Still standing out from the folk crowd: The Waifs

With The Waif’s seventh studio album freshly released, and American and Australian tours happening August through November, Tiffany Mitchell posed five quick questions to Vikki Thorn regarding their new album Beautiful You and other beautiful music moments.

The Dark Highway ballad with its refreshing Americana/country tones and the songs When a Man Gets Down and 6000 Miles have shown that The Waifs are morphing to this steely resonant sound. Your indie genre label that has tagged the band for so long, has this evolved too?

Our bass player Ben Franz is such a good pedal steel player we just have to use him. I’d use more of it, everywhere, if it was up to me. I don’t know about labels and tags. We try to stay true to our acoustic folk roots but some songs just call for a different approach. We found that to be the case on these new songs. We intended to make an acoustic record but it didn’t come out that way…


You played last year with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in your hometown of Albany WA, describe the buzz around that concert.

It was wonderful to be a part of that celebration in our hometown. It was probably the biggest event the town had ever pulled together. Donna read from our great uncle’s diary describing fighting in the trenches in France. We felt connected to the event in many ways. Playing with WASO felt like hearing our songs fully realised. Very special.


If you could take a little piece of that orchestra on tour with you – what instruments would you select and play on Beautiful You?

I’d take the horns for 6000 Miles, the strings for Black Dirt Track and Beautiful You and probably everything else!


While we’re speaking of your hometown, what WAS your musical upbringing? Who did you drive miles to see?

We had lots of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Animals’ vinyl in the house. Donna introduced me to Prince and my other sister passed along Billy Joel tapes from Bali. When I was of age the great Aussie rock bands toured through. Hoodoo Gurus, The Divinyls, The Angels, Jimmy Barnes, Johnny diesel, Hunters & Collectors, Icehouse. It all had an impact.


In August you’re playing in some pretty slick venues in the US, from Ogden Utah to Macarthur Park in Los Angeles. How did American fans discover The Waifs and truly ‘get’ you?

The Waifs got picked up at a folk alliance convention in Vancouver 2000 and got put on the main stage of every major folk festival in the northern continent that year. WE didn’t know why it happened that way. We kept hearing things like ‘refreshing’ … ‘energetic.’ I guess we played what they needed to hear at that time. Maybe it sounded just different enough to stand out back then…

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The Waif’s Australian tour kicks off in September with a show at Miami Marketta on Thursday 22 October with special guest Mia Dyson. Tickets via oztix.



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