Occupying his own angelic niche in the increasingly broad spectrum of synth-driven dance music coming from Australia, Andy Bull makes the kind of tunes you could throw some divine shapes on a d-floor too whilst crying your heart out at the same time.
His sophomore album Sea of Approval, released last year, scored the Sydney-sider three ARIA Award nominations, some juicy Hottest 100 spots for singles Baby I Am Nobody Now, Keep On Running and Talk Too Much and is proving to still have plenty of legs left, with a recently announced final national tour already selling out venues.
With the Talk Too Much tour kicking off this week, we asked Andy to run us through some of his favourite gig memories for us, just before he runs off to make a whole lot more.
HPOD Army Barracks, East Timor, 2011.
About 6 months or so before the last of the permanent Australian troop deployment was withdrawn and returned home, I went over with a small band and played some music at the barracks.
Vibe: Scheduled boredom relief.
The shows themselves were kind of weird; we played a bunch of covers since I figured troops away from home probably just want to hear something familiar. The troops were burned out, bored, just really ready to come home; but they actually seemed pretty happy to have “new” people to talk to; mostly they wanted to talk about what was happening at home.
Anyway, historically, not many Australians have ever been inside an active barracks, and even fewer have seen East Timor from that vantage point. It was a glimpse into a different paradigm, and we were very fortunate to be there, at that peaceful time, and to be shown around like we were. East Timor has a part in modern Australian history, but until i went there, to me it always seemed like some kind of peripheral, imaginary place.
Instagram Moment: walking through the Santa Cruz Cemetery in Dili where the massacre had taken place. I remember so vividly seeing the massacre as grainy TV footage in 1991.
Watch: Andy Bull – Talk Too Much
Candy’s Apartment, Kings Cross, 2003
Vibe: A New Drug
We had a residency we called Cross Town Traffic. I was young and pumped and the whole process was peak; being jacked up with adrenaline, then virtually blacking out from happiness on stage because the band seemed to be going though some kind of cosmic portal when we played, and then dissolving, ears ringing, into a steamy, crammed bunker that smelt like beer and sweat and perfume and cigarettes (people smoked inside back then).
Instagram Moment: There were many actually; we used to play Untitled by D’angelo in our set, and the moment when we hit the final crescendo felt like, I dunno, freebasing from the crucible of human creation. A potentially tacky moment that was actually pretty good (back then i didn’t think twice about covering D’Angelo, but no way would I be able to do it now with a straight face).
The other memorable moment is hauling my 57kg Rhodes piano up the back stairs to my car in the alleyway post-gig only to find some shady dude preparing to slash my tires: I’d parked-in his Jaguar (I don’t know how he figured slashing my tires was going to help the situation, but cocaine is a hell of drug)
Watch: Andy Bull – Keep On Running
Beach Road Hotel Bondi, 2011
Vibe: The Red Pill
I’m taking “memorable” as a neutral descriptive word here, rather than a happy, proscriptive one. Basically, I think the first or second gig I ever played in my life was at the Beach Road Hotel in 2003 to a small handful of people, and things seemed so full of promise and so exciting- a new door was opening – and, then, skip forward and there I was again, 8 years later, doing a poor job of playing my shitty music to an even smaller handful of people at the exact same venue, but the charm was gone and “the door” seemed to have been swiftly closing.
It was a free gig and still nobody came. Worst of all by far was that I felt like my music sucked, and had probably totally sucked way worse than I’d realised for a long while. I felt like I’d lost my bearings, I’d lost my way. It was a bitter pill to swallow; its a shitty reality when it hits you that you’ve flunked out.
At that moment, I decided to step away for a while, and go get a different job, which turned out to be the best thing for all involved, way overdue, and more fun than I expected anyhow.
Instagram Moment: There was just this awful moment up there where it all coalesced in my mind; my heart was empty, and I thought I can’t wait for this gig to be over. Not all gigs are great, sure, but this was symbolic low point.
Watch: Andy Bull – Baby I Am Nobody Now
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2015
Vibe: All Time High
Well, Mac Demarco, St Vincent, Connan Mockasin, Future Islands, Caribou, Pond, FKA Twigs… I could go on. Playing on that festival was totally sublime, I wish the run had been twice as long.
The audiences were magical and was just so proud of the band. The cosmic portal was open. We had so much fun; fun to be there on stage and as an audience member; and I’m so grateful for the whole experience.
Instagram Moment: A bunch of us stood side of stage to watch Future Islands at the Melbourne show. The singer, Samuel, has this way of performing that’s really melodramatic and stylised, most people have at least seen it on that Letterman clip, it’s kind of this masculine melodrama; reaching for something in the air, emoting with his face, dancing, contorting and then exploding into movement, staring out longingly.
It’s mesmerizing, but what you don’t expect is that, in the flesh, it’s actually pretty moving. It’s gestures and shapes, yeah, but there’s something real in it all; he channels something really human.
I remember seeing the expression on his face, this kind of yearning, and I got this instant lump in my throat like i was going to cry, and when I looked around I realised that actually other people had gotten all teary. It was like group therapy.
Andy Bull’s final ‘Sea Of Approval’ tour kicks off this Thursday – details below.
Watch: Andy Bull – Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears cover)
Andy Bull – Talk Too Much Tour
Thursday, 16th April
The Gov, Adelaide (All Ages)
Friday, 17th April
170 Russell, Melbourne
Friday, 24th Apr
Saturday, 25th Apr
Saturday, 2nd May
Brightside, Brisbane (U18 matinee & 18+ evening)
Friday, 8th May
The Rosemount, Perth
Saturday, 9th May
Sunday, 10th May
Stretch Arts Festival, Mandurah
Friday, 12th June
ANU Bar, Canberra
Saturday, 13th June