Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kristy Cox and Travis List on tour

Bluegrass singer-songwriter Kristy Cox and honkytonk artist Travis List have a few things in common - they're both Australia, they both now live in Nashville and they're touring Australia, together. Recently I spoke to Kristy after the first weekend of the tour, and there's still time to catch them - the dates are all at the end of this post.

How do you and Travis List know each other and how did the idea for the tour come together initially?
Travis and I have known each other since I was eleven years old. We grew up in the same South Australian country music community. He went to Nashville nine years ago and I moved over a couple of years ago. We were just talking and said we should go back to Adelaide and put on a show in Adelaide – neither of us had played in Adelaide for a while. And that just kind of formed into a whole tour, which is pretty exciting. We just kept booking shows and it’s been going really well.

So you’ve had one gig already?
We’ve done one weekend and it was very successful and a whole lot of fun.

I’m intrigued by the idea of you both coming from the same SA country music community. So you grew up somewhat surrounded by country music?
Yes, the South Australian Council for Country Music – there’s a lot of festivals and talent quests and clubs and things over here that really encourage young up-and-coming musicians and singers, and that gives children a place to get on stage – they do a lot of walk-ups and things. They’re very encouraging of young people who want to be involved in the country music community.

That’s the first I’ve ever heard of the council – but you and Travis are proof that it works.
Jedd Hughes came through it. Jake Nickolai came through it. Back in the day Kasey Chambers and Beccy Cole. We’re all from South Australia.

Are there any other South Australians that you know of doing bluegrass in Nashville?

Kym Warner from the Green Cards. The Green Cards have been nominated for a couple of Grammys now. He’s probably one of Australia’s – well, he’s an expat now, he lives in Austin, Texas – one of the best mandolin players to ever come out of Australia. His father, Trev Warner, was one of the founding players of bluegrass in Australia and he still lives here, in Adelaide. Bluegrass music has a pretty heavy following here in Adelaide and a lot of pickers … It’s great. It’s just getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year.

So you’ve had that community growing up and now you’ve moved into a different kind of community in Nashville – I guess it’s good to have someone like Travis there, who’s familiar, to give you a sense of home or a sense of community.
I think there’s 300 Australians who live full-time in Nashville now, so that’s quite a lot, and that ranges across all different kinds of industries. Having Aussies over there is a great way when you’re feeling a little homesick. We had Christmas with Tommy Emmanuel and Rick Price, because they both live over there. Us Australians get together as much as we can. We did a Fourth of July Aussie-themed barbecue – we just made an excuse to cook some lamb chops on the barbie. We definitely stuck together, us Aussies over there.

Well, that’s nice! And apart from that it’s good for creative collaborations, such as the one you have now, with Travis.
Yes, it’s a great way to form new friendships and meet new people that we didn’t really meet or have a chance to get to know back here in Australia.

For this tour, have you put together a touring band and, if so, are you sharing it?
Yes, we’re sharing the same band. We’ve actually got Georgia Fall opening for us, for the tour, and James and Paul in that band are just the most fantastic musicians, and they’ve worked really hard to learn Travis and my material. So they open the show and do their country-rock thing that they’re good at, then I get on and we kind of move the stage around the little bit and I do my bluegrass thing, and then Travis obviously finishes the night with his honkytonk stuff. It’s a great way for the audience to get nice a taste of every element of country and bluegrass music all in one night. It’s working really, really well actually.

I was going to ask how you came to choose Georgia Fall but it sounds like a very cleverly thought-out way to get an opening band and a touring band at the same time.
We were actually going to take a different band and the guys in Georgia Fall said, ‘We would love to learn your material and play for you’. So especially with the bluegrass stuff they really rose to the challenge because it’s quite a different style of music. It’s worked out really well. We were planning on taking them anyway. I just think that they’re a great group of people and they’re definitely playing music for all the right reasons so they have similar values to us. We’re having a lot of fun on the road with them – it’s great.

Did you have to arrive a bit ahead of the tour in order to rehearse?
No, we did a bit of a run-through about three hours before our first show. True musician style! Well, Travis and I have been touring in Europe for five weeks and we had our first show [here] the day after we landed from London so there was no time for any rehearsals, unfortunately.

You launched your new album in Tamworth in January and it sounds like since then you’ve been pretty flat out.
Yes, I haven’t really stopped yet, I’m kind of looking forward to a bit of a break after this tour. I think I’ve got six weeks before Tamworth so I can have a bit of a holiday and spend some time with the family. I fly back to America and then come back to Australian again. It will be nice to stop. I think I’ve done six trips to America and two trips to Europe in the last eighteen months. So I’m ready to put my feet up a bit.

When I spoke to you last year you were telling me about your publishing deal and the amount of songwriting involved. It must be difficult to keep up with songwriting commitments let alone writing for your own album, if that’s separate, in the midst of all that travel.
To be honest, these last six months I haven’t done a whole lot of songwriting. I’ve been doing a lot of radio touring over in the US, promoting the new album and the label booked me in to do a brand-new album in March so I guess I’ll start writing for that once this tour’s over. But the writing side, unfortunately, has really been put on the backburner to give way to the touring and the promoting of the album. But that’s okay – can’t do everything.

And I guess it depends on how people write – some people need that vacuum. They need the time and the mental space in order for the ideas to come. Some people like to write on the road. But it seems like most people do need a little bit of brain space to create.
Yes. I’m definitely one of those people. [laughs]

And how’s your voice holding up in all of this? Because it’s a lot of work for a voice.
It’s fine – as long as I eat good vegetables and get a good night’s sleep, it’s no different to talking all day, really. I eat very healthy. I’m a bit of a caveman dieter – I eat vegies and meat. No bread, no pastas, no sauces. You’ve really got to keep up a healthy lifestyle in order to keep up with the demands of doing this kind of thing. It’s really important. If you don’t have good fuel it’s like running a car that needs diesel on petrol – it’s just not going to work.

Friday, 5th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Silverton Hotel- 5:00pm
12 Layard St, Silverton, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (08) 8088 5313
Sunday, 7th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Prarie Hotel- 5:00pm
Cnr High St & West Tce, South Australia
BOOKINGS: (08) 8648 4895
Monday, 8th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List
Prarie Hotel- 5:00pm
Cnr High St & West Tce, South Australia
BOOKINGS: (08) 8648 4895
Friday, 12th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Dubbo RSL- 8:00pm
Brisbane St, Dubbo New South Wales
Saturday, 13th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
The Abbey- 8:00pm
Federation Sq, O’hanlon Place, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Saturday, 19th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Rooty Hill RSL- 8:00pm
55 Sherbrooke St, Rooty Hill, New South Wales
Wednesday, 25th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Casino Golf Club- 7:o0pm
West St, Casino, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (02) 6662 1259
Thursday, 25th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Lismore Workers Club- 7:30pm
231 Keen St, Lismore, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (02) 6621 7401
Friday, 26th September 2014
Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall
Grafton District Services Club- 8:00pm
107 Mary St, Grafton, New South Wales
BOOKINGS: (02) 6643 2895

Saturday, August 30, 2014

EP review: Emma Swift

My first experience of Emma Swift's musical ability came when I saw her sing one song with Mustered Courage. I'd heard of her, and knew she was recording some songs, but had never seen her perform. Anyone who has seen a lot of gigs - even heard a lot of albums - knows how rare those moments are when an artist has one's full attention. When everything else seems to disappear except that person, their voice and the notes they're singing. So it was with Swift. She captivated the audience, and she did it as soon as that first note sounded.

It turns out that wasn't a unique occasion, because from her first note on this six-song EP it's impossible to not be transfixed. Swift's languid, slightly husky, often melancholic voice calls to the listener - and it's not a request, really, although it's hard to imagine anyone minding. 

Swift has been spending time in Nashville and sounds of the American South are laced through these songs of yearning - and of courting, that term that isn't used very often but should be - in which Swift's lyrics suggest she might be at the mercy of someone else's actions and emotions, except her delivery of those lyrics tell us that she is never anything but in charge. The slow pace of these songs suggests confidence - she knows we won't run away if she doesn't everything immediately - and confidence is always seductive for an audience: we can relax, we don't have to do anything but listen. Swift is worth listening to, both in live and recorded form, and many times over.

Emma Swift is out now through Laughing Outlaw Records.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview: Kaylee Bell

The 2013 Toyota Star Maker winner Kaylee Bell hails from the Land of the Long White Cloud and has just been named New Zealand's Best Female Country Artist, but she's firmly an Australian resident and making the most of it. I recently spoke to Kaylee about her duet with Keith Urban at his Narrabri show, as well as her new single from her album Heart First and her plans for the year ahead.

When did you move from New Zealand to Australia?
Three years ago I moved over by myself, and I’ve been here ever since.

And were you involved in much of a country music scene in New Zealand?
I’ve been singing country since I was four and doing all the awards shows and sort of competition circuit all round New Zealand. And then when I was 18 I won the New Zealand Gold Guitar and that kind of sent me off to Tamworth for the first time and I guess in that sense there’s a really good sort of grassroots level [scene] but then when you sort of want to pursue it there’s not a lot of outlets unfortunately or media interest. After I finished my degree at Christchurch Performing Arts I spent a year working and setting my new album up and sort of trying to get as much radio and anything I could get over there, but it was sort of hitting your head against a brick wall, so it was time to look further afield.

Did you grow up with country music? Are you from a musical family?
Yes. My brothers and sisters, we all – Mum put us in the car every week and we’d travel an hour and a half for lessons every week for guitar and singing. And then most weekends we’d be on our own doing the competition circuit. So we always sort of had the guitars and singing and things like that, and then I started songwriting when I was 14 and it kind of all went from there. Mum was very musical and she’s sort of the big force behind letting us have as many opportunities as we could.

Are your siblings still involved in music? Or are you the one who’s carried it through?
They sort of went off on different career paths. They obviously still have an interest and are not only supporters but, yeah, I’ve sort of been the one that’s tried to pursue it.

So when you started songwriting at 14, was it something that you just kind of felt like you wanted to do it or did you look around at other songwriters and think, I’ll give that a go?
No, it was kind of just something that came to me. I remember we got into a rock band and things at school for the rock quest that they used to have and that was very much sort of about writing your own stuff and I just remembered sitting down and it just sort of started happening. I’d never really put much thought into it and now it’s just a big part of what I do, which is really cool.

And in country music it’s very much what happens, that singer-songwriters seems to predominate. So it’s the right genre for that.
Yeah, it is. It’s such a country thing, I think. Because it holds you in a bit more kind of higher stead to be able to write your own stuff, because people really relate to country music generally and I think if you’ve written it that just helps it even more. So I’m largely sort of sort of influenced by people like Kacey Musgraves that are writing very real works. It’s cool.

I also read something on your website about you meeting Taylor Swift’s co-writer, Liz Rose.
Yeah, it was pretty cool. She was at a gig in Nashville last year just randomly and I’d recorded one of her songs and she came up into the bus where we were all getting ready after the show and made herself known, and said that she loved my stuff and wanted to do some things in the future together. So that was really exciting because she was a big part of Taylor Swift’s career in her early days. Pretty much all of her first two albums she co-wrote with Taylor, so that was a huge honour.

Now, you were the Star Maker winner last year and I know that there are quite a few opportunities that come up from being the Star Maker winner, but I was wondering what in particular has happened to you since then?
I guess profiles have been lifted hugely, you know. They’ve just put so much time and investment into committing me to country music and getting me into all the big festivals to be playing main stage and just get the chance to be heard. I think that’s a big thing because it’s so competitive these days. That they’ve really been a huge force behind all the sort of gigs and things that I’ve had and obviously the Keith thing was still very much part of the Star Maker history that we have there as well. So that’s just really allowed me to move forward with new music and build a profile.

And I was going to ask you about Keith a bit later but you’ve brought it up so … [laughs]

You recently performed a duet with Keith Urban in Narrabri. Now you live in Bathurst so you weren’t necessarily around the corner from Narrabri. How did that performance come about?
So I was going to be meeting him anyway, doing a meet and greet. Obviously the connection of both being born in New Zealand and Star Maker. And then his team told him that I was coming and he went and checked out my music, and I got a call from his personal assistant on Tuesday to say she’s getting in touch on his behalf asking me to sing with him. So, it was all very insane and that was Tuesday and the show was on Friday so there wasn’t a lot of time to get nervous or anything. So it was quite good in that sense. But it was the pretty real highlight of my life so far.

Laughs] And because it’s not like you’re singing the duet right at the start of his show, you obviously had to sit there and wait for your turn. Was that a big nerve wracking?
It was crazy, because it was like everything I’ve dreamed of all happened at once. You know, I’d never met him and I wanted to, and so I got to meet him just before we went on stage for about 10 minutes. So we had some time in the trailer to talk and we sang through the songs acoustically. That was it. Then we were up doing it. It just all happened at once so I was very, very lucky.

Fantastic, well, congratulations.
Thank you.

And I also think as part of Star Maker recently you travelled to Nashville and I saw on your Twitter feed that you met quite a few people, including Clare Bowen from the TV series Nashville. So were you there to meet writers or to work with writers? What was the main thrust of the trip?
It was to songwrite. I spent two weeks songwriting. With some really, really cool writers and then I performed at the Global Artist Showcase that they hold each year with Jared Porter, the new Star Maker winner. We’ve written a new song called ‘Pieces’ on his new album. And so we sang that over there as well. I can’t wait to get that song released over here because we’re both really stoked with it.

So you played with Keith and now you’re recording with Jared, so there’s obviously quite a connection with other Star Maker winners regardless of when they won.
Pretty much, yeah. It’s like a big family, I guess you could probably label it as. They just continue to look after all their previous winners and finalists and it’s like everyone sort of really enjoys working together, a big part of that big family. We’re all part of that history for the rest of our lives now so that’s something pretty special and it’s awesome to continue being supported by them.

Your new single is called ‘Just a Little Crazy’ off your album, Heart First. And so I was wondering what are you just a little crazy about or for?
[Laughs] Ooh, that’s hard. Just a little crazy ... I am just a little crazy for meeting new people, going new places, travelling. Because I love getting out and about. I hate being stuck in one place and I love meeting just awesome, genuine, down-to-earth people. Like Keith was a prime example of that, someone that I’ve admired for so long and still so genuine and down-to-earth. I think there’s something really cool about that.

And what makes you crazy in a bad way, like in an annoyed way?
Probably the opposite of that. I hate being stuck and feel like I’m not moving anywhere. That whole claustrophobic feeling. I think that’s sort of part of the reason I had to make the move from New Zealand. I was finding I was getting nowhere and just needed to broaden my horizons. So I guess the contrast of what makes me happy.

You live in Bathurst at the moment, which I’m curious about because a lot of country music performers live on the NSW Central Coast or they’re in Tamworth. How did you end up in Bathurst?
Just two friends that I’d met at the [country music] college up in Tamworth lived up here. So we tried to do the Sydney thing and it didn’t work out so – then they wanted to come home where a bit more rural and not too far from Sydney but just a better lifestyle for me to sort of still make a living and try and support my music. So … it just kind of happened. Where now I’ve been here three years which was never the plan, but it’s sort of how it happened.

And do you find there is support in town for local musicians?
Yes. I play a lot locally and then obviously do a lot of travel so it’s just a good place to base myself at the moment.

Yeah, Australia’s not the easiest country to travel around because it’s so huge.
No way, it doesn’t matter where you live, I’ve decided, and so you’re going to have to travel anyway. So as long as you are near an airport, you’re all right.

Do you drive to a lot of your gigs or are you mainly flying?
I do [drive] because Toyota sponsor me, I’m really, really lucky, and they provide me with wheels and a fuel card so I’m sort of encouraged to get in the car, which I prefer anyway, so it does me a lot of hours on the road.

I always think it’s good singing practice if you’re in the car.
It’s so good and, you know, crank up the new music and new album and it’s awesome. It’s a nice sort of time to have to yourself to think about things. It’s great.

And what are your plans for the rest of the year and for Tamworth next year?
The rest of the year I’ll be travelling a lot, we’re going to Darwin tomorrow, Mt Isa Rodeo, Gympie Muster, back to New Zealand for the Country Music Awards – a whole lot of travel, a whole lot of support acts and then heading into Tamworth, hopefully we’re just going to have one big paid show with some of my friends and some other artists. So that’s the go at the moment.

When you do your support slots, as you said, is it you and your guitar or do you have a band with you?
Most of the support spots are me and a guitarist. But then when I’m part of the festivals I have my own band there, which is really fun.

Do you like performing solo?
I love it. I guess I’ve done a lot of it over the years so. I started pub gigging and things when I was just 16 and so I’m used to it, so it’s not really something that I don’t like. It’s just nicer when you’ve got your band and others around you as well.

It sounds like you’ve actually reached a point relatively early in your career of finding a balance between things you love to do and being able to be self-sufficient but also able to work with others, which is terrific.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve sort of really taken everything in my own hands. I’ve never relied on my family or anyone like that to do it. You know, it’s my goals and my dreams so I’ve really sort of tried to keep as much control myself as I can, so that I can learn what I’m doing as I go, too, which I’m benefiting from now because I’m not running blind, I know people because I’ve built the relationships myself and things like that, which I think is really, really quite important.

The one thing you didn’t mention about the rest of the year is actually doing any writing. And I guess that’s often the challenge when you have a lot of shows, finding that time to write. So do you have plans towards a new album next year that you need to write for?
It’s sort of in the back of my mind. I’m writing towards a new EP but I’m not rushing it. I really want to have some really good-quality songs that I’ve written myself and just trying to get out write with as many Aussies as I can and just start working towards that for sure.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview: Hannah Jane Lewis

Hannah Jane Lewis is an emerging star in a country music scene that is still, in its own way, emerging: the United Kingdom. Nicknamed the 'Bramley Belle', London-based Hannah has released an EP and performed at Country2Country, the UK's biggest country music event, winning fans with her great voice and her ability to connect with listeners. Recently I had the chance to interview Hannah by email, to find out a bit about her and about country music in the UK.

When did you first come to love country music?
My mum used to listen to Shania Twain and Leann Rimes when I was younger, so I guess that would be when I first took note of it. I didn’t start to properly love it though until I moved to America when I was 15. It was always on in all of the bars, radio, television etc so it became normal to hear it all the time. The storytelling lyrics are what struck me first about the genre, which inspired me to start writing my own!

You spent some of your childhood in the USA, which obviously would have led to you hearing a lot of country music. But the UK is different - country isn't as popular there. Can you tell me a bit about the country music scene in the UK, from your perspective?
Ye,s it isn’t as popular here yet but it is definitely growing, which is so exciting! It feels awesome to be part of that growth too. People are starting to take notice now. It's funny because when I moved back from America a couple of years ago I just assumed that modern country/pop would be popular here, so I was shocked when I realised that when most people in the UK here the word ‘country’ music they automatically think of country and western and line dancing. That is what I think a lot of UK country artists are trying to change, trying to show people that it isn’t necessarily that way anymore. I'ts closer to pop and rock than a lot of people realise. Country sounds are starting to creep into mainstream music on the radio here too so that is also a great sign!

Where do you see yourself fitting into UK country music – are you at the vanguard? 
I’d say I’m in the pack of artists who are pushing for its popularity.  It’s a really exciting time, so as I said it is awesome to be part of that movement. We are all doing something slightly different to each other too, so I guess our journeys are all going to be quite different.

How did you develop your personal musical style – did it start with your voice?
 I guess it did start with my voice, I’ve been singing since I can remember. As my voice started to develop more I did realise that it sounded like it fit in the country/pop genre. I never really made a conscious decision to go there though, I just started writing my own music and it came out in that pop/country way.

Are the guys in your '17 Again' video your band? If so, how did you meet?
Yes they are! I met my lead guitarist Richard Clarke a couple of years ago when we both used to sing with this soul band. I had only just moved back from the States and didn’t really know anyone here who did music, so he used to help me out when I had questions about things and give me advice. That led to him offering to play on my EP and from there he got some of his friends involved to come and do the same. Now we are all really close and I couldn’t wish for a better band.

Your bio says that you love the storytelling nature of country music – is it hard to tell personal stories, though? Do you ever feel too exposed?
Sometimes it definitely is hard, especially if people around you know what is going on in your life because then when you write a song they usually know who it is about! I try to forget about that though and just write what I want to write about, because I’ve found that sometimes the most personal stories actually become the most universal and easy to relate to. However, I never really tell anyone exactly who my songs are about – they can play the guessing game!

You have a few acoustic videos on your website – is it a good form of training, in a way, to know that you're playing to an unknown number of people?
Yes I think so! I think it definitely makes you aware of what people want to listen to and what holds their attention. That is probably the biggest thing I get from it.

So your EP is out – what's next?
Yep my debut EP is out and has been for a while. I recently signed to management (Red Stag Management) and got endorsed by Daisy Rock Girls Guitars! I am actually just about to go into the studio and record another EP – which I am SO unbelievably excited for. I’ll be shooting the video for the first single soon, which is called ‘Stuck On You’. I’m then going on a schools tour in association with D.A.R.E (drug and alcohol abuse resistance charity) for about six weeks which leads up to the release of my EP in late October. I’m going on a pre release tour for that which ends at my EP launch party, which is at Proud in Camden, London. Lots of exciting things!

Do you love performing?
Performing is actually my absolute favourite. For me, that is the best part of making and playing music. I’ve been doing ever since I was about 3, so it feels really natural and I enjoy every minute of it. The dream would be to go on a long stadium tour one day!

Visit Hannah's website at

Monday, August 18, 2014

Interview: Adam Brand

Adam Brand is one of the most recognisable names in Australian country music, and with good reason: he keeps delivering great music and great shows, all done with a smile and a heart as wide open as the Nullarbor plain he once traversed from his home state of Western Australia to pursue his dreams on the east coast. Adam has a brand new album, My Side of the Street, and a tour to go with it. Recently I spoke to him about both.

What's on your side of the street, Adam Brand?
Well, you know what – it might not be the flashest, it might not be the sunniest or might not even be the most fashionable, but it's my side, dammit, and that's okay with me! I guess that's indicative of how I feel right now – the journey takes you a whole bunch of different places throughout your life and I've arrived at a place where I feel fairly comfortable in my own skin and on my side of the street.

And you are absolutely entitled to feel that way. This is your tenth studio album and – not to put pressure on you – you have five gold albums and three platinum albums, and you have an established following, you play every year in Tamworth to big crowds, you tour around the country, so it must feel as if you can look at this stage of your career and think, Great, I've done a lot of hard work and I can invite people to my side of the street but I can also do a bit of what I want to do.
I think when you release music, a lot of times you can second-guess yourself and there's pressure from outside parties – 'It's got to be this successful, it's got to do that because you did this last time' and all that kind of stuff. And I really feel that I didn't want to give in to any of that pressure or even to take any of that pressure on board because at the end of the day you've got to feel very happy and comfortable with who you are and what you're doing yourself. So I went into the studio without any rules – without any thoughts of success or sales or any of that kind of stuff. It was, 'You know what? I've got to be absolutely honest with myself about this music and about these songs and do what's really in my heart and go by my instincts rather than on commercial reasons or whatever.' So that's kind of where I'm coming from on My Side of the Street – this is who I am, this is where I'm at and even if some people don't like it – even if no one likes it – it's okay because this is truth and it's honest. And people – especially country music fans - can spot fake a mile away. If you're up there singing things because you think it's going to be a hit or think you're going to sell a few extra albums if you go with the latest trend or whatever, they're going to know it's not really you. So I just wanted to be true to what I felt was right.

And that is true of that audience. But I think it takes a certain act of bravery – probably more bravery at the stage of career you're at than if you were starting out – to say, 'This is what's in my heart and this is what I want to do', because you do run the risk that you're letting down tens if not hundreds of thousands of people. So does it feel brave?
Hm … I'm not sure. I've never been averse to taking a risk, you know, especially when it involves being honest with yourself about something. And I feel that for people who do follow me or have followed me, if they really do like the way I communicate and like the music that I bring out, then they'll see this [album] and go, 'Yeah, that's really him – he's being upfront right now. He's not just trying to remake an old song. He's not just trying to rehash old things he's done just because he's scared of not selling enough albums'. And there's always going to be people who say, 'Hey, look, I really like your early stuff or I really like that album or this song' and that kind of thing – and that's great, because at least they like something of yours! If they came up and said, 'I don't like anything you've ever done' well, then, there's not much you can do about that. I feel it's better to have a few people really enjoy and believe in what you're doing than a lot of people just being blasé about it.

You often wear your heart on your sleeve in your songs, and you have on this album as well – particularly on a couple of songs co-written by Travis Meadows – and that's a brave thing to do, especially when more and more people know who you are. And you can hear it in your voice – you're a very honest, direct singer – we can hear emotion in your voice and we can hear that you're singing the truth. Do you need extra reserves of energy to deal with that?
Yeah, I think you do [laughs]. When you say I wear my heart on my sleeve – you're right, I do. I've never been much good at hiding much at any times, so … [laughs] Maybe I wouldn't be a good actor. That's the thing with my music – for some reason I need to be emotionally connected to it, to perform it. In the studio, sure, you can surround yourself with an environment that's kind of sterile or whatever and record a song. If you're not feeling it today you can go back tomorrow and do it. But when you're standing in front of an audience and you're feeling whatever it is you're feeling, you can't switch that off – well, I can't, anyway. I can't get onstage and put a mask on and pretend to be something else. So I think being honest, wearing my heart on my sleeve – as you say, maybe it's brave in some ways but it's also probably the only way I could ever be because I can't really market that well! It saves me chopping and changing and thinking, Okay, what am I going to be or how am I going to feel tonight? I am what I am.

From a performance point of view, that's probably the harder road, though – a lot of performers would put on a mask, essentially, in order to not run themselves down too much. Looking at your tour schedule, you have a lot of dates coming up – Mick Jagger apparently takes up running to get in shape before a tour, to get fit, and I thought, Adam must have some kind of fitness regime in order to do all of this.
Yeah, he eats pasta and pizza [laughs]. I'm not that disciplined to get into the health and fitness. I'm lucky – I don't really carry too much weight that I have to go on a fitness regime for it. I was the runt of the litter. Honestly, being on tour is a workout itself, in a way – all the time on stage, I'm fairly energetic. [So I] just attack it head on and if I run out of puff, I run out of puff.

Just back to the album – you've written some of the songs, some have come from other writers. What was the process like for you, collecting these songs? Because it must take a while to find the right ones.
I had a lot of these songs in my secret file, I guess you could say, or my back pocket, waiting for the right time or the right moment. Some of these songs have been my favourite songs for the last few years and I've just been collecting them. And I knew that I was going to record them – I just didn't know when. So some of these, I've been waiting to record them and I'm pretty excited about playing them. I was very excited about going into the studio to play them and record them. It wasn't a real drawn-out process – it came together quite naturally and organically, and I guess that's the secret to knowing that you're on the right path for yourself, for your music, is that it came together fairly … I didn't have to labour over it and second-guess it and really go, 'Oh, am I doing the right thing?' or stress about it. It came together quite nicely and I thought, Yes, this feels right.

You have Jasmine Rae singing with you on one of the tracks. Now there's a lot of country music talent around – how did you choose Jasmine?
She's one of the best singers in Australia, I reckon. She sings like an absolute angel. And the last few years I've seen her a few times at festivals, I've got her up to sing with me for a song here or there, and I'm just really impressed by her. She's got a great little heart and spirit about her. So it felt right to do a song now and also I'm taking her out on the road, on tour.

Will she be your opening act?
I've got Matty Cornell opening and then Jasmine plays and then I'll play and we'll do some songs together as well ... I think it's going to be a really good combination of people, of voices, of textures. So I think it's going to be a really fun tour.

Your voices marry well on the track, so the people going to your show will get at least one duet – and maybe more, by the sound of it.
Yeah, I think they're going to see a fair bit that they probably may not expect.

And you have one cover song on the album, a Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs number, 'Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy)'. How did you come to choose that?
He was just a legend, you know? And this song's such an iconic song. I've done it before in my shows. I just love it. I just love the song and people sing along with it. And not only that: the title's quite true. There's a lot of people who think I'm pretty nuts. It kind of fits.

I wouldn't have thought that about you – that you're nuts or that people think you're nuts – so I find that quite curious.
Oh, no, people think I'm pretty crazy [laughs]. My shows are very spontaneous. Some people have been doing the same show for ten, fifteen years and they don't change. But I change mine all the time. And if something happens during the show, I just go with it. I've been called crazy a lot of times, yeah – I'm surprised you haven't heard that!

I haven't, actually, because I have to say my impression of you is one of complete professionalism – you put on these great shows, you get all these albums out, you obviously work very hard. That doesn't mean you can't be a bit crazy, but I think it means you also meet your obligations.
Yes, absolutely – I definitely do. But I'm professionally crazy – put it that way.

Maybe that's the title of your next album …
Could be. 'Professionally Crazy' … It's a good title – a good song title.

So you had My Acoustic Diary out last year, you have the new album out now, and it seemed as if you were recording this album just as My Acoustic Diary was coming out, so you're really going back to back. Do you have any time for a holiday?
[laughs] Not lately. I recorded Acoustic Diary, that came out, then I was in the studio recording this [new album]. Since then I've opened two restaurants [laughs]. See? That's the crazy part.

I had not heard that at all – two restaurants – so not just one?
I opened a restaurant in Townsville and I've just opened the second one in Coffs Harbour. They're called Brandy's. I'm a big foodie – love food – so this is something I've been wanting to do for a while. So I knew I had a gap between recording the album and then releasing it, so I always planned that I was going to start this restaurant. I knew I was going to do one – I didn't actually know I was going to do two. That was kind of a little surprise packet.

I like the way you say, 'I had a gap between recording and releasing' and it sounded like you almost said, 'So the next logical thing to do was open a restaurant'.
[Laughs] I know. I should have gone on holiday but instead I opened two restaurants. And both of them needed renovating – that's the part I really loved. I spent six weeks renovating one of them and four weeks renovating the other one. I'm just hands on. I love being busy.

So are they Italian restaurants? I know you have an Italian background.
They predominantly are. There's a very home-cooked, rustic element to them and an Italian element as well. The one at Coffs Harbour we've got things like shanks and big beef ribs, schnitzels and spaghetti. So it's very home-cooked Italian style.

Now I'll ask you one last question: how do keep the fire in your belly to keep going with all this – keep going on the road, keep recording, and also, as you've just revealed, to have side projects?
The secret to that is that I absolutely love standing in front of people and singing my songs, and having that real-time connection and communication with people. I just love it. And I feel really lucky to be able to do it. I feel blessed. I get to actually sing for my living. And it's never really grown old on me. I've never really got blasé or, like, 'I don't really want to go out and do that next week'. It's always been, 'Yeah, I'm a lucky man.' So it's not hard at all to keep the fire going. 

My Side of the Street is out now through ABC Music/Universal. For full details of Adam's upcoming tour, go to