Interview: Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle
Image Courtesy of Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle hits our shores this weekend for a massive twelve date east coast tour that will see him playing shows in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. This is Earle’s first visit to Australia since he was here for Bluesfest last year and Gareth Hugh Evans got a chance to jump on the phone with him to talk touring, his love of playing shows in this country and what we can expect from the new album he’s currently writing.

Gareth Hugh Evans: I guess we’ll start by talking about the upcoming Australian tour. You’re coming over in just under two weeks time and they’re you’re doing a massive 12 dates in 17 days.

Justin Townes Earle: Something like that.

GHE: Do you normally like to cram that much performing into such a short space of time?

JTE: I think it’s a lot easier to get on a roll that way. And I’m just one of those people who prefer to be working. I got my momma to take care of, I’ve got a house I like to keep nice, lot’s of expenses so I pack it in.

GHE: This time around you’re just doing east coast dates. Are you playing anywhere that you haven’t played before.

JTE: I know we’re going to at least one that we haven’t been to before. I cannot for the life of me remember which one.

GHE: That’s all good – I don’t think you’re expected to remember every single date and location in your tour diary! You seem to really enjoy coming to Australia – you were here last year for Bluesfest and did some shows off the back of that, the Sydney one of which I caught. You seemed to be really comfortable with Australian audiences.

JTE: I find Australia a lot like Texas which I have a lot of experience with. The beautiful weather and the beautiful land and cities and the people all combined makes it definitely one of my favourite places to tour in the world.

GHE: I interviewed Joe Pug a couple of months ago and he was saying that one of the reasons he first came to tour in Australia was because you just told him how wonderful it was to tour out here. You’re a bit of an ambassador for artists to tour Australia.

JTE: I’m sure I’ve convinced a lot of people to go. Unfortunately I have a lot friends who can’t go long enough without a cigarette to fly there and play.

GHE: Are you coming out with a band this time?

JTE: No, I do wish that I was, but I’m actually coming out solo again. But hopefully I’ll be able to get the band on the back of the next record which we’re slated to start recording in May.

GHE: Awesome – that’s awesome news! The press release I got about your Australian tour said something like “we don’t know what Justin Townes Earle has been doing lately, we’re guessing he’s been writing songs.

JTE: I’ve been writing a lot recently and getting the ball rolling on the new record. It’s coming together – it’s going to be a little bit of the Memphis sound and we’re going try to do it the same as we always do, dig deep.

GHE: I think the first time I saw you was at the Blue Mountains Music Festival where you played with a fiddle player. And then last time you had the full band, although you sent them off halfway through the set to play some solo tracks. Do you prefer playing in the solo mode or do you prefer playing with the band?

JTE: My new band is an electric guitar player who plays guitar and steel, a bass player (an upright player) and a drummer. We’ve only toured that band in the United States but we did a lot of last year with that band – and I found a lot of comfort in the band which I didn’t think I was going to do after playing solo or as a duo for so long. These days I feel like I do prefer playing with my band. I will always do the solo stuff though – it’s where I come from.

GHE: You’re bringing out Robert Ellis to support you on this tour as well. What was behind the decision to bring Robert out?

JTE: The idea was actually done by [promoters] Love Police, but I had no problem with that at all. Robert is very talented. He reminds me a lot of early Little Feet, like Lowell George era Little Feet. He has an amazing voice too – and the songs are good.

GHE: You said you’re going back into the studio in May and you’ve been writing these new songs. IS the new album likely to be much of a departure from Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now?

JTE: I’m basically going to go further than I did, just a little deeper into the Memphis sound. My music’s pushing more toward a blues and a soul kind of area and I’m finding a lot more comfort in that then I did in country. I can write a country song but I grew up in the city – I’m not a big fan of cows [laughs]. I think that’s the main reason it didn’t effect me the same way that soul and blues and more urban forms of music did.

GHE: Are you going to fill out your sound again with a band and session musos?

JTE: I’m probably just going to use my touring band. We’ve got a good thing going on that’s working out really well. Hopefully I’ll be working with these guys for a long time.

GHE: That’s great – there’s always a unique energy recording with a band you’ve been on the road with.

JTE: I think it just gives you a better chance of getting things on the first take!

GHE: Well thank you so much for chatting to us today. I’m really looking forward to seeing you again in Australia.

JTE: I’m looking forward to getting down there – I’ll see you at a show.

The full list of dates for Justin Townes Earle’s east coast tour with Robert Ellis are below:

Saturday 2nd February – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC
Sunday 3rd February – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 5th February – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 6th February – Coogee Diggers, Sydney, NSW
Friday 8th February – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Saturday 9th February – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Sunday 10th February – Annandale Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 13th February – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 15th February – Capitol Theatre, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 16th February – Star Court Theatre, Lismore, NSW
Sunday 17th February – Byron Bay Community Centre, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 19th February – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD

1 Comment

  1. February 1, 2013 at 15:16

    […] “I’m basically going to go further than I did, just a little deeper into the Memphis sound. My music’s pushing more toward a blues and a soul kind of area and I’m finding a lot more comfort in that then I did in country. I can write a country song but I grew up in the city – I’m not a big fan of cows [laughs]. I think that’s the main reason it didn’t effect me the same way that soul and blues and more urban forms of music did” – Justin Townes Earle chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here […]


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