you getting on a plane to Adelaide to play a show when he was very, very little.

He was three weeks at that point. It’s all been quite a steep learning curve – I take my hat off to all the parents out there because it’s way harder than I thought. But when you don’t have a choice you just do what you have to do.

Continue reading “Interview: Fanny Lumsden”

Interview: Jenny Mitchell

JENNYMITCHELL-6.JPGOne of the most impressive emerging country music artists in the Southern Hemisphere is New Zealand singer-songwriter Jenny Mitchell. She recently released a new album, Wildfires, and before that the title single. She’ll be appearing at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and is currently on tour in Australia; if you need a reason to see her perform, simply watch the video below. I spoke to Jenny recently and found a clear-eyed artist and performer who is passionate about music and working hard to bring it to audiences on both sides of the Tasman.

You’re nineteen years old and you’re already about to release your second album, incredibly. When did your musical life start?

My dad is like a real traditional Hank Williams, Johnny Cash man. So when I was growing up my life soundtrack was the Dixie Chicks and stuff like that. My first on-stage performance with Dad was when I was four. So it has always been something that we’ve been involved in. In 2013 I did New Zealand’s Got Talent, so that kind of started a whole new sort of chapter … I think it’s a really hard transition from being sixteen and having it as a hobby to fulfilling it and saying, ‘Actually, I am going to try to do this.’ So it’s been an interesting time.

At four years of age you were probably too young to be nervous, but at thirteen, what was that like going on a national TV show?

I think it was really good. I think probably if it was a few years later, I would have been really stressed about the big picture and worried about all that stuff, but at the time I remember some of my biggest concerns was things like the different outfits that I didn’t like, and my friends at school will think I’m such a loser and stuff like that. So, I think it was almost good that it was so young, because it one, prepared me for those nerves, [which] were quite horrific. You don’t know what the judges are going to say, so I think it was quite good because it kind of put me through the boot camp of learning how to deal with stress and now I’m like, okay, nothing is as bad as that.

Continue reading “Interview: Jenny Mitchell”

Interview: Drew McAlister on Mount Hunter Country Music Stampede

2018 Stampede Logo UPDATED.jpgMount Hunter Country Music Stampede takes place from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 October 2018 in the picturesque Wollondilly area of south-west Sydney. It’s a unique event that features fantastic country music artists at night – including Adam Brand, Adam Harvey, Jasmine Rae and Christie Lamb – with plenty of other activities by day. But I’ll let performer co-organiser Drew McAlister tell us more – we spoke recently about the festival, as well as about the fundraising single ‘Shout the Land a Drink’ and the latest single release from his album, Coming Your Way.

The country music audience has been expanding to accommodate new festivals such as Dashville and the Clarence Valley Country Muster – and, of course, there is now the Mount Hunter Country Music Stampede, which you are co-organising. How did you come to be involved?

A friend of mine, Mick Kearney, is the gentleman who owns this enormous equestrian centre [K Ranch] out in Monks Lane in Wollondilly, which is near Camden [NSW]. We sat down a couple of years ago and he said, ‘I want to put on a festival.’ This equestrian centre puts on everything from cutting to roping to bull rides. He had a boxing match out there recently. It’s two acres undercover with 150 horse stalls. He’s been a horse enthusiast his whole life. He has other businesses but this is his love. He competed in Texas and the venue he competed in was this enormous arena with a Western store down one end and a saloon bar down the other. So he came home and replicated that on his property. Over three years he built the exact same thing. So he said he wanted to put on this festival. We did it last year – we only had twelve weeks to put it on which, in hindsight, wasn’t long enough, but it did run like clockwork. This year we’ve had ten months and we think we’ve dotted our Ts and crossed our Is.

Is there one stage or several?

One stage, which we’re bringing in. It will be a mobile truck stage. We’ll probably only use half the arena, it’s that big. That will still fit a lot of people.

So it’s in Camden, and a lot of people live in that area.

It’s in western Sydney. It’s about seven to ten minutes’ drive from Camden to K Ranch.

Continue reading “Interview: Drew McAlister on Mount Hunter Country Music Stampede”