Thursday, March 4, 2010

Interview: Tex Perkins for Rave Magazine

Did an interview piece with The Cruel Sea and an album review for the latest issue of Rave, issue 930 . Interview was interesting and frustrating.


Amongst a small crowd of afternoon drunks, TEX
assures ANNA ANGEL that THE CRUEL SEA hasn't tempered yet.

Tex Perkins has one of those charismatic voices that
defi es genre and logic, and even carries over the 1pm
din of a local pub – almost. Using his gruff , distinctly Australian
timbre, the one-man powerhouse has fronted a
number of successful outfi ts, including Beasts Of Bourbon
and The Cruel Sea.

While The Cruel Sea was born in late ‘80s Sydney as an
instrumental-only group, the unlikely addition of Perkin’s
rock swagger was an ARIA-winning, hit-producing fusion.
Ever since he fi rst put words to their music, other projects
have intersected The Cruel Sea’s releases – but they’re
borderline commitment-phobic nowadays. There ain’t
no ring on this fi nger, at least, and they’re content with
nothing resembling “a proper career”. After a fi ve year hiatus
in 2003, which Perkin’s attributes to “playing so much
we took the joy out of it”, they now only perform around
three gigs a year. Perkins, who is currently touring with The
Man In Black – The Johnny Cash Story, is taking a break in
March for a Gold Coast gigs with his Cruel Sea bandmates,
Jim Elliot, Dan Rumour, and Ken Gormley.
Impatient fans may have hoped these shows were
a signal to an upcoming release, an idea that Perkins
quickly dismisses. He blames their reluctance to write
new material on the tedium of releasing, promoting, and
touring that follows the initial creative burst, sounding
exhausted at even explaining the process. It may be a
while before the boys start honing another record, with
an elusive, if not quite reassuring promise from Perkins
that they will “eventually write some songs, and probably
record them”.

With a future that vague, what can The Cruel Sea’s
many wives and mistresses hold on to but memories of
the days of young, passionate love? “You’ll hear some
obscure tracks from our back catalogue – it’ll basically
be the songs we enjoy playing. I think that will correspond
with the songs that people expect us to play.”
Perkins says the tracks now come so naturally to them,
a quickie catch-up rehearsal is all they’ll need. “The
Cruel Sea is hard wired into our DNA; I think we’ve all
done it in our sleep.”

Perkins is a hard man to pin down to one project or
musical style, and he’s moving on to more unfamiliar
territory after his stint as Cash. “For me, it’s a whole new
landscape out there, now I don’t have a record company;
I’m free of the shackles of Universal,” he says. “It’s a matter
of deciding what kind of record, and what kind of band
I’m creating. I just keep writing until I’ve got a big pile of
songs, and I’ll throw a match on it, and whatever burns,
I’ll record.”

With all the spontaneity and abandon of a true rock
legend, Perkins leaves me with that sentiment, resigned
to the fact that a pub, with what sounds like a growing
number of banshees in the background, is not an ideal
place to hold an interview. They sure know how to leave
you wanting more.

Digital edition here, page 12.

WHYTE ZEBRA – Double Or Nothing
Music for fly-swatting back-porch days

Before you get all angsty that Whyte Zebra got
the arts grant to make a CD/DVD single release that
your ‘indie-trip-bop-banana-core’ band deserved,
have a listen. Every member of this Central Queensland
pub staple fits together easily to bring a brand
of alternative rock that’s less ‘painfully hip’ and more
‘established, successful band that knows exactly
where they’re at musically’. The lead track, Double
Or Nothing is a sweeping, melodic number that benefits
from the outstanding vocals of Andy Stanhope.
The clip for the track is simple but effective, proving
that this outfit is a low-key, natural occurrence
against the backdrop of a country town. It also features
a cute dog. The bonus tracks, instead of being
fillers, seem to outshine the main event. Gorgeous
instrumental piece, Closer To Getting Close, demonstrates
the skill of Bec Romeo on violin, and Knock
Knock stands out as a memorable, drum-heavy track
reminiscent of Alice In Chains.


Digital edition here, page 28.

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