NICHOLAS CONNORS IS REALLY HUMBLE. HOW MANY OF YOUR MATES WOULD BUY YOU A BEER WITH THEIR LAST REDBACK? NICK CONNORS DID. I PROMISED HIM TO GET HIM ONE LATER AND CONVENIENTLY FORGOT. NOW THAT THIS IS IN WRITING, I SUPPOSE HE CAN HOLD ME TO IT.
I met up with Nick and girlfriend/collaborator, Ahlia, at the Croation Club (it's the new Suspension for interviews) before the Other People single launch at the Lass. We warm up with a chat about William Crighton, Dashville, the Junkyard and the lay of the land in Newcastle music.
Shall we get into it?
Nick: Yeah if you want.
I heard about Moody, White Walkers and Eye Drops before when you were playing around Newcastle. Before you moved to Melbourne. What was going on at that stage?
We moved down there as a band - we didn't play a single show. [Laughs]
We moved in together; it was always going to be a difficult thing. We tried to get shows like we did up here; we tried everywhere. Nobody would give us a start. From there, we all got busy and everybody enjoyed the Melbourne lifestyle… I decided I wanted to keep trying the music thing and it wasn't working there.
I heard the song 'Nowhere' you'd recorded for the Mirage sampler in 2015, the same day Dan Southward and James Thomson both recorded. Do you think it was the same sort of thing in the earlier bands, or was it a progression?
I think I lost my sense of self in those old bands. We moved into territories I was unfamiliar with. I believe this music I'm doing now is returning to what I know and love best, which is blues and rock and roll. Without the crazy guitar pedals and all that. I like to listen to that other stuff, maybe not to play as much.
Did you decide there you weren't going to do another band?
Yeah. I started writing these new kinds of songs that didn't fit at all with what we established the band to be.
Were you always playing solo in addition to the band?
Very rarely. I think meeting James and Demi was what really moved me back into a beautiful bubble of folk and blues songwriting.
It went from there?
I suppose, yeah. I think I was really motivated to make my own decisions, to make the music that I wanted to make.
Is it harder not having three other people working with you on something?
I would actually say it's easier. I don't have to rely on anybody, and I don't expect anybody to do it for me. There is a lot more work, don't get me wrong, but it's a whole lot simpler.
Do you find it difficult to find people for your band?
There's an amazing bunch of people in Newcastle. When somebody has something on, hopefully I can rustle another legend to come play with me.
So how did The Black Lung Cartel fit into this?
That was Dan and I moving home together. He had his own stuff down there to deal with. About two weeks before I was leaving, I told him, and he felt the same way. We all hung out together, he introduced me to Bodie who plays drums, and Brendan, who's been my best bud since. We wanted to play some shows. It was a nice transition into getting back into playing before knuckling down and writing some decent stuff.
There were a few original songs of both yours and Dan's that crept in there. That and some blues standards.
It was a real mixture. We wrote a couple of those songs together down in Melbourne; I had a few tucked away also. I don't think I play any of those anymore.
What about ‘Where'd you go’?
Actually yeah, that one made it through. I remember once I'd started recording with Fraser, that was the first song we did. Then two more, and once they were done, two more again.
It's been a pretty gradual thing with him?
I've been working pretty much since we got back. It's been a very slow process for this EP that is finally, finally happening.
When is the EP launch?
July 7th at the Cambridge Hotel.
See you there.