Leesa Gentz and Julz Parker are Hussy Hicks. They’re also really, really nice ladies. They took time out from their busy schedule of planning collaborative shows to chat with Samantha Morris about their craft.
The Hussy Hicks are hard workers. Since meeting in 2004, the ladies have toured the globe, played scores of festivals (including 7 sets at Falls Festival Byron), recorded three studio albums and at the end of 2013 took out the Dolphin Awards for best album.
“We were stoked winning that,” Julz said of the prestigious North Coast (NSW) Award. “We were in Ireland in Temple Bar and they streamed the whole show. So we sat in a bar at 10.00am and watched the awards being announced.”
The award recognised the Hussy Hicks’ 2013 album London Sessions, which was released to acclaim from a range of reviewers. Despite the acclaim and the jetsetting tour schedule it’s obvious the girls are proud of their Gold Coast heritage.
Leesa raves about the music scene here. “I think it’s amazing. There seems to be a real push towards the original side of things. People are really creative, doing interesting things. It’s really exciting.”
“The fact is,” she continues, “all our friends in Melbourne bands work really hard in day jobs so they can go touring. We go touring so that we can come back and live on the Gold Coast.”
“We love it here,” Julz adds.
That feeling is no surprise given their long association with the Gold Coast. Leesa grew up in Lennox and Julz in Tallebudgera. We reminisced about some of the coast’s lost venues. “Obviously being from Tallebudgera, I miss the Playroom,” Julz said. Turns out she played there, to 1100 screaming 14 year olds as part of the venue’s popular under-age rage events.
But both agreed there’s a diversity of good venues on the coast right now. “I’m stoked about this place,” Julz said, sweeping her hand towards the Rabbit+Cocoon sheds where they’re planning a show at the end of the month. “You can do an intimate concert here or blow it up to a big space.”
Many gig goers are in left in awe of Julz’ incredible guitar mastery. And in fact, I was introduced to Julz by a friend as ‘like the best guitar player in the whole world.” I was still surprised to hear that Maton had gifted her a custom-made guitar during the band’s travels.
“Andy at the Maton Custom Shop made it as a gift,” Julz explained. “It’s quite sturdily made, because I travel so much and with different climates the guitar can shrink and split.”
I ask if Maton think the whole girl band thing is a bit of a novelty. “Yes,” says Leesa, “But Julz is a really really good guitar player.”
I’m sensing here that Julz is a good guitar player.
“We were doing quite a few shows in Europe at guitar festivals and we befriended the Maton crew. I was playing the cheapest Maton guitar and they just said we should make you a custom made,” Julz said.
“They recognised that we’re playing to a really different market to a lot of their regular performers,” Leesa added.
Since their first studio album released in 2008, the ladies have been busy recording and releasing a number of singles and a DVD. When pressed about plans for 2014, Leesa nearly laughed. “We have heaps of songs,” she said.
“We had such a great experience recording the last album, so now we’re just trying to come up with the right circumstances. I don’t know, we might move a little more slowly with this one, try to do a bit of it ourselves.”
Julz and Leesa mention their families many times throughout our chat. Julz, one of six siblings grew up in a house full of music. Leesa and her sister have played music all of their lives. Apparently it’s jams all the time at the Parker’s residence.
It’s no wonder then, that their new show Circle of Friends has a family friendly vibe.
“Basically the concept is like songwriters in the round,” Leesa explains. “Everyone involved is a friend of ours. The jamming’s pretty good.”
“The way we describe it, it’s like we’re at a festival or a gig where we’re playing with other musos – this is what we do when we get home and sit in our loungeroom – kind of pass the guitar around and say, hey, check out this song. It’s a really nice vibe,” she says. .
This is the second Circle of Friends the Hussy Hicks have coordinated for the Gold Coast. It will see Bobby Alu, Kim Churchill and Brooke Supple (who’s just on the Gold Coast for a short break after touring with Sinead O’Connor) join Julz and Leesa on stage for stories and songs.
“Because it’s an afternoon gig, it’s great for people who can’t normally go out on a Friday or Saturday night,” Leesa says. And both the ticket price ($15) and the fact that the show is broken into two neat halves makes it even more family friendly. “Kids are most definitely welcome,” Julz added.
You can meet these talented and accomplished hussies in person and learn more about their songwriting when Circle of Friends hits Rabbit+Cocoon on Monday 27 January.
Circle of Friends
Monday 27 January, Rabbit+Cocoon
Julz Parker, Leesa Gentz, Bobby Alu, Kim Churchill, Brooke Supple
Tickets $15 ($20 on the door), hussyhicks.iwannaticket.com.au
We have an autographed copy of the Hussy Hicks’ London Sessions album to give away. To be in the running email email@example.com with the name of one track off the album. Winner will be selected at random on Friday 31 January.
PHOTO courtesy the lovely Polly Armstrong.