Josh Pyke is one of the country’s most successful musicians, a unique singer/songwriter with a poet’s penchant for a turn of phrase.
His career has taken him around the world, but right now he’s going back to the heart of his work, touring solo around Australia with an upcoming show at the Byron Theatre.
Josh, What do you get from the experience of performing your work solo that you might not with a band, or at least one or two other players?
For me it’s a level of intimacy between myself and the audience. It’s more like having a conversation with someone, rather than there being that separation of ‘musicians on stage’ and ‘punters in the audience’ thing that you sometimes get with bands. When you’re playing with a band, you get camaraderie with the other musicians… when you’re playing solo, you get that camaraderie with the audience.
You are a very intriguing lyricist. Where do you draw your inspiration: poetry? novels? other songwriters?
All of the above! Also just life experiences. I like to sing about things that many people might be thinking or dealing with, but maybe they can’t articulate it in a way that communicates what they’re going through. So I like to take those things and tell the stories with lots of imagery and metaphor so that it becomes more universal.
But really inspiration can be from anywhere at all.
I hugely respect poets and poetry, but I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to it too. I never sat around writing poems… just noodling on the guitar and writing lyrics is how I come up with my words. My wife loves poetry and is quite a buff on the subject, and I’m sure she’d say that poets are still occupying that territory, and while there’re always crossovers, they’re pretty different skills.
What is it that love, heartbreak etc seem to have to teach us or share generation after generation, century after century? Is the heart always the muse?
Wow, that is a tough question! I think if I knew the answer I’d stop writing songs! So maybe the answer is that love teaches us to always keep searching.
I particularly love Feet of Clay; not sure why – it just sticks. Can you tell me about that track in particular?
It’s kinda just a simple song about acknowledging your weaknesses, but instead of using weakness as an excuse for bad behaviour, it’s a call to arms to myself to try to be better.
Can you tell me about the White Album concert that you are collaborating on?
We will be doing the whole White Album, start to finish, with a 17-piece rock orchestra! It’s going to be epic! We did the same show five years ago, and it was so much fun, so I’m really excited to get back on the bus again!
How has the music of the Beatles influenced you? What are the particular songs that stand out for you?
The Beatles were a huge influence on me as a kid. I would say the Beatles and the Beach Boys were my favourite bands till I was about 11, and then Guns ’n’ Roses took over. I always especially loved A Day In The Life – such an amazingly well told story, so sad, and told from different perspectives in such an empathetic way.
What should we expect for your Byron Show?
Well it’s solo, so expect just me! Also I will be using my mostly trusty loop pedal for some extra sounds, and I’ll be covering tracks from all the way through my career. It’s going to be fun!
Sunday at the Byron Community Centre. Tickets are at www.byroncentre.com.au or 6685 6807.