Brisbane artist Chris Pickering is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has paid his dues in the indie world, and seen plenty of recognition for his achievements. Just last year he showcased at the prestigious South By SouthWest festival in Austin Texas, and spent months performing and writing songs in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee.
His first full length record, Excuses Excuses was originally self-released in a very limited local pressing in 2008, but is now seeing stronger representation via a national release on Fuse Music’s THINK imprint (local home of Martha Tilston, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Catfish Haven).
With a new tour coming up, Michael Carr caught up with Pickering to talk about the new album, and his adventures in the U.S. Of A.
Music Feeds: So first off how are you? How have things been going recently, anything exciting happen in the past few days we might not have heard about?
Chris Pickering: I’m very well thank you. The main exciting thing I guess is that I’ve just landed back in Australia after 7 months away living and playing in the U.S. of A. It’s good to be back though, and I’m really looking forward to getting out on the road here again with my band.
MF: I’d imagine you’ve been quite busy, are you enjoying that or is it getting a bit rough?
CP: No, I’m enjoying it very much. It’s always good to be busy, particularly when you’re doing something that you love doing, or feel driven to do. It kind of then becomes more a case of being occupied, rather than busy.
MF: You’ve had a pretty good run over in the states, how have you been received there as opposed to Australia? With there being a massive market for country influenced music such as your in the US especially Nashville, are you playing to bigger crowds over there?
CP: Not just yet. I started out pretty much at the bottom when I moved there, so I found myself in a position where I had to beg for gigs again so people would have a chance to hear me play. I don’t really consider myself a country artist, so I actually was more involved in the Indie scene around Nashville, which is very strong and well-supported. But having said that, I think that I made a lot of inroads there and as a result a lot of people have now hear of me around Nashville, and Memphis, for that matter.
MF: You launched your album to a sold out crowd at The Powerhouse, what was that like? Did you have panties being thrown on stage and a circle pit going or was it a more intimate affair?
CP: It was definitely a more intimate affair, with no wanton displays of lust or affection as such, other than the odd heckle from the back rows. But it’s always great to perform in front of a capacity crowd who have come to see you, and have them also listen intently to everything you do.
MF: Excuses Excuses has just gotten picked up by THINK for a national run, what’s that like? Are you buying the good bog roll now?
CP: To be honest, nothing has really changed all that much. It’s only officially been out a couple of months so my lifestyle hasn’t changed a heck of a lot in that time. But its fantastic that I have a vehicle through which to get my music out to a wider audience, and the crew at Think are all great people, and genuine music fans. So it’s very flattering for me that they would want to release my record.
MF: How does the prospect of your music going out to a wider audience make you feel?
CP: Awesome, it’s kind of what I’ve always worked towards so to actually have it happening is just fantastic.
MF: What was SxSW like? With so many bands and everything is it complete chaos or an ordered mess? Any highlights you’d like to share?
CP: It’s more like an ordered mess masquerading as complete chaos. The sheer amount of music is completely overwhelming, and you can almost smell the desperation in the air as well. After a few days freaking out, I just decided to go with the flow and see what happened and I saw some great music, including seeing Daniel Lanois playing from about two feet away. My own showcase gig actually exceeded my expectations as well, which was brilliant. It set up a lot of the contacts I needed to move over to Nashville a year later…
MF: You’re about to tour are you getting fit to go on the road, limbering up the muscles?
CP: I have actually been doing a complex and rigorous series of calisthenics exercises to build up the strength in my core, and I’ve been chowing down on 3 power bars a day to build up protein. Plus I’ve been rehearsing the band. It’s sounding good and I can’t wait to actually get on the road and bring the music to everyone.
MF: Anything else we should be keeping an eye out for?
CP: The follow up record to Excuses Excuses which will be out early next year…
Chris Pickering is touring the east coast through September.