They had a non traditional upbringing, have messed around playing an electric jug, feel a sense of achievement when they’ve wooed a room full of hipsters, and they hit the coast this November. They’re none other than PerchCreek Family Jug Band. Anthony Gebhardt shakes them down.
Q) Have you played on the Gold Coast before, and if so what were your
impressions of our fair city?
Yes, we’ve played the Gold Coast a plenty of times over the years. It’s a beautiful part of the world and we are especially looking forward to being up there again after a Melbourne winter that has lasted until November.
Q) So you crew are in the midst of your ‘Dressin’ Up And Shakin’ Down’ tour right? How have the shows been so far, and has the tour lived up to its moniker!? Has there been any impressive attire on display amongst the audience
at any of the shows?
The shows have all been so much fun. Our audiences always look good, but I think the most outrageous wardrobe choices have come from on stage this time around. The highlight for me was the brothers wearing matching blonde mullet wigs at one of our Sydney shows – the effect was disturbingly realistic!
Q) Regional vs big smoke gigs – do you have a preference and is there a noticeable difference between the types of crowds you attract in the big cities versus the regional areas?
Yeah, there is definitely a difference. Generally, I prefer regional gigs, because those city hipsters are so damn hard to please, but by the same token, when you do manage to impress a room full of hipsters, you definitely feel a sense of achievement.
Q) What was it like growing up in the Perch Creek area, and did you have a somewhat non-traditional upbringing?
We had a great time growing up by Perch Creek and yes, you guessed it, we did indeed have a pretty different upbringing to most folks it would seem. For a start we showered in creek water, slept in old buses and caravans and all went to Steiner school. Then there was the band…
Q) Was it your father Bob who introduced you to the ways of jug band music?
Yes, Father Bob and his record collection are entirely to blame…
Q) Is he still involved in music or your music career in any way?
Not really, although he’s still our Dad and we still respect his opinions, musical or otherwise (of which there are many!).
Q) Are any of your instruments actually homemade?
Yes, although these days the last remaining homemade instruments are the washboard/jug contraption that Lear plays, and Camilla’s Frankenstein keyboard that refuses to die.
Q) My initial (only) exposure to jug playing was via Tommy Hall of 60s psychedelic forefathers The 13th Floor Elevators, who played an electric jug. Is it a difficult instrument to master, and do you ever play the electrified version of the instrument?
Haha, yeah, we joke around about playing the electric jug as well as the electric saw, but so far the fear of burns and gashes has prevented us from actually doing either. It’s not so hard to get a note out of the jug, but to make it sound musical is no mean feat!
Q) I understand that you are now based in Melbourne. Did you experience any initial ‘culture shock’ when you moved there?
There are so many other musicians here in Melbourne that we felt right at home. If we ever do get a pang of homesickness, our touring schedule always takes us back there before too long.
Q) When will your upcoming album be released, and would you describe it as a marked change in direction from your previous material or more a subtle growth as a result of your new found collaborative songwriting process?
The new album will be out early next year. It is notably less country than our previous release Tall Tales, and I’d say that generally it is a much more mature and focussed musical statement, while still maintaining our characteristic diversity and a strong sense of fun.
Q) Are there any current musical acts that you feel a kinship with on a local level?
Yes, so many. We recently did a show in Melbourne with our good friends the Merri Creek Pickers (yes, I know, we both have “creek” in our names) whose vintage rock sound we really dig. Also, in Sydney with Papa Pilko & The Binrats, as well as All Our Exes Live In Texas. In fact, all musicians share a kinship in that we’ve all made possibly the nuttiest career choice possible!
Q) I see you’ve toured Europe a couple of times already now! What has been your favourite overseas touring experience so far, and are there any overseas sojourns in the wind for the band in 2014?
We’ve done some great gigs over there, Green Man festival in Wales last year was one stand out, especially since the experience was heightened by the adrenalin rush from getting bogged on our way through the festival grounds and nearly missing the show! Yes, we are already booked to play a number of shows and festivals in the UK and Holland next year.
Q) You’ve also played a whole heap of festivals all over the country in the past few years, and are on the bill of this year’s Mullum Music Festival. Have you played this festival before and do you enjoy returning back here to play in front of your home town crowd?
Yes, we are stoked to be returning to play the Mullum Music Festival again. The home crowd are great, even if they still think of us as being young and cute.
Q) Does your little brother still hop up on stage with you come back up here and play locally? I recall seeing him on spoons (or was it tambourine?) when I first randomly chanced upon you guys a few years back playing an afternoon show at the Bangalow Markets…
It would have been Lenny on the spoons. He gets up occasionally, but since we moved to the big smoke and started playing late night bars, he’s gotten a little out of practise as well as having developed a 10 year old’s shyness. Who knows if he’ll get bitten by the performers bug on the night…
Q) With acts such as yourself and Frank Fairfield now resonating with a younger/hipper audience than what is normally associated with this style of music, do you feel that you are a conduit to opening the musical ears of a new generation of listeners to ‘old time’ style music?
To a certain extent yes, but our music is pretty diverse and rarely done in any traditional style. Our sound could definitely be described as “vintage” in a general sense, but the “old time” (early American pre-country music) element of what we do is very small.
View the clip of Big Things Calling. Perch Creek Family Jug Band play The Soundlounge, Currumbin on Friday 22 November with special guest Daniel Champagne. Tickets are $22 + booking fee and doors open 8pm.