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Byron Shire
August 14, 2022

Interview with Simon Bailey of Ponyface

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Ponyface For Bello

Bello Winter Music  | Fri, Sat, Sun 12–14 July

This weekend sees the gorgeous township of Bellingen come alive with music when Bello Winter Music takes to the streets, halls, pubs, and funky bars. Saturday is sold out so if you’re keen to enter this winter wonderland you’d better get a wiggle on. One of the featured acts at this year’s festival is Melbourne’s beloved Ponyface. Simon Bailey spoke with The Echo… 

Where did it all start for you? How did you get into music, singing/songwriting? Did you grow up in a musical household, study classical music, or were you drawn in to it later in life? How about the other guys: how did they find their way into the troubadour life?

Music life probably started for me when I’d nick my dad’s classical guitar (I would’ve been about 11 or 12), put my right ear onto the top of the hollow body, hearing the notes inside while playing the low strings and hear the harmonics inside oscillate and distort. I inherited my sister’s boyfriend’s Strat after that and plugged it into a tape deck ghetto blaster and cranked it to get that overloaded sound. After that I was a goner for electric guitars. Just always had a guitar to play with.

Your particular sound has been verbosely reviewed many times. How would you  describe your sound?

I try to slip out of that question when it comes up, like Houdini handcuffed. Every album so far has been pretty different from the last, sometimes purposefully and sometimes accidentally, so like weird indie folk to produced cold indie pop to kraut psyche dream rock to landscape murder folk to stylised singer/songwriter stuff to primitive caveman knuckle-dragging rock yadda yadda… so I try to side-step that and just send people a link or give them the new record.

With such a rich and complex sonic mix you and your band create, it’s probably hard to say, but whom do you reference as some of your most important musical influences?

I learned to noodle on guitar by playing along to Standing on a beach by The Cure. And I hear The Cure in most things we do. But that might just be me.

I like listening to Nina Simone all the time and Alice Coltrane and Tom Waits. I’d love to sound like The Divine Fits but I doubt they influence our sound – it’d be great if they did

You’ve been touring your latest album Deja Vu since January 2018 and have wowed crowds at most if not all of the music festival stages around the southern part of the country. How have you enjoyed touring the festival scene?

Festivals are great, it’s where it’s at. You have to try a little harder to make a first impression, but the audiences are very receptive, the people are great, and everyone’s in a top mood! Plus you get to hang out with your other music family!

In 2012 you released a rendition of Springsteen’s album Nebraska. Can you tell us a little of the story of creating that album: how / why did you guys decide to cover this Springsteen classic?

It was a dare, and I thought it would be a good project to focus on while our drummer recovered from heart surgery, because there was no need for drums on it. But then we put drums on it. And made it a 10-piece band… and during the process of disrespectfully recording that album I came to realise how good the storytelling was in it and it’s helped us out ever since.

Next stop for you guys is the incredible Bello Winter Music Festival. Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans up here in Byron and Bellingen about the show you’re doing up here?

We’ve been wanting to play Bello for two or three years now, ever since we heard about it. It has a big cult reputation in Melbourne; musos always smile when they talk about being there. We’ve been very fucking jealous.

What else is in store in 2019 Pony Face. Our new record’s out 26 July; the new songs are really fun to play and we’re stupidly excited to be heading your way.

Ponyface play Bello Winter Music Fri, Sat, Sun 12–14 July. 

Tickets at bellowintermusic.com

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