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Muso To Muso: City And Colour & Husky

Written by Music Feeds on November 18, 2013

We’re kicking back and letting the talent do the dirty work with our new series Muso To Muso, as our favourite musicians put the hard questions to their favourite musicians, for an insider’s perspective on all matters musical. Expect many pearls of wisdom amongst healthy doses of gentle backslapping.

City And Colour will soon be making the trip to Australia for the second time in just six months, and joining Dallas Green and co. on their jaunt around the country will be Melbourne’s own indie folk sweethearts, Husky.

With just a few weeks to go until the tour kicks off, we got the early introductions out of the way and hooked up Mr Green with Husky’s man-with-the-plan Husky Gawenda, and the pair dropped each other a line to talk touring, songwriting and some tasty travel tips––including the importance of packing Manuka honey in your overnight bag.

Husky Gawenda: I can’t wait for the City and Colour Australia/NZ tour to begin. You’ve been to Australia before. Touring can be a little like a bubble you never see outside of. Do you ever manage to get a sense of the places you visit? What are your impressions of Australia?

Dallas Green: Firstly, hello. Second, I’m glad to hear you’re excited about the tour. Now, as far as getting a sense of the places you tour goes, it really depends on how much time is available in each city/country. It took me 6 trips to Paris before I saw the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been very fortunate to have visited Australia 10 times, but many of those experiences were fly in/fly out. Thankfully, though, I have also had my fair share of days off in Oz so it’s left a pretty great impression on me!

HG: I find it’s a bit of a drag on tour that I’m visiting all these amazing places and meeting so many people every day, but in order to sing every night I need to really take care of myself – go to bed early, no drinking or smoking, no jamming and singing all night long. But those are the things I want to do on tour. You have an incredibly beautiful, crystal-clear voice. Are you one of those people who can stay up all night partying and then sing like an angel the next night?

DG: I appreciate the kind words. I have a pretty resilient set of vocal cords. I’ve basically put them through Hell and back and they keep on kicking. That being said, I don’t smoke and never have. So that may help a little. But I love whiskey…probably a bit too much. I’ve never been on good terms with sleep so that’s not an issue. But you need to know when to take it easy. If you’ve had 3 or 4 shows in a row, maybe give it a rest after night 4. But, most importantly…eat lots and lots of Manuka honey.

HG: I find making albums (I’ve only made one and three quarters) incredibly fun, unbelievably difficult and emotionally exhausting. You’ve made four albums with City and Colour and more with Alexisonfire. What was your experience of making The Hurry and the Harm? Did the songs come easily?

DG: The songs never come easily. Every album usually has one or two songs that just kind of “happened”. But its quite an arduous process. The new record didn’t take long to make, maybe 12 or 13 days, but getting there was tough.

HG: Do you write lyrics and then music, or music then lyrics? Do you write about a subject, or does the writing lead you to the subject?

DG: Music and melody are almost always first. Occasionally I’ll have a line or two written and then try to build a song around that. The subject of the song comes about in a similar fashion. I used to tell my father that I was going to write a song about him called ‘The Grand Optimist’. I didn’t think it would actually happen though.
HG: The album [The Hurry And The Harm] closes with Death’s Song. People often ask me why I never write ‘happy’ songs. I tell them it’s because my favourite songs are sad songs. And that sad songs are kinda happy, in that they allow us all to share in our hardships and then feel better, hopefully. What’s your favourite sad song ever written?

DG: I think because of the tone of my voice and the chords I lean towards, people usually dismiss my writing as sad. But if you really listen to the words, you can usually find some light in there. But I do love a heartbreaker! If I had to choose (which is an impossible question!) I would say It’s Easier Now by Jason Molina. It’s the first song on Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go and it’s devastating. Or maybe And Now That I’m In Your Shadow by Damien Jurado. Honestly this could turn into such a long list…

HG: Is Death’s Song about actually dying, or is it about a fantasy of giving up the music business, the touring, and all that comes with it and disappearing into a more simple existence, away from the spotlight?

DG: I started thinking about the idea of all these former writers and musicians as a kind of junkyard. Like abandoned cars. We live and work in such a fickle universe and the attention span is shrinking everyday. So it’s more about what happens when people stop listening as opposed to me walking away. Though I often think about that too.

HG: Sorry, I find it really difficult when people ask me what songs are about. Half the time I don’t really know, or even if I know, I can’t explain it in words. Which is probably why I write a song about it. Do you feel the same? Or are you happy to talk about it?

DG: I feel like my writing is pretty “open book” so you can usually pick up what I was putting down. But I’m also happy for people to take whatever they need from it. That’s my favorite part about music. You don’t really need to know what I meant. Just as long as you feel something.

HG: You’ve toured for years now. Do you have ways of ensuring that a show goes well, or that you get into the right zone before you go on stage, a way of making each show special even though you might have played 99 shows before it? Or is it still a mystery to you what it is that makes a show special, memorable? Are you always able to deliver the performance you aim to, or be as honest as you’d like to, or to connect with the audience the way you hope to?

DG: Playing live is an absolute mystery to me. There are days where I open my mouth to sing and I feel like I can do anything, like I was actually meant to do it. Other nights I feel like it’s the first time I’ve ever held a guitar and someone is pouring a bag of sand down my throat while I’m trying to sing. All you can do is hope for the best.

HG: What is the item you cannot do without on tour, instruments aside?

DG: Manuka honey.

HG: What are you reading, watching, listening to right now? Anything Australian?

DG: Reading – Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History Of The Hip Hop Generation
Watching – Boardwalk Empire
Listening – Earthless From The Ages

HG: Do you drink coffee? I can hook you up with the best coffee shops. Melbourne has the best coffee in the world.

DG: I actually don’t drink coffee but a bunch of my guys do. My tour manager drinks about 1,000 cups a day. I’m sure he would love to know where they are.

City And Colour’s tour with Husky and Chris Carraba’s Twin Forks kicks off at the end of November with two shows at Sydney’s State Theatre before travelling right around Australia. Details below.

City And Colour November/December Australian tour dates
w/ Twin Forks and Husky
Presented by Music Feeds

Sunday, 24th November
State Theatre, Sydney (All Ages)
Tix: 136 100

Monday, 25th November – SELLING FAST!
State Theatre, Sydney (All Ages)
Tix: 136 100

Thursday, 28th November
Civic Theatre, Newcastle (All Ages)
Tix: 132 849

Saturday, 30th November
Riverstage, Brisbane (All Ages)
Tix: 132 849

Monday, 2nd December
December Royal Theatre, Canberra (All Ages)
Tix: 136 100

Wednesday, 4th December – SOLD OUT!
Theatre Royal, Hobart (All Ages)
Tix: 03 6233 2299 or 1800 650 277

Thursday, 5th December – NEW SHOW!
Theatre Royal, Hobart (All Ages)
Tix: 03 6233 2299 or 1800 650 277

Saturday, 7th December
Belvoir Amphitheatre, Perth (*18+)
Tix: 136 100

Tuesday, 10th December
Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Tix: 08 8225 8888

Saturday, 14th December
Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne (All Ages)
Tix: 136 100

* Under 18s can attend with parent/guardian

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