Having spent the past few years touring relentlessly as both a solo artist and with The Herd, not to mention running Elefant Traks and releasing his new album Spitshine, you’d expect Urthboy to be taking a break about now, you know, just kicking back and letting it all soak in. Like oil or lotion.
Well you’d be wrong, as in true obsessive fashion Urthboy has set his mind and girded his loins to set out on a tour in support of Spitshine, surprisingly titled The Spitshine Tour. Eager as always to badger over-worked musicians into giving us vague answers to ambiguous questions, we caught up with the man himself to talk about all things Urthboy.
Music Feeds: How’s everything going?
Urthboy: Good man, lots of fun actually. We’ve been able to reshape our business this year. We got some of the other Herd guys who are just coming in and doing more permanent work. So we can stop spending so much externally, but spend it ourselves, but still doing the same work. It’s been a very fun year, very productive. We’ve got various releases and tours, all these little things going on. It makes us feel like we’re running a real business.
MF: Man, you guys seem to set yourselves a pretty hectic workload. I know I couldn’t maintain that kind of schedule on a regular basis. How do you keep it up?
U: Each to their own and I know that everybody, whether you’re working at a boring job or a job you love, or creating shit like we’re doing and trying to make something our of nothing, everybody has different ways of operating. I’m just one of those people who likes to be consumed by things. No-one’s getting any younger, it’s a bit much to just sit around and wait for things to come to us. That’s been our experience from day one. It feels like I’m just continuing on in the same vein.
MF: And you’ve had a pretty constant string of releases recently too, huh?
U: Well, we did the Summerland record last year, I’m doing my own solo this year. But the Summerland record was written as soon as The Signal was dropped. We were in the studio recording and writing when it came out. So Summerland engulfed my ability to let The Signal run its own course. The only tricky thing about putting music out the way I do, moving from thing to thing, is that it’s quite difficult to separate the two. I love it though. I guess you only know things as they exist to you. I wouldn’t want to swap anything at all.
MF: That’s refreshing, you don’t often find people who are happy with the way things are.
U: It’s not things are always great, but at the same time it’s important to have a laugh when things don’t work out. One of the things that sabotage creative people is the perfectionist approach. I get that, I understand where people like that come from, but there’s that old adage, mistakes are what defines you. I kind of have this philosophy that just merely attempting it, going out and doing it when you don’t know what you’re doing generally takes you into a position where you do know what you’re doing. It’s a boring cliché but it’s one that’s never failed me. I would never have gotten to any position of confidence if I’d never had the insight of failure.
MF: What’s it like to see the younger generation come up with the same approach, like the Horrorshow guys? Do you see some of yourself in these new guys?
U: For sure. I think it’s really interesting that there’s this crop of new artists that have grown up with a lot of domestic artists being, not their idols, but the people they’re listening to. Artists are coming out and they’re not slowly working out how to rhyme on beat, they hit the ground running. Horrorshow are an example of the younger crew that have grown up with Australian hiphop artists out there and have been able to see that. The talent that’s coming through is very cool, I make no bones about the fact that these guys are gonna take what we made and go so much further with it.
MF: So you think they’re the upcoming alpha male lion pride in Elephant Traks?
U: I think it’s only natural that this happens. You can never predict things though. Hilltop Hoods are just an anomaly, right? There may not be another Australian hiphop act that becomes as popular, but you never know. That’s the thing with hiphop here; it’s always been this ugly little stepbrother that’s never expected to do well, by anybody. To the distress of a lot of the industry it just keeps growing. You may not see anyone go to the same heights as the Hoods but then again you might, and you might see that act that goes overseas and blows up.
MF: Horrorshow have supported some big acts from overseas, do you think we’ll see more of that happening? Perhaps overseas support tours?
U: That happens… I mean, it’s all business. If it works for the band over there to try and break it here and vice versa, those things will happen. Straight up and down they’re pretty much a business transaction, that’s cool, that’s how the industry works.
MF: How are things going, I mean, artistically? How does Spitshine fit in with the rest of your work?
U: It’s a natural progression. It’s sort of me many years down the track when I have a much more clear idea of what I want to do. I feel like before I was possibly the guy on the Starship Enterprise who’s just one of the runners. Goes around and sort of gets instructed on what to do, and gets someone their coffee and goes and does the whatever jobs that need to be done in order to fulfil my spot on the ship. But now I feel I’m much more comfortable with controls and shit. I can get up there and push some buttons, pull some levers and take the thing for a joyride. I feel much more comfortable there. That’s not something about being too comfortable, that’s really exciting to me. I love it, I love that I feel comfortable about attempting ambitious shit. I think sometimes the way to not fall into a habit of being too safe is to keep doing things you’re not sure are going to work yourself, things that could backfire.
MF: Are you going to put on a good live show for us?
U: It’s really liberating doing the smaller shows. We’ve got visuals, we’ve got props on stage, we’ve got outfits and different lighting. It’s cool man, I can’t wait to show people.
Catch Urthboy on his ‘Spitshine’ national tour all this month, with support from Elefant Traks stalwarts Horrorshow and Polo Club.