Just one look at the beautiful cover photo on The Waifs’ new album Ironbark says a lot about who they are and what they are about; friends and family bound together by their love of music, of performing and of Australia.
It’s 25 years since West Australian sisters Donna and Vikki Simpson (now Vikki Thorn) joined forces with Josh Cunningham to create one of the country’s best-loved bands. One can’t imagine a better way to commemorate this significant landmark in the band’s career than with a double album of 25 original songs, one for each year, all of them recorded in the kitchen of Cunningham’s home near Moruya, where he grew up. That’s the amazing and unexpected harvest from a couple of weeks of recording late last year, when the trio assembled with regular collaborators David Ross McDonald (drums, percussion) and Ben Franz (bass, dobro), not really knowing what they were about to record, other than maybe some covers of other artists’ material.
“There was a freshness to it and a flying by the seat of our pants thing,” says Cunningham. “The familiarity of the environment and the history around it was conducive to the recording. It wasn’t like a normal studio where the clock is ticking and the atmosphere can be a bit sterile. We had the crickets and cicadas and the birds.”
“We didn’t even have a list of songs,” says Thorn, who for the first time is the leading contributor to a Waifs album, with 10 songs of her own and a co-write with her sister on the poppy Not the Lonely. “What I love about this album is that you can hear the chemistry. Some of those tracks it was only the third or fourth time we had played the songs together. I can hear the tension of us all listening to the music. That tension translated beautifully on some of the tracks. ”
Ironbark album is now available to purchase instore and online through Jarrah Records and MGM.
The Waifs will be at NightQuarter on Saturday 8 April, with special guests Jez Mead’s Golden Mile. Head to thewaifs.com for details.
IMAGE (c) Jarrad Seng