Jack Tully, musician

Don’t worry about the external things, just do your thing. And wear a hat ...

From a solar powered shack in Coorabell, just outside of Byron Bay, Jack Tully makes musical poetry inspired by bluesmen of days past. His first single ‘Prairie Lawn’ has commanded some serious airtime on radio and he is gearing up to release his heartfelt debut album The Keeping, a reflection of a troubled past with a humble realisation of a brighter future. Echoes of Jack’s varied musical past are evident on this record with styles traversing between alt-country, Americana and experimental rock intertwined with yearning guitar solos and ethereal sounds from somewhere else altogether. The Weekend Edition Gold Coast caught up with Jack to chat about inspiration and looking to the past.

What inspires you creatively?
A lot of the old blues dogs like Albert King, B.B.King, Buddy Guy, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Neil Young. I grew up with a lot of the old music so I guess that’s always been what I go back to. I so listen to some new music, right now I’m obsessed with Push the Sky Away, the latest Nick Cave album.

Congratulations on your debut album The Keeping, what can listeners expect from that record?
Thank you. It’s a bit of a mix, partly recorded in a studio and then partly in our lounge room so it’s a mix between the studio and a home feel as far as a sound goes and then lyrically it’s a bit of a journey of my life for however long, 30 years or so.

We hear the cat even had a cameo appearance on the album?
Yes, she’s in there, she’s the best bit. I’m a pretty proud cat dad.

The album has been a long time coming. How does it feel to finally have it out there for the world to hear?
It’s great! I sort of had a bit of a break but now I felt like it was time to start playing again and get out of house and do some gigs and record some songs. It feels good to be playing music again.

What was it like to pick up the guitar again?
Well when I say I had a break I guess the longest break I’ve ever had from playing guitar is a couple of days, I just wasn’t playing live or recording. My guitar is never too far away.

The Keeping touches on some past experiences, did you find writing the album almost cathartic in a way?
I guess it is. I am always writing things down these days so I guess it is a way deal with things or move through things. I co-wrote the album with my partner Deb, she does all of the harmonies on the album too.

You’re packing your bags and taking the show on the road and playing at The Loft on September 4. What’s it like sharing the stage with your beautiful partner Deborah?
It’s lovely! We did the album launch at The Junk Bar, the stage was so small I turned around and knocked her in the head with my guitar. Apart from accidentally banging her in the head it’s great to do it with her.

When you were 21 you and a couple of bandmates jumped on a plane to take on New York City. What was running through your mind when you touched down?
You know, we were young so we just thought it was a good idea. It’s always great to experience those sorts of things but we were on a whim, we were not organised in the slightest. We were playing in Newcastle, we did about three gigs and thought bugger it, let’s go to New York. It was quite an adventure.

What was the greatest lesson you’ve taken from that adventure?
I guess it is that you just have to do those things sometimes. Even though things definitely don’t go how we planned the experience has stayed with me forever, I’ll never regret embarking on something like that. You’ve just got to do those things.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt and all the old blues guys. Most of them are dead. I love listening to Lucinda Williams at the moment, I think she’s awesome. I love her drummer Butch Norton, he’s great.

What do you consider to be your career highlight so far?
We did this gig when I was in Newcastle with an old band, it was our first one and it was just raucous, it’s probably one of my highlights. It was this little pub and it just got wild, the music wasn’t that crazy, well maybe it was but one of my mates ended up crowd-surfing naked and I remember the publican saying that they had never had anything like that before. We’ve got some great photos. That one always sticks in my head.

What’s your idea of a weekend well spent?
I love going to Bluesfest or seeing a great gig. I love going to new places, I never want to go back to the same place. New experiences and new places and I’m a happy man.

If you could start a supergroup with people living or otherwise, who would you choose and why?
Oh man, the people I’d pick are too good, I couldn’t put myself in the same band as those guys! Neil Young and Hendrix would be in there, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Maybe Jack Bruce could play bass and Butch Norton could play drums. John Lennon could sing. Yeah, I’m definitely not in that band!

What’s the blue sky dream?
At the moment I want to put together a bit of a rock and roll band. I’m happy to keep playing with Deb and doing the acoustic stuff but I feel like playing some electric guitar again. Definitely in the future.

Lastly, any words to live by?
Just keep going. That’s something that I’m trying to do better is just to keep going, keep inspiring yourself and don’t worry about the external things, just do your thing. And wear a hat.


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