Josh Pyke has had an incredible, admirable and impressive career in the music industry spanning over thirteen years. 2017 sees him celebrating his debut album “Memories & Dust” being out for a decade as well as the announcement of his hiatus at the end of the year. However the songwriter is doing one final extensive tour before hanging his towel and will see him play his debut record in it’s entirety as well as a second set of greatest hits in an intimate setting. I recently had a chat to Josh Pyke about some of his favourite memories over the past decade, the current tour, what this hiatus means for him and what his children think of his music. Check out the interview below;
TB: It’s been 10 years since you released your debut album “Memories & Dust”. Reflecting on it now what do you think are the strongest and weakest things about it?
JP: Oooh, thats a really good question! I mean I think the things I still really love about the record is the narratives and the lyrics. I spent a lot of time labouring over that and I still really love all of that side of the record, the imagery and all that stuff. If there is anything that I think is a weakness on it, I don’t reckon I learnt how to sing on record yet. That’s just an experience and a training of your vocal muscles kind of thing. I think it sounds like a young record to me, but it was.
TB: The title song Memories & Dust is a pretty nostalgic sounding song. Looking back at your 13 years in the industry what is your most fond memory?
JP: It’s pretty hard to narrow it down to just one but really early on I did a tri-state residency where I went around the country playing a show in three states every week for a month. Those started out with maybe 2 people at the shows and then ended with them all being sold out and those were really amazing moments for me because it finally felt like things were real and that it might turn into something. So I think really fondly of that. And then more recently playing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra was kinda like the other extreme where hearing my music in that context was amazing and gratifying and a very proud moment for me.
TB: What about a fond memory from the Memories & Dust era as well?
JP: For that era I was travelling a lot, I was going back and forth to the UK. I would do a tour here and then go over there and do a tour. So my memories of that era are really disjointed. I mixed the record in New York, I went from New York to play SXSW in Texas and then I went straight on to do a UK tour. So my memories are basically just travelling the world which was incredibly exciting and tiring. I was drinking a lot (laughs), everything was exciting and blurry.
TB: You’re currently on a national tour of Australia where you are playing “Memories & Dust” in full followed by a selection of your greatest hits. What else can fans expect when they come to your live show this time around?
JP: I’ve never done the full album thing so that’s the biggest difference but it’s been really fun. They’ve been very joyous and celebratory shows and the crowds really get into the spirit of things. There’s a lot of singing along and people talking about the songs and how they’ve connected with them over the years after the show as well. It’s been lovely.
TB: How are you finding this album is connecting with people 10 years on in these live show?
JP: In really lovely authentic ways. People have told me that they met their partner during the period that this album came out and people have lyrics from the album tattooed on them and people have had songs like “Say My Name” played at weddings. It’s been pretty amazing personal experiences that people have had.
TB: Is there any songs from the album that you have never performed before until this tour? Or ones you haven’t played in a long time?
JP: Yeah, there’s a song called “Covers Are Thrown” which I never played since recording it 10 years ago. That’s been one which has been really cool to play, It’s actually a really good live song I don’t know why I never played it. “Monkey With A Drum” and “Someone Else’s Town” have always been challenges to play live but they’ve been amazingly well received. To be honest I never thought my old band were good enough to play those songs but the band I’ve got now kick ass so it helps a lot.
TB: How are you going remembering all the lyrics?
JP: Surprisingly well I must say! I was a bit nervous about that, I did have to look up some of the lyrics for the likes of “Covers Are Thrown” online. I generally have room in my brain to remember 25 songs and that’s about how many songs I’m playing so it’s okay.
TB: Over the years have you had any tips on how to remember lyrics when you are playing shows with that many songs?
JP: I don’t generally have issues remembering my own lyrics but over the years I’ve done Beatles concerts where I’ve had to remember lyrics and if I had to cheat I would put it on the top of my guitar so the crowd would never see it but I could have a sneak peak down and it just looks like I’m looking at my hands playing but yeah that’s a good tip *laughs*.
TB: That is so sneaky! I love it! *Laughs*. After the first run of dates you are then heading back out on the road in November to do some regional shows. Why did you decide this was the perfect way to finish this chapter before going on hiatus instead of swapping it around and finishing off with the national big city tour?
JP: To be honest I didn’t even think of that *laughs*. No real method to the madness. But I love playing regional shows, I have always focused very heavily on doing regional touring and I’ve been to all these places not so long ago. But what is really cool about the second leg of this tour is that it’s solo so I think it will be really nice to finish up on a more intimate context. I’m playing the songs the way they were written which was on a acoustic guitar. So I think there is a nice symbolism there finishing something the way they started.
TB: After this tour is finished what are your plans for your hiatus?
JP: I’ve worked on writing music for a kids TV show this year which is coming out in November and I really enjoyed the process of writing music for TV so I would love to do some more film and TV work. I’ve got a project on the boil with an Australian author called Margo Lanagan who’s going to write lyrics and I’m going to put her lyrics to music. I would also like to collaborate with some other Australian artists in my studio at home, just stuff like that basically.
TB: Thats really cool, very artistic and different approaches! Do you think you would ever do any other projects other than Josh Pyke? Like is there any sound that you’ve wanted to experiment with that didn’t ever really fit into the Josh Pyke realm?
JP: Yeah definitely! I very low key released an EP with a side project I do called Bolterz last year, so I will do more of that. I’m sure I will just put out music but I just doubt I will tour for any of those projects.
TB: You have two kids, have they been coming to these new shows?
JP: Yeah they’ve been to some. They came to the Enmore show and had a good time but it was pretty late for them. They fell asleep during the second set *laughs*. They came down to Falls Festival a couple of years ago and they came to the Sydney Symphony shows. So yeah they come to a couple of things.
TB: Do they have a favourite song of yours?
JP: They do listen to my music which is nice, they often listen to it while they go to sleep. I don’t really know what their favourite is but I hear them singing songs around the house every now and then and I’ll be like “Is that one of my songs” and it’s a really lovely feeling.
TB: Did you test out the new kids show songs on them?
JP: Yeah absolutely! They loved them, they were my test subjects for all those songs.
TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I am going to say a couple of sentences and you just say the first thing that comes to mind
TB: My ultimate festival line up would be…
JP: Okay that’s a really difficult questions. I think; Arcade Fire, Cloud Control, Kyle Lionhart and Russell Crawford
TB: Most mornings I…
JP: Am woken up by my children much earlier than I would like to be
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be…
JP: It would have to be to fly. I still have dreams where I am flying and it’s the best thing ever
TB: My guilty pleasure song is…
JP: There a great song called “More Than A Feeling” from Foreigner
TB: The most unexpected thing on my rider is…
JP: There’s nothing too unexpected really. Just whiskey, beer water and cheese. That’s about it. Nothing too crazy.
You can catch Josh Pyke touring nationally this year on his “Best Of Josh Pyke Tour” and the “10 Years Of Memories & Dust Regional Tour”. Here are the dates;
Friday 25 August – Launceston Country Club, Launceston
Saturday 26 August – Wrest Point Casino, Hobart
Friday 3 November – Byron Bay Brewert, Byron Bay
Saturday 4 November – Long Point Vineyard – Port Macquarie
Saturday 11 November – Baroque Bar, Katoomba
Sunday 12 November – The Playhouse, Canberra
Thursday 23 November – Ramsgate Hotel, Henly Beach
Friday 24 November – Norwood Hotel, Norwood
Thursday 30 November – MT Pleasant Tavern, Mackay
Friday 1 December – Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville
Saturday 2 December – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
Friday 8 December – Sooki Lunge, Belgrave
Saturday 9 December – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Sunday 10 December – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine