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April 17, 2021

Interview with Jimmy Willing and Mick Daley

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Jimmy Willing and Mick Daley play at the Billinudgel Hotel

Jimmy Willing & The Real Gone Hick-Ups, Mick Daley & The Re-Mains

Billinudgel Hotel  |  Saturday  |  4pm  |  $15

In the biggest rock’n’roll prize fight of the season, Jimmy Willing and the Real Gone Hick-Ups go head to head with Mick Daley and the Re-mains… playing Saturday at The Billinudgel hotel.

Let’s see how these two come off.

If this a lyric and you have to finish this line, what would you write next?

It’s 5am, it’s Lismore, and I’m back in town again

Mick: It’s 5am, it’s Lismore, and I’m back in town again, I dunno if I’m gonna learn what’s up or why or when.

Jimmy: It’s 5am, it’s Lismore, and you know the score, I’m wide awake from listening to that lonesome bird call.

Never tell anyone too much

Mick: Never tell anyone too much, never fall for a soft touch, never enter a singer’s clutch, those words make light of such and such.

Jimmy: Never tell anyone too much, and please don’t tell my mum, about the night we stole the watermelons, and got shot at with a gun.

I buried him with a rock and a pair of my old socks

Mick: I buried him with a rock and a pair of my old socks. It pays to keep your feet warm in the grave.

Jimmy: I buried him with a rock song that he loved, and then we all drank a toast to him down at the corner pub.

Okay, hard to pick a winner. What do you think of each other? What’s your favourite lyric of each other’s songs?

Mick: Flash Johnny Gilbert lay dying, I cradled his black curly head, his white silk shirt it was turning a shade of crimson red,

Well my tears they were falling onto him and he looked up to me and he said, ring the bell louder down in the chapel, cos Flash Johnny Gilbert has fallen in battle, and go tell all the people to remember my name, tell ’em Flash Johnny Gilbert died game.

I used to love playing this in my five-year stint with Jimmy’s old band Ragadoll. Such an evocative, eerie, and beautiful song from his great new album Bushrangers and Ghosts.

Jimmy: He always wanted to be a star football player, but the poor guy had a build like Leo Sayer, frustration made him mean, he nearly killed the captain of his own football team,

When he robbed a bottleshop down in Bendigo, he was only sixteen, and that’s not a good way to begin. From Ballad of a Wrong Un.

Describe each other…

Mick: Jimmy is the quintessential bohemian. A man so enveloped by his muse that he has become the tall Old Testament figure he must have glimpsed in dreams a century or two ago. Obsessive, perfectionist, endlessly inspired. When I met him about twenty years ago I was amazed someone like this existed. Someone so immersed in art and music that he’d built and navigated a carved horsedrawn cart from Sydney to his adopted home. A modern gypsy troubadour who paints crazy dream sequences and never, ever shuts up. I admired and respected his zeal and work ethic. He’s an art and music machine and a great epigrammist.

None of which will do him any good when he comes up against the precision country rock’n’roll machine that is the Re-Mains in full flight. He’ll be outflanked, undergunned, and overwhelmed by the twin banjo and steel guitar attack of lethal Leigh Ivin and Uncle Burnin’ Love, tranquillised and overrun by the ruthless rhythm machine of Bedford and Jones, and have his requiem written and delivered by me, his humble apprentice turned poltergeist/doppelganger.

Jimmy: A charismatic frontman, a pugnacious opponent, and a chick magnet like no other. Oh yes, and he wears thongs!

Worst thing that ever happened at a live gig?

Mick: Many years ago I had a dream I was booked to play bass with the Beasts of Bourbon. I was about to go onstage when a roadie hands me a beat-up old acoustic guitar with strings missing. ‘But I’m s’posed to play bass,’ I whine. The roadie snarls, ‘Get in there and play,’ and I stagger into a nightmare.

Flash forward several years and I’m actually playing bass in Tex Perkins’s backing band at Federal Hall. Too much backstage bonhomie, a complete absence of onstage sound, and Tex has his back to me, leaning into the songs with gusto. I can’t hear a fucking thing and I lose the plot. No-one has a gaze quite as malevolent as Tex when you ruin his gig.

Jimmy: I was not allowed through the door of the club let alone on stage owing to my attire: I was dressed as a psychedelic version of The Scarecrow from Oz. (Advice to up-and-coming performers: put your scarecrow outfit in a suitcase and put it on backstage!)

Biggest break you never got?

Mick: We opened at Splendour to 5,000 crazed punters and had a lot of industry interest and hype. But our overexcited drummer caused a ruckus backstage and displeased the Important Types. Bye-bye instant fame.

Jimmy: Biggest break you never got… Painting Nick Cave’s portrait for the Archibald prize.

What should we expect for your gig at the Billi?

Mick: Over-the-top country rock’n’roll showmanship and plain old-fashioned showing off, from a bunch of blokes who know every song inside out and have been playing together longer than they care to remember. Savage steel-guitar onslaughts and banjo-like the touch of rain on the face, when the drought breaks in May.

Jimmy: A rock’n’roll show like no other.

Yes it certainly will be. What an awesome double bill! Jimmy Willing & the Real Gone Hick-Ups v Mick Daley & The Re-Mains! Saturday at 4pm at the Billindugel Hotel. $15.


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