Winter has not been a feature of my life for some years, in fact almost since the inception of The Re-mains we’ve found cause to be largely absent from it, whether in the Northern Territory, far north Queensland or Canada. But this year, as the band takes a hiatus from touring and I’m at Uni, here we are. Freezing….. We’ve launched the new album, Inland Sea in Maitland, Sydney, Yamba and Federal and next weekend, in Lennox Head and Nymboida. It’s selling well and getting radio play at various places….. The band is an eclectic beast, as always. With Shaun in semi-retirement, Tom Jones wintering in Darwin, Al Fisk tinkering in Sydney, CP (Christian Pyle) reprising his role on guitar and Darren Bridge the new bassplayer, it’s all new sets and relocating the sound….. Last weekend we played Lennox Head, Nymboida and a party near Alstonville. The band was in furious form and still recovering. Saturday night I’m playing solo at the Tatts in Lismore, opening for a band called the Little Stevies who are apparently making waves in the folk scene. In August I’m going south, to Goologong, where my mate Balfe aka Mush aka Craig Lawler (see his review of Inland Sea) and his beau, Josephine live, to rendezvous with the Lonely Horse Band for a week of songwriting on the ever contentious and lively issue of bushrangers, of which there are the ghosts and legacy of plenty in that region. August sees The Thoughtful Hussars return into action on the 26th, charging like the Light Brigade into the Gollan Hotel, where, supported by Captain Freedom, we’ll be playing a few new tunes and anticipating Dylanfest with a few run-throughs. On the 28th, The Re-Mains play in Brissie at The Old Museum, a venerable venue managed by the manager of Bang Bang Boss Kelly, a banjo-swinging mob from that part of the world who are launching an album of their own. …. In September a long awaited return to Darwin looks likely, with the return of Leigh Ivin to the band. We’ve been in discussion for a while about the possibility of recording some of the vast back catalogue of unrecorded country rock and roll classics (well, they’re classic to us – Country Rock and Roll is Number One, Coalface Annie, Sharks, Return to Lizard County, Beef Week Queen, Same Road … the list is exhaustive), and playing some reunion shows, culminating in a short stint at Tamworth Country Music Festival next year. A Darwin/NT run will be the first of these – looks like an interesting time. In October I’m playing Dylanfest at Coraki Hotel. Part of Darren Bridge’s growing musical empire, Dylanfest will be a celebration of the works of the great man (Dylan, not Bridge) by a variety of local and visiting outfits including Mick Hart, the man whose constant circumnavigations of the globe resemble those of Bob himself – and Hart did in fact support Dylan on one European leg of his never-ending tour a few years back….. The band I’m putting together for this festival will be known as The Antiquarian Filibuster and will feature the aforesaid impresario Darren Bridge on bass guitar, and on loan from Invisible Friend, Brendan Drinkwater on drums and Michael ‘Whitey’ White on electric piano and organ. …. I’m stoked to have this all-star lineup, as I’m really quite chuffed to be able to play a full set of Dylan songs at a proper festival. Dylan was personally responsible for lodging in my head the notion that I too, could write surreal and stream-of-consciousness narratives, whack a guitar and tootle on a harmonica and get paid for it and I’m returning the favour with renditions of Idiot Wind, Tangled Up in Blue, Jokerman, Sweetheart Like You, Just Like A Woman, I Want You, Lay Lady Lay, Mozambique, Oh Sister and possibly Series of Dreams….. This will be part of a busy month in which I am also supposed to be completing my thesis for Honours in Media. At the start of the month I’m playing Gibbostock in Nundle, a celebration of another great and strange man, Gibbo. That’s on the 2nd. These events are usually recreations of Nymagee Outback Music Festival in miniature, only with freezing cold instead of blinding heat as the central theme….. ON the 24th The Re-Mains, or a version of the band, will be playing Big Sunday at Tyalgum, in cahoots with Gleny Rae Virus and Den Hanrahan. These shows will also possibly feature the return of Leigh Ivin….. In November we’re on the bill of a small festival in Nymboida, again at the Coaching Station, owned by one Russell Crowe. His Museum of Interesting Things, on the site of this venerable building, holds a number of interesting props from such movies as Gladiator, Romper Stomper and Robin Hood, not to mention some of Johnny Cash’s gold records….. Later that month we’re also part of a bill at a big charity do at Lismore Turf Club at which The Hoodoo Gurus are allegedly also appearing. Stay tuned for more CRnR action.
In cahoots with our producer and sometime guitar-slinger Christian ‘Scales are for Fish’ Pyle (aka C.P.), we’ve just mastered 13 tracks for the long-awaited, much-belated and very nearly evaporated new album, Inland Sea.
It’s been three years since Love’s Last Stand, also produced by CP, was released, and in the interim Leigh Ivin left the band, Dave Ramsey joined it and was promptly almost killed by an errant outback cow, Grant Bedford also retired, hurt, and a string of other great players had a crack at country rock and roll. We toured Canada twice, played over 200 shows in both countries and released an earlier, Canadian version of Inland Sea there. But here, finally, is a collection of songs, some old now, some written in Canada, Lismore and various other timeless states.
It’s got a different vibe to the other records, there are a lot of players’ signature sounds on it – from Phil Daniel’s keys and occasional banjo, Bryson Mullholland’s eerie throat and Hammond flourishes, Scotty Dog Bennett’s righteous drum pounding, CP’s menacing guitar lines, Grant Bedford’s pre-smash drumming and Tom Jones Junior’s post-Stax bass barrages to the unmistakeable imprint of original country rock and roll banjo pioneer Shaun ‘Uncle Burnin’ Love’ Butcher’s gittar and banjo ministrations.
Inland Sea refers to the mythical body of water deep in the interior to which our convict ancestors fled, convinced that there they’d find wealth, rum and happiness – not an entirely different set of delusions to the modern country rock and roll model.
As such the songs are mostly road narratives sweated out in semi-delerium – Othello’s P-76, a haunted dirge in the wake of John Howard’s ugly reign, or This Could Be Anywhere, a ballad for the lost, somewhere in the boundless depths of Canada, or is it Grafton, NSW? Pumulwuy is the story of Australia’s indigenous Che Guevara, concerning the black leader who successfully fought the British for 15 years before treachery and lesser men brought him down. 2nd Century plots a trans-continental love affair while Left on King laments the glory days of inner-city rock. Praise Be to the Rooster follows the fallen into hallucinatory hell in a wintry rural desolation. Copper City Motel is a rock and roll explosion in the grand tradition of Gold Wig and Bye Bye Byron Bay. The dark underbelly of Nimbin rolls, bloated, to the surface in Who Shot Johnny D? and finally, we cheer up in Darn Tootin’ in Saskatchewan. There’s more riotous carry-on in Tequila and Methadone, Lismore’s white-trash anthem, and a cheery litany of country-style loss and regret in Woke Up Sad, while Your Reward stomps on iridescent adolescents and Things I Remember, Things I Forget toasts the joy of selective amnesia.
I love it. CP’s knack for unique sounds and textures has separated it from previous recordings but kept it unmistakeably in country rock and roll territory. There’s enough banjo and bare-knuckle guitar here to soothe the savage beast, but more space and time.
The prodigious procession of players created some confusion and chaos in their wake but ultimately, contributed to a fecund and edgy record. It’s dark and spooky but often sublime.
We’re releasing it at a number of venues across the country, in a more leisurely and protracted series of tours than the usual Re-Mains road onslaughts. CP is coming on the road with us for extra grunt and cynicism.
The first of these is on May 22nd at The Grand Junction Hotel in Maitland, just about our favourite pub in Australia. Home to rock-pigs, cowgirls, bullshitters, serial twitters, ladies choirs, truckies, bikers and seldom-pikers, this is one of the last bastions of the old school, low maintenance, high fidelity country rock and roll lifestyle. Room 19 is a portal into another dimension and many have taken it.
Sunday May 23 we revisit a Sydney institution – the Botany View Hotel. Our shows here are always packed, stacked and never lacking incident.
June 18 is our North Coast launch at Federal Hall. A beautiful building across the road from my old house, this place was overflowing into the street and down the road last time we played here – mind you, Tex Perkins was also on the bill. CP’s band is playing with us, as well as Doug Lord with Till The Cops Come – probably a self-fulfilling prophecy.
On the 19th we roll down to Yamba to play the footy club there. Our mate Dave always puts on an unholy bash.
Melbourne, Bourke, Cobar and Nymagee dates are in the offing, as well as a possible jaunt to Darwin, where we haven’t been since the Meat Tray incident of 2007.
Pretty soon Inland Sea is going to be available for order from the website or iTunes, just as soon as we get it set up. Meanwhile we hope you’ll turn up to shows and buy one offstage, where Tom Jones will be happy to sign it in exchange for beer.
Greetings from Tuckombil. The Re-mains are on hiatus at the moment after Nymagee and our second tour of Canada. We’re playing a handful of shows for the rest of the year and taking it easy while we hunker down in meatspace to try and get outta debt and regroup. Tom Jones has relocated to Darwin with his lovely beau Flanno, UBL is in training for the Ironman races at Bentley, Frisky has gone into timber milling and I’m driving cabs. We’re playing three shows at Tamworth CMF in January and hopefully will have the new album by then. More below on that. Last year we played 132 shows – a record for the band. It was a tumultuous year – our first tour of Canada, 64 shows across seven provinces taking on 16,000 kilometres of Rocky Mountains, the great prairies and the enormous metropolises of this fabled continent. We made a lot of friends there, the Bush Pilots, The Secretaries, Joey Only and the Outlaw Band, Colin Farnan, Peter Brush, The Deep Dark Woods, Li’l Miss Higgins (the Kansas version) and Foy, all the crew at Ness Creek Festival, who broke their golden rule by having us back for a second time, Wil and Caroline, Mayor Matt Allen and family, The Smokin’ 45s and our Calgary sponsor Brad Simm, the Weber Bros and the D-Rangers … We also did a heap of touring at home, from Melbourne to Nundle via Goologong and Tamworth, Nymagee, Bourke, Cobar … business as usual. Uncle Burnin’ Love came back to the fold after a grave illness that had put him temporarily out of action. As soon as he was pronounced fit the Recruiting Sergeant whisked him out of Bentley and back on the road. Recording for the next album continued in fits and starts. We’d actually commenced just prior to the fateful national tour that ended before it began, in the back of a steer north of Tennant Creek. Grant Bedford and Dave Ramsey are still recovering from their injuries there, and fighting off the insurance vultures trying to deprive them of compensation. Sessions went on throughout last year and this and we were able to release nine new songs on the ‘Inland Sea’ album – a Canada-only cd that garnered heaps of radio play over there, punters particularly taken with ‘Darn Tootin’ in Saskatchewan’, a bawdy tale of depravity and bears in that blessed province. The female anchor of City TV in Calgary, Alberta was so taken with it that she had us play it live to air on Breakfast TV during our long sojourn there, courtesy of expatriate Peter Brush, a generous bon vivant and lover of late nights and Gary’s antics. We still have another 11 songs in the bag to be polished, have guitar, harmonica and vocal parts added for release hopefully before this year is out. It’s all down to the patience and dedication of Christian Pyle, genius producer at Prawn and Spanner that we got this far, un-monetized, haphazard and harried. The album is to be called ‘Courage … and shuffle the cards’, a valiant quote attributed to Lola Montez. This year we played a mere 52 shows in Canada, including two TV appearances, marking new territory in Montreal and beyond and criss-crossing the Rockies with Joey Only and Zinger to play some extraordinary venues that we would surely never have had the privilege of without these two spirit guides. Once again we were treated to amazing hospitality, mind-bending conviviality, and Shaun saw a wolf. So he reckons. We managed 35 shows in Australia, about ten of those being in disguise as The Postmortemists, our covers band whose residency at the sadly missed Winsome Hotel was responsible for some highly liberal interpretations of tunes by the likes of You Am I, The Beasts of Bourbon, Divinyls, Midnight Oil, The Stems, The Church etc etc. Last weekend we joined the rest of the Australian country rock and roll coalface community in commuting out to our very own Mecca, the birthplace of crnr, where Beefweek first split the atom and GOLD!!!! tumbled out, where the Trippin’ Shearer was sacrificed to the angry god of the coalface, where the burrs are bigger ‘n landmines, NYMAGEE. Yeah that’s right, The Re-mains were born out on this slag heap in the Mallee, and we returned along with a plethora of other bona fide coalface roots acts to carouse, cavort and disport with all those brave enough to venture out to the middle of New South Wales. There are a heap of pics on myspace and facebook to tell the true story, suffice to say that it probably was the best ever festival in terms of music, camaraderie, weather and hilarity. Directors Mcintosh and Hull did a magnificent job and have well and truly hooked Nymagee into the broader Australian psyche. Next shows for us are Nov 21 at a private party in Yamba and Sunday 22nd at Billinudgel Pub in the afternoon. Traditionally a great gig. After that, the Grand Junction in Maitland on December 4 and maybe something else with Crossy on the Saturday night. Meanwhile I’m playing solo at the Nimbin Pub on Thursday night, November 19. Till you hear the banjo roar, au revoir.
Last weekend on the occasion of Helen Clare’s 40th (or rather three months after the fact but in time for the AFL Grand Final which occurred fortuitously on the same day) we motored down to Angourie, where Dave had built a stage under the house and provided luxurious apartments.
With most of Angourie and half of Yamba invited to a bash themed appropriately – country rock and roll – straw bales were laid down to catch the unfortunate and a great variety of hats in evidence.
We proceeded to let rip with a choice display of CRnR at its mightiest, Tom Jones having just flown down from Darwin and watched the footy at the pub was loquaciously unimpaired and forthrightly fortified, managing to swing his P-bass about like so much puppetry.
However with the usual sign language and subtle nuances of gesture we were nearly able to get the muffler fixed, and of course buy beer.
The two gigs we played were surprisingy well received considering the language abyss. At the Divan Orange in Montreal we played with Luluc, a cracking outfit from Melbourne who just came off a tour with Lucinda Williams and met Glenn Campbell at the Calgary Folk Festival, two qualifications only matched by their fine songs and singing.
In the diminutive audience was Ochelle (spelling?) galfriend and expectant mother of TJ’s child, separated by bureacracy and oceans from Maitland – small world.
A couple of days in Montreal spent surmounting the language divide and then north to Lavaltrie. The gig there was in a converted horse stable – hence the Chasse Gallerie, a fine old building outfitted with a great PA. Again the audience was small, but very appreciative and we’ll be returning there.
After the gig, a six-hour jaunt south to Toronto, only delayed by the bizarrely confusing and complicated freeway system that put us through a few loop-de-loops and tried to keep us on the island of Montreal.
So now we’re in TO, a great city. Looking forward to some roast duck in Chinatown. Alors!