Josh Pyke is one of Australia’s favourite home grown artists, with a stack of accolades to prove it. Nicci Seccombe had the chance to speak with Josh as he prepares to embark on his regional tour – which includes a stop at Port Macquarie …
Your third studio album, Only Sparrows, has been out for a while now … we actually did a CD review on it a couple of months ago. What was it like writing and recording this album?
It was probably the most challenging one that I’ve done so far, for lots of reasons – one of which was having a young baby, and my head being in domestic life for a while.
The first two albums came really easily… they always say that your first album you’ve had your whole life to write. With the second one, I was touring so much and my life was changing so much that I was really inspired to write all the time, because everything was new and exciting.
So when the third album came around, I’d had quite a long break and I’d had a child – and my life had changed a lot. There’s a lot of material there to write about, but I didn’t want to write like a ‘new dad’ record! So it was a real challenge for me to try and step outside of the life I’d been living and write songs that were still intimate stories, but they weren’t just like reading pages from my diary – which is what the last two albums were about.
So that was a really new method for me; I found it really challenging, but really really rewarding when I got into it.
What was it like working with Katy Steele (Little Birdy) on your latest single, Punch in the Heart?
It was really good, but it’s one of those funny things with music and modern technology these days, where she was in New York and I was in Sydney the whole time. So we sent the files across to her for the song, she recorded over there, then sent it back and we mixed it over here.
It was perfect, what she did. And it was the same for the film clip … we filmed our half over here, and she filmed her half over in New York. But then, really by coincidence she was in Perth visiting family when I was touring over there, so we did get to perform the song live together at the theatre where we played. That was a really special moment, and it kind of felt like it had all really come together.
Last year you toured the capital cities with Only Sparrows, and this year you’re doing a regional circuit. What are you looking forward to about performing at these smaller venues?
Honestly, I am really loving playing live at the moment, so any chance to do it is great. I love my band – we’ve been playing together with this line up for about three years now, and I feel like we’ve really found our true form with the band. It just feels effortless and really, really fun.
So playing the smaller venues makes it more fun because it’s more intimate. And they’re kind of pub style venues, and that’s where we all came up through the ranks doing shows – it’s just always fun. At the regional venues, I generally like to get out and say g’day to everybody at the show and make it a bit more intimate and fun. I guess it’s about getting back to basics.
So can we expect a good mix of the old and the new music with the show?
Yeah, definitely. We were rehearsing the other day, and we’re throwing in songs like Silver, which is off the very first EP I ever did. We’ve got a fair bit of new stuff, and everything in between as well.
Who have you got supporting you on the tour this time?
It’s a band called The Rescue Ships. They’re from Sydney and they’re friends of ours, so they’ll be supporting us throughout the tour.
You’re playing the Byron Bay Bluesfest this year too. What are you looking forward to about performing there?
Well, I’ve never done it, so I’m just looking forward to the experience in general. It’s one of the premier festivals in Australia these days. I’ve done pretty much most festivals at some point in my career, but I’ve never done Bluesfest, so I’m mainly just excited about playing the festival itself. And it’s never a bad thing to be up in Byron for a couple of days!
We hear you’ve got an iPhone app out now too. What can we find on that?
I don’t really look at it much, to be honest! Ha ha! But I’m pretty sure it’s got things like tour dates, my twitter feeds, and we run a few competitions through it and that sort of stuff. It’s mostly just so that fans can keep up to date with tour dates and that sort of thing.
We’re really fortunate to have a good mix of Australian music on our airwaves these days. What are your thoughts about where the industry is heading in this country?
Whoa … that’s a big question! I kind of feel that there’s a definite changing of the guard moment in terms of music and the bands coming up through the ranks.
For example, bands like Boy and Bear, Jezebels, Cloud Control and all these bands that have sort of, in the last four years or so, really started to make their mark – and it’s clear to me that they’re the new pack of what’s going to be the really successful bands. And to me, that’s really exciting!
It’s probably safe to say that Triple J has played an important part in your success, particularly in the early days. Why do you think Triple J and their initiatives are so important to Australian music?
They’re just a pretty unique station, because they’re a national youth oriented station. Anybody anywhere in the country can access it. And for a band, it is a launch pad that is truly national and not just concentrating on city by city. So, I think it’s really important for that reason.
It’s great that they offer competitions like Unearthed as a lot of massive bands have come through them to make it to the top.
Yeah, that’s so true.
So what can we expect from you in 2012?
As you know, I’m touring up until April. But I would really love to get back into the studio before the end of the year and get stuck into a new album. The last one I did in between everything else, so there was a bit of a gap there, but this time I’d really like to push into a new one straight away and just keep going with more of the same.
I’m really loving this album and how we’ve been touring it; I just think it’s really organic, and I just kinda want to keep doing that. As clichéd as it sounds, I just want to keep making records that I love and playing to audiences that love them too. That would keep me happy.