Category: raised by eagles

Raised by Eagles on the run in winter

image001.pngMelbourne alt-country outfit Raised by Eagles are on tour this Australian winter, bringing their 2017 album I Must Be Somewhere (and other songs) to audiences. They’re one of our finest acts and well worth braving a cold night to see.

The remaining dates are:
Sunday June 24
Chapel On Little Ryrie GEELONG VIC
More info here

Saturday June 30
More info here

Friday July 6
Caravan Music Club BENTLEIGH VIC
With special guests
More info here

Saturday August 4
Spotted Mallard BRUNSWICK VIC
With Georgia State Line
More info here

Wednesday August 15
More info here

Thursday August 16
More info here

Friday August 17
Heritage Hotel BULLI NSW
More info here

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 August
Grand Junction MAITLAND NSW
More info here

Watch the video for ‘Nightwheel’, the latest single from I Must Be Somewhere:


Raised by Eagles take flight – on tour

The audience for Melbourne band Raised by Eagles increases all the time – so it makes sense that they are on the road, winning friends and influencing people with their magnificent latest album, I Must Be Somewhere. I spoke to Nick O’Mara, who shares singing and songwriting duties with Luke Sinclair.

Have you been happy with the album’s reception?
Yes, it’s been really good. We’ve all been pleased. People seem to like it and it’s gotten good reviews – four stars in Rolling Stone, which was nice. I felt good about a lot of it and then as a whole I was unsure how it was going to be received. We have that feeling every time we release an album. But we’ve been happy.
After an album comes out, do you listen to it and think, We should have done that differently, and that differently, or do you tend to be philosophical and think, well, that’s a complete body of work now and we step away?
Oh no, definitely – I’ve listened to it a couple of times in the first month, and all I could hear was the conversations about decisions. You can’t hear it at all in that first period but we did an in-store at Basement Discs in the city and they put it on as we were packing up our gear, so I was just listening to it in the background. That was about two or three weeks ago and that felt like the first time I’d properly heard it. I was really pleased with it, which is good. But in that period, you just can’t – you totally cannot see the wood for the trees. You’re overwhelmed by the process you’ve just been through making it, so you have to step away from it.
Do you treat your live shows as an opportunity to go back to some of those conversations you had during recording and tweak things a little, or do you just let the songs take on their own life when they’re live?
All the arrangements are set now. In the studio there were decisions made about arrangements and what goes where, and then once they’re on vinyl then we’ll follow that, we’ll follow those arrangements.
Some of the reviews were comparing you to Americans – especially Ryan Adams, I saw, was quite popular in some of them. But I so often hear Australian summers, in particular, in your songs and perhaps that’s just me and my musical references. But do you think of your music as being American or Australian or just let those influences come out in the wash, so to speak?
There’s no self-conscious decision about that. I hope it’s heard as Australian but you can’t really escape the form that we’re playing in, which I think is changing quite a bit now. Rock music and pop music for the last sixty years has been, in a sense, an interpretation of American forms, really. There’s no conscious decision about that at all, and you kind of are what you eat: we’re influenced by American bands and we’re also influenced by Australian bands. When I hear it, it sounds Australian to me. Some people I’ve talked to are consciously trying to rid themselves of American influences – but that’s not really possible. If you’re strumming a guitar and you’re singing, you know, that’s an American form in a sense. This goes deep – you’d have to talk about the history of popular music, I suppose. But I think certainly [our] lyrics are Australian.
For me, it’s very evocative of a lot of Australianness. But I also get a little annoyed or agitated whenever I see Ryan Adams used in a review reference to anyone who is vaguely country music because I tend to think it’s actually being lazy.
It is.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but I think Ryan Adams is considered the gateway drug to country music for some people but I don’t think many listeners get past that. I actually can’t hear Ryan Adams in your music, and I know his back catalogue really well. There is that Melbourne alt-country and I can hear you in that but I still think you’re doing something completely different.
Thanks. I agree with that too – the Ryan Adams thing is just an easy blanket term. If he’s a guy that plays country music or whatever – country rock – it’s just an easy comparison. I can’t hear his influence at all. If anything we’re just influenced by some of the same people, like Neil Young. I know people who sound very much like him – which is fine, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone. I like Ry-Ry, he’s good, but he’s not someone I’d sit down and try to emulate. I would never do that anyway. These things are not self-conscious. But it is a lazy comparison.
And it’s especially lazy because you and Luke [Sinclair] split the singing and the songwriting, so there’s a Raised by Eagles sound but you have your own ways of writing songs, and of course you also write some together. Is it a comfortable partnership or is it one of those partnerships where you push each other, whether you’re writing separately or not?
[Laughs] We’d have to save this conversation for band therapy, I think. Creating music together, there’s always some jostling with stuff. When I bring my songs in they’re usually arranged and sometimes I demo them and I’ve got a complete idea of what they’re going to be, and then Luke’s a little bit different – he likes to bash them out with the band and kind of arrange them together. It’s hard to describe. The process is really different when you’re in a band – you throw things into this kind of whirlpool of other people’s playing and other people’s ideas, and that can be really fun and really cool and things can come up that perhaps wouldn’t if you’d made the decisions yourself. We write in different ways together. One of the songs, ‘Everyday Everyday’, was a demo that I did at home, and I played all the parts on it – I played lap steel, electric bass, acoustic guitar – and I didn’t put any lyrics on it because I just felt like I’d nailed this demo and it was just this beautiful self-contained thing, and for me it was like this finished project. At some points sometimes you just go, ‘That’s finished’. And I felt like I didn’t want to mess with it by having to tack lyrics on it. So I just sent the demo to Luke and that was really good, because then he wrote the lyrics to that and sings it on the album. So that’s a really cool way to do it, because sometimes you write something in that initial spark and you get it out, and then to finish it – occasionally you’ll hit a block when you think, This is finished. It’s not finished in form but it’s finished in terms of how far I can push it, in terms of what I wanted to create. And then Luke’s got it and said, ‘This thing is kind of finished and I can just be free to play it and listen to it and write lyrics over it.’ So that was really fun.
You creating those demos at home – as you said, you’re creating things that are formed. That suggests that you might like to control things – and I’m not using that pejoratively – but what then interests me is that you are completely prepared to turn over that control to Luke to put lyrics on. If you were legitimately a control freak, that wouldn’t happen. You would have to do everything.
That’s right. You have to sacrifice … if you’ve got that instinct, if you’re playing in a band, it’s a four-part thing that has different moving parts. It’s hopefully more than the sum of its parts, you know. Having said that, when we did go to record every day I was frantic that we were going to fuck it up and it wasn’t going to be like the demos [laughs]. That was a hard day. But thankfully it turned out good – we had a good day, and we did it live for the most part for that song. I don’t listen to it and hear the demo any more. It’s become a new thing and it captured that sound world that I wanted, which is good.
And when you do go to record you have another element in the mix – and a family member: your producer [Shane O’Mara], who might also have his opinions.
Yes, big cousin Shane. He was great. He’s just a really good producer and he just keeps things moving. That was cool. He understands what you’re trying to get. Definitely facilitated the sound that I wanted on a couple of songs that were getting really tricky and he knew exactly how … Sometimes there’s not the language to talk about music but because we all experience it in our own way, having someone there who understood what I was going for without too much talk, it was good.
Now, you’re on a major label – ABC Music, distributed by Universal. How has that been, because it’s a different beast to being independent?
It’s good for us to have people outside the band taking on some of the stuff that needs to be done and going into bat for us. It gives us a sense that we’re moving forward.
You’re playing show and you’re going out on a tour. Did you pull out a map and go ‘eeny-meeny-miney-mo’ or did you have a wish list of places to visit? How were the venues chosen?
You just feel it out in terms of how you think you’ll go there and how many people are going to turn up. It’s not an exact science. We just did a run of shows with Mick Thomas – we went to Sydney and Adelaide – and we feel like we might have made a few converts there. We were doing the support for him. We just try to play places that will have the most amount of people to turn up.
It is always tricky being a support act, because not everyone does turn up for the support – so if you feel you had converts, that’s a good win.
They were there pretty early. Mick Thomas’s fans are pretty ardent supporters. So we did play to them and they dug it. We felt like we had to win them over and I think we did.
You have some special guests on this tour – Charles Jenkins, Neil Murray and Freya Josephine Hollick, and some special guests TBA. How did you come to choose who to play with and where?
We played at a festival with Neil and he just came and said g’day. He’s a cool guy and he said he really liked the band, and asked us to get up and play with him. So we got up and played a song with him. We’re writing a song with him as well. So we made that connection with him and he sent us a demo. We’ve just finished that in the last couple of weeks, pretty much.       So he’s coming along to do the shows, which will be fun. And then Chuck – or Charles – Jenkins, Luke loves Ice Cream Hands. Everyone references Ice Cream Hands but I’ve never really heard them and I love Chuck’s solo stuff. And Freya – I think Luke Richardson suggested Freya. We heard her stuff and thought she sounded cool.
When you go on the road, is it an opportunity to create new work?
[Laughs] No. Not at all. You’re just trying not to poison yourself with beer and meat pies from servos. That takes up all your time. You’re just trying not to be hungover. I can’t imagine writing a song on the road. It would just all be about coming home.
It also suggests that different energy that’s required to do those things. Live performance looks like it’s an hour and a bit on stage, but you have to ramp up and calm down afterwards, and there is a lot involved in performance which is antithetical to the creative process.
All the clichés about it are quite true. We do these little runs – we haven’t done any big major tours yet. We’ve gone to the [United] States and stuff, but we haven’t done months of tours. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in August so that will be a reasonable run for us, but we’ll be coming home in between: three-day, four-day runs. Even when you do that it’s that thing of an entire day is just dedicated to forty minutes or an hour. It’s quite funny. When you get up it’s a joy and everything’s fantastic, and then it is hard to wind down afterwards. That cliché of when you get offstage you can’t sleep. Particularly in Australia just the distances you have to go, it’s not for the faint hearted.
So you’re driving to these places?
Some we’ll be driving, some we’ll be flying. That can be fun too – we have a good time in the band.
You can use it as an opportunity for band therapy.
[Laughs] Band therapy on the Hume … Half of us would be hitching home.
My last question is about you and Amarillo [Nick’s other band]. Do you have a set rhythm where you go ‘this project/that project’ or do you let it sort itself out?
I let it sort itself out. Jacqui Tonks, my partner, she books gigs around the schedule of Raised by Eagles, pretty much. We’ve got some stuff coming up. We’ve changed things a little bit. We’ve been doing some different stuff where we’ve interpreting some classical music – I play it on a Jazzmaster and Jac sings some stuff. We’ve been doing some Eric Satie and writing stuff more with me playing rhythm guitar. So that’s been fun – and with Amarillo we feel like we can just do whatever we want. And we’ve been playing with Ben Franz on pedal steel, and a little less with the rhythm section and more with me, Jac and Ben, which has been really open. You can follow whatever you want to do with that band, which is nice, whereas Raised by Eagles if more contained and it has a thing, which is good too.
The bigger your Raised by Eagles audience becomes, it could be a bit of a bind in that people are expecting a certain sound and you are therefore locked into that sound.
We never think about it or talk about it in Raised by Eagles. It is contained but that’s kind of an unspoken thing – it’s just what the band is, if you know what I mean. We would never make a decision based on ‘this would be too weird’ – it’s just what the four people in it, their aesthetic is when we’re together. It’s funny – it just becomes what it is and there are boundaries where we would never say XYZ, it just kind of happens.
It sounds like you have a very interesting creative life. You’re open to a whole lot of different things and it can be easier to stick to what you know and if it’s been successful, to repeat it. It’s far more challenging and takes a lot more energy and brain space to go with what’s new – but the rewards are potentially so much bigger.
I think with this Raised by Eagles album, the themes on it are kind of larger and bigger. One of the songs I wrote, ‘Every Night’, it’s a bigger, anthemic sound and the themes are less personal and more archetypal and broad. The title track, ‘I Must Be Somewhere’, is about mortality. Luke wrote it. Lyrically it’s an incredible song.
And it does position it as an existential album.
Yes – and that’s when we got the cover for it. I wasn’t sure about it when we were throwing up ideas, but then it made sense. As it was forming I wrote this song ‘Every Night’ – it started off as this folky Steve Earle thing. I’d been reading about this movement called The Big Music – it was this kind of vague ‘movement’ from the ’80s. It was kind of Celtic, anthemic pop – bands like The Waterboys and Simple Minds and Big Country. That really big sound that has folk elements that come out through rock. I’d been reading about it because I liked all those bands from a distance, but once I’d finished that song I realised it was kind of like that [sound]. That song and ‘I Must Be Somewhere’ feel central to this album, to me. So it seems like a bigger album in more ways than one: the sound is bigger, Luke’s playing electric guitar, the themes are a bit weightier too.
It’s a natural progression as you get deeper into your songwriting and your cohesiveness as a unit. You become more comfortable going deeper – and it sounds like that’s your nature. You’re not complacent people. You are asking questions of yourselves and, therefore, of your audience.
Definitely. I feel that’s true. Hopefully it’s true.

I Must Be Somewhere is out now.
Raised by Eagles tour dates:
Friday August 18
The Workers Club
90 Little Malop St, Geelong
Ph: 03 5222 8331
With special guests TBA
  Tickets $10 + bf presale / $15 @ door.  Tickets available here
Saturday August 19
The Croxton Bandroom
607 High St, Melbourne
Ph: 03 9480 2233
With special guests Neil Murray and Freya Josephine Hollick
Tickets $20 + bf.  Tickets available 
here  From 8pm
Friday August 25
Leftys Old Time Music Hall
15 Caxton St, Brisbane
With special guest TBA
Tickets available here . Doors 7pm
Saturday August 26
Club Mullum
Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club
58 Dalley St, Mullumbimby NSW
Ph: 02 6684 2533
With special guest Ben Wilson (The Button Collective) 
Tickets $20 presale / $25 at door.  Tickets available here.  From 7pm
Saturday September 16
Caravan Music Club
95-97 Drummond St, Oakleigh
Ph: 03 9568 1432
With special guest Charles Jenkins
Reserved Seat Presale $30 +bf / General Admission Presale $23 + bf / $25 @ door
Tickets available here
Sunday September 17
Torquay Bowls Club
47 The Esplanade, Torquay
Ph: 03 5261 2378
With special guest TBA
Tickets $25.  Tickets available here . From 3pm
Monday October 2
Semaphore Music Festival
Main Stage, Foreshore Reserve
Tix avail from July 30.
Gates open 12noon, RBE on-stage 5pm.

Album review: I Must Be Somewhere by Raised by Eagles

The last album from Melbourne band Raised by Eagles, Diamonds in the Bloodstream, was a cracker. A hard to follow, one might say. Well, clearly the band didn’t buckle until that pressure (if they even felt it) because their newest LP, I Must Be Somewhere, is a worthy successor.

When reviewing Diamonds, I mentioned how successfully the band evokes a 1970s feeling, and that is even more pronounced on this album – in a wonderful way. The songs on this album have echoes of Mondo Rock mixed with a bit of Sherbet, with some laidback California rock sounds there too, and the country-music sensibility that informed a lot of the latter. So the album is nostalgic without being twee – and neither does it sound old. As much as these songs evoke long sun-filled days in a time before our brains became crammed with minutiae, they’re also complete appropriate as a soundtrack for a walk along a busy city street as you try to sidestep the pedestrians too preoccupied looking at their phones to avoid the lamppost ahead of them. These are songs that make you want to put your head up and smile – they carry you along, riding the currents.

The standout track (for me) is title track ‘I Must Be Somewhere’, written by singer-guitarist Luke Sinclair. It embodies the wistfulness wrapped up in pragmatism that is a distinctive characteristic of RBE lyrics, whether written by Sinclair or Nick O’Mara, the other vocalist/guitarist in the band. It hints at loneliness but instead of making the listener feel lonely, it makes them feel heard.

This is an album that is both entertaining and meaningful, which, really, is what culture should be, because if artists can’t entertain the people they’re less likely to get their meaning across. Raised by Eagles are, in their marrow, entertainers – and they take that responsibility seriously. What that means it that you, as the listener, can enjoy what they produce and know it’s good for you at the same time.

I Must Be Somewhere is out now through ABC Music.

Single release: ‘Shape & Line’ by Raised by Eagles

Although Melbourne band Raised by Eagles can be thought of as ‘alt country’, their latest single, ‘Shape & Line’, has some irresistible echoes of ’70s Australian rock and its evocations of sunbaked bitumen and salty air. 

‘Shape & Line’ is from Raised by Eagles’ forthcoming third album, which will be released by ABC Music. It will be released officially on 24 March. There will be a single launch gig in Melbourne on Saturday 25 March at the Melba Spiegeltent.

Listen to ‘Shape & Line’ here:

Interview: Luke Sinclair of Raised by Eagles

Diamonds in the Bloodstream by Melbourne band Raised by Eagles has been one of the outstanding country music releases of recent years, and it was my great pleasure to talk to singer and songwriter Luke Sinclair about the band’s origins, finding the balance in a creative life, and about Tamworth.

It some ways it made me feel nostalgic but I wasn’t sure what for. It’s evocative of music I wished I’d heard in the past, if that makes sense.
[Laughs] It does. I like that – I like that a lot. I’ve always been accused of being overly nostalgic, in my closer family and friendship group, and I certainly write from that place as well. I’ve always loved that music. Probably my heaviest influences have been from the ’70s in a musical sense, so I’m glad that it maybe harks back to the past.
What sort of ’70s influences? I’m curious about your lineage as a musician.
It’s that classic story of Mum and Dad’s record collection, which I have a much better appreciation for now than I did back then. When you’re a kid you don’t really realise that these things are particularly affecting you the way that they might be. They had records that were probably the more conservative side of country music – there was the standard reference points like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan and Neil Young, but they also had John Denver and Anne Murray and John Williamson and stuff like that that I don’t listen to today, but I still have a very nostalgic connection to those artists. It wasn’t until high school that I got hold of a good friend’s older brother’s tape collection that had all this John Prine and Steve Earle and Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, like the outlaw, grittier side of country music and I just really fell for it immediately and I’ve just loved it ever since, and always played that kind of music on guitar. I went through every music phase there was, growing up – glam rock, dance music even – but I was always a closet country music-playin’ dude on the guitar. And when I moved to Melbourne it just became fully realised when I found other people who loved it as well and started playing in bands. And here I am.
The Melbourne country music scene is very vibrant. Melbourne city seems to have a cohesive country music scene in a way that Sydney city doesn’t, and I don’t know if it’s because of the venues being the way they are and perhaps it’s easier to form a community, whereas in Sydney the country music venues tend to not be anywhere near the centre of the city. But in terms of that Melbourne scene, I can’t think of another act like Raised by Eagles so I wonder who you consider your contemporaries to be?
I feel like we have many. I agree with everything you said and often scratch my head about the difference between why Sydney doesn’t seem to have a strong Americana or alt-country scene and in Melbourne it seems to be a close-knit community and all the bands that are on that circuit are people I know – well, most of them anyway. We all sort of know each other. Half of us hang out together in the same social circles and party together and play together and all that kind of stuff. The country music community, especially in Melbourne, is really special and really close, as far as I’m concerned, and I suppose our contemporaries would be those people who have become great friends of ours, who are all on this circuit. Van Walker was one of the first musical connections I made in this town and certainly someone who has been very inspirational and very supportive to me as a songwriter and has always pushed me to write and to play, and it always helps when you have someone like that who you think is a great artist and a great songwriter telling you that you are as well. And that has happened in my musical life quite a bit and it’s really driven me to believe in the songs I’ve written and what I’m doing. And Liz Stringer and Sean McMahon – Down Hills Home, they were a huge influence on me, I always wanted to be in a band like that, and now we’re really good friends with those guys, but I was a fan first. My friends now are really my contemporaries and my inspiration as well; they’re all in bands, most of them. And I think it’s a really special thing to be part of – in Melbourne, anyway. I’m not sure why it’s a little different in Sydney – it’s certainly a lot harder to get people to come to the shows in Sydney. But I feel like it’s sort of getting better, but I’m not from there so I can’t really say.
The country music communities in New South Wales are really on the Central Coast and an alt-country community northern NSW.
Is that Maitland and areas like that, or do you mean further up – Mullumbimby?
Yes – Mullum and Bangalow. I’m thinking of Matt Henry, who puts together Late Night Alt at Tamworth, and Lou Bradley and others. And that community seems to take in Brisbane as well, so those guys all know each other, and that’s not unlike what’s happening in Melbourne in terms of collaboration and cooperation and support. But let’s move on and talk about your band and how your band started.
My wife is a musician as well – her name’s Tracy McNeil. She was on the same circuit and I was in a band called The Idle Hoes a few years ago and we used to play a lot in Melbourne. And then my writing partner in that band decided he didn’t want to push and take it any further, and his partner had a baby, and I could see that it was dissipating, but I still had all these songs that I really wanted to get out there to play with a band. And I was miserable and Tracy said, ‘You’ve got to put a band together and play these songs, so you can get them out and get them down’. She had a gig coming up, and she said, ‘Why don’t you put a band together and do the support?’ So I frantically put together a band of guys I knew through music who are the guys who are still in the band now, and we sort of really didn’t even have a name – we might have just settled on it just before we played. But it was Raised by Eagles – a friend of mine gave me that name. We were signing CDs for The Idle Hoes and he was giving us all nicknames and he looked at me and just wrote on the CD, Raised by Eagles, and I loved that name, even though I got it from my furrowed, brooding brow, I think. And so it stuck, and I thought, I’ll call the band Raised by Eagles for now and, as usually happens, those things tend to stick, and it did, and that’s kind of how we got started. Then we recorded that first album really slowly, no pressure, we were just going into the studio and plugging away at it for a few months, and that turned into the debut record. We released it and it ended up doing really well. So it’s just led to all of this, really.
You have a day job, as a lot of musicians do, and then there’s not just the recording of

the music but the business of music too. And you’re the main songwriter. I presume that’s out of desire and not necessity that you write the songs?

Definitely. That comes first, really, before everything else. It’s all really driven by desire and what’s necessary to have money so you can eat and pay the rent, so the day job is the necessity part, and the music and the writing is the desire to be an artist and to play music, really. I have friends who don’t have day jobs and they’re doing it really hard, and it’s really hard to be a musician and not have some other kind of income that isn’t just from music, just so you can pay the rent and have a heater and have hot water and all that kind of stuff. It’s hard, because I feel like I’m just waiting around – and have been for years – for one to consume the other and hoping that’ it’s going to be music and it’s starting to happen that way, but at the same time that’s a bit scary. You’ve got to start taking some risks and letting go of some financial comforts so that you can really the time to do what you’ve always dreamed of doing. It gets to this point where it can be a bit scary, I guess, because you get used to making some money.
The time that work takes up obviously detracts from time spent on creative work but sometimes there’s an argument for the structure of a paid job even if it’s a part-time paid job, and about the structure and security of an income facilitating that creative work, because sometimes when everything’s loaded onto the creative work – when that’s responsible for bringing in income as well as fulfilling dreams and other things – that can be too much pressure on that work. Everyone’s different, though – all creators are different. Some people like that structure of the day job and using a different part of the brain.
I agree. It’s all about finding that balance, which I haven’t actually found yet. I’m trying to do everything at the moment and it’s really quite all consuming, but as you said I know friends who just do music and they don’t have a day job or anything else, and they’ve told me that the time that I spend at work is time that mostly they just spend sitting around wondering what to do with themselves anyway. A lot of artists can be quite self-destructive and if you’re not given routine you can fall to self-destructive behaviours. I know that I’m pulled in that direction when I’m given too much time on my hands. It’s all about how you balance, but you need to have enough time to write and record and tour and all that kind of stuff. Those jobs that allow you to do all of that are few and far between and you’re really lucky if you’ve struck that balance, but I’m still working towards it, that’s for sure.
One of the reasons why Australian country music is so special and vibrant is that it springs from storytelling, whereas a lot of the American country music we hear most of seems to be less about that now. Australian country music, even if it’s quite commercial, still springs from this desire by the artist to communicate a story or information, or connect with their audience. I wonder if you’re a singer-songwriter and you’re in the bubble of not being out in the world every day – if you’re not working or doing other things that connect you to people – if that has an impact on the sorts of stories that you tell and your ability to tell them.
Definitely. You need to be experiencing so that you can have things to write about. It’s funny that you said that our album makes you feel nostalgic because I feel like I write from the past, basically, not really now or the future or anything like that. It’s a bit scary because if you’re busy all the time with the one thing or a day job or a routine that isn’t particularly varied you feel like you might be running out of material. I get scared of that sometimes, that I’m just going to end up making songs up out of necessity. I feel like the music in America, though – commercially, I know what you’re saying, but there’s still a lot of great country music or Americana coming out of that place that still holds the storytelling very dear. All my favourite bands, and where we try to write from, is all about stories and poetry and turning those into songs. That’s what all great country music was. It’s a real shame to think that’s disappearing out of the genre; I would hate to see that happen. I guess that’s why the coined the term ‘alt country’ because I feel like that part of the music is where the good stories are, so maybe that’s why it’s called ‘alternative country’ because commercial country aren’t telling the real stories. What’s commercial country music about? Driving down the road, going to make your girlfriend …
[Laughs] What’s interesting to me is that Americana is a specific sub-genre of country music in the US but in Australia I still see a lot of the really big acts still engaging in proper storytelling, whereas in the US those big stars are, yes, driving down the road and so on. Troy Cassar-Daley is still telling stories. For me it’s always really stark at Tamworth, to see who gets the crowds. It’s such a diversity of stories and songs and it is that which unites the audience – they want the stories.
That’s good to hear. We haven’t played Tamworth – I haven’t even been to the festival – and everyone’s telling us now that that’s crazy and that we need to get up there. It’s nice to hear that it has that vibe still. Down here, to tell you the truth, I’ve always felt like Tamworth was the mecca of commercial country in Australia, so it’s nice to hear that it’s not.
I feel now that it’s a very powerful creative hub that lasts the rest of the year, to the extent that I reckon someone should do a PhD on the influence of Tamworth on creative relationships in Australia. So many people I’ve talked to either meet a producer there or a band member there or a songwriter they work with, and those relationships spin out through the rest of the year. Then they come back together again in January and those relationships become other relationships. There’s a lot of excitement in Tamworth now and it’s people your age and his age, slightly older and slightly younger, who have respect for the traditions of country music, who love it, who love telling stories and just want to get up there and play. And that’s a new wave of country reaching its crest now. So even if you were to go to Tamworth as a punter, or to play, it would be an amazing experience.
Sophie, I’m sold! I’d love to do it with the band. I’d love people to hear the band if I could get that happening. I love playing solo – there’s quite a sense of freedom to that – but I’d love to get up there with the band. 

Diamonds in the Bloodstream is out now.

Album review: Diamonds in the Bloodstream by Raised by Eagles

The opening song of Diamonds in the Bloodstream by Melbourne band Raised by Eagles sounds as if it could be heard coming from the radio of a panel van parked beside a Sydney beach during the 1970s and simultaneously it evokes parched paddocks somewhere along the Hume Highway, era indeterminate, and a bunch of mates sitting beside an AFL field, talking about nothing much in particular and everything at once. It’s evocative of everywhere, everytime, yet it is not a derivative song. It’s just Australian, in the best possible way: it conjures up landscape and lazy hot days; bush poetry, long drives and strangers well met. It’s a lot for one song to achieve, but it’s not alone in doing that on this very fine album.

There are eight songs, arranged into A side and B side. Some are so beautiful they hurt, in that way that you think you’ll never get over an album but you know you’ll have to because you can’t listen to it all day every day.

The pace of Diamonds in the Bloodstream is gentle yet it’s not an album that lets the listener be lazy. Rather, the gentleness seems to be the product of the band members’ comfort with each other: there’s nothing to prove there, so the songs can be allowed to stand on their own, and the musicians layer on only what’s needed. Restraint is so often not exercised in modern song production – if something can be done, it seems that the belief is that it should be done. To not do those things – to believe that bells and whistles are just a distraction, not an improvement – requires confidence and, to an extent, courage. Courage is also required to create art that endures. Diamonds in the Bloodstream is that.

Diamonds in the Bloodstream is out now.