Since releasing their debut album, Between Last Night and Us, in 2006 The Audreys have gone from strength to strength, releasing three further albums and garnering critical acclaim, several ARIAs and a deservedly devoted fanbase. Heidi Maier had the chance to talk to Taasha Coates, The Audreys’ winsome and witty front woman.
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The last few years have been a beehive of activity both personally and professionally for Taasha, as she’s juggled making time for music with the demands of motherhood. Speaking from her hometown of Adelaide, where The Audreys were born and to which she returned after a brief stint living in Brisbane four years ago, Coates is looking after her husband and young son, both of whom are unwell, before getting ready to hit the road again.
The Audreys recently released their fourth album, ‘Til My Tears Roll Away, and they’re currently traversing the country, playing live with a full band for the first time in several years.
Coates, who is pregnant with her second child, admits that it’s a marked difference from the last time she toured, playing stripped back acoustic duo shows with her band mate and songwriting partner Tristan Goodall.
Coates and Goodall met at university in the 1990s. For many years they were a couple, separating shortly after the band’s debut album was released.
That album snagged them their first ARIA, for Best Blues and Roots Album, a feat they’ve since gone on to repeat with their two subsequent albums, 2008’s When The Flood Comes and 2010’s Sometimes The Stars.
ABC Music/Universal Music Australia released a box set, The Audreys: Collected. Comprising their first three albums, it also boasts several previously unreleased rarities. When I ask Coates what prompted the decision to repackage the albums she is characteristically forthright and dryly humorous.
“Honestly? People come up to us at shows and say, ‘Oh, I’ve got that album, but which of the other two should I buy? Which is your favourite?’ It’s a tough question to be asked because it’s a bit like someone asking you to pick your favourite kid! It’s really nice to now have the option to just give people all three and hopefully we’ve made it interesting for longtime fans by adding some things they won’t have heard before,” she says.
The band’s unprecedented and history-making ARIAs trifecta was also a motivating factor for the repackaging and rerelease of their complete back catalogue.
As Coates points out, utterly devoid of ego, “it’s kind of cool, no? I mean, people will come to one ARIAs ceremony and maybe win a bunch of awards, whereas we’ve only ever won the one award, but it’s the same award, and we’ve won it for each album we’ve released, three times in a row, and that’s a bit special, I think.”
In writing and recording ‘Til The Tears Roll Away, Coates and Goodall stuck with the formula that has worked for them their entire collaborative relationship – Goddall flew in to spend time with Coates in Adelaide and they hunkered down, focusing primarily on writing songs.
“We don’t live in the same place, so we really have to make the week or two that we have together count. We’ll usually sit down with a guitar and a pad of paper and stare at each other for ages! Or sometimes we’ll write a bunch of songs one day and then the next day we’ll have nothing, but we both realise that’s just the way it works,” Coates muses.
“I don’t think of the way we write as special – it’s just what works for us and it’s what we do. We tend to write on guitar or piano and we actually recorded most of the record in five days, so it happened pretty fast. We wanted to record the tracks live, so we got the band into the studio and we hadn’t played them any of the songs, which was kind of mean!”
Asked about the harder, grittier edge that colours many of the songs on ‘Til The Tears Roll Away, Coates is down-to-earth, attributing it to “that weird unconscious thing that just sometimes happens when you’re songwriting.”
“Tristan and I and our producer Shane O’Mara, went into the studio on the first day of recording and discussed what sounds we wanted … we don’t sit around listening to our old records thinking we need to do that again. Bands don’t tend to listen to their own records thinking that they need to do that again. Well, maybe some do, but we don’t,” she says.
“Because of that, you lose your reference point and that’s not always a bad thing. It’s all about whatever you’re feeling. It’s still Tristan playing guitar, still my voice, it’s still our songwriting, but it had been more than three years since we wrote or recorded together and things change – your emotions change, your mood changes, you’re in a completely different headspace.”
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‘Til The Tears Roll Away is out now through ABC/Universal Music Australia.
The Audreys play Byron Theatre on 19 June, The Soundlounge Currumbin on 20 June and The Zoo in Fortitude Valley on 21 June.
Story by Heidi Maier