Jim Moginie takes the family dog for a walk around Oz

Jim Moginie is the guitarist and principal songwriter for legendary Australian rock icons, Midnight Oil. He is currently on a ‘Summer of the DOG’ tour with his band Jim Moginie and the Family Dog, playing their ‘Bark Overtures’ album, and more. We had a chat to Jim about the past, present and future rock n roll life, and of course The Family Dog. They are going to be fun.

Jim, you and the Family Dog will be hitting the road soon, how do you feel doing low key shows after doing the big Midnight Oil shows?

It’s all part of the role of a jobbing musician I think. I love it. You get closer to people, it’s more intimate, you can experiment more… ha ha! But I think the Oils experimented a fair bit, when I think about it, we’ve got a great band, from great rock ancestry, if that is the right word, from the Celibate Rifles and the Oils,  Paul Larson (Drummer) plays for Ed Keupper and the Aints as well as the Celibate Rifles, and also with the New Christs as did Kent Steedman (Also Celibate Rifles), and Tim with Youth Group, Hoolihan, and Kenevil and other bands, and I’ve got other bands as well apart from the Oils. It’s a great thing to do, and we’ve made an album, so we just want to go out and show it to people in a honest way, take it to the masses you know.

I’ve been listening to the new album, and I can hear a touch of the Beatles in there, a bit of psychedelia in there, are you a Beatles fan, and what sort of music do you listen to?

Someone said it sounded like a cross between the Beatles and the MC5, which is pretty good too, I’ll take that! I grew up with the Beatles, I was a shocking Beatles fan, and I still am, listening to the new White Album still 50 years later. I think it is sad in a way, but you seem to always go back to the first music that you heard and went in to your brain, and somehow that defines who you are, and that kind of music, the melody and the wildness, and the joyful abandonment I’ve always enjoyed. And who doesn’t like the Beatle, they are such a great band.

Which guitar players influenced you the most through your career?

Wow, nobody’s ever asked me that question before. Top 5, Julian Bream, a great English classical guitar player, Jan Akkerman, the great Dutch guitar player, Django Reinhardt, and Bill Frisell, and probably someone like late 1960’s Clapton. Great question…

Has your approach to composing music changed from your early days to now?

I’d have to. You get older and things change. I think I’m always writing, it doesn’t matter what it’s for you just always write. The thing is having an outlet for it. I think when the Oils stopped, that was 25 years of pouring everything, heart and soul into it, when the Oils stopped it took me a few years to get my bearings. So I have to work out what to do, and the Family Dog was one of the first bands that formed out of that, and we did some touring, we did Bluesfest, Melbourne and around Sydney, we didn’t do a lot and it sort of petered out, there were other things started happening. It was only a friends 50th birthday party, he asked us to go and play, and we did, and we hadn’t played, rehearsed or anything, and I just looked at these guys and went holy… crap this is the most amazing sounding band, and I had an outlet there, and I write for “My Electric Guitar Orchestra” and that is using a pen and music paper and staves, and with the Oils and others it is songs, just simple chords and words, words are a big part of things. Good words can stand the test of time, I always believe that. You have just got to spend a bit of time getting them right. The process probably has changed, in the beginning it was probably jamming around with a few riffs; but I’m still capable of that, and “The Dog” is certainly that sort of band. It’s very organic we come up with lot of the stuff just sitting around playing, and a lot of these performances were taken from jam sessions that were just edited a bit, buffed up and thrown into pieces of music that made sense. It’s a good process without being too meticulous about recording.

So what can the punters expect from the show you think?

Jim – Well we have got some good support bands, we have got Rudy Gilbert and Ben Ely from the Gurg (Regurgitator) supporting us in Brisbane, Ben Ely solo at the Sol Bar in Coolum and Byron Bay with Kellie Knight and Ben at the community Centre. From us we will be playing a lot of stuff from our back pages, a few Oils things, quite a bit from the new album “Bark Overtures”, and maybe some well chosen covers which changes night to night. I would say just a good rocking night really. Guitars leading the way, some solid beats and feels, good Australian live music, at the end of Australian Music Month. It’s just good to be out there doing it while we still can. I think that’s the trick, seizing the moment and making account for everyone. It’s intense too, when we play it’s very intense experience, we are not there fluffing around with pedals, have something with a bit of flesh and blood, something for people to hook on to. 

You can check out Jim Monigie and the Family Dog when they hit The Brightside in Brisbane on 14 December or the Byron Theatre on 16 December. 

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