Interview: Josh Pyke

Josh Pyke
Image Courtesy of Josh Pyke

Having released one of the best albums of his career in 2015 with But For All These Shrinking Hearts Josh Pyke is about to head out on a national tour. We sat down with the singer-songwriter to talk about his writing process, how he chooses supports and the importance of his fans.

Gareth Hugh Evans: Let’s kick off with the new album, But For All These Shrinking Hearts. I really like it – it feels like the next musical progression for you. How are you feeling about the album?

Josh Pyke: I love it. I have to admit that I don’t listen to my own music ever. But when I make the record I really have to feel like I can stand behind every creative decision one hundred percent, and I feel like it will stand the test of time. In that regard every time I do a record I need to feel like it’s my best work otherwise I don’t want to put it out. So I feel like this album is my best work to date and that’s how I’ve felt about all my records. And of course that’s a completely subjective opinion but I need to feel that otherwise I don’t want to do it.

GHE: Is part of the reason you don’t listen back because you can hear the stuff you’d like to change or that your songs have evolved beyond the album as you’ve started touring them?

JP: I just don’t like listening to my own music. I don’t really know. I can’t imagine many musicians sit around listening to their own music – I think that would be weird. It’s just kind of like looking at photos of yourself or looking in the mirror all the time. My kids have started to listen to my music so sometimes I hear it in the car when we’re driving along. Particularly the last two albums there’s nothing when I hear them that I go “I wish I’d done that differently” because after making four and now five albums I kind of know what I’m doing. If I listen to Feeding the Wolves or Memories and Dust there’s probably moments where I go “I probably could have done that better”. But at the same time they’re moments in time – you’ve just got to remember at the point you were making them you were standing by your creative decisions at the time. As long as you always do that then even if you would do something different because your creative instincts have become more honed or more developed, you have to get behind your previous self and go “it’s ok mate, this is where you were at at the time”. But yeah I don’t listen to my music because I would rather listen to other people’s music and then make my own music.

GHE: When you’re performing you still have to reach into the back catalogue for your fans even if you’ve moved on from them creatively.

JP: I love doing that. I love having a strong back catalogue that people want to hear. We were rehearsing last night for these upcoming festival shows, playing songs like “Memories and Dust” and “Lines on Palms” – I love playing those songs. I like playing the songs, I just don’t like listening to the records. The old songs remind me times and places in my life. All of the songs are intensely personal to me and I know what they’re all about to me so it’s kind of like revisiting those experiences. It’s like going back and reading a diary when I’m playing the songs live.

GHE: I’ve seen you live a number of times, both in an intimate solo setting and with a band. You will quite often pull out a new song in those shows, especially in the “fans first” tours – is that important as part of the song writing process to workshop new songs live?

JP: It can be. I think it’s more about keeping things interesting for myself. As a punter when I go to see bands I don’t mind hearing new songs that I don’t know but I’d rather hear songs I do know. From a punter’s point of view it’s kind of why you’re going there – you’ve listened to the records and now you want to hear how that translate live, you want to hear the lyrics that you know and hear how the voice is different live. So when I’m doing it live it is a way to workshop them but it’s more for my sake that anybody else’s. If they work structure wise there’s no better setting than a live setting to hash out those things. It’s like instant market research. Also I write a lot of songs on the road. I remember I played a song “Bats” live on a tour a few years ago and it was a cool song but there was something about it that I never wanted to take further than that experience. I actually tried to demo it a couple of weeks ago and I was like “I don’t know, I think that song’s had its life”. Sometimes that’s as far as they go, playing them once or twice in a live context and then they just disappear.

GHE: A few years ago I saw you live and you’d starting playing around with looping and effects pedals. Has that influenced the way you write a song? Or are they just there to round out the sound of a solo show?

JP: I don’t think it’s influenced how I write songs. I think it’s more influenced getting together solo shows. I do try and approach them differently and sometimes it means that I change the arrangements to better suit a looping pedal. It definitely influences how the songs come up in a solo context but I don’t think it’s crept through into influencing the song writing. I like to keep the song writing pretty organic. Having said that a song like “There’s a Line” which has that kind of synth loop, I did write that not with a loop pedal but by looping that section in pro-tools when I was writing that song. Maybe on reflection it has influenced a little bit – maybe I’m more open to those kind of dynamics within a song.

GHE: Let’s talk about the upcoming tour. You’ve got a couple of festival dates and also some headline shows. Is this going to be a full band tour or is it solo Josh Pyke?

JP: This will be a full band tour which I’m really excited about because I haven’t done a full band tour for almost two years now. The last time was at the beginning of The Beginning and End of Everything so it will be awesome to get out again with the band. I was rehearsing last night with the band in my studio here at home – it’s sounding really great. The new songs in particular are translating really well, really bombastic. Songs like “Songlines” with a full band sound killer so I’m really excited.

GHE: Does playing with a full band influence the set of songs that you choose?

JP: It definitely effects the set. Songs like “Someone to Rust With” and “Late Night Driving” are probably better suited to the solo context. Whereas I have made solo versions of “There’s a Line” and “Songlines” but I love utilising the sounds and dynamics a band can bring to them. And revisiting songs like “Vibrations in Air” that I’ve played solo for years now in a band context.

GHE: One of the things I love about your tours is that you always bring along these up and coming singer songwriters as supports. People like Jack Carty and Patrick James – and this time around you’re taking out BANFF.

JP: Yeah BANFF is doing the majority of the tour and Winterbourne are doing the two Zoo shows.

GHE: Are you heavily involved in choosing who supports you?

JP: There’s been one time that I haven’t been involved and it just wasn’t right. All the other times where I’ve selected the acts myself, even if they’re a bit incongruous to what I do. Like I did a big regional tour with The Jezabels in support of me which sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it worked amazingly. So all the times when I’ve chosen the supports I feel like there’s a better connection and the whole show is more like an event, a curated event, rather than just a bunch of acts playing together on a bill. So it’s important for me to be involved. Basically every time my booking agent gives me a list of 20 acts – unless there’s somebody I just want to straight up have – that are appropriate and available. Then I just go through and listen to all of them and then it just comes down to who’s doing the music I like best.

GHE: It’s also a great opportunity for your supports because you have such a loyal audience that you’ve built up over the years. They’re loyal to you and then that means they’re loyal to artists that you want to support. Your audience becomes their audience.

JP: Yeah. That’s a beautiful thing that I feel really blessed that I can help with. That’s how I came up doing big supports for John Butler and Eskimo Joe and countless others. All these acts that I did long tours with. You still have to work hard, there’s no guarantee, you have to win every fan over one by one. But if the show is curated well then you are playing to an audience who will probably like your music. And then you just have to perform well and hopefully bring those fans over to you. I’m not covetous of my fans – I’m extremely grateful and I feel incredibly blessed to have the support base that I do but I certainly don’t think my fans only have room for being fans of me. I’m happy for them to discover new music through me and to support that music as well.

GHE: How important has the Josh Pyke fan club, Friends of Josh Pyke, to you throughout your career as a musician?

JP: They’re amazing. It’s basically Sabi [Sabrina Robertson] and she’s been doing it for 10 years. She’s amazing. She creates great content and every year she does this yearly wrap up where she runs through everything that’s happened and it’s almost like a reference for me because every year feels like a blur when you’re in the thick of it. She’s just been great and I hope she’s gotten stuff out of it as well – I know that she works in the industry now. I hope that having done some stuff with me has opened some doors and have given her some experience. I’d certainly highly recommend her to anybody, she’s fantastic. It still blows me away that people would do that for me and join a fan club or whatever you want to call it. It kind of articulates what you hope is happening which is that people are really investing in your music in an emotional way where they want to be connected to it.

GHE: So the tour goes through until the end of February. What else can we expect from Josh Pyke in 2016?

JP: I’m really excited about launching this beer with Young Henrys that I’ve been working on. The beer is called “The Summer” and it’s basically a scaled up and refined version of the home brew I’ve been making at home for a few years.

GHE: Nice

JP: The tour kicks off and we’ll expand that regionally for sure. We’re just trying to figure out if we’re going to do that solo or with the band. And then there’s a big project I’m excited about at the end of next year that I don’t want to talk about just yet in case it falls through. It’s a collaborative project – it’s kind of like revisiting a collaborative project. It’s not the Basement Birds!

GHE: That was going to be my follow up question!

JP: I’m really excited about doing that, I think it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun. Beyond that I don’t know. For the passed ten years I pretty much could have told you what I’d be shooting for in the next few years but now I find that it’s been doing my head in a bit to live like that, just trying to look into the future and think of what I’ll be doing. So I’m really trying to just focus on what I’m doing now and enjoy it. That’s one of my aims for 2016 – to stay in the present as much as possible.

GHE: Far enough! Well thank you so much for that Josh, I really appreciate your time.

JP: Thank you so much!

Josh Pyke will be touring nationally from the end of January with supports from BANFF and Winterbourne. The full list of dates are below:

Friday 29th January – Twilight at Taronga, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 30th January – Canberra Theatre Playhouse, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 4th February – Studio 56 @ Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday 5th February – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 6th February – Star Court Theatre, Lismore, NSW
Friday 12th February – Melbourne Zoo Twilights, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 13th February – The Wool Exchange, Geelong, VIC
Friday 19th February – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 20th February – Astor Theatre, Perth, WA

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes Announce Tamworth Album Launch Show

Lachlan Bryan
Image Courtesy of Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes

Having released their amazing album The Mountain earlier this year, alt country band Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes are taking the album launch tour to its logical high water mark as part of the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes will be launching The Mountain on Friday 22nd January at The Tamworth Hotel. If you’re heading to the Tamworth Country Music Festival this January make sure you make it along to Lachlan Bryan’s show – it’s not to be missed.

John Flanagan Announces New Album and Tour with Sal Kimber

John Flannagan
Image Courtesy of John Flanagan

Having rounded out 2015 with the release of his new single “High on High”, John Flanagan has gifted us with a release date for his new album There’s Another Way To Where You’re Going.

The highly anticipated release is due on the 4th February and to celebrate John Flanagan has announced he’s heading out on a co-headline album launch tour with Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel taking in country halls throughout Victoria. Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 5th February – The Cube, Wodonga, VIC
Saturday 6th February – Tallangatta Valley Hall, Tallangatta Valley, VIC
Sunday 7th February – Oxley Hall, Oxyley, VIC
Thursday 11th February – Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 12th February – Alexandra Town Hall, Alexandra, VIC
Saturday 13th February – Live at the Bundy, Bundalaguah, VIC
Friday 19th February – Belbrae Hall, Belbrae, VIC
Saturday 20th February – Buangor Cobb & Co, Buangor, VIC
Sunday 21st February – The Old Church on the Hill, Bendigo, VIC

Thank Folk It’s Thursday – 24th December

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

The Beards have announced dates for their final ever tour. Details here

– UK based Australian singer-songwriter Emily Barker has released “Anywhere Away”, the lead single from her soundtrack to the movie Hector. Details here

– We streamed the new Angharad Drake album Sword. Details here

The National Folk Festival has announced Nancy Kerr as the headliner (both solo and with Nancy Kerr and James Fagan and The Fagans) as well as adding The Little Stevies, Frencham Smith, Sparrow-Folk, Sásta, Doctor Stovepipe, Miriam Lieberman with Lara Goodridge and Kate Adams, Black Mountain String Band, The Fiddle Chicks, Frumious and The Wheeze and Suck Band. Details here

– Americana singer-songwriter Darren Cross released his new video “Just Got Along (la la le)”. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Anna Cordell released a live video of her track “Blue Rose”. Details here

– Sydney folk duo Elwood Myre released their new video “Mrs Honey”. Details here

Mark Moldre released his latest video “O, Dreamtime Blues”. Details here

– Folk rock legends Levellers have announced an Australian tour. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Tom West will be recording a live album with shows in Adelaide and Melbourne. Details here

One Up, Two Down will be releasing a new EP and touring in January. Details here

The Gum Ball returns for 2016 with some folky gems on its first round of artists including Jeff Lang, Suzannah Espie, Caitlin Park and more. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin has announced full band shows in Sydney and Melbourne this January. Details here

Blog

– We posted our traditional Christmas Eve collection of the best Christmas Carols and Songs of the year. Check it out here

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Woodford Folk Festival

Woodford

At this time of year is there any other gig? If you’re heading up to the Woodford Folk Festival have an amazing time!

Sunday 27th December to Friday 1st January – Woodford, QLD

Gigs Next Week

Falls Music & Arts Festival
Monday 28th December to Friday 1st January – Lorne, VIC
Tuesday 29th December to Friday 1st January – Marion Bay, TAS
Thursday 31st December to Sunday 3rd January – Byron Bay, NSW

Festival of Small Halls feat. Irish Mythen, Starboard Canons
Sunday 27th December to Friday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, QLD

One Up, Two Down
Sunday 27th December to Friday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD

Phia
Wednesday 30th December to Friday 1st January – NYE On The Hill, Loch Village, VIC

The Audreys
Friday 1st January – Taste of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS

The East Pointers
Monday 28th December to Friday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, QLD

TinPan Orange
Saturday 27th December – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD

Woodford Folk Festival
Sunday 27th December to Friday 1st January – Woodford, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“White Wine in the Sun” – Kate Miller-Heidke

Kate Miller-Heidke may have produced one of the best Christmas songs this year with “I’m Growing A Beard Downstairs for Christmas”, featuring The Beards, but nothing can top her version of this Tim Minchin classic.

The Best Folky Christmas Songs of 2015

Christmas Boots

It’s Christmas Eve which means it’s time for Timber and Steel’s traditional wrap up of the best folky Christmas songs of the year. If you’re like us and you love Christmas songs and carols then you’re in for a treat.

We hope you have a safe and merry Christmas wherever you find yourself this year. We look forward to folking with you in the New Year!

Kaitlyn Baker – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

Sondre Lerche & Jherek Bischoff – “Surviving Christmas”

The Felice Brothers – “Carriage”
Why The Felice Brothers haven’t thought to do a Christmas album titled Felice Navidad before now is mind boggling. Here’s the first single from the album, “Carriage”.

Red Sky July – “Save Christmas Day for Me”

Alison Krauss & Robert Plant – “Light of Christmas Day”
Alison Krauss and Robert Plant reunite for this contribution to the Christmas movie Love The Coopers. The video is peppered with movie dialogue which can get annoying but it’s still great to see Krauss and Plant together again.

Robert Pollard – “What Begins on New Years Day”

The Bandana Splits – “Silent Night”
The three part harmonies from Annie Nero, Dawn Landes and Lauren Balthrop on their The Bandana Splits are just stunning.

Phil Cunningham feat. Eddi Reader – “Santa Will Find You”
Phil Cunningham brings together some of folk music’s best for his Christmas album Phil’s Christmas Songbook. The lead single, “Santa Will Find You”, features none other than Eddi Reader

Joseph Bradshaw – “Christmas is Always”

Kyle Cox – “Don’t Make My Christmas Blue”

Kids – “In The Bleak Midwinter”

Kate Miller-Heidke ft. The Beards – “I’m Growing A Beard Downstairs For Christmas”
Probably the best comedy Christmas release of the year. Don’t listen to this one too loudly at work.

Peter Joseph Head – “Boxing Day”

Stylus Boy – “Oh Little Town”

The Leisure Society – “2000 Miles”
The Leisure Society cover The Pretenders for their Christmas single this year. I love this track!

Burrowing – “The Morn Of Christmas Day”

Smoke Fairies – “Wild Winter”

Kate Rusby – “The Frost is all Over”
The stunning Kate Rusby brings her amazing voice to this Christmas classic, taken from her Christmas album of the same name.

Lindsay Straw – “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear”

Boom Forest – “The Holly & The Ivy”
I love the way this traditional Christmas song has been given a contemporary sound by Boom Forest.

Matt Costa – “Many Memories Ago”
Roots singer-songwriter Matt Costa turns up the Christmas nostalgia with his track “Many Memories Ago”.

Lily Lambert – “Carol Of The Bells”

Sufjan Stevens – “Christmas Unicorn”
It wouldn’t be a list of Christmas songs without something from Sufjan Stevens. While this track came out in 2012 it’s just been given a brand new lyric video and thus qualifies for our 2015 list.

Amy Yon – “Winter”

Loralee Jessen Nicolay – “Bring A Torch, Jeanette Isabella”

Leaf Pile – “Deck The Halls”

Tides Of Winter – “Angels”

Sivu – “The Christmas Song”

Unwaxed Raiment – “The First Noel”

Folk Uke – All I Want For Christmas”

Marika Hackman – “River”

Elouise – “Silent Night”

The Maple Trail – “Star Wars (Is Coming Out This Christmas)”
Here it is folks – the most important Christmas song of the year. Not only do we get a Christmas folk song about Star Wars, this is also the first recorded music from The Maple Trail in a long long time.

Julia Jacklin Announces Full Band Shows in Sydney and Melbourne

Julia Jacklin
Image Courtesy of Julia Jacklin

If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Sydney based singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin yet don’t you worry – I have a feeling that 2016 might be her year.

Jacklin has just signed a management deal with Heartstop Music and to celebrate she’s announced two full band shows in Sydney and Melbourne as well as appearing solo at the Porch Sessions in Adelaide this January. Check out the dates below:

Sunday 10th January – Porch Sessions, Adelaide, SA
Monday 18th January – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 19th January – Old Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Gum Ball Announces First Round of Artists for 2016

Suzannah Espie
Image Courtesy of Suzannah Espie

After taking a year off in 2015 NSW boutique festival The Gum Ball is back next year and they’ve just revealed their first round of artists.

The Gum Ball has always leant towards the folkier side of the music spectrum and 2016 is no different with the likes of Jeff Lang, Suzannah Espie (above) and Caitlin Park joining headliners You Am I and many more.

The Gum Ball is held at Dashville, NSW from the 22nd to 24th April. Check out the full list of artists announced so far below:

You Am I
Dan Sultan
Jeff Lang
The Cactus Channel
Van Walker’s HeartBrokers
Citizen Kay
Dan Brodie
Bullhorn
Suzannah Espie
Polish Club
Caitlin Park
Astro Travellers
The Buzzard Mix

One Up, Two Down Announce New EP and January Tour

One Up Two Down
Image Courtesy of One Up, Two Down

Trans-Pacific bluegrass trio One Up, Two Down return to Australia this month after a very bust 2015 touring the USA and joining Chris Henry for tours across the USA and Australia. And they’re not coming back empty handed with their brand new EP A Day On The Quay (recorded at Sydney’s Circular Quay) due for release on the 6th January.

To celebrate the release of A Day On The Quay One Up, Two Down will be touring up and down the east coast this January. Check out the full list of dates below:

Sunday 27th December to Friday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD
Wednesday 6th January – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 8th to Sunday 10th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS
Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd January – Andrew Clemont’s Supper Club, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – West Leagues Club, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 27th January – Cat and Fiddle Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 28th January – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 29th January – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 30th January – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC

Take a listen to “The Ways Of The World” from A Day On The Quay here:

Tom West Announces Live Album Recordings Shows

Tom West
Image Courtesy of Tom West

Celebrated Adelaide singer-songwriter Tom West has announced plans to perform two live album recording shows in January. The shows will take place at The Grace Emily Hotel in Adelaide and The Workers Club in Melbourne and will be released as the album Golden Fleeces later in 2016.

“I’ve felt for a while that shows are really the truest form of my music, and where I connect best with people.” Tom West explained. “When the idea came up to do some live recording it seemed to make perfect sense. To be able to involve the girls and guys who have been coming out to my shows in the formation of this album is a dream.”

Support on the nights will be provided by Melbourne based Liv Cartledge. Full list of dates are below – check out the official Facebook event for more details:

Thursday 28th January – The Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 31st January – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Levellers Announce 2016 Australian Tour

Levellers
Image Courtesy of Levellers

Seminal British folk-punk-rock band Levellers have announced plans to head down to Australia in 2016 to perform their classic 1991 album Levelling The Land live. The performance will see the album performed in its entirety followed by an extended encore of Levellers’ extensive back catalogue.

Check out all of the Australian dates below:

Friday 7th October – The Factory, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 8th October – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 9th October – Max Watts, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 11th October – The Gov, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 12th October – Capitol, Perth, WA

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