Since 2006, righteous Gold Coast roots duo Hussy Hicks (Julz Parker on guitar, percussion and vocals and Leesa Gentz on vocals and percussion) have been carving out their own self- made, eclectic take on traditional music forms. Raw, honest and talented, they’re dab hands at channelling styles as diverse as jazz, blues, folk, rock, and world music into their own inimitable style.
While calling the Gold Coast home, the girls have an ever-burgeoning fan base far and wide and are seasoned world travellers, having performed and recorded throughout the USA and Europe for a number of years.
The two intrepid troubadours are currently wrapping up another extensive overseas sojourn. The month of October saw them play a bunch of shows throughout the USA, before they return to our shores in November for a stack of festival and headlining appearances throughout the country over the long hot summer.
Taking time out from their very busy schedule, guitar whiz Julz Parker regaled us with a bunch of musical anecdotes while on the road in the US of A but not before she sent us an exclusive pre-release stream of the band’s new album ‘On The Boundaries’ due for release 10 November.
First of all, how has the current US tour been going so far? What have been the highlights for you and Leesa across the shows you’ve been playing?
The tour has been going really well – it’s been great sharing music each night with our friends Christie Lenée and Daniel Champagne. A real highlight for us was getting to go back and spend time in Mobile, Alabama. We recorded our last album there and have so many great friends in the area. It’s always so good to get back there.
I see that you got to catch the legendary Iggy Pop perform in Atlanta on one of your rare nights off. What was that like?
That was just a stroke of luck – we left a bit earlier than planned for Nashville as hurricane Nate was approaching Mobile. There was a traffic jam between Birmingham and Huntsville so we decided to detour via Atlanta. Leesa checked to see what gigs might be on and noticed that Iggy Pop was playing a small festival. A friend of ours is his drummer and hooked us up with last minute tickets. He is such an amazing live performer – he struts around and commands the stage with the energy of a 20 year old. You really can’t take your eyes off him. It was the first time either of us had seen him live and it’s a memory I know I’ll always treasure.
What’s the general mood and vibe like in the USA at the moment, in light of the upheavals and general craziness of a Trump presidency?
We’re pretty lucky in that we go from town to town meeting music promotors, music lovers and they are all just doing their best to keep focusing on the good they can do through the arts community. I also think the upside of this general craziness is that the average person is starting to realise they have to take notice. There seems to be more of a political consciousness this time round than I’ve experienced before.
You’re about to drop a new album. Can you tell us about it?
The album is called ‘On the Boundaries’ and is a collaboration with London producer, Raphael White. It’s the biggest departure from our live sound of any of our albums, but we are really happy with it. I feel like it’s a great ‘start to finish’ body of work and I hope people will sit down and listen to it in its entirety. It’s quite different to our past recordings – there’s lots more vocal and instrumental layering, but there should still be enough familiar about it for existing fans of our music to make the jump.
Do you have a favourite place in the world to tour and perform? And is there somewhere you’d love to play that you’ve yet to?
I’d love to tour South America and Russia. I think both would be amazing experiences – probably very different. We don’t have one favourite place to play but we do have lots of favourites that we keep coming back to. Germany treats us very well and we absolutely love Berlin and Stuttgart. Italy is always just a joy to be in. London (where we recorded ‘On the Boundaries’ ) is a bit of a creative hub for us and is always good to revisit.
Your band is one of the hardest working touring acts out there at a grassroots level. Is it fair to say that while success is nice, you’re doing it very much for the love of your craft and the shared personal and cultural experiences that come with connecting with others through your music?
100% we love playing music and the places it takes us and people we meet through it. I feel like we get better with each year and it’s always exciting to see how we can mix things up whether it be in the studio or live. Leesa has been playing a stand-up drum kit for the past year so that has been a fun addition to our sonic options.
After this run of US shows you’re doing a massive run of festival shows back here in Australia. Do you enjoy the summer festival circuit, and how is it that you get to appear on so many different and divergent festivals? Is there one in particular that you’re particularly looking forward to playing over the summer?
Gosh, it’s hard to pinpoint one that we’re looking forward to more than the others. The Mullum Music Festival will be great, as it’s such a homecoming festival for us. And early next year we’ll be playing Nannup in WA, which was the first festival that gave us a go in 2008, so it’s our 10 year anniversary there.
Who are your top three guitar heroes/influences?
It’s really hard to narrow that down. But I grew up playing with Phil Emmanuel so that was a big influence on me. I then moved overseas and got more into European guitarists. I love the Gypsie Jazz players and I’m also a big fan of a French guitarist Called Sylvan Luc. Jeff Lang is one of the guitarist I feel is really pushing the instrument into awesome territory. Hmm one more I’ll throw is a guy called Blake Mills – he really has his sounds under control.
Any idea yet as to what the rest of 2018 will have in store for you after this epic run of shows?
We’ll we’ve got a bunch more festivals in Australia after the new year as we take our new album on the road then we’ll be heading back to the States and Europe.
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Hussy Hicks will be back amongst us and playing some local shows again soon. First up they play Mullum Music Festival from 17 – 19 November. And even closer to home, they’ll be getting up close and intimate at the Summertime Sessions In The Village, in Mudgeeraba, on 15 December.