A childhood passion for music and a ten year battle for recognition have led Josh Pyke to his position in the music industry today, with two albums and three Aria awards to his name.
You joined your first band at age 12, but when did you first pick up an instrument?
I started playing guitar when I was about 15 and I had lessons for about 6 months. I’ve never been very good at learning things from a teacher, so after that I started trying to teach myself. That’s when I started writing songs as well.
> Where did the passion for music come from?
It was just always there. I remember listening to records in the front room of my parents’ house and just having an instant engagement with music. I really felt that it was important to me.
I was having emotional responses to the songs, and I couldn’t quite understand why. I used to listen to Beatles records and flip out at how good they were. It was just the only thing that ever really interested me as an ongoing thing.
There were a lot of things that I got into and left by the wayside, but music was something that I always really wanted to continue to do.
> How hard was it to get a break into the music scene?
Well, it was really hard. I was in a band from the time I was 12, and from the time I left high school I was trying as hard as I could to be a professional musician.
I didn’t get a record deal until I was 26, so that kind of puts it in perspective as to how long it really took. Previously I was in various bands and there were other things I was trying to pursue, but like I said, music was the thing that I kept coming back to.
I can safely say it took a solid ten years before anything much happened in terms of breaking into the music industry.
> You’ve got a gig in Forster in May. Have you been to the area before?
Yeah, I’ve been there a few times, on holidays and playing a few gigs in the area.
> What do you remember most about the area?
It’s a really beautiful area. The whole coast along there is amazing.
> Your latest album, ‘Chimney’s Afire’, goes back to the whaling days. Why did you settle on the name?
I don’t really know where that came from. It just happened really naturally.
I was reading a lot of books about whaling, maritime inventions and maritime history in general, and the stuff that I was writing about just seemed to fit in well with those sort of images.
It wasn’t really a conscious thing, but before I knew it I’d incorporated old seafaring terminology in the songs, and once it happened I just ran with it.
> How would you describe the album?
All the songs are written from a personal perspective. I’d like to believe that they all have an honesty and integrity to them. I produced the record myself, so it has a pretty consistent sonic palette.
> What are some of the stand out tracks?
My favourites change all the time. At the moment I really love ‘Our House Breathing’. It’s probably my favourite track at the moment, but it varies from week to week.
To be honest, I don’t really listen to my own record, so I guess it comes down to the live experience of playing those songs, and I really enjoy playing Our House Breathing.
> Your previous album collected 3 ARIA awards. Did you ever expect that kind of success with that album?
No, I didn’t expect it. I guess I was quietly in the back of my mind fantasizing about it going well. You can never really bank on that kind of stuff happening, so it was a big surprise and it’s something that I still feel really proud of.
Some people joke about how they put their ARIA Awards in the cupboard or use them as doorstops and that sort of thing, but it was a big achievement for me, so it was great.
> The singer/storyteller is becoming a bit more prevalent in Australian music these days. Why do you think that is coming back around?
Maybe people just want to engage with the music a bit more on that level. I kind of feel like the singer/songwriter genre music is always around. It never really goes totally out of fashion; it’s always bubbling away there under the surface.
Maybe there has just been a run of good singer songwriters all at the same time.
> How would you describe the Australian music scene at the moment?
It seems really good to me, especially considering we are meant to be in a global economic slowdown. It seems like people are still really interested in coming to shows.
The bands that I’ve seen out there on the road and the bands that I’ve had as my support acts on the last few tours would really suggest that there is a lot of awesome stuff out there.
To me, it seems really good. I don’t know how it is for bands just starting out, but in terms of the bands that I’ve seen playing shows and getting along releasing EPs, it seems like it’s going really well.
> What can our readers expect from one of your shows?
I’m going to be trying to cover both the old and the new stuff. I’ll definitely be covering a few of the old favourites, but I really want to focus on the new record. I’ll be playing the majority of the new record, which has been going really well.
There’ll be nothing too outrageous – no pyrotechnics – or anything, just the songs played well.
> Is there anyone supporting you on your gigs here?
There will be a band called Little Scout. They’re a really great Brisbane band.
> Thank you Josh.