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Augie March: “This Will Be A Part-Time Thing Forever”

Seasoned purveyors of Australiana-tinged folk rock Augie March will soon complete their long-awaited comeback with the release of their fifth studio album, Havens Dumb.

It was five long years of inactivity before the release of the record’s lead single, After The Crack Up. This from a band who once lit up the country with their APRA award-winning, Hottest 100 topping tune One Crowded Hour.

Their last album was 2008′s aptly titled Watch Me Disappear. In 2009 Augie March lived up to their word, declared themselves on indefinite hiatus, and disappeared.

That term, ‘hiatus’, can be an unsettling one for fans. It often comes with implications of internal turmoil or impending dissolution, even when a band shares reasons for taking a break.

For those left wondering if they’d ever hear from Augie March again, though, there was never a need to worry. As drummer David Williams tells it, the band — who have only adjusted their lineup once, adding Kiernan Box after the untimely passing of pianist Rob Dawson in 2001 — was never in danger of changing too dramatically.

“I never thought we wouldn’t get back together,” states Williams confidently. “When Glenn [Richards, frontman and songwriter] said, ‘I want to go make a record with my friends,’ I was kind of like, ‘Yeah that’s good. I actually want a break from you and Adam and Ed and Boxer too.’ So I think everyone was fairly clear on that.”

For Williams and his wearied cohorts, the hiatus was all about “getting off the treadmill of touring, recording, and just doing the same thing” after 13 years as a band. Williams says, with a bracing frankness, that all five bandmates had “got a bit fed up with it” and were ready to step away from being Augie March.

“Life changes from when you’re starting a band, when you’re 20 and you don’t have any responsibilities. So there were external pressures, life pressures, in addition to it getting a bit boring and grinding. Everyone was getting on one another’s nerves so it was a good time to have a break.”

Watch: Augie March – After The Crack Up

When people hear a band is going on hiatus they might assume it’s a group of rich musicians taking an extended holiday. Images of yesteryear’s opulent rock stars, untouched by “life pressures”, still persist.

But, Williams says, for most of today’s professional musicians there’s just not enough money in music for it to be a solitary source of income. But what other job opportunities are there for someone who has spent most of their working life as a musician?

Williams chose to teach what he knows and, with Augie March still disbanded, found a vocation that not only paid the bills but satisfied his yearning to connect with others through music.

“I’d been doing some part-time music teaching and I really went roots and all into that,” reveals Williams. “It was just communicating with people and seeing how music helps people. Helps change their mood. Helps keep them focused. It does lots of things.”

“The main thing about communicating with one another through music has been fantastic and something I’d always thought about doing. Not many people just make a living being a touring musician [or] recording musician. Having that other aspect to your life has really enriched it and fed into it in a positive way.”

The return of Augie March doesn’t mean the other aspects of its members’ lives will be abandoned. Instead it will be Augie March that yields when necessary. Although Williams is sure Augie March will continue into the future, the drummer is also sure his band will “be a part-time thing forever”.

Williams likens the band to “the brain of a computer” that is “always going on in the background”. “You’re always thinking about it,” he admits, “but you actually have times to switch off and concentrate on other things. But it does help you prioritise, do time management, do all those adult things you put off in your 20s.”

Watch: Augie March – One Crowded Hour

Fortunately Augie March is now very much switched on, with Havens Dumb completed and awaiting release. The album came together without the backing of record label Sony BMG, who parted ways with Augie March during their hiatus in what Williams describes as a “mutual thing”.

Free from a label-set deadline, the band tinkered on the record for two years. Although Williams acknowledges that the band’s independent status allowed time for everyone to have a “crack” and get their opinions heard, self-imposed deadlines were also necessary.

“[No deadline] poses its own problems because people can keep working on songs and everyone can just start [obsessing] over the smallest thing. There were some deadlines. We booked mixing for a certain time so songs had to be completed by then.”

Williams also confesses that the extended break affected Augie March’s natural, if not musical, rhythms. If the intention of getting back together was never lost, it seems the actuality of getting back together took some finding.

“The band’s full of complex characters so it takes a while to get things relaxed. That’s something in the band I don’t think will ever leave, the weirdness,” he observes. “But somehow we just keep coming at it so that’s a credit to everyone.”

As to leaving his own fingerprints on Havens Dumb, the drummer says his primary motivation is “trying to make the song move in the right way” and “make everyone else sound great.” But sacrifice for the greater good doesn’t lessen Williams’ personal stake in the band’s comeback album.

Williams and co will seek to do right by their new material and, by extension, the band’s legacy during Augie March’s reintroduction to the stage in a five-show stint at Howler in their home city of Melbourne starting at the end of October.

“It’s a real mixed bag, the record, so we veer around a lot on it stylistically. Just rehearsing it has been interesting and fun and challenging,” beams Williams. “So getting to execute it live, together, is definitely something I’m looking forward to, and also seeing as it’s quite a challenge to do right.”

Although no further live dates have been confirmed Williams speculates Augie March will embark on a national tour mid-2015. “We’re plotting something for next year, I imagine. We’ve just been doing that ongoing, just making sure it’s all [good]. We’re just one thing at a time for us at the moment.”

‘Havens Dumb’ is released this Friday, 3rd October. Augie March will play five consecutive comeback shows at Howler starting Wednesday, 29th October. Details below.

Augie March “First Show Back” Melbourne Dates

Wednesday, 29th OctoberSOLD OUT
Howler, Melbourne
Tickets: Via Oztix

Thursday, 30th October SOLD OUT
Howler, Melbourne
Tickets: Via Oztix

Friday, 31st OctoberSOLD OUT
Howler, Melbourne
Tickets: Via Oztix

Saturday, 1st NovemberNEW SHOW
Howler, Melbourne
Tickets: Via Oztix

Sunday, 2nd NovemberNEW SHOW
Howler, Melbourne
Tickets: Via Oztix

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