Multi-instrumentalist Xavier Rudd took the world by storm almost two decades ago with the release of his debut album To Let, and his unique ‘one man band’ performances.
Now, Rudd has just dropped the aptly titled Storm Boy, his seventh solo studio album, before embarking on another months-long international tour, with shows already selling out across the globe.
As humble as he is talented, Rudd spoke to Music Feeds’ own Jade Kennedy about how his journey led to Storm Boy, and where it is leading him next.
Music Feeds: Xavier! Tell me – how are you feeling about Storm Boy being released?
Xavier Rudd: Yeah I’m stoked. It’s been a while, you know, we created the album about six months ago so I’m pretty excited to get it out, it’s taken a long time (laughs) to actually get it out. I listened to it again yesterday for the first time in quite a while and yeah, I’m feeling good about it. It’s great. I’m excited for people to get it.
MF: Tell me a bit about the album; what’s the story with it?
XR: Well it’s full of many stories. I guess it’s a reflection of life over the past… well, I guess I’ve written these songs over the past probably five or six years, but a couple of them even longer – like ten years ago. There’s a couple I’ve had sort of tucked away and waiting for the right time to bring them through, some special little songs that I had. I guess it’s a special record for me. I feel pretty stoked about it. I’m stoked with the whole process, everything that went into this and everyone that worked on it was amazing, and it sort of all just fell together brilliantly, so yeah I’m pretty stoked.
MF: I noticed there’s a couple of little odes to love in there, which is kind of, well, a little but unusual for you. Is that indicative of where your journey is at the moment?
XR: Yeah, well a few years ago I was married, and that was all part of the journey and yeah… an example of what I was saying before is one of those tracks that I had for a long time and, you know, sometimes I just keep songs or ideas and I don’t rush them. It was one of them, the song ‘True Love’, it became the song that I sang at our wedding for my wife, so… there’s definitely some themes in there, for sure.
MF: So what made you decide to share that song with the world? Wouldn’t you want to keep something like that private?
XR: Um… nah, I pretty much share everything with the world. (laughs) All my songs are out there. I’m pretty intimate and personal, I’ve always been that way with my music. It is a reflection of me and what’s going on sort of thing, so yeah, I just put it out there.
MF: Like you mentioned before, it’s been five or six years since your last solo record, it does seem a long time for a break between Xavier Rudd releases. Has it just not felt like the right time? Or have you just wanted to take a bit of a break from the solo stuff?
XR: Nah, well to be honest with you I don’t plan anything. It just happens when it happens. And I write music organically, I don’t sit down and try to write – it just happens. When it gets to a point where I’ve got enough material built up I just sort of dump it down and call it a record. I made an album with United Nations in that time, the side project – big reggae band – and so, you know, that kept me busy for a bit – and yeah, just kind of… it just felt like last year was the time to dump some stuff down, you know? So Storm Boy is what that is.
MF: I heard that you purpose-built a house as a recording studio and recorded the album there – is that partly why the record took so long?
XR: Haha! Nah… I looked at other options. But the house that I built, I wired through the walls and did the whole thing and I was thinking at the time that I’d probably be there for quite a while, but I ended up selling it after I made the album. But in the end it was perfect, because it was the right place to make the record – it’s a great studio – it all sounds really good. So yeah, I was happy with the outcome for sure.
MF: You posted on your socials a little bit about some of the guitars you used on this record – how many were there?
XR: Um… I dunno. I probably used about – off the top of my head – probably about eight different guitars? Eight to ten? Yeah. Easy, eight to ten probably. I don’t know, I’ve never counted. I mean there’s probably twenty all together, I’ve never actually counted (laughs).
MF: I have seen a beautiful new custom guitar that you were gifted recently.
XR: Yeah, oh that’s a beautiful instrument and such an amazing present, I couldn’t believe it when I got it.
MF: So is that the new fave?
XR: Yeah it is actually, it’s gorgeous. It’s delicate and different to my road guitars. I’ve already written a song on it. It’s really pretty. So yeah, it definitely is my favourite.
MF: Lovely! Of course, the new single is ‘Walk Away’ – tell me the story behind that one.
XR: It’s a bit general. It basically relates to, you know, all of us have points in our lives where we need to let go of something and hold our own, you know, sometimes we cling onto things for a long time and they’re not serving us. Whether that be a person, or a situation, or a place, or whatever. So it’s basically about being able to be strong in your decision to move forward and let go.
MF: It’s a good message to remind people of. You’re playing a lot of overseas shows before we see much of you in Australia with this record. How do the audiences receive you overseas?
XR: Well most of my playing’s overseas these days. I don’t play much in Australia anymore, it’s more cruising when I’m home, I just take some time. So yeah, really well. I’ve been doing the States for a long time, and Canada, and Europe as well, and yeah all those territories seem to just get bigger and bigger and I get lots of support over there for sure, it’s awesome. Everywhere I go in the world, actually, I get really good people coming and seeing me. That’s the one thing I’m probably most thankful for, you know, the kind of people coming to the shows, they’re always really kind-hearted folks, you know, people who want to see change for a better world and are more happy to link arms than fight or push through each other. So it’s a good vibe.
MF: So what’s your favourite place to tour?
XR: Um… Europe I reckon. I just love it. The crowds are always awesome. It’s nice travelling between different countries – you know, go to sleep in one country and wake up in another. You know, there’s heaps of different cultures and always different things going on and the festivals are great. It’s just a good vibe. It’s really organised, the events are super organised. Oh, except for Italy (laughs).
MF: I’ve heard that it’s really clean over there too, like all of the countries are super clean.
XR: Oh yeah, not all of them. I mean the north definitely is – Germany and those northern European countries are, it’s not super clean in parts of Spain and Italy and stuff, but I guess when you consider the amount of people that are living there, yeah, it’s pretty clean.
MF: Haha, yeah, when the whole of Europe is as big as Australia! So, you’re back here in August, mostly doing the cap cities – are we likely to see the regionals getting some love any time soon?
XR: I want to. I’ve been talking to my manager about it because yeah, most of these ones are major cities. But I really want to… I love doing regional shows. It’s a bit more stuffing around, you know, we’ve got to have a bit more space and time to get all the gear and everyone to the regional towns.
MF: Yep, I’m in Townsville so I know all about it!
XR: Oh yeah? We were trying to do Townsville on this run but I can’t remember, there was a reason why we couldn’t get there for some reason… but I love Northern Queensland. I definitely want to get there. There is talk of doing something next year for sure. Yeah, we will do something for the regionals soon, I’ll make sure of it.
Xavier Rudd’s new album ‘Storm Boy’ is out now. Catch his full list of tour dates here.