By Michael Giles
IT’S pretty amazing, actually, the talent that’s lined up at the Archies Creek Hotel over the past few weeks and months.
Russell Morris, Weddings, Brian Cadd, Rebecca Barnard, David Bridie and this Sunday, on Anzac Day, Felicity Urquhart and Josh Cunningham.
To name a few.
And mixed in there, last Wednesday night, April 21, was a stunning set by Australian alternative rock legends You Am I.
Wow. It’s understandable that Peter Foley, Mary Howlett and the Caravan Music Club team at the Archies Creek Hotel would want to catch their breath and give the pub a rest for a few months.
“This is the last big show. We’re going to pull it all down for a while. It’s getting a bit cold out here anyway,” – the weather, not the music, which has been absolutely scorching hot.
In any case, there were plenty of enclosed campfires burning to keep patrons warm out on the lawn, catching a smoke or some conversation, before venturing back to the “dirty dance floor”, a phase coined by a surprise packet act last week, warming up in fine style for the You Am I gig, George Wilson of Pollyman. Great voice and licks.
“It’s been great. Everyone’s loved it but we’ll be moving up to the hall for a while,” said Peter.
There’s still to be some house shows in at the hotel but with the likes of Kevin Borich Express in the hall on Sunday, May 23 at 2.30pm, plus a line-up of other acts weekly, Archies Creek is still going to be the place to go.
You Am I were great and eccentric front man Tim Rogers looked like he was having a good time too.
“We’ve got a new album coming out next week,” said Rogers at one stage, regularly exchanging banter with a thoroughly engaged, and apparently informed crowd.
“Yay,” they said.
“Usually, the crowd doesn’t want to hear about it (new music) but when it’s an album this good, I want to keep on talking about it.”
Yeah right, OK.
That’s coming from a man who fronts the first Australian band to have released three successive albums that each debuted at the number-one position on the ARIA Albums Chart: We better take a look at their 11th studio album ‘The Lives Of Others’.
And, as you’d expect, like much of the music produced in the past 12 to 18 months, it’s come with the deep texture of pandemic isolation behind it.
As Bass guitarist Andy Kent revealed recently: “Isolation brought a sort of purity of thought or expression in not being around the usual references and outside input, or any other human for that matter. The notes and ideas just flowed.”
While some of the songs were written on a 2019 trip to the New South Wales south coast, others were penned, then put down in the strange environment of 2020.
“It’s not the ideal way to make a record but it worked,” Rogers says.
“I can be a bit of a pain in the neck with either my unbridled enthusiasm or brain-draining depression. For the others I think a bit of time away from me was good, let them loosen their shoulders a bit.”
An unexpected bonus of 2020, Rogers says, was having the time to work so intensely on his lyrics. These are some of the best he has brought to the band, according to publicist Nicole Hart of Revolutions.
The songs range wide, from questions about what it means to be a man (Manliness) to avoiding opinion overload (Readers’ Comments). And the delights of Lookalikes, which will be the only song you hear this year to find a link between between George Orwell, Mackenzie Phillips and Bette Davis.
Nicole Hart continues:
Tim Rogers says: “I was going fishing in the morning, staying in a cheap hotel, and all these folk songs came out, for no reason really but as wordplay.”
Rogers was having doubts about his future in music. “I got a job bar tending. I didn’t tell the guys about it but I couldn’t envisage us making a record together again. I couldn’t get out of the funk I was in. Then I talked to Tex Perkins about it and he is wonderful about cutting though my over-dramatic stuff.” Just don’t play for six months, Perkins advised.
Then 2020 happened, and there is nothing like discovering you can’t do what you’ve been hard-wired to do for 30 years to help see things more clearly.
The band began working on what was to become The Lives Of Others, initially starting with single ‘The Waterboy’. It was a different way of working to anything they had done before, no time in a studio all together, no looming deadlines for releases or tour dates, no outside opinions or expectations from producers, record companies or anyone else in the music business. Just the band, focused and energised.
Rogers and Lane did more demos at Lane’s home studio. Kent and Hopkinson could take their time getting inside the songs before injecting their energy in a studio. Once those drum and bass parts were set, Tim and Davey would strip their original demo recordings and build their parts on the foundation provided by the rhythm section. Farewell, folk songs. After a few weeks, everyone realised this was sounding like a You Am I record.
Anyone who loves classic You Am I albums like Hi Fi Way, Hourly, Daily, #4 Record and Dress Me Slowly will recognise the spirit in these tracks as well as the care and craft behind the songwriting and recording.
The album won’t be out “next week” as Rogers told the Archies Creek revelers but it will be out on Friday May 14, although you can pre-order now.
The album’s announcement is accompanied by a video for brand-new single ‘The Waterboy’, showcasing live band footage compiled and edited by guitarist Davey Lane. It won’t be Archies Creek, that’s all yours to savor, but you’ll be able to see it online as well.
Hey, how cool is the Archies Creek Hotel that they’ve allowed us into the inner sanctum of the Australian music industry!