Liam Gale is Bursting with the Blues
As they launch their upcoming single, ‘Antipodean Honour’ from the latest album, ‘the Lonely Throne’, Sydney based Liam Gale and the Ponytails are set to wow audiences with their unique country blues sound. We caught up with Liam himself to find out all you need to know about this colourful nine-piece band.
How did Liam Gale and the Ponytails come about?
Most of us went to uni together - I had some songs and four of my mates were keen to play, so I guess it started there. A few months later we had a couple more members, and as time went by we went from me and four Ponytails to nine of us all together.
How would you describe your music?
People have thrown around terms like psych-folk, swamp rock, Celtic folk rock with blues, all sorts of stuff. I'd just call us a blues and country band with heaps of instruments. But genre is always an after-thought I reckon - I never think to myself 'today I'm going to write a blues song', nor does the band ever say 'let's give this one a country vibe', it all happens fairly off the cuff.
What can we expect from the single ‘Antipodean Honour’ and the forthcoming album ‘the Lonely Throne’?
I suppose it'd be up to the listeners to describe the album, but from my perspective it's got a fairly traditional layout; a distinct difference in side A and side B, but I'd like to think of it as cohesive nonetheless. Side A's guitars were recorded inside and that half of the album tends to have a darker and bluesier vibe, whereas side B's guitars were recorded outside and tend to sound brighter, the songs being more optimistic I'd say. Albums like Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' and Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' have been a big influence - great track flow, conceptual and completely cohesive. With those albums you can't listen to it unless it's from start to finish. They're not nine songs, they're one album.
You incorporate a diverse variety of international instruments into your music. Where does this inspiration come from?
I think it was a combination of circumstance and desire - I really dig interesting arrangements and 'colourful' soundscapes built from a varying instrumentation, and I just happened to meet a bunch of people (now my close mates known as the Ponytails) that possessed the ability to play instruments like the sitar, djembe, mandolin, violin etc. It's been quite bizarre; the Ponytails and me would say "man, it'd be sick to have a violin player" and then all of a sudden our mate Gus says "If you ever need a violin player I'd be keen". That sort of thing just kept happening, like with our new bass player and backing singers. Trippy, but awesome. I'm in constant awe and gratitude of the Ponytails.
The isolated country property in central NSW where you recorded the album seems like a quirky and unconventional setting. What was the experience like to record there?
It's very beautiful out there - and isolated is definitely the word. Every few weeks I'd go back there with a different Ponytail and track in the old farmhouse, or we'd go jam in the old sheds that'd surround the property. They'd be full of equipment, like old blacksmith bellows and such, which could have been a hundred years old. Last winter I spent about three weeks out there layering different guitars and amp sounds - I've never been so cold in my life. Needless to say, red wine became my new best friend. Sadly, the boys from Sunfield Records had to move out of Coobang Park, but the studio is in the next town over now in an old mezzanine building that used to be an arcade or cinema or something. We'll be finishing the album off there.
What’s next in 2013 for you and your future plans?
We are to release our single 'Antipodean Honour', the launch being at GoodGod Small Club on September 12th. Plan is to have a crazy evening of psych rock bands (Aether Beach and the Spoon Collectors), burlesque dancers (neo-burlesque duo Nabblar), drum circles and DJs. We'll be playing too, and hard copies of 'Antipodean Honour' and its B side 'the Sunset Clause' will be available for donation, or free with ticket purchase (at http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/tomorrow-never-knows/67454). Full details of the event are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/200979500069149/ After that we've got some shows in Canberra and southern NSW, I think, with Bears With Guns. Then back in the studio to finish the album and decide what the next single is.
- Mimi Nightingale