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February 4, 2023

Dancing the Highwire

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The Perch Creek Family Jugband announce the arrival of their second studio album, Jumping On The Highwire, through Vitamin Records, introducing the world to a sound the group call ‘Psychedelic Jug Band’.

The national album tour includes a stop-off on home turf. Seven spoke with James Chandler, the only member of the band not related to anyone else in the band!

Tell me about your songwriting process this time – sharing it among the five of you, line by line – how did that change what you ended up with? We pretty much spent a week on the loungeroom floor of a little holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula surrounded by paper, clutching pens and pencils, scribbling furiously.

A lot of the time we were sitting in a circle with about six or seven songsheets going at a time – each person grabbing a sheet, adding a line, chucking it back into the centre of the circle. The process really freed up our creativity and also showed us how easy it was to collaborate.

Being such close family, there was of course no room for tactfulness when it came to creative disagreements, and within the first five minutes everyone had been grilled mercilessly over the writing of at least one woeful line which meant that from then on that fear was gone and our writing could flow freely.

It’s a very imaginative album, almost surreal. What was the inspiration for such flights of fantasy? Drugs. Just kidding! A lot of the songs we love have very enigmatic lyrics and we really wanted to deviate from the tyranny of the excessively literal lyric, which can create lifeless songs and stifle creativity.

Tell me about Mother of my Mother. It started with the line ‘Mother of my mother, won’t you see what I’ve done,’ and from there we just kept writing lyrics until we were happy. It’s a kind of warped story of a guy who might have done some bad stuff and is stealing away from it all. Stylistically, we were perhaps inspired by The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, who we’ve toured with a lot with and who have a knack for playing at breakneck speeds.

perch-creek-The music and the songwriting has matured, there is a certain sophistication. Are you careful to keep that unique voice of yours as you evolve as musicians? I wouldn’t say we are careful to keep our unique voice because we don’t feel that there is any danger of losing it, but we are aware that it’s an asset.

How has life been on the road? What have been your most fantastic adventures? Life on the road is always fun and often tough. Fantastic adventures usually involve monumental blunders on our part, but thankfully there haven’t been too many of them lately.

Tell me about recording this album: who was your producer? – what ideas did you have before you went into the studio? Our producer was, uh, us. We did the tracking in a few different places with a few different engineers, but the bulk of the stuff was recorded in a friend’s farmhouse in Lake Mokoan, Victoria, over the course of five or six days of eating, sleeping and recording (not in order), which was nice and chilled. Most of the songs had been road tested first, but there were still a few surprises as well as room for creativity.

Did Jumping on the Highwire turn out as you expected? Were there surprises along the way? The biggest surprise was Where You Been. The song had been kicking around for over a year already, but it never felt quite right. At the last minute we kind of pulled this song out of the vaults and gave it a major workover and all of a sudden we felt like we had a ‘hit’ single! Obviously the stripped-back soul production is pretty adventurous coming from a ‘jug band’ (has any other jug band featured a Casio keyboard hook so far?), but we’ve been pushing beyond the jug band genre for a while now.

Why do you think you have struck such a note with audiences? I guess we are unique; but I think the key thing is the sense of fun that comes across whenever we perform.

What should local audiences expect for your Lismore show? The same good vibes, energy and big harmonies, but a more sophisticated sound and a ton of new material.


The Perch Creek Family Jugband’s LP Jumping On The Highwire is out now on Vitamin Records. They return to play The Star Court Theatre, Lismore on Friday April 4, with special guests The Button Collective. 8pm $20/$15 conc. Kids free.


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