The Re-mains fourth album, Inland Sea, might have taken them three years to get out, but it hasn’t been for want of action. Since Love’s Last Stand, their 2006 live album earned four stars from Rolling Stone, they’ve had a near fatal mash-up with a cow in the Northern Territory, two massive Canadian tours and enough line-up changes to put the Melbourne Hit Men Association to shame.
“We started recording early in 2007, then went on tour to the Territory and had the ‘meat tray’ incident,” says frontman/manager Mick Daley.
“Grunter Bedford and Ramshackle Dave Ramsey were horribly maimed and out of action after that. It took a while to get back into gear. Me and Tom Jones Jnr (bassplayer) were kind of freewheelin’ around with different line-ups, including Louis Tillet on piano one New Years Eve in Maitland, till Shaun (Uncle Burnin’ Love) Butcher came back from winning his bout with cancer, and took up the banjo again.”
Revitalised, the band did some more recording, at Christian Pyle’s Lot 61 Studios in Goonengerry, in the Byron Bay hinterland. Then they hightailed it to Canada in ‘08, for en epic four-month tour involving an $800 Chevy van, 16,000 kilometres, nationally broadcast breakfast TV and 65 shows from Vancouver to Toronto and back again. The rest of that year was spent back on the road in Australia, then in 2009 they did it all again, clocking up another 18,000 k’s and adding a circumnavigation of the Rockies with Canadian outlaw folkie Dr Joey Only to their carbon footprint.
Back in Australia, they finished the album, at last, and set about getting it out themselves, following the demise of their label, Croxton Records. They were rescued by Austrade, which awarded them an export development grant, in the nick of time to salvage their debts – and pay Christian Pyle.
Daley has high praise for Pyle, who had his own winning bout with the big C whilst engineering and playing on the album, twice.
“CP is a genius. He takes my rambling ballads and crafts them into … well, something else, something a lot more considered and refined. He also plays a mean guitar, invents most of his gear from scratch and laughs at conventional wisdom, about scales, recording, everything really.”
“We had a Canadian version of this album first. Then when we came back, I asked him to do it all over again, ‘cos I wanted different songs on the Australian version. It’s lucky we’re mates, I’ve seen him, er, react differently to similar requests.”
It’s more produced than previous albums, which were basically tracked live, to get the bands edgy attack authentically.
“This one has the same energy, but more overdubbing and fairy dust. It’s a big sound, a dash of 3D.
“It’s got road songs from Canada and more laments about lost love and loneliness, as well as my favourite, an epic about Pumulwuy, the great Koori warrior, and Who Shot Johnny D? a murder ballad from Nimbin.”
This winter the band is taking Inland Sea on the road south and west, way west.
Well Melbourne and Sydney and Darwin of course,” Daley says. “Then we’re headed out to Bourke, via Brewarrina, Cobar, Coonamble, back where it all started.”
The Re-Mains were renowned as the hardest driving independent band in the country when they first started their country rock and roll crusade in 2002. They boasted that they’d played more rodeos, outback dives and inner city hellholes than any other band in Australia. Splendour in the Grass, Six Tamworth Country Music Festivals, five East Coast Blues and Roots, three Darwin Festivals, Woodford Folk, Nymagee Outback fest, Nimbin Mardi Grass, (see sizzle sheet) and every other bush bash they could reach. Four albums, two EPs and more drummers than Spinal Tap. Banjos, pedal steel and balls to the wall country rock and roll.
They travelled where most East Coast outfits feared to tread, to the wildest outback pubs, where it was not uncommon to see heads go through plate glass windows while they played.
“There’s nothing like the sound of a banjo at full throttle to get some of those country blokes revved for a blue. And even the 3am emos at the Pony in Melbourne warm to it after a few songs.”
Their Canadian tours included shows at NXNE, NewMusic West, the Calgary Stampede and nine other national festivals, their compilation album reached Number 13 on the Alberta CBC radio charts and they appeared twice on breakfast TV. But they reserve their highest praise for Curtis, their Chevy conversion van.
‘$800 in Vancouver, we jumped in, drove him straight over the Rockies. He threw a starter motor in Calgary and lost his exhaust early, so everywhere we went we sounded like a Panzer battalion on the attack. We scared bears all over Canada. But that van kept going, two tours in Canada and we left him in Vancouver with Dr Joey Only, who killed him in a week.”
With the aid of Austrade they’re returning to Canada next year – meanwhile this year it’s all about the Inland Sea – and avoiding cows.
The Re-Mains are –
Mick Daley – management, songwriting, guitars, harmonica, singing.
Shaun Butcher – songwriting, banjo, electric guitars, singing.
Tom Jones – bass
Al Fisk – drums, singing.
And occasionally, Christian Pyle – electric guitars.
The Re-Mains at Australian festivals;
Splendour in the Grass (‘03), East Coast Blues and Roots, (x5) Tamworth Country Music Festival (x7), Woodford Folk Festival (‘04), Darwin Festival (x3), St Kilda Festival (‘04), Big Note Festival, Swan Hill (x2), Mullumbimby Festival (‘02) The Herb Festival, Lismore (x2), Brisbane Beer Festival (‘04), Barkly Arts Festival, NT (’05), Surfing the Coldstream, Yamba (x2), Casino Beef Week (x3), Two Rivers Festival, Gunnedah (‘05), Mt Isa Rodeo (‘04), Litchfield Rodeo (‘06), Gold Coast Rodeo (‘07), The Puppet Rodeo, Kyogle (‘06), Gove Peninsula Festival NT, (‘06), Wagga Wagga Unsound Festival (‘05), The Gumball, Hunter Valley (x2), Candelo Festival (‘07), Wallaby Creek Festival, FNQ (’05), Yagubi Festival, Hervey Bay (‘05), The Mad Hatter Regatta, Albury (‘05), Blues and Tattoos Bike Show, Maitland (‘06), Kingaroy Peanut Festival (‘06), Long Flat Bike Rally (‘05) Big Sunday, Tyalgum (‘07), Mazstock, Lismore (’07) Yackandandah Folk Festival (‘10), Cool Summer Festival, Mt Hotham (‘10).
The Re-Mains at Canadian Festivals;
North by North East, Toronto (‘08), New Music West, Vancouver (‘08), Big Valley Jamboree, Alberta (‘08), Ness Creek Festival, Saskatchewan (‘08, ‘09), North Country Fair, Alberta (‘08), Gateway Festival, Sask (‘08), Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, BC (‘08), Winlaw Music Festival, BC (‘09), Kitchener Blues Festival, Ontario (‘09), Sled Island, Alberta (‘09).
Recipients of two Australia Council touring grants and an
Austrade Export Development Grant – current for seven years.