Well this year’s been quite a test so far it seems. Without going into too much personal detail it’s been fairly up and down shall we say! One of the best things about the start of this year was of course getting to form a band with Darren Middleton and tour our respective records together.
After releasing ‘Broken Bones’ in November last year I was asked if I wanted to go on the road. I felt a little reluctant for a couple of reasons, one because I’m not a great guitar player but the other is that I pretty much feel like I’m on the road most of the time, being away on location so much. When the 123 agency suggested doing something with Darren however my interest level was peaked somewhat more. I immediately listened to Darren’s solo album ‘Translations’ which I really enjoyed, plus I’m a big 'Powderfinger' fan and have loved the songs Darren brought to that band over the years, as well as his fantastic guitar playing of course. We got together to chat about how it might work (in fact that was at the end of last year). Got on really well from the outset and pretty much decided putting a full band together and both being on stage the whole time while we alternated between each others’ songs would be the way to go.
Most of the guys who played with me during the launch shows weren’t available but we were lucky enough that Shannon Birchall (who plays bass on some of the tracks on BB) and Talei Wolfgram who sang with me at the shows were available, as well as Darren’s mates Marty Brown on drums and Kelly Lane on violin and keys. We were all a great fit, and coincidentally all share birthdays in October, so naturally have called ourselves ‘The Octobers’ (Highly original, I know) .
Rehearsals took place late Jan at Laneway studio’s in Clifton Hill and things fell into place quite nicely. Shannon and Kelly also sing beautifully so we found ourselves with a wall of fantastic harmonies whenever we wanted, which suits our songs as I tend to do tons of them when recording as does Darren. Our musical style’s are also quite similar I think so they melded pretty well as a set. We basically toured the month of Feb starting in Bendigo, Victoria and finishing up in my hometown of Geelong, also in Victoria at the GPAC (Where I’d done many theatre shows as a kid back in the 80’s) We had a blast. We did a few shows each in QLD, NSW and Melbourne, as well as the Spiegeltent at the Adelaide Fringe festival. We also have a few planned for the appropriate month of October in WA so looking forward to those as well. We discovered 'The Octobers’ all really like each other, which I know is not very Rock n Roll but it meant a really delightful time together – (even if Kelly did make me drink Tequila in Newcastle which led to an unfortunate vomiting incident on the tour bus – which is far more Rock n Roll of course) We also discovered being on stage together meant Darren I could just crap on about various things, take the piss out of each other and make each other, the band and the audience laugh, and generally have a good time. Someone came up to me after one of the shows and said “That was really funny - Rock shows aren’t usually funny”… Maybe we have a future in stand up too? (or not)
It was sad to finish as I was going through a bit of a hard time personally and the band were really supportive, so it was difficult to say goodbye to everyone, but, as I say we have more shows coming up. During the tour my beautiful 15 year old Basenji “Zelda” had to be put down. I was up in Queensland and Kate had to handle it all. We were both devastated obviously. Zelda was such a Dadda’s girl and I just couldn’t stop crying. She was the first dog I’d ever owned. It was strange to continue on with the shows trying to make people laugh while I felt broken hearted.
A week after we finished my poor Mum, who has Alzheimer’s fell and broke her hip. I then spent the next 4 weeks trying to find and move her into a nursing home. Poor thing, she handled it really well, considering. Funnily enough the surgeon told me her amazing recovery was probably due to having Alzheimer’s and forgetting she’d fallen and therefore having no hesitation in getting up and walking around once out of hospital. Tricky times though. You’ll be pleased to know she’s doing really well, and the lovely people at ‘Arcare’ in Point Lonsdale have been great with her and her recovery – Thanks guys !!
It has been hard for my sister Tracy though to know Mum’s moved and she can’t stay with her on weekends anymore – They have a really bonded relationship. For those of you who don’t know, Tracy has a somewhat rare intellectual disability called ‘Cornelia De Lange’ Syndrome. We all go though difficult personal family stuff at times and it’s a real reminder of how human we are. Tracy’s a trooper though, as is Mum, I guess it’s the Northern English blood !
I was then supposed to face court for some speeding fines I’d got back in September last year just after I got home from Japan, not knowing the speed limit had changed on a road near me. Stupidly I hadn’t paid attention to the new signs. It meant in April I found out I was to lose my license for 3 months – thankfully that started in May just before heading overseas again – which is where I am now (not driving of course!!)
All through the first few months of this year a film I was meant to start kept facing hurdles – most of which I’m not fully privy to but I was certainly aware of the consequences. It was delayed, it was then moved from Calgary to Germany, There were then financial complications, we then lost a couple of main actors in Mia Wasikowska and Rob Pattinson who had to be replaced, but in the end it finally got underway so here I am now in Germany filming Martin Koolhoven’s ‘Brimstone’. I’m working with the very talented and beautiful Carice Van Houten, who most would know as ‘The Red Priestess - Melisandre’ from 'Game of Thrones'. Also with the wonderful Emilia Jones and Kit Harrington who people would know as ‘Jon Snow’ also from 'G o T'. Dakota Fanning took over from Mia who’s also a brilliant actor, so it should be good!
The film’s set in the 1800’s and is about a Dutch immigrant family who’ve recently settled in the USA – Tis a fairly bleak story but fantastically written by Martin. We’ll get a big chunk of it done over the next month or so, and have to come back in November to do our winter section – Maybe in Romania, or Hungary? I’ve got to go home and do our 6 part ‘Jack Irish’ mini series first though. Hopefully I won’t accidentally give Jack a Dutch accent.
Before coming here to Germany I spent 3 weeks in the USA doing press for our release of ‘Results’ – the Andrew Bujalski film we’d done in Austin, Texas last July. The film’s really great and it was so nice to see Cobie, Kevin and Andrew again and watch the film with an audience. We’re gonna be showing it at the Melbourne International film festival in August too. It’ll be funny to have the staff at the gym I go to watch it to laugh at me pretending to be a gym instructor.
So for now it’s about finishing off this film and of course writing lots of new songs. I’d love to get another record made in the next 12 months – I might be pushing my luck though…. we’ll see. Also got to start learning some Jack Irish Dialogue soon !
Here’s to the rest of the 2015… Hope you’re having a good one