This Friday you can catch not one but three of Australia’s favourite folk/country artists at Currumbin Creek Tavern: Liam Gerner, Caitlin Harnett and Josh Rennie-Hynes. Liam kindly took time from his schedule to tell us a bit about his music, his album “Land Of No Roads” and some of his experiences playing live.
For anyone not familiar with your music, how long have you been playing and how would you describe your sound?
Liam: I’ve been playing guitar since I was eight, I started gigging and writing when I was 12. It’s folky country rocky, story telling songs.
Which bands or solo artists would you say have been the biggest influence?
Seeing Billy Bragg perform songs that really interacted with the community was very inspiring. Steve Earle is great like that too as well as Midnight Oil. I like the songs of Ron Sexsmith, Nick Lowe, but I really, really like Robbie Fulks (maybe the most)
Can you tell us a bit about your album “Land Of No Roads”?
Liam: It came after a lot of touring and living in Europe and the US. I was living in Topanga Canyon Californian just out of Los Angeles, playing with Ryan Bingham, opening up for him then in his band. Basically I met a guy called Eric Lynn at the only bar in Topanga one night. Eric turned out to be Rick Rubin’s studio manager and engineer, he is a fantastic songwriter and keys player too, he’s 40 and he has an incredible story – he grew up recording under the wing of Jackson Brown and Little Feats drummer Ritchie, they had a band together.
Eric learnt how to record drums from him at a house studio owned by Trey Parker the SouthPark dude. Eric helped me lick the songs I’d been working on into shape and record the album at Shangri-La which is a very beautiful studio that Rick Rubin now owns. It was where the last waltz was recorded by The Band, Dylan lived there – his old tour bus is parked out back and is now a non mobile studio, Elvis even was there. It’s near the Malibu beach. The control room has windows that open up to the sea and so you feel like you’re basically in the garden looking at the hills and the Ocean while recording or more so performing the songs.
They have incredible studio recording equipment but they lay the studio out so that you can’t really see it. So the focus is on the songs and the performance. We used no click track, it was essentially recorded live where I played the song to the musicians once and we recorded them then. I met the musos over the years touring in Europe and the states. For instance the drummer Victor Indrizzo I met when touring with Alanis Morissette. It was cool to have Robbie Fulks and Gary Louris (Jayhawks) sing on it too. As they are some of my fave American singers and I got all my favorite American players, Steve Riley played Cajun accordion and lucky oceans who I grew up listening to added some dobro and steel. I was very lucky to have such kind friends.
The recording was very exciting, as I did not really have or was expected to have an idea exactly what I wanted the band to play, I didn’t tell them what to play we just did it very quickly. I’m very happy with it. Rick wasn’t personally involved although he kindly lent me great gear for doing extra bobs at home and he was doing his clothes washing as he was doing some renovations on his house then so he would pop in get his white linen! Well his maid would. He’d just come get recording gear. It was a pleasure and I look forward to going back there and doing more recording there soon hopefully. I’m pretty happy with the album cover too basically 11 postcards each specific to a song that you can send and someone can download that song for free.
You’ve toured pretty extensively: can you tell us some of your favourite moments from playing live over the years?
Liam: The most memorable moment was playing Austin City Limits Festival on the main stage to fifty odd thousand people as the hot Texas sun came down with Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses, it is a moment in the song Bluebird after this big long Indian like jam and it falls back into the riff it was so powerful to be part of that loud powerful moment. The band had been touring in the US and Europe and we were a strange tight loose beast.
My other favourite moment was completely flying upside down on stage in Lollapalooza Chicago after attempting to stand on a monitor box in a slightly hilarious rock n roll move fail – it was in front of tens of thousands and I was left with a spotted metal grill screen engraved arm from the speaker. Also playing the Royal Albert Hall with Roger Daltry and Paul Weller was great. I enjoyed playing onstage with Elton John in Pnau vs Elton too, he was real fun and sung his heart out. I love touring NZ too as its like camping.
What are all of your plans after this tour is over (recording, any new releases, further touring etc)?
Liam: I have a tour in Australia and NZ with my good pal Paolo Nutini in March/April. I then do a two week NZ tour and then I will write and record and head back to the USA I think and record here.
Liam Gerner plays a show with Josh Rennie-Hynes and Caitlin Harnett on Friday March 13th at Currumbin Creek Tavern. Tickets are a mere $11.25 including booking fee and can be purchased here. You can check out Liam’s website here.