They are Australia’s Country Bluegrass version of Cold Chisel – the hardest working band of soloists, and multi-instrumentalists with a slew of side projects playing the regional festival circuit today. Only last week they were nominated for an Aria Award for Best Blues and Roots album competing alongside the likes of Jimmy Barnes and Cat Empire. Blank GC’s Tiffany Mitchell posted a few questions to guitarist and songwriter Danny Widdicombe before they head off to South East Queensland and their gig at Soundlounge this Thursday 13 October.
Your band comprising; Ben Salter, Sime Nugent, Andrew Morris and John Bedgood split your time between homes in Queensland and Victoria. Whose garage and in what State did you all write and practice the new album; You can’t catch fish from a Train?
“Living thousands of miles apart actually helps keep the whole thing fresh. The nature of our acoustic, bluegrass style instrumentation is that we don’t need to practice together a whole lot and still make it work. Soundcheck is always good for practicing. There’s nothing like a gig to get the songs right! ”
We particularly like the song from your new album, Through it all – it has a boisterous Beatles sound with a sprinkling of John Lennon’s Norwegian Wood. Who wrote that song? Were you listening to Beatles albums creating this song?
“I wrote that one. Glad you like it! I fell in love with the Beatles during primary school and then discovered all I know about music from that solid grounding. Through It All wasn’t meant to sound Beatles-esque – some songs start writing themselves once you’ve got a melody going and this is one of those. Funnily enough, I first met bandmate Ben Salter in Brisbane years ago when he would play some Beatles songs in the Queen St Mall. He used to draw a massive crowd singing those wonderful songs – he’s always been a great singer. We’re all Beatles fans – people who say they don’t like the Beatles don’t understand music. It’s ok to like The Beatles AND The Stones…”
Recently on the ABC’s Gruen show – host Wil Anderson highlighted the amount of TV ads using folk music to promote their products. That said, there are a number of lifestyle shows that are accompanied by a banjo riff bubbling in the background, has the band ever been asked to record instrumentals for commercial work?
“We made our first album before the whole hipster acoustic Fleet Foxes thing took off. Then my leukaemia came back so we stayed friends but cancelled all our shows etc. During our hiatus all these bands came out with banjos and fiddles and sang oohs and ahhhhs in their choruses – I suppose they couldn’t think of anything to say?” “We haven’t had much music put on TV but Moz (Andrew Morris) has had his retry face in a Nutella commercial. KFC wanted to use a song but they ended up going with someone else…”
You have played at Australia’s premier music festival Bluesfest a few years back – did you have any rock n’ roll star struck moments playing there?
“Yes! 2010 was our first Bluesfest and it was remarkable. Then we had a big comeback gig in 2013 which was quite emotional because I’d beaten off leukaemia again and I didn’t think we’d ever play as a band again. That year I met Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples. Wow. I got a pic with Robert and was there when Bonnie asked Mavis if she could get up with her during Mavis’ set. Low and behold, we were watching Mavis’ set and then out comes Bonnie with her trademark Strat / slide tone and she knocked everyone out. It was a real thrill.”
Your latest album; You can’t catch fish from a Train – where did this unique album title come from?
“You can either take yourself very seriously or you can shove your tongue firmly in your cheek. It basically came from one of our never ending email threads. We were talking about trains and fish and before we knew it we had our album title. I think we had the title before we had the songs.”
Is there anything else about your new album you would like to mention?
“We got nominated for an ARIA award!!! Woohoo! That’s 3 nominations from 3 records! We’ve got our bridesmaids dresses ready to go!”
Catch The Wilson Pickers and their album launch at the Soundlounge Thursday 13 October.
Supported by Dana Gehrman
Doors open from 7:30pm, show begins at 8:30pm
See them also play at Mullum Music Fest on 18 – 20 November.