QUICK CHAT W/ JOSH PYKE
The first gig I ever attended (post Wiggles phase) was Josh Pyke’s Geelong show during his 2009 Chimney’s Afire tour, thus commencing a long and enduring love of Pyke’s music. As far as selecting an artist to idolise during one’s formative years, 15 year old me did pretty well. If hype bands are the metaphorical sparklers of the music industry, fizzling out as quickly as they shoot to fame, Josh Pyke is a campfire- a warm and seemingly eternal flame that consistently brings the goods. Since releasing first LP Memories and Dust in 2007, Pyke has consistently produced strong releases, earning him four top ten debuts, countless accolades and a loyal and (at times overly) enthusiastic following. I had the privilege of speaking with Pyke ahead of his national tour for fifth studio album But For All These Shrinking Hearts. When asked about how he feels casting a retrospective eye over his career, Pyke humbly acknowledged a sense of pride.
“I think the main thing is I just feel proud… every time I do an album, regardless of what anybody else thinks, I want to feel like it’s my best work, my most developed work, and I genuinely feel that about all my records,” says Pyke.
“I felt that about Feeding The Wolves when I did it- that that was the best I could do at the time- and same with Memories and Dust, same with Chimneys [Afire], all the way through to this one…so yeah I feel proud mostly. I feel proud about just sticking to my guns as a songwriter and sticking to my principles…that my success has come from an honest place.”
The aforementioned honesty is perhaps what resonates most with Pyke’s fan base- his uncontrived ability to capture the complexity of relationships and existence. Whereas past albums seemed to draw heavily on themes of love and romantic relationships in particular, this album sees Pyke examine his relationship with his own creativity, one he admits has changed over the course of his career.
“I used to have absolutely no structure to my creative process and I didn’t need to have any structure to it,” he reflects.
“Now because of family- I’ve got kids now- trying to fit in touring life with family life with writing records…I’ve had to make structure. I’ve got a really good studio at home now so I basically treat it like Nick Cave does. I go down to the studio in the morning, work an almost full day and then transition back into family life. It takes the pressure off in a way I can’t even really articulate… You just do whatever you want, and if it doesn’t work out you just pick it up the next day.”
“It’s kind of the opposite of what I thought I wanted when I first became a musician- the idea of structure is pretty horrible to me that’s why I became a musician, because I didn’t want to have any kind of structure, but it’s actually what I’ve needed for years.”
Soon after the release of But For All These Shrinking Hearts, Pyke embarked upon a short run of ‘Fans First’ shows. As has occurred for his past three releases, pre-ordering the album scored fans a ticket to an intimate performance not otherwise open to the general public, a kind of exclusive preview of the new tracks (plus a few old favourites).
“I just find it to be an excellent way to re-engage with these people who have been there from the beginning, or even if they haven’t been there from the beginning they’re hard-core fans,” Pyke says.
“By me playing those shows I’m saying to them that I hugely appreciate their support and that I want them to have access to the songs first… and have this intimate performance first before I go out and do these bigger shows. It’s kind of just a mutual love in!”
Looking forward to his upcoming tour, Pyke admits the challenge of choosing a set list from his sizeable back catalogue, and the difficulties in pleasing everyone.
“It’s hard because obviously there are five albums- it used to be when I first started, a tour would be about playing the new songs almost in entirety and once you get to a few albums you can’t,” Pyke says.
“I think it was Paul Kelly who said ages ago that it’s kind of insulting if you don’t play the songs people want to hear, it’s pretty self indulgent to just get up there and only play the songs that are your favourites… I do play some that I think are less known, but I essentially just play what I think people will want to hear.”
If the reception of But For All These Shrinking Hearts (or any previous album for that matter) is anything to go by, choosing songs that fans will love won’t be too difficult a task.
By Claire Barley
JOSH PYKE- BUT FOR ALL THESE SHRINKING HEARTS ALBUM TOUR
FRI 29 JAN, TWILIGHT AT TARONGA, SYDNEY NSW (ALL AGES), www.twilightattaronga.org.au
SAT 30 JAN, CANBERRA THEATRE PLAYHOUSE, CANBERRA ACT (ALL AGES), www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au
THU 04 FEB, STUDIO 56 @ MIAMI MARKETTA, GOLD COAST QLD, www.oztix.com.au
FRI 05 FEB, THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE QLD, www.oztix.com.au
SAT 06 FEB, STAR COURT THEATRE, LISMORE NSW (ALL AGES), www.starcourttheatre.com.au
FRI 12 FEB, MELBOURNE ZOO TWILIGHTS, MELBOURNE VIC (ALL AGES), www.zoo.org.au/twilights
SAT 13 FEB, THE WOOL EXCHANGE, GEELONG VIC, www.oztix.com.au
FRI 19 FEB, HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE, ADELAIDE SA (ALL AGES), www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au
SAT 20 FEB, ASTOR THEATRE, PERTH WA*, www.astortheatreperth.com
*U18 can attend with parent/guardian